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Wigan boss Paul Cook says FA Cup rivals Manchester City may be world’s best team

Wigan boss Paul Cook says FA Cup rivals Manchester City may be world’s best team
By PA Sport

14/02/2018 at 11:15Updated 14/02/2018 at 13:02

Cook denies his own team have lost focus in the league because of cup fever.

Wigan manager Paul Cook joked the club will ask the Football Association if they can field 14 players against Manchester City in next Monday’s FA Cup tie.

City have already been described as one of the Premier League era’s greatest sides and Cook has no doubts about the quality of Pep Guardiola’s men, saying they are “possibly the best team in the world”.

“We’re asking the FA for special dispensation to play 14 players,” Cook said.

“You have to be careful with what you say sometimes because all we can do is sit here and offer superlatives about what Man City are doing and how good they are.

“The reality for us is we’ve got to try and beat them. With the best will in the world, everything that they do, every side that comes before them, they seem to put away quite comfortably.”

The Latics, who famously lifted their only major trophy by upsetting City at Wembley in the 2013 FA Cup final, are on course to bounce back to the Sky Bet Championship after last season’s relegation.

Cook targeted immediate promotion when appointed in the summer after guiding Portsmouth to the League Two title, but he is under no illusions as to the size of the task his players will face on Monday.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” he said. “How can you say it’s just a normal game when you’re going to play possibly the best team in the world at the minute?

“It’s going to be such a challenge for us all, for everybody connected with the club, because if you can’t believe when you go into a tie that you can win it, then there’s no point.”

Wigan’s preparations for their fifth-round encounter at the DW Stadium have not been ideal following back-to-back defeats, which have seen them knocked off top spot in League One for the first time since November.

Wigan went 16 games unbeaten before following Saturday’s loss at Southend with a 2-0 home defeat to Blackpool on Tuesday night, but Cook insists his players have not been distracted by Premier League leaders City’s impending visit.

“No, not at all,” he said. “If you’d seen us play in both games, it was nothing to do with Man City.

“I don’t think anything can be further from the truth. We’ve been on a fantastic run, we’ve just been 16 games unbeaten, I think we conceded one goal in eight or nine league games.

“Every good run comes to an end, no matter who you are. Unfortunately for us it’s come in the week leading up to Man City, so people will say that.

“For us it’s a massive challenge, not just to compete in the game, but can we actually take the game to Man City at times? Not many teams seem to be able to do that.”