The Wigan Athletic sideshow visits Wembley once again
“Don’t concern yourself too much, it’s only a sideshow.” But what a sideshow, eh? Yep, it’s time for me to gush about Wembley again, so skip forward to… August 2032 when I will finally stop. And that’ll only be because I’m dead.
You can write about the league all you like, and I will continue to do so until my fingers become detached, but it’s unlikely the average Wigan fan will again see anything as amazing as what transpired on that magical, mizzly afternoon. For my own part, I broke a personal record for a sustained howl, scaring the poor dog witless and destroying my vocal chords for all time. A permanent gravelly voice is a small price to pay for that brief moment of joy, for the memories will last far longer.
The 2013 FA Community Shield was, more than anything, a chance to reflect on the FA Cup Final. You might say the result is secondary, and though that’s a typical loser’s quote, football is about more than *just* winning. Why the heck would anyone support Wigan Athletic otherwise? That said, I’m struggling to think who won the equivalent match last year. This may have something to do with with own apathetic attitude towards this ‘glamorous’ season opener, even if I watch it every year, but trophies, no matter how insignificant, aren’t to be taken lightly.
Cor, listen to me wittering on as if we’re Man United and have won every competition in existence (including the Reader’s Digest Prize Draw) not once but at least three times. Let’s cut the formalities (and commas) and talk about football for a change.
Though ITV Sport gave Latics a real hammering in the comm box, the truth of the matter is that, for the most part, the FA Cup winners were competitive – something of an achievement considering the opposition.
Granted, for a while it looked as though United would walk this contest. Wigan’s nondescript start culminated in a wonderfully placed Robin van Persie header before Owen Coyle even had time to change into his shorts. Patrice Evra was granted a whole farmers field to run into, though his cross certainly wasn’t hampered by errant cow-pats and the grimaces began to form on the Latics bench.
Spurred into action, Wigan sought to mark more tightly and pressure their opponents on the ball. Experiencing some success, they were able to finally play the ball amongst themselves without the predatory United frontline baying for Barnett’s blood. Indeed, the Blues’ best chance of the half immediately followed a string of about 40 passes spread across the whole playing area – impressive debutant James McClean’s heavy touch eluded Grant Holt just feet from the goal line.
Watch out for Daisy, Patrice!
The Championship side increased in confidence, and continued to do so well into the second half. It took a moment of deserved fortune for the game to be killed off, James Perch expertly diverting van Persie’s goalward strike past a completely helpless Scott Carson. From thereon it *was* all United, as Wigan struggled to work… wait, who was in goal for United again? I dunno, the only shot Latics managed was a wayward slice from Roger Espinoza.
The Premier League side could have had a few more by the time Mark Clattenberg put whistle to lips on 95 minutes, so Wigan will be relatively content with restricting their opponents to just the van Persie brace. Less impressive was their impact in the final third. Omitting the final half hour, which really *was* a pre-season kickabout for United, Latics could not pick a pass nor open up a shooting chance for all the toffee in the Uncle Joe’s factory.
Though there is a huge temptation to cart out the word ‘friendly’, I certainly won’t brand this match a sideshow again. No game at Wembley can ever be described as such, not even that London U8s tournament they had there a couple of weeks ago.
Do not measure Wigan’s Championship success on performances against the very best the footballing world has to offer, but their capacity to cope on a rainy Tuesday night in Yeovil. Heh, I bet you were wondering how long it would take for me to cart out that old trope for 2013-14, but that’s what we’re all in for. Don your tin hats, lads!