Latics

CUP FEVER

Jimmy turns his 12th Man eye on Sunday's cup game. First published in the Wigan Evening Post's 12th Man column on Friday 27th January 2017

Well, well Mr Joyce, with all these shiny gleaming wins you are really spoiling us. Apologies – if that sounds a bit like a chocolate advert featuring sharp suited ambassadors, well it’s not exactly by accident.

As ever at Wigan Athletic, we go from feast to famine, and then feast again the last few weeks. Yet I think we all acknowledge that it will be a tall order to keep this going beyond Sunday so we must turn to discuss the matter of what would be considered a positive result.

“Of course, you fool, a 3-0 away win for the mighty Wigan Athletic would be considered a positive result!” I hear you cry and of course I concur wholeheartedly. However, let’s get realistic here.

Maybe a 1-0 scrappy away win in the last minute as Jakob Haugaard boots the ball directly into the empty United net after their eleven players have all been camped in our half trying to score for the previous 89 minutes. Would that do? Of course it would, and in many ways that would be even better.

Let me keep going  as we head towards the ‘moral victory’ end of the spectrum. When assessing the merits of the possibility of a draw, all focus turns to the financial benefits of such a result. Plymouth took a bit of stick a few weeks back for going to Anfield and parking the bus, but then what else do you expect a lower division club to do when facing a Premier League giant? Agree up front how many you’re going to let them score?

Ah now we’re getting to the point. We have our hopes and dreams but I suspect very few Latics fans will travel to Old Trafford expecting to cement our place in the 5th Round draw, despite our superb 2010’s (or whatever they call the decade after the Noughties) FA Cup pedigree.

So we are left contemplating what would be an acceptable defeat. I personally hope that we can have a bit of fun and hold out for forty five minutes or even an hour and maybe have a hard luck story or two (please no ridiculous refereeing decisions mind you!).

The theory being that if we lose but put up a spirited display, it will not affect our league form in any way. If anything, it will hopefully strengthen it by galvanising the team. The unthinkable, worst case scenario is that we concede early and get walloped but just scratch that bit out of your thought process RIGHT NOW.

Why? Because all bets are off with regard to prior visits to Old Trafford – in those days, it was (theoretically) one team of Premier League players versus another team of (sadly inferior) Premier League players.

The crop of players we have now will all be looking forward to the game arguably even more so than the fans, a chance to test themselves against one of the best teams in the country and really raise their game. So, on second thoughts, if they are turning up intending to give it their all and refusing to accept defeat, then why should we?

Come on you Latics, let’s see if we can make another piece of FA Cup history!

 

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