I have a funny feeling this will be Wigan Athletic’s ‘realistic’ season. You know when you make a prediction and someone immediately responds with “is that what you realistically anticipate?” Well, I have yet to hear such a challenge, as due to The Season That Time (Hopefully) Forgot, expectations have once again been reset to somewhere near zero. Refreshed, like Wigan Athletic’s squad. Rebooted, like a (once) fine sci-fi franchise involving Austrian beefcakes (that aren’t Paul Scharner).
As any tech support keyboard monkey knows, reboots take time. You can’t judge a seismic regime shift on the basis of one trip to Coventry of a Saturday afternoon, never mind the outcome of a single season – we’ve learned that one the hard way in campaigns past. The next four months will feel like an extended DVD marathon of a particularly long running TV drama, with droplets of sublime tragedy and comedy trickling through on a weekly basis.
And if all this smacks of ‘getting excuses out of the way’…
…you’re darn right.
Let me be brief for ten seconds. League One is not the Championship, nor is it a Premier League reserve division. To become more proficient in League One football, you must play League One games, and in the meantime, you’re likely to suffer a fair few swift knees in the groin – both literally and metaphorically. Hence, Coventry v Wigan, first game of the 2015/16 season.
Now let me be satirical for ten seconds. Here’s a nugget of information to make a mental note of for your next pub quiz:
“Who was first to score against Wigan in their infamous 100-point season of 2016?”
Short answer: Adam Armstrong. Longer answer: Adam Armstrong, who magnificently stole playmaker Jim O’Brien’s limelight by slotting home with great ease on 15 minutes… but we know there was more than one hero here. Ooooh yes, we’ll be sticking up for non-strikers in the 2015/16 JWAW season!
Actual answer: “sack the quiz master.”
The Coventry School of League One Football
Up to the half hour mark, Latics had resembled college students, fastidiously analysing their opponents and occasionally scribbling a memo when the hosts exited their general field of vision. However, the freshmen’s attempts to emulate their more experienced opponents were stymied by the sounding of the school bell – otherwise known as the half time whistle.
Actually, that’s an apt analogy considering how the second half felt a lot like detention.
Headmaster Stokes ran his fingernails down the chalkboard on 58 minutes, almost melting the metallic paint covering Richard O’Donnell’s goalpost on this warm summer afternoon. The sound of ball on advertising hoarding was enough to wake those in Latics shirts at the back of the class… and their morning stiffness proved fatal. Moments later, a paper aeroplane marked ‘three points’ flew past the Wigan backline and out of the third floor window in super slo-mo. With comical ‘zombie’ sound effects as someone forgot to mute the audio track.
Adam Armstrong chuckled quietly to himself, safe in the knowledge that his second goal would be more than enough to claim Cov’s prize – a ticket to a top six spot in the League One table. A Premier League finish from a Premier League player, and… wait, aren’t top flight players supposed to be rubbish in League One?
Ahem. Well, that’s my ‘you need League One experience’ aeroplane shredded into 50 pieces and scattered around the Ricoh Arena for disgruntled stewards to sweep away.
“Hey, that bell is for teachers, not students!”
It was a thoroughly deserved unassailable lead for the masters, who thereafter took pity on their students by aiming squarely for goalposts instead of the corner of O’Donnell’s goal. A solid win against potentially tricky opponents… though for today at least, the emphasis was certainly on the word ‘potentially’.
Er, oh yeah – this is supposed to be a Wigan blog, isn’t it? Now, where’s my Caldwell suit…?
To (re)build an empire takes time, and you’re always bound to have a few people spit in your face along the way. Just be thankful we don’t live in Ancient Rome or the Sky Blues might have been slicing off entire heads – it can take many weeks for such injuries to heal, and I don’t think our squad could sustain an inconvenience of that magnitude.
That’s not to say League One is rough… but man, League One is rough. I think we might need to instate Michael Brown as head coach and borrow a few punchbags from the DW gym.
“From mixed grill to mixed martial arts.”
I dunno, I thought it sounded good, considering it’s barbecue season and all.