Paul Anthony Cook
(born 22 February 1967) is an English professional football manager
and former player who is currently manager of Portsmouth.
Cook played as a central midfielder during a playing career that
spanned 23 years from 1983 until 2006, notably in the Premier League
for Coventry City. He also played in the Football League for Wigan
Athletic, Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tranmere Rovers,
Stockport County and Burnley. He also played Non-league football for
Marine and Accrington Stanley. He moved into management in 2006 with
Southport and later Sligo Rovers. In February 2012, he returned to
English management with Accrington before moving to Chesterfield in
October of the same year. In May 2015, he was appointed manager of
League Two outfit Portsmouth F.C after a release clause was met in
his Chesterfield contract.
Born in Liverpool, Lancashire, Cook began his career at his local
non-league team Marine before being quickly signed up by Wigan
Athletic, where he featured in almost one hundred games in a
four-year spell. Cook then had a brief and unsuccessful spell at
Norwich City before moving to the Midlands to play for Wolverhampton
Wanderers for £250,000.
He was a very popular player during his time at Wolves, both with
the fans and his team-mates and became known for his deadly and
accurate left foot. After over 190 appearances for Wolves over five
seasons in the second tier, he made the short journey to Premier
League Coventry City.
He played the majority of the club's games in his first season
(199495) but fell from favour during the following campaign, where
he made only three appearances. In February 1996, he was sold to
Tranmere Rovers for £250,000.
Whilst at Tranmere he became a key member of the team, playing sixty
games in just eighteen months. In October 1997, Tranmere accepted a
bid of £250,000 from Stockport County and so regained the fee they
had paid for Cook in the first place. After twelve months at County,
Cook began to be regarded as 'too old', despite being just 32. This
led to his move to Burnley, initially on loan but fully signing in
July 1999 to play under Stan Ternent.
Cook experienced an "Indian summer" to his career, making 130 league
appearances over a four-year spell. During this period he
established excellent understandings with many players, especially
Lee Briscoe and the two often devised new free-kick routines to
catch Division One defences off-guard.
After a falling out with the manager, Cook went on loan to one of
his old clubs, Wigan Athletic, but made just six appearances before
he was re-called to again take his place in the starting line up at
Turf Moor. Cook left Burnley at the end of the 2003 season, at the
same time as Andy Payton. The two players got a standing ovation
from the fans for their contributions to the club.
Defying doubts about his fitness and age, Cook signed for non-league
team Accrington Stanley and went on to become a first team regular
in their push for promotion to the Football League. This target was
finally achieved in the 2005/06 season when Stanley were crowned
Champions. Having achieved this aim, Cook finally retired after
almost 600 league appearances for nine different teams.
After the end of the 2005/06 season, Cook was granted a testimonial
by Accrington as a thank-you for his hard work. It was played on 2
May 2006 at the Interlink Express (now the Fraser Eagle) Stadium,
Accrington against a Burnley Select XI featuring old team-mates Dean
West, Lenny Johnrose, Ian Cox, Kevin Ball and son Liam.
Cook was appointed manager of Conference side Southport on 13 June
2006, a post he was sacked from in January 2007 following defeat at
He became manager of Sligo Rovers on 27 April 2007, taking over from
Rob McDonald, who resigned before the start of the season. At the
press conference when he was unveiled he stated that he was from
Liverpool and that he will not have anything to do with any
journalist from the Irish Sun, (due to the articles printed about
Liverpool supporters during the Hillsborough disaster). He guided
Sligo to a credible 6th place league finish in his first season. His
second year (2008) saw him guide Sligo to fourth in the league and
thus secure a UEFA Cup place.
He departed in January 2009 by mutual consent, but soon returned
just weeks later.
In his third season, under severe financial constraints, he guided
Sligo to sixth place. In addition, Cook guided Sligo to the final of
the FAI Cup which took place on 22 November 2009. Sligo lost 21 to
Sporting Fingal despite holding a one-goal lead with seven minutes
Cook's first silverware as Sligo manager came in September 2010,
after a 10 win over Monaghan United in the final of the League Cup.
In November 2010, he guided Sligo Rovers to win the 2010 FAI Cup
Final, 20 in a penalty shoot-out against Shamrock Rovers. In
November 2011, he again brought Sligo Rovers to win the 2011 FAI Cup
Final, which for the second year running went to penalties. Sligo
Rovers beat Shelbourne 41.
Cook spoke with Accrington Stanley and these talks eventually
concluded with Cook announcing his move back to his old playing
club. He led the team to a 14th-placed finish in League Two at the
end of the 201112 season and continued to coach the side for the
opening months of the following campaign. However, on 25 October
2012 he joined League Two rivals Chesterfield on a
two-and-a-half-year contract, taking over from Tommy Wright, who had
been in charge of the Derbyshire club on a caretaker basis following
the departure of John Sheridan two months earlier. The end of his
first season saw him guide Chesterfield to eighth position finishing
just two points outside the play-off zone. In the following year he
led Chesterfield to the League Two championship and promotion, and
they comfortably maintained their new League One status in 2014-15,
reaching sixth place and the play-offs.
In May 2015, Cook was appointed manager at Portsmouth F.C following
a release clause being met. It was believed to be around £150,000
He has appeared on RTÉ coverage of matches.