Manager Paul Cook has described the booing of Wigan Athletic midfielder Kal Naismith by the club’s own fans during their 3-1 defeat to Reading on Saturday as a “disgrace” and a “travesty”.
Naismith’s introduction into the game at a time when his side were 1-0 up was met with jeers by the home crown, with Cook also finding himself the focus of the crowd’s frustrations as a five-minute hat trick from George Puscas saw the Royals come from behind to win 3-1, leaving Wigan winless in their last seven games, and 22nd in the Championship table.
Speaking to Wigan Today about those boos from the crowd, Cook did admit that the fans were entitled to make their frustrations known, saying: “I think as a manager and a player, you have to be very careful about which fights you get involved in.
“Wigan Athletic fans – like most fans – can make up their own minds about what’s going on. Because if you’re paying your money into a football stadium, the reality is you are entitled to your opinion.
“Do I agree with it? No, not at all. But is it the supporter’s prerogative to do that? That’s for the supporters to decide.”
When asked about the stick given to Naismith however, Cook seemed to take a much stronger view of the situation, as he added: “If I’m a Wigan fan, I’d be looking at myself and asking if that is the correct thing to do.
“Do we want to send our players on the pitch like that? “It’s not my debate, and I’m not getting involved in it.
“But is booing your own players as they’re coming on the pitch the correct thing to do? I would stand up and demand ‘no’. It’s not. I think it’s an absolute disgrace, it’s a travesty.
“Will that stop it? I’m not so sure it will. Will us winning football matches stop it? Of course it will. So let’s concentrate on what we can try and control.”
Wigan are next in action on Saturday afternoon, when they travel to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton Town, with Cook’s side still searching for their away league win of the season.
This is a difficult situation for everyone to be in.
With the run Wigan are on at the minute, that sort of frustration is going to be inevitable, so you can understand why their fans are going to want to make their feelings heard.
However, the sort of response that Naismith was met with on Saturday is only going to serve to knock his confidence – which is unlikely to be high at the minute anyway given the circumstances – even further, and that is not going to help Wigan’s case at all.
Even so, Cook may need to be careful with what he is saying here, given it may not win the club’s fan round, instead potentially generating even more bad feeling between the two parties, and making it even harder for Wigan to pick up those wins they badly need right now.