I realise that this is a bit on the late side, but it’s not only the team that have been suffering for form of late and a bout of some kind of lurgy or other, in top of the chaos that is Christmas with two young kids has pretty much done for any festive plans that I’d had for the site and all but ruined any involvement in Latics’ festive programme for your trusty correspondent. Or maybe it was more a case of taking chances while they were there rather than trying to be clever.
As it was, commitments, financial and social, had limited me to a Bolton plus one policy over the Christmas period. United away was a non-starter so I was left with a straight choice between Blackburn on Boxing Day or Hull on the cup. The Boxing Day game has been a bone of contention between me and the other half for a few years, as her mum has a family do, so I spy the chance for some brownie points and plump for the cup game (which co-incidentally is on the same day as a planned night out and opens up the possibility of a proper day-session).
To cut a long story short, I woke on New Years day with a lump on the side of my neck which continued to grow and get more painful over the day, remember “How to Get Ahead in Advertising”? Well this is about twice as bad and ended up with me in the emergency Doctors on Saturday afternoon and missing out on both the game and the night out. If we love it when a plan comes together, how do we feel when they fall to pieces at our feet? Well I felt pretty crappy anyway, so no big deal really.
And what did I miss?
From what I can tell, Blackburn was a traditionally Latic ‘game of two halves ‘. A fairly insipid response to some typical Allardyce tactics, followed by a half time rollocking and a bit of a fight back from our boys. Benny McCarthy reportedly the best player on the pitch, in a problem position for Latics, allegedly taking advantage of a rare start to increase his chances of a January move. With Celtic interested, maybe he ‘d like to stay nearer to home?
Tellingly, for Latics ‘ prospects in the closing part of the season, Blackburn managed to bring on a player capable making a difference in Morten Gamst Pederson and a striker capable of grabbing a goal in Jason Roberts, thankfully neither did this time. Martinez chose to not make any changes, but his potential replacements were hardly as inspiring.
So then onto the age old question of what it means to go to Old Trafford and lose. I think it ‘s fair to say that the points in fixtures like these are secondary and that it ‘s all about the level of performance. Losing 5-0 is never a good indication, but when the reality is even worse then it ‘s a good job that you ‘re already in the pub with a ready made belly of ale.
There ‘s probably been a lot of fuss and nonsense about this game, but it wasn ‘t the worse ever Latics performance (Canvey Island springs to mind in recent times) nor the worse in the Premier League (that pleasure has to go to Bolton at the JJB in 2007). Still it was pretty bad but in that sense it ‘s great timing (a game we would always lose, new year, transfer window and all that) and we can only hope that it ends up being the low point of the season and onwards and upwards from here.
Finally, I ‘m wary of reading too much into the Hull result. It was a good one but I somehow doubt it would be the same if it had been a league game. The biggest pluses would be the 90 minutes from Sinclair and McCarthy and the, pretty much unheard of, win after being behind. It would be great if the latter can give the team the confidence boost that they need and that the former can give Bobby a bit more faith and we see more of two exciting young prospects.
Of course, it ‘s great to still be in the FA Cup and a tie against Forest Green or Notts County rings a bit more of the romance of the thing. Romance being something that was sadly missing on Saturday when just over 5,000 turned up at the DW. There ‘s plenty to be said on that separately but for now let ‘s leave it at me saying that the doctor ‘s waiting room wasn ‘t that full and with the question, what ‘s worse, that only 5,000 went or that the club expected it so much that they only opened one stand? Not that it ‘s the club ‘s fault, mind, just that it hardly came as a surprise, did it?
And the neck? Well the lump ‘s carried on growing and I ‘m off to see Albert and Edward at the Infirmary tomorrow. Here ‘s hoping for a quick resolution because that £15 I saved on Hull is burning a hole in my pocket and I ‘m aiming to be at the DW for the Villa game, if it doesn ‘t snow again, of course.
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