Practicing our lines

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Latics 3-1 St Mirren
Saturday 8th August 2009

A fiver is not that much for 90 minutes of football, but for a week’s worth of mental turmoil trying to pick through proceedings and their relevance for the real stuff that starts in a week’s time?  They probably owe me.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now, I’ve seen enough pre-seasons to know that they’re not real football.  So why did I turn up at the stadium on Saturday expecting to see the Martinez revolution in action and come away full of the joys of supporting a team that plays the beautiful game?


To be fair, this game was what it says on the Martinez pre-season tin.  It was little more than a practice session played out in front of 5,000 fans.  It was about working the patterns, rehearsing the steps.  Thanks to High Scholl Musical, I now know that dancers practice routines at reduced pace before they go into the full thing, this was the same, but in football boots.

Of course, it’s worrying that our defence can’t keep its confidence when the game is played at half the speed it will be from next week, and you expect there are some real lessons to be learned there, but there were plenty of positives there as well. 

N’Zogbia looks every bit the creative player we need in the wake of Valencia’s departure, Rodallega looks ready to pick up where he left off, Gomez showed enough energy and ability to suggest that he can live up to the expectation and Lee Cattermole was still on the pitch.  Above all it appears that the “beautiful game” that has been tagged to Bobby isn’t a myth.

Here we were, playing against a lesser team, stroking the ball about and trying to pass it into the net.  Ok, it was over complicated at times but I guess people are still trying to find their way through a style that they might only have seen on Sky’s coverage of La Liga before.

In his post match interview, Michael Brown basically said ‘the coaching staff know what they are doing, whether we understand it is another matter’ and, interruptions for internationals permitting, the jigsaw is probably falling together in the background. 

Does it matter that so few of the lads have played 90 minutes yet, that none of them have had a good competitive run out?  I don’t know, but I know there’s no point worrying about it until next week.  Put the negatives down to this being a friendly and focus on the prospect of watching a progressive, flexible football team.

There was enough in this game to suggest that Bobby isn’t about to compromise on that and whether.  This game might not have given us that much of a clue to whether it will work in the tough, energetic hothouse of a premier league game, but that’s not what it was about anyway.

For the fans it was more about seeing Bobby back in the flesh, with a side order of Diaz, Jesus (but no Moses… yet) and Jonah.  For Latics it was about trying stuff (but not trying that hard) to see if the training worked when you didn’t know what the opposition were going to do.  On that count, everybody got what they came for.


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