June 25, 2024
Balaidos Stadium

Balaidos Stadium, Vigo

Balaidos Stadium
Balaidos Stadium, Vigo welcomes Wigan Athletic

With the eyes of the whole world on the city of London last night, it’s no surprise that broadcasters chose not to screen Wigan Athletic’s clash with Spanish ‘giants’ Celta Vigo at the Balaidos Stadium. I should think that’s the only reason, however, and that such a high profile friendly would normally have ESPN scrambling for Big DW’s phone number. But with the lure of a Spice Girls reunion too tempting to resist, not a single public house in the Wigan area would be seen dead with a dodgy Latics satellite feed on their big screens.

Ordinarily, Wigan’s final pre-season friendly is a chance for the gaffer to try out his first choice XI, just to see how well they’re gelling with imminent Premier League tests to follow. No such luxury here, however, for with five players away on international duty, Bob was forced to field a somewhat experimental XI against Premera Division opposition. Not that McManaman, Fyvie, Crusat and Adrian Lopez would have complained much, but I have no doubt the backsides of many a Latics fan will be clenching simultaneously this morning. It wasn’t that great a game, you see.

With no new attacking options brought into the ranks as yet, the hopes of many are pinned on a returning Mauro Boselli. You’d have been forgiven for thinking we’d never again see the Ten Million Dollar Man, but here he is, back challenging for a first team place. So don’t call him a $10m flop just yet. He got a full 90 minutes and came close to scoring last night, but might not have done enough to warrant a berth in the starting line-up for Chelsea next week – pending injuries, of course.

Speaking of which, the James McArthur ‘injury’ ploy worked perfectly, ensuring he has not gone on international duty. Hahar, now we can rest him up for the start of the Premier League next week! Quick thinking that, Roberto.

Al Habsi portrait
Al Habsi could have represented Oman on the parallel bars at the Olympics.

In the end, the collective efforts of a ‘patchwork’ Wigan XI could not prevent a 1-0 loss, Iago Aspas scoring with “virtually the first kick of the second half” according to the Official Latics site. On this evidence, one wonders if Ali Al Habsi was still doing his stretches and hadn’t noticed the game had restarted when the ball flew into his net. Maybe Aspas wanted to emulate Olympian Maynor Figueroa and score from the halfway line?

The highlight of Wigan’s night was a spectacular save by Oman’s own artistic gymnast Al Habsi, who also pulled off a bunch more superb saves to stop the scoreline resembling a Kevin Pietersen innings. That can be construed as great news, but it sounds as if this makeshift defensive line haven’t quite clicked, which is slightly worrying. Should Gary Caldwell and Antolin Alacaraz get injured early in the season we may be knee-deep in dino-doodoo, but I’d like to think we’ll be a bit luckier than that. Besides, it would be foolish to judge a whole season on just one pre-season warmup game, so give it some time.

In fact, there are a few loose ends to be tied up before the season begins in earnest this weekend, and I daresay there’ll be drama right up until the transfer window’s closure. Will Victor Moses become a Chelsea player? Does Bob have eyes on another goalie? And will the Spice Girls stay together for longer than six months this time? Keep your eyes on the skies, and beware of pants rumours.

Image courtesy Jsmq, GFDL.

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