Ah, that’s what I like to see! As recent visitors to Liverpudlia may well know, Latics are once again causing chip paper murmurings outside the good parish of Inner Pieville. For the first time in (presumably) a long time, the name of FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic was resonating through the halls of the Liverpool Echo as superstar Sheyi Ojo single-handedly guided his adopted side to a thumping victory over Reading. Allegedly, he’s been heralded as Wigan’s best player by… well, the Liverpool Echo. If such praise is anything to go by, I eagerly await the headlines as instant Tours FC legend Andy Delort performs similar miracles out on the continent, in leagues the television camera has yet to touch.
For smaller, FA Cup-winning teams such as Wigan Athletic, keeping tabs on those ‘playing away’ is a bit more difficult than simply picking up a newspaper. For one thing, there is the modern ’20 second rule’ for standing in a magazine aisle, which overly bulky security guards rigorously enforce as if that cardboard cutout policeman in the foyer is in fact a scrutineer from the SIA. But it is even more difficult to learn a whole new language just so you can read overseas fan blogs… I can only guess what this is about.
Ojo’s Bizarre Adventure
To the Echo’s credit, young Sheyi did contribute to a strong Wigan start against Charlton, a most heartening fifteen minutes of football that offered rich hope of an average league finish. Oh, how average seems so adequate at this very moment!
Mirroring his critically acclaimed opening stint at Reading, an energetic Marc-Antoine Fortune was stretching his leash as tight as a George Formby’s banjolele string in pursuit of the opposition goalmouth. You wouldn’t necessarily have expected him to score when he broke through on goal in the sixth minute, so that he won a corner was an applaudable alternative. You see, Fortune is like my pet dog, who will scream endlessly at a passing pussycat but wouldn’t know what to do if the wrought iron barrier were removed. But of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
However, it was a delighted Charlton that stunned the DW Stadium into near-silence – if it weren’t for the ball nestling in Al Habsi’s net, you wouldn’t have believed Charlton took the lead through Frederic Bulot. Certainly, I was still figuring out how to rotate the tripod that is my neck on a horizontal axis, since I hadn’t needed to move the camera that is my eyes from the Charlton goalmouth up to that point.
And thus began the oh-so-convenient decimation of the Wigan Athletic starting XI, as first Kvist, then Clarke could not muster the strength to remove themselves from the turf. Searching for minute positives, one would suggest that the ‘three substitutions’ rule fell firmly in Wigan Athletic’s favour – hoorah.
Meanwhile, the hosts were being soundly beaten on the break by yet another team more efficient in the Championship game. In the second of ten minutes stoppage time, Igor Vetokele kept up his side’s formidable attempts to goals scored ratio with Charlton’s second goal in as many shots on target, and maybe even forays into opposition territory. The visitors’ 2-0 half time lead was yet more proof, were it needed, that effort often fights a losing battle against quality. Oh dear, I fear the scientist logging all this proof might well be on to his third A4 exercise book of the season.
Wake me up when it’s over.
Without the talismanic figure of Leon Clarke, Wigan’s attacking exertions, though admirable, continued to count for little. Kim Bo Kyung sought to seize control for a brief period, but the hosts’ best effort to date came via defender Harry Maguire – another sign of the situation that Wigan had to work so much harder for their goals. As James McClean’s consistent half chances more often met advertising hoarding, Charlton’s lead remained comfortable as the game entered the final ten minutes. Compelling viewing? Not if you’re a Latics fan.
When sub Chris Eagles earned Charlton’s third shot on target, naturally it also defeated Ali Al Habsi. But in truth, time had long since ticked beyond Wigan Athletic – did those injuries destroy their chance of competing, or was it an all-round lack of quality that doomed them? This blogger suggests an amalgamation of both, but it is scarcely surprising since much the same bitter formula has been destroying our tastebuds for six months.
Does anyone have Uri Geller’s phone number? I’m going to send him round to Leon Clarke’s house to poke his neck with a lucky spoon for four days.