The Game’s Up – Match of the Season

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Last season there was plenty of choice for the game of the season award, but still the ultimate choice was easy.  The dross served up for most of this season means that it’s been slim pickings but that’s made it harder to choose in the end.  Actually, I’m not sure who I’m trying to kid here, I suspect that you already know where this is going but you’ll have to bear with me for a moment whilst we get there.  

3. The Turning Point – Arsenal away
First up is a game that could just as easily sit in a list of low points.  The considered opinion being that, if things had gone as they should, then Latics would have quite simply not have been in the mire.  Up until this point the side’s failings against the big clubs had been through just not being good enough or, on a couple of occasions, the other team being that bit better. 

The trip to Ashburton Road should have seen Latics walk away with three points, their first against a top four club, and a real springboard to turn the season around from. Thanks to our friend from Staffordshire we ended up with a moral sapping defeat and a post game argument that may have affected subsequent refereeing performances against Paul Jewell’s men.

You already know the details, and whether or not you agree that this game proved season defining, it deserves its place in the top three for Latics performance alone.

2. The High Point – Manchester City home
There have been precious few performances this season where Latics have managed to the together dominance and effectiveness and there can be little debate over this game being included in the list.  As much as City were poor on the day, Latics were great and fully deserved their biggest Premier League win.

Goals from Heskey, a Dunne o.g., Camara and a pearler from Valencia put Latics on the way to four consecutive victories and showed that, despite the error ridden dross either side of that run, there was some hope for this team after all.

1. The final point – Sheffield Utd away
This choice needs little justification really, but imagine being in a situation where you have given up hope, where you have no faith in the people you have been forced to trust your future (or at least part of it) to and where the impending sense of failure runs through every thing you see or hear.  Now imagine that those people proved themselves worthy and you can laugh in the face of failure and shake your head as you wonder why you didn’t believe.

Ok, so it was only a football match, but for at least 9 hours on that Sunday (longer for some) it felt that bad.  I doubt that many in the away end at Bramhall Lane would have predicted a Latics victory and that would have been down to realism as opposed to self preservation, but now you know the script, they did it, and how!

It didn’t quite feel like promotion, the failures of the previous nine months meant that celebrating with players who had so often let you down in the past had a forced feel to it, but on the day they were magnificent and deserved what they got.

So there you have it, the best of a bad bunch, but enough to suggest that better is to come from the bones of this side.  Here’s hoping that the choice will be a little more difficult next season, and for all the right reasons.

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