“Oooone ooof usss! Oooone oof usss!”
Why is that the only thing I can remember from the various interviews and press conferences surrounding Gary Caldwell’s appointment as (temporary?) Wigan Athletic manager this week? At the risk of conjuring unsettling imagery from cult 1932 film Freaks, promoting from within seems a refreshing notion in light of Wigan Athletic’s, shall we say, less than favourable recent experience of ‘outsiders’.
Certainly, few will have even considered the fate of Malcolm G Mackay, but I can tell you he’s stuck on the Football League roundabout somewhere in central Suffolk. Or maybe he’s in Norfolk? That particular island is so large it spans four counties and can be seen from the moon, at least according to Buzz Allstrong. Hah, those guys who claim the Apollo 11 landings were fake must be chewing on their trilbies right now!
Malky, like this season, will be quickly forgotten – a repressed memory packed into a corner of your brain alongside that time you went to work naked or got chased by a doughnut-wielding Scotsman in his long-unwashed lucky shorts. But you can thank me for reminding you about those ‘isolated incidents’ later, because look – the football is still going on, and apparently we played this evening! I, er… thought Friday nights were for rugball?
Jet Set Jermaine
Latics, too, were startled by this alarming news – so much so that they neglected to move when Sean Kavanagh collected the ball inside their half. So much so that they could do naught but point in awe as 14-goal (phwoar!) Ross McCormack effortlessly swerved an 18-yarder past Scott Carson. Welcome back to the first team, Carse, my lad! They say change is as inevitable as life and death, but Wigan Athletic fans will beg to differ: some things you just can’t alter.
But much as Latics are prone to conceding the first blow, they are just as likely to muster superhuman strength in the face of apparently unavoidable disaster. It is, after all, Wigan time.
The first half of Easter Monday’s Malky-killer was characterised by many, many set pieces that melted to worthlessness due to the lack of a free kick specialist. This was less of a problem tonight, as Jermaine Pennant had returned from his spring holidays. Indeed, you’ll be delighted to hear that his first attempt was melting into Marcus Bettinelli‘s netting much as chocolate egg spreads over your fingers… only in this instance, the result was far more satisfying. Pennant and accomplice James McClean toasted the Rotherham offensive‘s great success once more.
Unfortunately, the visitors’ exertions were relegated to trivial busy work as Matt Smith (ooh, I liked that game he did, Manic Miner!) gleefully capitalised on an inherent unwillingness to close down. But then, you expect most efforts from such range to challenge only the concession stand – this one triggered an impromptu chorus of the Lightning Seeds’ Life of Riley… do they still use that music for Goal of the Week?
Everyone’s a striker, baby
Wigan’s response was delayed – their next attempt came close to the 60 minute mark. By the time McClean headed straight into Marcus Bettinelli‘s stomach, Martyn Waghorn had replaced Marco Fortune – a true signal of intent if ever there was one!
Ironically, however, the away side’s second equaliser was made in the centre of defence. From another Pennant corner, Jason Pearce was the man to show the striker’s in-stinks and meet Harry Maguire’s header with an uncomplicated finish. Look, I know Captain Calds, Kop Conqueror is a disciple of Roberto Martinez’s ‘everyone’s an attacker’ philosophy, but this was ridiculous!
…What, you think there was a chance of a winner? Hah, don’t you know these Wigan-Fulham games are destined to end in draws?
Well, due to the hosts’ monopolisation of possession, that anticipated Wigan charge was limited to just one deflected James McClean shot. Kim’s subsequent corner didn’t even make it back into play… could a recently replaced Pennant have done better? And while we’re asking pointless questions, can I request a do-over on this entire wretched season?
Since Fulham’s own victory charge, while marginally better, was equally unsuccessful, the prescribed score draw became a predictable reality. It had, however, been a pulsating contest worthy of a relegation fistfight, and one I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed. Aha, that newfound ‘neutral perspective‘ works again! The mainstream media ought to try it some time.
(Wow, that’s the first time he’s mentioned those guys in weeks! I was beginning to think he’d forgotten about them. — Reader)