Cooking Up The Perfect Storm

Unusual Ways Of Emerging Boss

Paul Cook in charge during his time in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Sligo Rovers.

A little more of what makes Paul Cook tick has come to our attention in the book we wrote about here approaching three weeks ago.

We saluted retired physio Ian Liversedge then for his anecdotes about Denis Irwin from the time they spent together at Oldham.

Now, the highly colourful ‘Life’s A Ball’ autobiography has given us a useful further insight – this time about the former Wolves midfielder, who leads Wigan into the start of the Championship season at home to Cardiff on Saturday.

Cook, who has been busy forming a good reputation in management, knew Liversedge at Burnley during the Stan Ternent era approaching 20 years ago and hit it off with him to such an extent as to then be taken as his ‘sponge man’ at nearby Accrington.

We know from Wolves players of the early 1990s that Cook was a bit of a one-off; a hugely gifted individual who was totally in love with the game but who had his own take on ‘refuelling’ between matches.

And little of what we have just been reading has deflected us from that impression.

“Paul Cook was a diamond and a genuine Scouse rascal,” Liversedge wrote. “He was great on and off the field and inspirational. You couldn’t help but like him. He was a man’s man.

“He had a pub in the centre of Kirkby in Liverpool and was one of a dying breed.”

Like a sip on a wonderful pint, that statement left us thirsting for more and the author continued: “He would have a mammoth session at his pub for the players on a Sunday, so training on Mondays was hilarious as they tried to shake off their hangovers.

“But Cooky and Mitchell Thomas always used to lead the running in training. Mitch wasn’t a drinker as I recall, nor was Ian Wright.”

The friends the Liverpudlian made at Molineux in playing well over 200 games from 1989 to 1994 also enviously recall how he could shrug off a good night out by putting his natural fitness to good use the next day.

At that time, he wouldn’t have been everyone’s tip to become a good manager – probably not Graham Turner’s, for a start.

And it appears he learned to ‘manage’ himself in the latter stages of a long playing career that took in a spell at Turf Moor.

Cook was described by Liversedge as one of the ‘older, stronger pros’ Ternent had at his disposal, referring to he, Glen Little, Andy Payton, Micky Mellon and Graham Branch as an ‘unbelievable set of lads’.

Paul Cook….in the days when he had a gold shirt and plenty of dark hair.

In hinting that some players saw his couch as a place of rest, the physio revealed that Ternent indulged the midfielder by allowing him some days off with minor tweaks on condition that he would play and perform well on a Saturday.

“Cooky never let you down,” he added. “Getting players ready to win on match day is what it’s all about. Now, as a manger himself, he knows how he wants the game to be played and how a club should be run.”