Oh ye of little faith. And by “ye” I mean me. It is with a slightly reddened face that I peer through my fingers and look at what I wrote last week about not fancying the cup much and needing to concentrate on the league, because Wednesday night was truly magical.
A lot has been said about the level of moaning and grumbling coming out of the stands for a team that is top of the league. However (no pun intended), one beautiful thing that will live with me for a while was the pure roar that went up as the third went in and at full time, as Premier League AFC Bournemouth were dispatched 3-0.
Even just before kick off, there were grumblings on social media about the fact that Paul Cook saw fit to make six changes. Perhaps with some merit. As recently as last month, the same sort of line up laboured to get past AFC Fylde in the last round.
Sometimes, we get a situation where fringe players sulk a little bit, as if they know that they’re only playing because it’s a cup game. Maybe that was part of Bournemouth’s problem? Yet from our perspective, every one of those fourteen players did themselves and their club proud, chasing every ball and closing down incessantly.
It was a terrific performance, and should hopefully not take too much out of the squad, given many of the key players were rested, although it was perhaps worrying to see Will Grigg leave the field early after putting a terrific shift in up front.
There is always going to be a concern about fighting on two fronts at this stage of the season. Yet the alternative view is that winning is a habit, and knowing that the whole squad seems up for it on last night’s performance should give us confidence that we can manage to compete for both.
It is a shame that more home fans weren’t in attendance last night as it was a great reward for the recent home goal mini-drought. Hopefully the fourth round tie against West Ham gives Wiganers the chance to turn out in numbers and give this team the support it deserves.
There’s little love lost between us and the Hammers and I’m sure they will travel up in big numbers. Probably in limousines. Limousines so long that they span the whole length of the M1 and M6. They will get on at the back in London, walk to the front of it, and be in Wigan already. From our perspective, we’ve been out of the Premier League for long enough to find a tie like this attractive and there’s only just over a week till it happens.
On the league front, It does mean we have to postpone a home game against Oxford, which is going to make keeping our spot on top of the table a little bit harder, so it becomes imperative that we can go to Plymouth and win there this weekend. We’ve hit a bit of a wobbly spell, at least at home we have, but hopefully that’s all it is and we can kick on towards the business end of the season.
Article first published in the Wigan Evening Post’s 12th Man column on Friday 19th January 2018