By now, you’ll pretty much know it all. Latics battered Villa who never really turned up. The top six side looked rigid and limited in their play whilst the rookie manager’s style of play lived up to its promise. The home side really missed the players that moved on this summer whilst Latics fans were left asking ‘who the hell are Antonio Valencia and Lee Cattermole?”
Of course everyone knows deep down that it won’t be like this every week and it may only take us until mid-week for us to realise it properly but for now let’s soak it up the most optimistic opening day that we’ve had since… since… well for a good while anyway and enjoy this morning’s talking points.
Putting aside the potential state of the DW pitch come November, how good was it to see a Latics’ side playing like that. It wasn’t just the passing, it wasn’t just the movement, it was the dominance in every area. Even more than that it was how productive it was.
Under both Jewell and Bruce, I’ve criticised the team for dominating teams but not capitalising on it. Here were enough chances to win a couple of games and most important of all two goals from open play. It felt like we didn’t get that many through all of last season.
You know when pasta is cooked by chucking it at a wall and seeing if it sticks, right? Well I think that we’ve all suspected that Latics might have been under done after pre-season. Would they be up to speed? Would they have the strength to compete? Pretty football would come to nowt if it wasn’t backed up with the right amount of bite.
I think we know now that yes they are fit enough, and sharp enough but also that for all the talk of the beautiful game, Bobby’s boys are going to be able to mix it with the best of them. Thomas looks made for the English game and the formation brought the best out of Michael Brown and ahead of them the four attacking players weren’t afraid of pushing, hassling and didn’t shirk a tackle.
Yeah, Villa didn’t turn up… nonsense.
Latics needed a while to settle into each half so it would be unfair to suggest that there was only one side on the park. Villa were there, they just got out thought, out fought and outplayed. Young and Milner seemed to find the whole experience totally frustrating as Latics stifled the supply to Heskey and Abongalor.
There might be some truth in the suggestion that Villa lost this one before kick off, but the player still had their jobs to do and they did it brilliantly.
Goal of the Season
Yep, it was a wonder strike, but I wonder how long it will stick in the memory. It’s the bona fide curse of bagging one like that so early in the season. Anyway, I wonder whether it was the more important of the two anyway. Yes it suggested that Rodallega is picking up where he left off (£16m bids in January anyone?) but it’s Koumas’ goal that should give us real hope that things might be different.
The first goal was a beautiful moment of technique and opportunitism the second came from team play, was scored by a midfielder and the Welshman at that. A lot could depend, this season, on how well the ‘enigma’ settles into Martinez’s formation and tactics. If he doesn’t, then this wouldn’t be the first Koumas false dawn, but the signs are promising.
The conclusion? Well, it’s easy, fantasy football can work, we’ve got the players to carry it out and we’re going to win the league. Well, after the summer that we’ve had, we deserve a bit of giddiness. In reality, it’s a good start that has wiped away a lot of the fears I had about our chances this season, but it’s only step one of 38 (or steps 1 to 3 of 40 if you want to take that approach).
As everyone keeps telling us, it’s going to be an interesting season for us Latics fans.
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