We’re rapidly approaching a point where JWAW weekly match reports will be totally redundant. In fact, I had half a mind to copy-paste last week’s comments into this post and save the pain of recounting yet another frustrating afternoon for Wigan Athletic. Having analysed (read: watched in fear) the Sky Sports coverage, there’s nothing new to report, so forgive me if I end up repeating myself more than once during the course of this post.
To sum things up, Latics’ failings at the back combined with a lack of potency up front were once again a cocktail for catastrophe resulting in the squandering of another chance to repair some damage lost. Some might already even term this irreparable; positive outlook or not, the horrible truth is that week by week, things are becoming increasingly dire. Although there is still plenty of time turn things round, and goodness knows how many lost causes have been rescued from similar situations, that is looking a distant pipe dream at the moment with some serious problems all over the pitch.
Where to start? Well, up front would be as good a position as any. Latics created chances in a quite even first half, but simply could not take them. Hugo Rodallega is particularly guilty of missing two fantastic opportunities, the latter of which must have been easier to score. As if to rub things in, Wolves went up the other end and scored within seconds of this chance, which brings us to the second point. Even if Latics had converted their opportunities, it probably would not have been enough to win the contest due to some familiar defensive disasters.
To be fair, things were looking alright at half time. The score was one apiece thanks to the follow-up talents of Ben Watson, and there was a real opportunity to put in a good half of football and finally, finally end this abysmal run of losses. Unfortunately this wasn’t forthcoming, and it seemed as though every time Wolves came forward they would score. Those defensive lapses we saw in the first half were more than just that – we may have been lucky to get away with conceding a penalty in the opening stages, but karma really did come back to bite us in the bottom.
Only Ali Al Habsi kept the score from reaching embarrassing proportions – one save in particular drew comparisons to Gordon Banks, and earned the Omani a surprise Man of the Match award. I think it was more out of pity than anything else, however.
Of course, none of this makes any difference in the grand scheme of things if you don’t get the points. The season is spiralling downwards at a simply horrifying rate – no matter how well we play in midfield or how many chances we create, negative results ensue. Any good that came of today’s game –and there are one or two minor bright spots– is far outweighed by the fact that good passing moves won’t get you goals if you have nobody to stick the resultant chances away.
Those ‘bright spots’? Well, Latics scored their first goal in over four hours of football through Ben Watson. When Boyce was barged off the ball by Hunt, Lee Probert pointed straight to the penalty spot to hand Latics a golden opportunity to get back on level terms. Watson missed his pen, but managed to squeeze the ball past Hennessey’s left hand in the Wolves goal on the follow-up. You’d have been forgiven for thinking Wigan’s luck might be about to change – on another day the Wolves keeper would have pouched it to deny an increasingly luckless Latics any sniff of a chance.
Once again, however, it was to be of little significance. It was a poor second half for Wigan, who saw a lot of the ball but couldn’t create any clear cut chances whatsoever. Add to this a desperate, frustrated and scrambling defence for the perfect indegestion-inducing recipe. One dreads to think how the games with Manchester United and Arsenal later this year might pan out, so I choose not to.
More pressing is the defensive hole which could be left by Antolin Alcaraz – his late spitting antics will not be looked upon favourably by the FA and certainly incur at least a fine. A ban may loom, and dump Latics even deeper into the proverbial doodoo from which they simply cannot escape, with or without their first choice defence.
It’s generally accepted something must change, and that if things continue in a similar vein you might as well write off the season before we even get to those clashes with the top four. With every loss, you increasingly fear the worst for both Wigan Athletic and Roberto Martinez. Can any manager, no matter how much good they have done for a club, survive nine straight losses? I’ll let you know the answer to that in two weeks’ time, perhaps even sooner.