It’s a new season and, here at the Pie at Night, we’re approaching it with a new sense of enthusiasm and vigour. In reality what that means is we’re going to be trying to stay out of the pub (and Booths food hall) for long enough to keep you up to date with our thoughts on Latics related nonsense. Not that any of you care enough about what we think but shouting in empty rooms is a speciality around here. So, onwards and upwards and all that.
This week has proven a number of things. That no one gives enough of a toss about transfer deadline day to notice when it gets brought forward by nearly a month. That all the angst about how the transfer window being open during the season was A BAD THING only ever applied to the Premier League anyway. That no one really knows why the season starts so early these days. That factual history plays no part in making lazy jokes about two players having similar names and… well there’s probably plenty more but I need to get on to Latics based stuff, before I get accused of going on a bit.
Here’s the things that made me go Hmmm, this week…
The Pies Have It…
Not all heros wear capes, some of them dressed up like dangerously underbaked Galloways meat and potato pies, make the national news for doing nothing other than existing and take the headlines for, potentially the most exciting signing this transfer window.
Laurent Koscielny may have got Arsenal fans’ knickers in a twist for wearing two t-shirts in THIS weather, but his efforts were overshadowed by our new, definitely rotund, possibly Grant Holt in disguise mascot. Crusty… yes Crusty, the pie will be taking to the touchline this season, presumably to encourage fans into massive disappointment when they realise that the flaky offerings on sale on the concourse couldn’t hold a candle to Crusty’s lovely, short, buttery looking… erm… crust.
Of course, the announcement of our new mascot has brought equal parts mirth, admiration and derision. Really, we shouldn’t care, other than to celebrate us being on everyone’s lips like the gravy of a chunky steak on Jose Mourinho’s tie. Personally, anything is better than a generic CBeebies meets the Simpsons character, even if the name does evoke certain images for people of my age.
How long before our new mascot is seen in the plantations, walking his dog on a rope, stinking of patchouli, smoking a rolly and chugging from a bottle of cheap cider? All whilst humming the words to the Levellers?
Best left back… in the changing rooms?
Of course it’s natural for fans of clubs to get bitter about losing players. The better the player, the more vitriol about him joining effing Wigan. This transfer window has brought a fairly new phenomenon to my attention. Apparently, it’s now ok to get bitter about clubs who sign players from other clubs that your club may or may not have been interested in.
Cue yesterday’s treat of Barnsley fans getting wet around the chops over Leeds’ left back Tom Pearce’s decision to join Latics. Followed by an escalation in proceedings when the choppers signed Clarke Odour, also from Leeds, who may also have played left back once or twice in his auntie’s back garden. Twitter may have lost it’s edge a while ago, but the sight of people arguing the toss about who’s signed the best young lad to sit on their bench took it to a footballing low yesterday.
On the plus side, we’ve gone from having no actual left back at the club to having two, plus two aging centre-halves who “you might be better sticking at left back because they’ll do less damage” (© Forest and Blackburn fans). It’s been a while since we’ve had decent competition in that position. You may have to go back as far as that Jewell team that… no, Alan, stop it.
The Pies the Limit
Do I think we can get promotion? Do I buggery, that was just a nice way of linking that bit of the article to this one, but there are a few fans talking up our chances this season, just off the last couple of days’ transfer business.
There’s a lot to be positive about, we’ve not brought anyone in from Bolton (they’ve no one left) or anyone who’s been managed by Gary Caldwell, we’ve strengthened throughout the squad, bought a mix of young premiere league talent and lads who seem to be on the up and we’ve managed to upset Portsmouth and Blackburn fans along the way.
£9m pounds doesn’t sound a lot in football terms, because it’s not a lot in football terms, but it is a lot in Wigan Athletic terms. We’ve spent more this summer than we have in any window since we were in the top flight and whilst that’s going to get people excited, it also carries a note of caution. Our turnover isn’t suddenly going to jump overnight and we’ll just have to hope that the financial plans are in place to support the spending.
Not because of Fair Play rules, because of what’s happening at Bolton and Bury.
“Well, it’s not my money their spending” is a phrase that’s banded about a lot these days. It’s not, but it might be your football club their mortgaging it against. That’s not being pessimistic, but it’s easy to get carried away with transfer spending. It would be great to be back in the Premier League for any number of reasons, but it’s not worth spending tens of millions or more chasing it.
That said, the signings look promising, not just from a playing perspective but as investments for the future. With any luck, this summer’s spend is just the right sort of investment we need to tide us over until we’re (finally) ready to see the fruits of our youth development.
What are we here for again?
Of course, this week hasn’t all been about foam pies and IEC throwing cash around like the pound had collapsed on the international exchange markets (oh, hang on – what is the Ringgit to GBP rate this week?). The football is back too.
After looking like it would be a typical “we looked alright, but we just didn’t have that cutting edge” start to the season, the Cardiff game certainly picked up and gave us plenty of plus points for the rest of the season. Not least of these is the simple (?) act of winning after going behind. This feels like something we could have done more of last season and hopefully shows that we’ve got a bit more about us this.
Three goals is also a big boost for a team that lost its main creative force over the summer and, although he missed his penalty, hopefully Windass getting an early season goal will give him some confidence to push on and show us a bit more of what he did in Scotland.
I suppose the one note of caution is at the back, conceding two goals, especially when your goalie had three chances to save one of them, at home is never great. But you can’t have everything and if every home game finishes 3-2 this season then there’ll be a lot of happy and excitable Latics fans come May.
The other thing that will stop me getting carried away is that we got last season underway with a 3-2 win. In fact we got off to a great start, so the omens may well be that we’ll do the same this year and everything will be ok until we play Pre…
“A horrible game, against a horrible team” pretty much summed up last season’s visit to Deepdale. It’s hard to imagine this year’s rematch having quite so devastating effect on our season – we’ve no Nick Powell to lose to injury in any case – but two wins in two would be a great start and having Kieffer Moore repeat Jason Roberts’ effort of scoring a debut goal, inside a minute and in front of the away fans would be a spectacular way of doing it.
Obviously, that’s the optimism talking again and expecting anything like that from a side that won only two away games last season is a bit much. But Preston weren’t that much better than us last season, and even though they’ll be buoyed by the return of David Nugent, Latics should go into the game with their heads up and a point to prove. Expect no end of s***housery and a hard-fought draw on the pitch, followed by equal amounts of s***housery on the walk back to the train station.
I’ll think of you whilst I’m sat on the side of a field wondering whether the rain will stop for long enough for me to go and get my whites dirty. Yes, I’ll be *playing* cricket tomorrow. What of it? It’s the second week in August the football season has no right to have started yet.
See you on the other side…