Even the most hardened of Latics fans will admit there was an air of inevitability over this fixture. If we’re being honest, we all knew Manchester United were going to play some excellent football, in all probability leading to a comfortable win over the Latics.
In fact, you didn’t exactly have to be Stephen Hawking to predict the result of last night’s game: I believe we’ve only ever managed to score a handful against The Red Devils in all our time in the Premiership compared to their 30+ in the same fixture.
Yep, they’re not just a bogey team, but a whacking great blob of phlegm that engulfs Little Wigan in a sea of yellowy-green mucus on a twice-yearly basis (sometimes more, if we’re unlucky enough to draw them in the cup).
I apologise if I put you off your tea, for that was a bit disgusting. It shall act, though, as an apt metaphor for Wigan’s performance on the night: clunky and not very pleasant to witness. Of course, few teams go to Man U and win, but at least many of them put up a fight – we didn’t even manage to do that yesterday as the Latics side of Chelsea and Aston Villa earlier this year looked to be at home watching The Great Escape. Is it me, or does that film get seven minutes longer each year?
Don’t get me wrong: Wigan were outplayed and outclassed, and even if Latics brought their A-game to Old Trafford they would still have struggled to get anywhere close to ‘Ze Champions’. However, it would have been good to at least have seen some pleasant footy on the big stage in front of 75,000 people. I suppose it was not to be, and the lads will no doubt be drowning their sorrows with extra training on New Year’s Day.
Well, I will admit there was some smooth passing on display from the visitors, albeit after the fact. Indeed, Wigan really should have been on the scoresheet in the second half with one of their three excellent opportunities. Wouldn’t have mattered that much, though, as the game was gone in the first half, and United chose to back off after their fourth goal.
Wigan managed to stay in the game for about half an hour, but really could have been at least two or three behind by then: Rooney was unlucky to hit the inside of the post and Titus Bramble could so easily have conceded a penalty and quite possibly have been sent off for a mistimed tackle on Berbatov. Was he offside?
Regarding Berbatov, I’m of the opinion that he isn’t really of the usual standard you’d expect at Manchester United. Sure, he’s a decent player that’ll get you the odd goal here and there, and in all truth made some nice touches last night. Maybe it’s the Cristiano Ronaldo effect or the fact he invariably lines up next to Wayne Rooney, one of the world’s top strikers, but he just seems so, well, ordinary at his present club. When he moved from Tottenham, I expected so much more from him but he looks to have lost that edge he once had.
Even his goal, which admittedly was very well taken, had a touch of fortune as it relied on half the Wigan defence slipping over at a crucial moment. Many will say he had enough chances to score so was bound to get one at some point, but that was more of a reflection of Wigan’s below-par defensive line.
Sorry if I rambled on a bit there, but I felt I had to address a point so eloquently brought up by Ben Dover (an interesting name if ever I saw one) earlier in the season just after our previous 5-0 Man United thrashing. Still, I suppose I did brand Berbatov a donkey, which was a tad unfair.
Antonio Valencia was perhaps the man that caused Wigan the most problems. Why is it that all our best players from the last few years are now spread across the Premiership and scoring freely against us? It seems for every step we take forward, we’re forced three steps back like a woman shooting a bazooka out of the films. Just you watch, Hugo Rodallega will probably hit a hat trick for Liverpool against us next season – it really is enough to drive you bonkers.
It seems Wigan’s quest to become at mid-table mainstay is constantly hindered by the fact nobody really cares about them and will sooner use the club as a stepping stone to greater things, at which point they will just tread all over our faces without a word of thanks. Still, that’s the ruthless and cut-throat world of football, I suppose. And when it comes to money, we can’t really complain all that much, seeing as even Uncle Dave’s eating out at McDonald’s rather than his own Pooles restaurants these days. Admittedly, that is because he’s stopped using cow meat…
I’ve babbled on for long enough on (and off) this subject, and the likelihood is that you’ve stopped reading by now. If not, I award you freedom of the town of Hindley and a whopping great slice of potato pie, Manc or Ticsmon. Happy New Year to all, and don’t forget the FA Cup this weekend.