Wigan Athletic held a fans forum on Tuesday night, with most of the time being spent on Paul Cook trying to explain the reasons behind his side’s away form.
Last season was the Latics’ first season in the Championship under the management of Cook, and their aim was simply to avoid relegation, which they achieved comfortably.
Some will argue that it doesn’t matter where or how you get the points, as long as you get the amount to achieve your targets. However, their away form must be a cause for concern.
In the 2018/19 campaign – Wigan won 41 points at the DW Stadium, and had the 10th best home record in the league. That’s an outstanding points total for a newly promoted team. Compare that to their away form, the Latics only managed eleven points and two wins.
This season has started similarly, with Wigan only managing one point from five away games, but already recording wins over Cardiff City and Charlton Athletic at home.
When questioned about his sides poor away form, Cook said this:
“I think one of the biggest things were finding – especially this season – is we’ve tried to change formations a few times, in relation to three at the back and three in midfield.
“But we’ve generally found, no matter what the formation is, the result is the same, whether we like it or not.”
To win two out of 28 away games isn’t all down to fine margins. The players and manager are clearly struggling for confidence when away from home, however you have to sympathise with Cook. As he said, it’s not as if he’s been stubborn and kept the same system week in week out. This season especially, Cook has changed formation and tactics away from home, but the results have remained poor.
There is only so much a manager can do. A lot of Wigan’s away defeats have happened because of individual errors leading to goals, and the players need to take responsibility for that. Cook must be frustrated and puzzled by the difference in quality of performance, when they play home and away.
For example, on the opening day of the season against Cardiff City – Wigan played some outstanding football, moving the ball quickly with quality and scoring three good goals. Fast forward one week, and the same set of players could barely muster a shot against Preston North End and gifted three goals at the other end.
One away win could be all it takes, to just give them that boost in confidence and relief of winning a game. Either way, it needs to come soon, otherwise Wigan will find themselves in another relegation scrap.