12th Man – The Piemon Commeth (and Goeth again)

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I think we all know those footballers who the notoriously hard to please Wigan Athletic fans love most: those high energy grafters: witness the current love in over all-action cartoon hero Roger Espinoza. Run around like a headless chicken and they’ll love you forever!


Compare and contrast to the player who is a bit more measured in his approach; one who has innate natural skill, a fantastic footballing brain but perhaps doesn’t go around attempting to snap his opposing number in half with every challenge. That type of player, let’s call him Gordi Jomez for argument’s sake will frequently have the crowd on his back.


I can love them both for those very different reasons and it is the blend of players not individuals that often forms a great team. And what you see with your eyes is often deceptive, as anyone who checks the stats as to how many miles our fictional player Gordi covers in a match will testify.


Yet the biggest crime of all is a footballer who has that ability to perform at the highest level and chooses not to exercise it. He could be winding down his career or just happy to pick up his pay cheque each week without breaking into too much of a sweat. When Paul Jewell became manager of our club at the turn of the century, the squad was littered with them and thankfully he shipped them out. Even a younger example like Simon Haworth who was capable of genius could infuriate fans for his perceived idleness: a footballer’s career is short, and is a career which we would all love to have the God given talent to pursue – so why wouldn’t you play every game as if it’s your last? That’s all we ask as fans.


I think most people were genuinely excited when we signed Grant Holt in the summer but it has become clear as the season has gone on that he has no appetite to play for Wigan Athletic, and we can’t afford to carry players like that. Like the early Jewell era with Alan McLoughlin, Ged Brannan and Derek Stillie swanning around the dressing room it seems some footballers think they are bigger than certain clubs but are not averse to letting that club pay them handsomely for their services.


I’ve still no idea what the last six months have been about for the big Cumbrian, it may be all injury related and thus hampering his fitness but just like Coyle never seemed right as our manager, Grant Holt never really looked right as our centre forward. Nevertheless we have to hope that he is a success at Villa or else we will be stuck with him for another two years. And if he is a success, we’ll be asking why on earth he couldn’t do it at Wigan Athletic in the Championship?

First published in the Wigan Evening Post 12th Man column Friday 17th January 2014

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