June 25, 2024

Let this image of a demolished building represent Wigan by the final whistle.

I'll have two 99s with extra red sauce, please!
I’ll have two 99s with extra red sauce, please.

Trudging over the bridge to the ticket office on Monday, I happened across a squadron of motorcyclists whizzing between some traffic cones strewn haphazardly across the overflow car park. Disgusted at this blatant misuse of club property, I shouted ‘learn to drive!’ in nobody’s general direction. The response was swift and cutting: “we *are* learning to drive, you moron!”

I didn’t expect there to be a queue as late as lunchtime, but at least ten people were waiting to collect their tickets for Wigan Athletic European matches and the UK Tiddlywinks Championships, to be held later this month in the South Stand Bar. It would probably have been cleverer *not* to release both sets of tickets on the same day but I am not about to complain – I walked away having secured my desired seats without being pelted with brightly coloured counters.

The reason I chose to tell you all of that rather than introduce this Capital One Cup match is not because it’s my usual ‘comedic’ observational nonsense, but because this evening’s game was something of a ‘bonus’. If the Europa League is ‘not a priority’ of Mr Coyle’s, then I wonder where the League Cup ranks in his list of stuff to do? Hopefully it’s somewhere between ‘sign two new strikers’ and ‘get more ketchup on the half time hot dogs’. And I don’t know why I keep mentioning hot dogs because I hate them.

Suppose we’d better do this.

Man City v Wigan, FA Cup 4th Round, 2006
Rewind: Man City v Wigan, FA Cup 4th Round, 2006

Social networker Lee Nicholls marked his Latics competitive début with two early saves. Much like against Atromitos back in July, the England U19 international made such a confident start I didn’t notice Scott Carson had been rested. Or was it that I was sat with the pigeons somewhere near the ceiling of the Etihad, meaning I couldn’t see a blasted thing? Well no, because I listened to the game at home in mud clear quality on the FM radio band. Oh, there’ll be no stealthy product placement for DAB digital in this post!

WISH FM, on the other hand, are to be credited for their ‘impartial’ commentary, and I’m not saying that to cover my back in case I regurgitate any of their analysis this evening. You have permission to frown at me should I do so. But there was little cause for Matt McCann-style hysterics, as only Jordi Gomez even came close to breaching Costel Pantilimon’s domain in the opening half an hour. It was also around this time the Wigan bench made a token effort to spark their team into life before those spider webs on the woodwork formed an extra layer of insurance.

The visitors had a lucky escape as teenage prodigy Marcos Lopes hit the bar on 27 minutes, but Nicholls –wearing a Manchester United-esque red and black kit– would soon be beaten. Edin Dzeko’s strike seemed to loosen the home side’s muscles, and while Wigan attempted some Martinez-esque (heh) patient build-up, they suffered performance anxiety as the goalmouth loomed larger than a QPR wage bill. Ahh, just like old times!

It is best that I don’t report the first half statistics as they may make your evening tea go down the wrong tube. You can sip your warm beverage with confidence with Jesus Was a Wiganer! On that note, I warn you this article isn’t likely to become the slightest bit comfortable this side of the post tags, so don’t reach for a cream cake just yet.

Might be a good idea to go and do something else now.

Let this image of a demolished building represent Wigan by the final whistle.
Let this image of a demolished building represent Wigan at the final whistle.

City’s dictator-style control of the game continued, nay, increased in intensity as Yaya Toure headed just wide before Stephen Crainey forced a save from his own ‘keeper. £22m(!!) Stevan Jovetic was to consolidate his side’s dominance soon after, bundling the ball over an unfortunate Nicholls’ goal line. Hey, I’m noticing that bloke’s name crop up a number of times here – what on earth could it mean?

The life of a Wigan goalkeeper was becoming much harder. Following more relentless Sky Blue pressure, Toure curled a spectacular free kick past a presumably dejected Nicholls (I shall not mention his name again to spare him the pain, just in case he’s reading this) to totally extinguish any hopes of an unlikely comeback. Jovetic and Navas picked off a couple more between some weary Wigan defending, but does it really matter? You stopped reading three paragraphs ago, so I could write anything I like here. I won’t, however, just in case the lawyers are lingering.

There we go! I’ve managed to finish this article without mentioning the FA Cup – the first time I have done so for as long as I can remember. Expect normal service to resume as of… now. The proper stuff gets underway once again this weekend, so expect a chipper edition of the Progress With Unity Podcast on Thursday.

JWAW Latics Man of the Match: Lee N- er, the Wigan goalkeeper. Yes, really.

Second opinion

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