Are we really going to pretend that we didn’t expect that to happen, or that losing 5-0 to United is more disastrous than being beaten by Wolves? The Champions coming to town, stung by their own ‘end of the world’ midweek defeat was never going to that enjoyable an experience and with so many points to be proved you had to know that Latics would end up at the sharp end.
It’s seemingly become the way of the Premier League world, anyone who needs t shake off some bad form or other general hoodoo, must get straight to the fixture list so that they can think, Wigan are coming up in a fortnight, everything will be alright after that. And if Peter Crouch and Benjani can manage it, then you can sure as hell bet that Rooney, Berbatov and Owen will.
I know that we all read the press and are guilty (from time to time) of believing the hype, but the number of Latics’ fans yesterday who were ready to write off United and decry the abilities of their forwards was borderline laughable. Where ever they end up in the final shake-up (and I predict at the top of the table) Ferguson’s men are still one of the best teams in the country and although they may be settling down after a change in personnel and a new formation, it will happen soon enough.
Actually, that sounds familiar, the change at Latics has been more dramatic but they’re in a period of change all the same and the important thing is where they are when the dust settles rather than how they get there. One win from the first three games probably has them on target
That it came in a blaze of glory in a victory at Villa built expectations but they reckon you lose more in defeat, so maybe there are benefits in getting results this way around. We learnt on Tuesday that Martinez needs to work out a way of playing against teams that come to dampen our style and frustrate us, what did we learn yesterday?
Well, first and foremost was the obvious, if you try to play the top four at their own game, then you’re probably going to lose. You’re probably going to lose anyway, so what’s the problem? Well, Paul Jewell and Steve Bruce would tell you that the important thing in these games is not to lose badly. Roberto Martinez (with a bit of licence) says ‘1-0 or 5-0, losing is losing’, it will be May before we know how true that is.
Secondly, and equally obviously, you have to take your chances. Latics had them yesterday, real chances for Rodallega and Scharner which, admittedly, you couldn’t blame them for missing, but also a host of situations where a lack of support or the wrong decision brought thing to a dead end. Whether that’s luck, bad judgement or poor play I’d say that decision making and movement are two things that really need to be worked on.
The third and final lesson that we should be taking from this game is perhaps the most important. Outside of the back four, there’s barely a top flight season between them and all the potential in the world is useless if there’s no one out there to help you get the best out of it. The side lacks experience and it cost us badly here.
There were spells here where Latics had the opportunity to get a proper hold on United, maybe not to put them to the sword, but to get some real pressure. Latics struggled to make the most of those, I think, because they had no one in the midfield who understands the pace of Premier League football, no one who could dictate the pace and rhythm of Latics play, no one who could grab his team mates by the scruff of their necks and drag them along.
Similarly, when the first goal went in, and the second, and the third, Latics needed leaders people to stand up, keep going in the right direction and to do their damnedest to keep everyone else doing the same. As it was you could see with the second goal that, not only was the game over but a landside was the likeliest outcome. It seems a ridiculously old fashioned English thing to say, but a few shouted words and pumped fists would have done a lot for the morale (on the terraces if not the pitch).
People say that it takes a lot to adapt to the English game and step up to the Premier League. It has to be a big worry that Latics have so many players trying to do one or the other of those things. It would be one thing to struggle because the players that you have aren’t good enough, it would be criminal to go down because you haven’t got enough experience.
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