Top of the league, five points clear. More goals scored than anyone, less goals conceded than anyone, we should be a happy camp right now, shouldn’t we? It would appear not given the tirade of abuse aimed at the players coming from behind me on Tuesday night.
There’s no denying that we were poor on Tuesday. There were 8 players coming in who all had the chance to stake their claim for a starting place in league games. Maybe they have clocked that Paul Cook tends to keep a settled team for the league and even playing well in the cup might not give them a shot at a league game. They are still well paid professionals though and should be willing to perform at a high standard, even in the soul-less affair that now is a home FA Cup replay.
Of course, we should have handsomely seen off a non-league team and I can understand a bit of frustration. The mood around me was quite relaxed however, in fact the main sentiment when we went 2-1 down was “oh well, at least we get to go to Bristol Rovers on a Saturday now”.
An away tie at Bournemouth might be exciting for AFC Fylde but for us it will be a Premier League tie in name only. And that’s meant with no disrespect to Bournemouth, he says while completely disrespecting them. It was only four years ago since we last met in the 3rd Round and on that occasion, they were the League One side and we were in the Premier League.
So there was no anger from me and my cohorts when we went behind; but still plenty of delight when Will Grigg stole in to win it. I am at risk of being a serious happy clapper this season but as per my opening paragraph, what have we got to realistically complain about?
Yet lots of people do, saying that we were poor on Saturday and poor on Tuesday. At the risk of sounding a bit like Basil Fawlty – what do you expect when you look out from the sparsely populated West Stand on a wintry Tuesday night? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains?
Sorry that was actually Basil Fawlty. What I mean to say is that, if you think this season is poor, then I’d love to know what you thought when we were really poor or indeed what expectations are given we are top of the league with a healthy lead and goal difference. The fabled AC Milan team of the late 80’s, Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winning team or perhaps the maverick Dutch entertainers of the late 70’s?
There have been times in the last few years under other managers when we have been indescribably bad and I can only repeat what I said a few weeks ago: these are the good times, the sort that many teams’ fans can only dream of.
Saturday’s opponents AFC Wimbledon are a stark example of a football club whose fans have really been put through the mill. Yet their subsequent achievements to reform after having their football club stolen from them and getting back to League One from playing in the Southern equivalent of the North West Counties is an achievement which we can all applaud. What chance a bit of perspective?
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 14th December 2017
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