Paul Cook opens up on why he left Portsmouth for Wigan in 2017

Former Pompey manager Paul Cook has shed further light on his June 2017 Fratton Park departure.

By Mark McMahon
Sunday, 11th October 2020, 3:57 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th October 2020, 4:01 pm
Ex-Pompey manager Paul Cook celebrates the Blues' promotion from League Two at Notts County with then chairman Iain McInnes.

Speaking to The Full-time Whittle Podcast, the Blues’ League Two title-winning boss said his decision to leave and move to Wigan Athletic less than a month after the famous 6-1 victory over Cheltenham was purely a footballing one.

The Scouser had been in talks with Pompey regarding a new contract – discussions he claimed ‘never went well in any shape or form’ – following promotion back to League One.

The club were also in the process of swapping fan ownership for Michael Eisner’s Tornate group, with Cook present in the Guildhall when the American made his presentation to the Fratton faithful.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

So when the Latics made an approach during a ‘difficult’ stage in those contract talks, the 53-year-old said it was his wish to speak to the DW Stadium outfit.

Cook admitted he was impressed with what he heard from then Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

And it was their vision of the future which convinced him to seek a new challenge rather than remain at Pompey.

He dismissed claims at the time that his decision was borne out of a desire to return home to the north of England.

Cook told The Full-time Whittle Podcast: 'We managed to win the league down in Portsmouth and I was about to sign a new contract at Portsmouth, but them contract talks never went well in any shape or form, which was very disappointing for myself and for Leam (Richardson).

‘You know, at the moment of talks probably being in a difficult position, Wigan Athletic had declared an interest in me, and I wanted to speak to Wigan Athletic.'It was nothing about moving back north or anything to do with returning home.'It was a footballing decision that I made on the basis of obviously speaking with Portsmouth about their future and also about speaking with David Sharpe about what he had in mind about Wigan Athletic.

‘It was critically apparent when we joined Wigan how strong the squad was.‘You know, you look back on that team in League One, and with the greatest respect to managers and management, it wasn't a difficult team to manage to success.'

Cook guided Wigan to the League One title in his first season at the DW Stadium but this summer walked away following the Latics’ surprise move into administration and subsequent relegation.

The former Chesterfield boss remains out of the game, but confessed he was looking forward to getting back – with a Championship club his preferred level.

He add: ‘Yeah, I’m looking to get back into football now, I miss it terribly, really miss the day-to-day involvement. You know I've never been out of work in my life, really, from playing to going into management.

‘I want to manage again, I'm desperate to get back in.

‘I just want to manage again at a club where you go into work every day with good owners, with good people, hopefully to progress a football team that if I take over them today, I can make them better tomorrow.

‘So let's see where that goes.

‘I'd like to manage in the Championship. I think when you've been in the Championship for a few years it's waters that you enjoy.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Thank you for reading this story. The News has launched a new subscription offer which gives you unlimited access to all of our Pompey coverage.

You can subscribe here to get the latest updates from Fratton Park, transfer news and expert analysis from our team of Pompey writers.

Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism on your behalf for our city.