The age old question of whether the football supporters of Wigan deserve a Premier League football team had an answer yesterday. If what we saw was the real Wigan Athletic team, then it doesn’t deserve a premier league support. In fact it probably didn’t deserve the proverbial one man and his dog. Woeful, chaotic, disastrous, weak, wasteful, embarrassing, words just aren’t enough to describe how things panned out but at least there are words that go some way to help. When it comes to excuses there are none, I just don’t know where to start. Maybe I shouldn’t bother?
It would be so bad if I could say that we played badly and Blackpool played well. There’ll be plenty of hyperbole knocking about how well Ian Holloway’s mean played but, in reality, there were no signs of Premier League class about them, I can’t congratulate them on their ball retention or their creativity, there was no great assuredness at the back nor any real putting bodies on the line to save the day (or any great need to). Blackpool looked like a championship side, Latics looked like my old 5-aside team.
What you can congratulate Blackpool for is their attitude. They outplayed the home team yesterday because they wanted to, because they believe they could and because they had the mental strength to go out and show the world that there’s more to football that thirty grand a week and a baby Bentley. Fair play to them, they played the right sort of football, they passed the ball to each other, they tried to make chances, they put the ball in the back of the net.
Apologies to Blackpool fans, because today should rightly be all about you. I think what I’ve just said is true, even if my comments sound bitter, maybe they are, but you saw the game yesterday and I expect you’ll understand why I might be hurt. Trust me that as much as I didn’t see anything that changed my mind on your prospects, I saw a hell of a lot that changed my mind about ours. Overall though, I shouldn’t be pre-empting your future problems anyway, not when we’ve got so many of our own.
I said as much all through last season but for some reason I’d expected things to have changed without us having signed anyone to fix it, but what we missed yesterday was leadership. People have been quick to stick it to Bobby but my personal view is that is leadership on the pitch that’s lacking. There’s only so much that a manager can do during the 90 minutes. Maybe the players weren’t prepared but I find that incredibly hard to believe. They (figuratively and literally) took their eyes off the ball and (hard to believe after some of last year’s games) they put in some of their worst performances since joining the club.
Diame, McCarthy and Watson looked like kids in the first half yesterday. They might have been rattled by what might have gone on behind the scenes, but the fact is that they might as well not have been there, it’s too early to say I told you so but there are any number of posts over the summer where I’ve raised concern on reliance on Boyce as a first choice right back and whilst Moses is a bright young talent, he’s not in N’Zogbia’s class yet.
Kirkland as both captain and goalkeeper carries a lot of responsibility for what happened and it’s good to see him come out and admit to that. It’ll be better to see the rest come out with similar honesty during the week.
I’ve not got enough fingers of blame to keep on pointing at the responsible parties in blue yesterday. Kirkland, Diame and Boyce perhaps come out worse, followed by the centre halves who positionally looked like they’d never played there before, let alone as a partnership. No-one comes out with any credit with perhaps only Boselli and Moses surviving any great ire, the former because at least he looked like he knew what he was supposed to be doing (and did reasonably well with his couple of second half chances) the latter because he was just about the only outlet we had that looked like creating stuff.
It’s Chelsea next and after that performance there is a hell of a lot of work to do, a hell of a lot of soul searching. More than anything the priority for the next seven days is to sort out whatever has gone on with N’Zogbia. Whatever they do needs to be quick, decisive and show strength. Franlkly I don’t care if it means he stays or goes, but if he’s going then it best be double quick because we’ll need the time to spend the money.
I’ll have to stop there, because this is already more rant than anything else. Hopefully my outlook will have improved come tomorrow, but I doubt it very much. Until then, congratulations to Blackpool, go easy on me in the morning, please.
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