Well, would you believe it? Latics’ first match in a new, non-orange away kit has led to our first competitive away win under Martinez whilst wearing anything other than blue and white. There can only be one explanation, and that’s the old ‘Tangerine Dream’, henceforth termed the Oranjeboom Nightmare, was jinxed. A rotten satsuma, if you will.
Yep, it can’t be that League One Hartlepool United just couldn’t live up to the ‘quality’ of a so-called Premier League team because Wigan couldn’t even score against, let alone beat, Blackpool. A quick glance at last night’s other results show that our conquerors of two weeks ago actually lost to MK Dons. I guess this logic places the Seasiders in League One and Latics in the Conference or something, and I wonder where the ‘orange kit’ theory comes into that?
Thank goodness football has little to do with logic, otherwise we’d have people like Paul Merson moonlighting as pundits. Oh, wait… Well, I suppose that’s one reason to be pleased Sky Sports News has disappeared from free-to-air television.
Now, dare I say it? Has Martinez’ side finally ‘clicked’? There’s no doubt last night’s victory is a nice little confidence booster, but I think it’s impossible to tell. Latics were never in total control until quite late in the game, despite the one goal lead they held for 70-odd minutes, and that’s partially down to the old cup tie mentality of ‘we don’t wanna lose against a team two divisions below us’. I think it was Graham Lovett on WISH FM that first pointed that out, actually.
But, as old Merse (Marse?) would be quick to reiterate, a win is a win and a 3-0 victory looks dead good on paper. Actually no, he’d probably say a 7-0 Latics win would look bad just because it’s Little Wigan, and they’re a disgrace because they’ve conceded ten goals in two games.
Of course, all eyes were on this fixture and how we would react after another series of hammerings, and I have to say it’s nice to be in the limelight again. I figure we might as well enjoy it while it lasts, for we can’t be spoiled with the luxury of top-flight football forever. Bureaucratic legislation and increasing commercialisation may be our biggest enemies in that respect.
Whilst I can’t say I’m at all confident about this Latics side, or in fact any given line-up from the past sixteen months or so (and you’d probably have to be Roberto Martinez for that to be the case), at least things are starting to look a bit brighter. Not a lot, but you have to start somewhere, and at least we didn’t lose horribly like in the corresponding fixture last year.
A negative point must be the fact Jordi Gomez scored. The quality of his strike makes things worse, as it only strengthens his case for a place in the Latics starting line-up on Saturday, and I’m not sure that would be step in the right direction. Literally, since it seems all Jordi has done of late it pass backwards to defence.
What was nice to see yesterday, however, was Hugo and Mauro enjoying a bit of interplay afforded by Bob’s two-striker formation, at least for periods. I’m convinced that this would be the better option against the vast majority of Premier League opposition because, whilst Rodders does a decent job on the left wing, at times he is wasted out there. It seems he’s lost that finishing touch he had in his first ten games at the club, more likely than ever to balloon one ten yards over the crossbar given half the opportunity.
With all the uncertainty over Charles N’Zogbia flying around pre-transfer window closure, the two South Americans could be the key to Latics’ survival in this league. Unless they’re played in positions condicive to goalscoring, Wigan will forever be just a passing outfit, and sometimes not even that.
What of Wigan’s other vice, their defensive line? Well, from the sounds of things Al Habsi had a half decent game, no doubt putting himself in the frame for Tottenham on Saturday. Can’t say much about the central partnership of Boyce and new(ish) boy Steven Caldwell as all I have to go on are the odd comments of ‘that was a decent tackle’ and ‘nice clearance’ from a Latics-biased commentary team. Let’s just say they kept a clean sheet, the first defence to achieve one this campaign.
Tougher tests are to come, no doubt, starting this weekend with a trip to White Hart Lane, our first since, well, you know. I’d rather not think about it, and instead return to watching Accrington vs Newcastle rather than Spurs’ European Cup tie on ITV. Before you accuse me of wussing out of researching forthcoming opponents, I will simply state that the Carling Cup game’s a more competitive contest, at least at the moment.
And if anyone else says ‘Accrington Stann-lee’ in a Liverpudlian accent one more time I shall knee them in the nads.