June 16, 2024
Nani chicken

He's mad because someone stole his giant chicken leg.

Nani chicken
He’s mad because someone stole his giant chicken leg.

“I’ve done it, Grandad,” he said, slamming down the phone receiver.

“Done what, Grandson? The transfer window has been closed for five days now.”

“I’ve signed Nando’s for Wigan Robin Park! Now we won’t need to re-open that curry shop outside the North Stand.”

“Oh! Well, if you think this ‘Nann-doss’ chap is any good…”

Is a mysterious bout of poultry-related food poisoning set to decimate the Wigan Athletic playing staff? Find out soon on the next thrilling instalment of East Standers.

But next on Latics TV, it’s…. show tha… wouldn’t want to mi- ckkk! Cha! Adabah- phrrrt.

Man, they really need to fix the jerky streams on these concourse TVs. How am I going to write a match report based on sporadic teletext updates… for the 12th time this season? Quick, put page 303 on before Grigg gets a hat-trick or something.

That introduction smells fowl. On to the… er… game.

Sheffield United v Wigan
Ahh, such a velvety green, non-sandy pitch… (c)Vital Wigan

(Chickens aren’t game birds, you pheasant!)

Ahem. Evidently delighted by the marvellous restaurant news, Conor McAleny immediately indulged in a spot of chicken with the home defence. And the debutant was first to finish his hors d’oeuvres, even if Max Power smashed the Everton man’s hard-earned free kick into uncomfortably exposed shins.

Not that Sheffield United players can *ever* feel anything resembling pain, you understand.

The next course consisted mainly of fish, as Conor “Feed The Fish And He Will Score Against West Ham But Nobody Else” Sammon led the Blades’ charge.

Jose Baxter served up a delectable chip which cleared both the crossbar and a disappointed Jussi Jääskeläinen, who evidently skipped lunch. He nursed his growling stomach as he placed the ball for a goal kick.

However, the Finn unwittingly initiated a long pause as the game braked to an excruciating ‘M6 Friday afternoon gridlock’ pace. Yanic Wildschut clambered onto his car roof in an attempt to ease the congestion himself, but could bring neither the traffic or his first time effort under control. Latics cranked up Radio 2 to drown any lingering memories of a circumspect first half.

But before the Eagles’ Hotel California could even reach its final solo, United were tapping aggressively on their driver’s side window. And as the defensive line began the long and laborious task of winding it down, Billy Sharp spied a quick opportunity to test Jussi’s reflexes and snap the contest out of its hypnotised daze. Ahh, sneaky!

Wigan don’t like being woken from daydreams.

Wigan tend to score against teams that wake them from daydreams.

Yanic Wildschut is so fast, it is often the best option to simply deck ‘im. The problem comes when you do so in the penalty area, as Chris Basham did in this instance. A further problem is Willburn Grigg’s immense goalscoring form, which extended to bunging this spot kick into the centre of George Long’s unfortunate goal.

Grigg penalty Sheffield United
Another week, another penalty for ‘Sharp’ Billy Grigg. (c)Vital Latics

And the visitors’ second was also Yanic Powered… or should that be Power Powered? The two exchanged passes to set up Conor McAleny for the spectacular Powerstrike Our Max wishes he could emulate. 1,600 mildly inebriated travelling supporters suddenly sounded like 16,000.

The perfect time for the hosts to flick that DW switch. Forget midfield, it simply does not exist: only goalscoring shall suffice. And Latics were rightly cautious of such strategies.

So cautious, in fact, that they made the tactical decision to miss a penalty. Chris McCann might have been hauled down in the left half of the area, but Bilbo Grigg was ordered to deliberately chip the spot kick into Long’s warm and welcoming arms. Though it pained him to squander such an opportunity, he reluctantly followed Big GC’s orders – a 3-0 lead against Sheffield United can be deadly.

And then Lee McCulloch earned a second yellow make the final fifteen minutes very nervy indeed.

Oh wait, sorry – forgot where I was for a moment there!

Anyway, Latics’ unorthodox tactics would seem to be correct – though the Blades shifted into full DW gear, they remained trapped in that half time traffic jam. With kids complaining that they wanted the toilet. And the bloke in the next car playing soul-piercing four to the floor house speedrock at 11 volume. Certainly a place you wouldn’t want to be.

Goal-line combo Chris McCann and Sam Morsy teamed up to prevent a 91st minute consolation, causing much consternation and perhaps constipation in the Bramall Lane ranks. But I believe the latter might have been the result of some undercooked poultry products from a certain high street chicken restaurant…

Second opinion

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