The cricket season is finished and although I’m still suffering from SATURDAY’S end of season do, I’ve run out of reasons to avoid watching football. Not that I’ve been making excuses, I’ve been “desperate” to get down to the DW to see Paul Cook’s dream team in action and see what all the fuss is about.

And what better way to make your comeback than a top(ish) of the table clash? Cobblers, you say? Whatever takes your fancy, I went to the football anyway and here’s some things I came away thinking…

1) Happy clapping is back

I honestly can’t remember a “run of the mill” football match that involved so much clapping. It seems that Paul Cook likes a bit of a clap and the massed throngs of the West Stand were Happy to join suite. Maybe, I’ve just forgotten how many times your average football fan puts their hands together during the course of 90 minutes, but then again my surprise is more rooted, not in the amount of applause, but in the sheer enthusiasm behind it. Seeing people giddily clap a goal, a great save or a close save is nothing new but getting excited over throw-ins, your best striker being substituted or your centre-half managing to put a shot from the penalty spot out for a throw in are all something new.

Yes, of course I’m being facetious. It’s great that people are getting excited about what’s happening on the pitch at Latics and a big indicator that something special might happen this season, although the football on show last night might not have exactly proved it.

2) A load of Ccobblers

How do you tell if your team is one of those good ones that win games when they are playing poorly or a poor one that just fluked a win from a tight game?  I don’t suppose it would be wise to try and answer that question after one game’s viewing, but with everything I’ve heard about the season so far, I was, sort of, expecting a bit more.

Or maybe I was expecting a bit less?  A bit less ping pong, a bit less running up blind alleys, a bit less giving the ball away cheaply and a bit less looking disorganised.  Yes, it’s League 1, yes, there’s a lot of new players and yes, everyone needs time to settle in but Twitter sold me a finished product and for some reason I fell for it.  Yeah, I know, more fool me, eh?

A fair assessment of last night, and I know it’s fair because it came from an eleven year old who’s views aren’t tainted by some long irrelevant agenda, is it was a scrappy game that we should have won more easily, one we dominated without really dominating and wasn’t really convincing in terms of how the season will go.

Oh and League One football hasn’t got any better over the last season and a bit.

3) Falling Down pt 1

Still, there was plenty to like about last night’s performance.  Not least the performance of some of the new boys.

Lee Evans was the stand out and looks like sort of strong, intelligent midfielder that we were crying out to run games for us last season, or at least he did when he managed to stay on his feet.  Diving about is a better trait for keepers than midfielders and Jamie Jones was another big plus for me.  He only looks a little lad (who doesn’t next to Dan Burn?) but he controlled his box, didn’t shirk from any physical involvement and that point blank save towards the end was worth at least two minutes of happy clapping.

4) Falling Down pt 2

I’m not one for snap judgements (no, honest, stop laughing at the back) but, whilst Evans and Jones have got massive ticks in their “good guys” column, another of the new boys is starting off on the back foot for me after last night.  The question I came off asking myself was whether Gary Roberts was as good as Don Cowie?  On that showing it’s about 50/50, he ended up in a bit of a nothing position, increasingly got in Will Grigg’s way and had a habit of slowing the game down, just not in that handsome Catalan way that Jordi used to (i.e. not on purpose).

5) and finally…

The season has got off well, my first taste of it might not have been spectacular, but was tasty enough and hey, what about Bolton?

It might be a while since NRP has banged on about Latics on here, but he’s regularly been spouting his ill informed nonsense on the podcast.
You want proof? Episode 31 of The Pie at Night, “A Bishop’s Cleave” is available in all the usual places, Our Soundcloud page, on iTunes  or by searching on your preferred podcast app.  You can also get it on our brand spanking new AudioBoom page, or if you like it here, by clicking play on the oozamawhossit below…

Enjoy…

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