As I type this, I’m making my daily journey from Blackpool to Wigan (thankfully that’s the home leg of my working day), I’ve been doing the trip for over eleven years and I’ve even been arsed enough to travel to watch the Tangerines when they weren’t playing Latics, so surely I can come up with something other than the usual hackneyed nonsense to welcome to the DW Stadium and the Premier League tomorrow. I should be able to, but my brain has been addled by 5 years of top flight football and every time I try to get past this paragraph I struggle to steer away from sounding like just another big time Charlie ready to put down another team that “shouldn’t be in this league”.
Another team just like that, erm, Wigan.
I should probably just give up, and I’m definitely not doing a full on match preview where I can only fall flat on my face or come across as a total pessimist so instead let’s just fall back on going through the things that I’ll be expecting you to be gibbering on about in the pub before the game.
Every small team that gets promoted to the Premier League should have to come to the DW first up, you know, for that bit of inspiration, to see the model that they need to aspire to if they’re going to hack it with the big boys. Because, as much as the rest of the division would rather not have us around, being Wigan carries its own little piece of arrogance. We’re the small boys that cracked the code you see. People use to talk about sides following Charlton’s lead, these days these days they point them to the land of pies.
Of course that’s nonsense. The stereotypical line on Latics ignores that we arrived in this division with a £5m strike force a centre-half partnership of top-flight stalwarts, a keeper with plenty of experience and one of the best left backs in the country. That’s over half the team that you knew would have the ability to compete in the top flight. Even so the “Wigan model” relied heavily on an element of surprise , something that any number of clubs have demonstrated is easy to maintain over half a season, but harder to turn into anything more solid.
Only now, as we head into the second season of self enforced, upfront austerity do you feel that we’re on any sort of footing to gain from our Premier League experience. What good are parachute payments if you’re only using them to service your debt as you nosedive down the divisions?
And that’s where Blackpool have things bang on. Why should they go from paying wages that were probably low for the Championship to paying the “going rate” for worse than average Premier League players or unproven foreign misfits? What good would that be if they go straight back down regardless?
Sign on the line
It’s August so inevitably Latics have a totally new team after losing all their star players. Well the first half is right this time around but Bramble aside (the first person I hear saying that Paul Scharner will be a big miss will get my best withering stare) all our main players from last season are available for selection today.
I say today because there’s still a fortnight to go in the transfer window and with Sunderland’s best press desperate to unsettle our players, who knows what will happen. I’m feeling ‘glass half full’ today and looking forward to January when N’Zogbia has 8 goals and 10 assists for Latics and 5 caps for France.
Talismanic? Adam is the potentially the new Jimmy Bullard, in that he’s a midfielder who didn’t quite make the grade at his first, big, club so worked his way back up to the top another way. I don’t know enough about him as a player or a person to say whether he can have the impact that Jimmy had for us in that first season, or whether he’ll prove quite so mercenary if he does but Blackpool fans and pundits alike are putting a lot of stead in the Scots influence on the Clementines’ fortunes.
I’ll be looking for an interesting comparison with James McArthur this season. The Latics mon is tipped for big things but should be given time to settle in. Adam will have to hit the ground running and lead from the front. It wouldn’t be the first team that the pressure of this league has seen to a talented player.
A view from the tower
Do you remember what it felt like six years ago? I can just about remember the buzz as we waited for the kick off against Chelsea and the warm feeling that pushing them all the way gave me. For a week it felt like anything could happen, then we got beat at Charlton after a bit of lower league naivety. How are Blackpool feeling this morning? Well, how would we have felt if we’d have got Charlton first instead of second up?
I’m sure we’d still have been full of anticipation, but quite so excited? I don’t think so. A trip up the M55 is the stuff of the third division and I reckon that Blackpool fans still like to think they can look down their noses at “Plucky Little Wigan”. But what the hell, it’s great to have another old rival back in town. Let’s all forget that it’s in the greed league and have a jolly afternoon out eh?
As sure as this article started on my Friday journey home from work. I’ll be back in after the weekend regardless of the result. I got smug looks and the odd shake of the head after last season’s Carling Cup defeat. I reckon it’s going to be unbearable if we lose again, but you know what? I reckon I’ll be alright this time.
I’ve gone and done it now, haven’t I?
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