Mr Mackay keeps a firm grip on his men. (c)BBC
Wahey, thank goodness for that! Now the darned transfer window is firmly sealed with the strongest of industrial superglue, Wigan Athletic’s season proper can finally begin. Let’s just hope those dodgy builders I hired have done enough to keep it closed while those 40mph gusts rattle through the adjacent window marked ‘loan’…
This past six months have been the most humbling of a small time Latics internet blogger’s ‘career’. I am hard pressed to remember the last time I wasn’t complaining about other teams blatantly swiping our assets from beneath our runny, flu-ridden noses. But as your average East Stander will agree, this particular January has been different on account of the club’s rapid engulfment in the suitably nauseating ‘have not’ flavoured Robin Park bog. Except denizens of the Benidorm Stand wouldn’t dream of constructing such a flowery analogy.
By contrast, the anticipation of this season’s forthcoming transfer window has been unbearable. With the legendary Roger Espinoza and Jesus Seba long consigned to that snakepit of Latics semi-obscurity, January was seemingly our only saviour, a branded soft drink machine on the horizon of a Championship point-free desert. Or is it merely a burned out ice cream van on Blackpool Beach?
(It’s the beach, incidentally.)
Certainly, livewire freshmen Kim Bo-Kyung and Leon Clarke served to neutralise any initial venom spewed by the visitors’ spitting vipers. I presume they have those down south, which is why I try and avoid crossing the barbed wire fence they constructed in the midlands to keep the battling Noorthen and Savven factions apart.
Lino, you’re looking the wrong way! The match is behind you…
As James McClean thundered a left footed free kick into the upper half of Artur Boruc’s suspiciously sturdy crossbar, you sensed that fabled new era in the history of Wigan Athletic peeking through the late afternoon Lancastrian dullness. It was, however, merely a glimmer of agonising false hope.
The league leaders quickly assumed control from the moment Al Habsi’s outstretched left fist just so happened to get in the way of Yann Kermorgant’s 11th minute effort, and only some well-positioned (and chiselled) backsides (of the Wigan *and* Bournemouth varieties) spared Ali from the ignominy of having the ball knock his block clean from his shoulders.
Sensing a huge injustice, the West Stand linesman decided Bournemouth ought to be a goal ahead. And I only say that because I do not wish to question his officiating abilities or quality of eyesight, because that might come across as unnecessarily bitter. I wouldn’t ever dream of branding said assistant official a zombie that lacks the strength to lift his flag, but *will* refer you back to those oft-cited ‘small margins’. What about the larger, three-yard ones, eh?
Anyhow, an officially ‘not offside, maybe’ Callum Wilson expertly picked a spot just wide of Al Habsi’s left leg, despite a last-second hiccup from the Wellington boot-ravaged DW surface. A superb finish of Premier League proportions to contrast with rank amateur officiating of the kids’ Sunday league variety.
(Wilson was offside, incidentally.)
I am in two minds as to whether I should blame the pitch for Chris McCann’s subsequent trip, which led to a long-range Kermorgant korker of the highest degree… but again, I hate my grapes sour. Bournemouth’s 2-0 lead was warranted, to an extent. Ahem.
Bear in mind that by the time Callum Wilson slotted home with applaudable aplomb once again on 56 minutes, the hosts’ only contact with the ball was to propel it high towards Chunk and the Drummers (good name for a pop band?) in ES3, such was the Cherries’ complete dominance.
Don’t worry, I won’t make a joke about that linesman’s career being dead here.
All of this served to accelerate deadline day dude Sheyi Ojo’s introduction. When things are so stale, one is greatly appreciative of fresh ideas, of the exuberance of Premier League youth. Even though he played no great part in Latics’ consolation goal, Ojo’s mere presence seemed to inject a newfound freedom of expression, offering a droplet of hope for the immediate future. Who knows, maybe Leon Clarke was sufficiently inspired to guide James McClean’s cross into the corner of Boruc’s netting?
The sheer joy of a lesser-spotted goal sparked enthusiastic choruses of “how bad must you be? We’ve scored at home!” Ahhhh, who says football fans don’t have a firm grasp of irony? But such is Wigan Athletic’s current plight, small mercies are magnified a thousandfold at this moment. As unlikely as it might seem, party football ensued not from 1st-placed Bournemouth, but 23rd-placed Wigan – proof positive that all success is surely relative.
(Bolton were beaten 4-1, incidentally.)
And so the void to safety remains constant, but though Latics smelled the none-too-pleasant leather polish of a right good jaw-booting, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. For those that remain unsure, know this: Latics definitely weren’t the only Championship battlers to concede three goals this afternoon, oooh noooo.
(Others may disagree with my ‘analysis’, incidentally.)