For eighty minutes this game looked as if it was going to be just what Blaster Bill ordered. One where we could forget the whingeing, backbiting and in-fighting and focus on a different enemy, an actual enemy and jabber long into the night about the ifs, buts and maybes. It’s not often that you get to thank someone like Alan Wiley, but I was all ready to give him a pat on the back for giving us a game settled by an offside goal scored by someone who was lucky to be on the pitch.
The “rugby men” who left on 80 minutes (well it’s either that or their used to junior football, they’ve no stamina) got that but for those that stayed we got yet another two goal volley from someone who hadn’t so far scored in the Premier League. Pavlyuchenko’s brace flattered Spurs after this hard fought game but gave the boo boys all the excuse they needed to get their beef on and their embolisms out.
The irony of that is that Latics had done alright for the large part of the game. McCarthy, Thomas and Diame standing up well to Huddlestone, Bentley and erm, whassisname; Moreno, N’Zogbia and Rodallega being nuisances (without actually causing the Spurs defence too much bother) and the back-four largely handling England’s fourth choice strike force without too much panic.
Not that Latics were ever going to win against a classier, quicker and more experienced Tottenham side, not unless they had a couple of men sent off that is. The thing is that they could and maybe should have. Defoe’s attempt at revenge (followed by his pettiness at a free kick, if you were going to be kind and give him a yellow), Bale’s long distance lunge and Huddlestone’s double misdemeanour on a different day would all have seen red.
By “on another day”, I guess I can’t get past the thought that if it had been Rodallega, Figueroa or Diame they would have but, what I really mean is that if we’d had a referee with any guts then things could have been different. Alan Wiley started to lose respect in the early stages when, out of position, he over ruled his assistant to turn a Latics corner into a goal kick and lost control round about the time that Defoe’s “tackle” on Caldwell lead to a throw in.
A booking there might have lead to a different game but what we got instead was a roll about in the mud with a Spurs side desperate to prove themselves anything but a soft touch and a referee incapable of handling it. I would imagine that he was just as bad for Spurs, but I didn’t see it and for, possibly the first time this season, I’m minded to agree with Steve Bruce and his bigger clubs get “better” referees type comments.
And where does that get us? Well I’d hope it leaves us with the seed of a siege mentality, the start of a chorus of “everyone hates us…”, a realisation that we’re still not welcome at this party. But the two late goals changed that, and from the people sat around me I’m guessing we get another week of 4-4-2, “bang it up front” and no nothing loud mouths. More’s the pity.
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