Playoff qualification? I call it… Christmas 2.0! (c)Illarterate
As Uwe Rosler approached the DW Stadium on Monday morning, he was nigh on suffocated by reporters and small time internet webloggers clamouring for an explanation. “Uwe,” screamed a strangled voice from the rabble, “just how will your team recover from this disastrous barren run?”
Uwe’s wry smile was answer enough.
Yep, apparently two straight losses equates to a terrible spell where Rosler’s reign is concerned. And you thought David Moyes had it bad? Phew, try managing Wigan Athletic for a real challenge of Championship Manager proportions!
Before we advance from starters to mains, I should point out that the microphone-wielding press mob did not descend upon Robin Park and that scenario took place only in the masochistic soap opera of my mind. I call it Home and Away UK, and I’m currently in talks with Ceefax to bring it to Home VHS in time for the seasonal sales rush.
A crock ‘n’ goal Christmas… in April
On the subject of Christmas, how do you fancy an immediate goal to settle the nerves? Callum McManaman was definitely grateful of such a gift, even if he did seem to slip on a present of another variety. Not that I’m suggesting the St Andrew’s resident mutt had been let loose or anything… But unfortunately for Darren Randolph, Mac Man’s shot was already headed goalwards and the result really *was* disastrous for the relegation-threatened hosts.
Latics’ 1000-strong travelling faithful spent the next five minutes urging ref Andy Woolmer to blow an extravagant full time whistle, but it was no use – he would not be persuaded by a highly unusual barrage of compliments. “Oh, Mr Whistleman, I must say you’re looking particularly hirsute this fine evening! Have you been working out?”
“Ere, who’re you then?” “The Ghost of Latics Past. They call me Coy Lee.”
And so, much to our chagrin, the remaining 88 minutes went ahead as originally planned. The next 8 or so saw Wigan command possession much as Ebenezer Scrooge did his fortune, the Spectre of Blackpool Contests Past pointing a ghostly finger towards the Birmingham goalmouth. “Look at what you could have won on Saturday,” he moaned as if he were a zombified Jim Bowen.
Like in the classic Christmas tale, however, the apparition faded into the wallpaper to be replaced by the Ghost of Championship Contests Present. Though his appearance was more irritating for the home fans, the players clearly chose not to acknowledge his existence. In fact, I think they were playing poker rather than football – at least, I don’t recall much of the latter.
Can we have half time please, dealer?
Heh, I’m glad you asked as I have nothing more to say of a decidedly cagey and nerve-ridden first 45. Breathe it in boys, the aroma of a good old Premier League relegation scrap! Oh what, it isn’t? Excuse me, I saw Gary Caldwell’s name on the team sheet and was instantly transported to this time last season. Man, was that a difficult article to write.
Wigan’s possession dominance continued, though the events of Saturday have taught us to #believe only in goals. And I apologise for poking your precious repressed memories with a particularly pointy twig once more, but I promise I won’t mention tangerines again. They’re the orange’s less fulfilling cousin, anyway.
With the game grinding towards a predictable yet highly welcome conclusion, the question, much as on Saturday, was thus: who wanted this more? Grab those festive nuts before that greedy Father Christmas can, and your reward shall be sweeter than a Christmas morning cola.
Stumblin’ back to happiness (whoa-ho-yeah)
Scott Carson: tortoise *and* hare.
Beware the bruised Birmingham, who took it upon themselves to pin Latics to their own goal line. Substitute man mountain Nikola Zigic headed wide, a gentle reminder that the playoffs were still further away than Rudolf’s carrot on a long pole attached to his head.
With five (or was it five hundred?) minutes to play, stand-in shot stopper Scott Carson smartly prevented Federico Macheda converting the hosts’ best opportunity to date. And with less than a minute of stoppage time to endure, he repeated the feat, dropping to the ground just in time to deny Hayden Mullins in this instance.
Carson’s timely emergence from his turtle shell proved *just* enough to push his exhausted side to the finishing tape. What’s more, he once again demonstrated his credentials as a special teams sub to relieve Al Habsi of excessive workload – perhaps a playoff berth beckons for the Carse? Indeed, burnout has undoubtedly been a factor in the last eight days, but phase 1 of the Rosler masterplan is complete.
Birmingham’s fight goes the distance, and I don’t envy their task. Final day dogfights are far more draining than your typical FA Cup Semi Final, so be thankful for small (well, pretty hefty) mercies as you witness a dull draw at Ewood this weekend. Which I will cash in right now please, Mr Bank Manager.