Agh, I don’t need those blasted ‘year in review’ talking heads shows on Channel 5! Every New Year’s Day, I lie back in my rocking chair and replay events of the previous year in the tatty old VCR box that is my brain. It may be plagued by bad reception and serious tracking issues, but at least there is no Peter Andre to make me switch off and go back to chewing the leftover sprouts like 3-day old rubberised bubble gum (rubber gum?).
Every 1 January, I also make a mental note of my hopes for the forthcoming 12 months, to be reassessed in precisely 365 days’ time. And by 3 January I’ve usually forgotten them all. But I do remember thinking ‘I would like to win the League Cup this year’ in 2013, and fortunately for all of us, I was completely wrong about that.
However, I won’t even think about making these judgements until the final game of 2014 has passed, so let’s do our regular series of dated one-liners to exhaust the remaining Christmas cracker jokes. I dunno why, they’ll be exactly the same ones I stole on 25 December…
Round one. Fight!
Both teams survived the first half with all eleven members intact, despite the fact Keiren Westwood needed a comfort break after an early challenge with McClean… of the, er, footballing variety, you understand. Just thought I would make that clear in light of subsequent events. *Clears throat*
I’d hazard a guess there were a few casualties on the terraces, however, as the few remaining Latics fans retreated to the relative warmth of the Andy Liddell Concourse, *away* from the ‘football’ – and I use that term loosely. Still, Rob Kiernan’s booking instigated the odd mumble, especially when said defender was left covering for Ramis, who in turn was covering for a non-existent striker at Latics corners. This oversight was quickly remedied, however, when a lone voice from the crowd brought this to the team’s attention with a constructive ‘gerrim off, he’s pants*’ (*substitute for word rhyming with ‘fight’).
So far, so bog standard. But a couple of substitutions signalled a more attacking formula for the hosts, with the struggling Fortune and Watson replaced by McManaman and Espinoza respectively. I had particular reservations about the former change potentially leading to an unwelcome comeback for the so-called false 9 (boo hiss!), but a superbly worked training ground free kick erased these apprehensions. Sadly at least three Latics players were in offside positions when Watson floated a highly effective curler towards McClean, but it looked good on the telly… I assume.
Elland Road: The Payback
To escape a Championship relegation battle, Wigan are going to need a spark, a fire that will stimulate a higher level of spirited performance. But however necessary this might have been, it was an increase in aggression of this sort that led to Wigan’s downfall. Not that any part of Callum McManaman’s lunge at Claude Dielna was necessary, except maybe at a karate dojo. For my own part I’ll have to play the big red (nosed) Wenger card and claim I didn’t see it… because Macca’s sailing size sixes blocked my view of his victim. All I will say is that Callum now felt the pain of Pele’s premature ejection. (Groan.)
This was Wednesday’s big chance, and Atdhe Nuhiu knew it. For the first time, a goalkeeper was called into action as the Austrian’s header was plucked Gordon Banks-style from the goalmouth, another Kodak moment for Carse’s ever-fattening photo album.
But it was only an excruciating stay of execution, as Nuhiu’s next trick was far too perplexing for even Carson’s cynical world-weary outlook. Maybe. A deflected cross looped perfectly onto the 10 foot striker’s bonce, and though the Latics goalsmon stuck out a hopeful palm, a fine finger save was not forthcoming. Fudge.
I’d forgotten all about Maloney by the time he succeeded Rob Kiernan some seven minutes from time. He was the one that provided the exquisite free kick for covering striker (heh) Ramis to head onto the post, but that elusive shot on target continued to prove but a pipe dream. 95 minutes, 10 shots off target, nothing for Westwood to save. Ho hum.
Teaser for WOTRT4?
And so the Wars of the Roses Tin have ended with Yorkshire the resounding victors. Hostilities shall resume once I find some heavily discounted out of date Quality Street tubs in PoundSava in the next couple of days, though you aren’t likely to hear about this battle, which my stomach will certainly win.
And indeed, 2014 is almost at a close, so it only remains for me to wish you a Happy New Year and retreat to my corner to write some new post titles – I’ll bet you’re sick of these movie clichés. See you in 2015, which can only be better for Wigan Athletic… can’t it?