History of the Cook cull - a look back at his busy transfer windows with Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Wigan

Ipswich Town Manager Paul Cook at Swindon Town

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook is set to make wholesale changes to his squad this summer. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Self-styled 'demolition man' Paul Cook has released eight players and told the vast majority of his Ipswich Town squad they are available for transfer this summer. This won't be the first time he has overseen such drastic squad changes though, as STUART WATSON reports.


Paul Cook was appointed Chesterfield manager in October 2012.

The Spirerites, who had started the season among the League Two promotion favourites, were 13th in the table and seven points adrift of the top three at that stage.

Cook quickly moved on three first team players in the January window - including the release of veteran Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte - and the team stuttered to an eighth place finish.

Chesterfield's manager Paul Cook (right) and assistant Leam Richardson (left) gesture on the touchli

Paul Cook (right) and assistant Leam Richardson (left), pictured during their early days together at Chesterfield. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Immediately, five more players were released. That list included ageing keeper Mark Crossley, stalwart striker Jack Lester (94 goals in 200+ appearances) and fellow front man Dan Whitaker (25 goals in 100+ appearances).

Come July, three more first teamers had been moved on, including 18-goal academy graduate striker Scott Boden. 

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Of the six summer signings, four of them - Gary Roberts, Sam Morsy, Ian Evatt and Ritchie Humphreys - played key roles as a settled side claimed the 2013/14 title.

Again, there was a reshuffle. Two regular starters from the championship winning side, defender Liam Cooper and striker Marc Richards, were allowed to leave on free transfers. Fringe quartet Jamie Devitt, Nathan Smith, Matt Brown and Sam Togwell were also sold, while six homegrown players were released.

Coventry City's Matthew Pennington (left) and Chesterfield's Sam Clucas battles for the ball during

Sam Clucas (right) proved to be big signing for Paul Cook at Chesterfield. Photo: PA

Sam Clucas and Dan Jones were the big summer signings. And, despite the fact that prolific front man Eoin Doyle was sold to Cardiff in the February and not adequately replaced, Chesterfield still secured a sixth place finish in League One before losing to Preston in the play-off semi-finals.


Cook was persuaded to drop back down a level to become Portsmouth boss in 2015. Pompey had just finished 16th in what was their second season at fourth-tier level.

Speaking about the appointment in May, chief executive Mark Catlin said: "Paul has already decided which players he'll be keeping. He'll be letting them know as soon as possible."

The broom quickly came out.

Jed Wallace, who had just finished as the team's 17-goal top-scorer, was sold to Wolves for £250k.

Portsmouth's Jed Wallace celebrates after scoring a goal during the Sky Bet League Two match at Boot

Paul Cook sold top-scorer Jed Wallace to Wolves soon after taking charge of Portsmouth. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

First team regulars Ryan Taylor (Oxford), Craig Westcarr (Mansfield), Dan Butler (Torquay) and Paul Robinson (AFC Wimbledon) also departed.

Joe Devera, who had started 37 games of the previous season in defence, was among nine players released.

In January, the cull continued with the exits of James Dunne (Cambridge U), Nicky Shorey (Colchester) and Nigel Atangana (Leyton Orient).

By the end of his second transfer window, Cook had moved on 23 players.

PortsmouthÕs Enda Stevens (left) and Plymouth ArgyleÕs Oscar Threlkeld battle for the ball during th

Paul Cook signed Enda Stevens (left) for Portsmouth from Aston Villa in 2015. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Seven of Cook's first first 11 permanent signings - Christian Burgess, Kal Naismith, Kyle Bennett, Enda Stevens, Michael Doyle, Gary Roberts and Gareth Evans - all proved to be key men, as did loan additions Matt Clarke and Marc McNulty.

Portsmouth finished sixth in 2015/16, losing narrowly to Plymouth in the play-off semi-finals. 

Again, Cook rang the changes.

Adam Webster was sold to Ipswich, with Clarke returning permanently in the opposite direction.

Regular starters Ben Davies and Danny Hollands were among the summer exits. Along with Clarke, Daniel Rose and Carl Baker proved to be key signings, as did loanee keeper David Forde.

Ten players ended up starting 30 or more league games in 2016/17 as Cook's tight-knit squad claimed the title.

Sunderland's Lynden Gooch (left) and Portsmouth's Matt Clarke battle for the ball during the Checkat

Paul Cook initially signed Matt Clarke (right) on loan from Ipswich Town before getting him permanently in a swap deal for Adam Webster. Photo: PA - Credit: PA


Unable to agree a new deal at Portsmouth following promotion, Cook was appointed by Wigan - a club who had just been relegated from the Championship.

Again, it didn't take long for the changes to start.

Omar Bogle was sold to Cardiff for £1m, while defensive regulars Stephen Warnock and Jake Buxton were allowed to join Burton on free transfers. In all, 15 players departed that summer.

Wigan Athletic's Omar Bogle during the Sky Bet Championship match at the DW Stadium, Wigan. PRESS AS

Paul Cook sold Omar Bogle to Cardiff for £1m soon after taking charge of Wigan. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Chey Dunkley, Gavin Massey, Christian Walton, Callum Elder, Lee Evans and Ivan Toney proved to be the key 2017 signings, with Gary Roberts once more being reunited with his former boss.

The Latics won the title with eight players having started 30 or more league games.

Yet again, promotion didn't stop Cook freshening things up.

In total, 13 players left the DW Stadium in the summer of 2018. Key centre-back Dan Burn was sold to Brighton but immediately loaned back, while left-back Reece James moved to Sunderland on a free transfer.

Wigan Athletic's Lee Evans celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game during the Sky Bet C

Lee Evans was a key player for Paul Cook at Wigan. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Cedric Kipre, Josh Windass, Joe Garner and former Portsmouth man Kal Naismith all proved important signings, while Evans and Walton returned on loan.

In the January, Will Grigg and Max Power moved to Sunderland for big money. Those funds allowed the club to sign Evans on a permanent basis, as well as beefing up the squad with Anthony Pilkington, Daniel Fox and Jonas Olsson.

Wigan finished their first season back in the Championship in 18th place, comfortably clear of the relegation zone.

Cue all change again. Nick Powell and James Vaughan were the most high profile exits in the summer of 2019. Former loanee Robinson was signed from Everton for £2m, while David Marshall, Joe Williams, Jamal Lowe and Kieffer Moore all proved astute additions. Charlie Mulgrew, Kieran Dowell and Leon Balogun were useful loans too.

The Lancashire club were well on course for a comfortable mid-table finish until a shock administration sent them down to League One.

Wigan Athletic's Will Grigg celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game from the penalty sp

Paul Cook sold prolific goalscorer Will Grigg to Sunderland for £4m during the January transfer window of 2019. Photo: PA - Credit: PA