Wigan fans have been happy with Roberto’s new signings. (©PAphotos)
by Andrew Kirby
, read by 342 people.
Rock bottom of the table and embarrassed at the DW by relegation favourites (and Lancashire rivals) Blackpool, Wiganers could be forgiven for choking on their Uncle Joes's Mintballs as they try to come to terms with the disaster that was the opening weekend of the season. Blue is most definitely the colour at the DW, as the dust settles.
And it all started off so differently. At 3pm on the opening day, every team is equal, no matter how much money has been spent or trophies in the cabinet. Anything and everything is possible.
Wiganers setting off for the DW could quite legitimately set off full of hope; the new signings made by Martinez looked exciting, the game against newly-promotedBlackpool eminently winnable.
But within three minutes of kick off, opinions were starting to be reassessed. Blackpool tore into the Latics right from the first whistle, full of confidence off the back of their unexpected promotion. The roller-coaster ride predicted for the season by this reporter had started.
Nails were bitten to the quick as Ian Holloway's Tangerines created and wasted a number of chances. Wigan were spared the indignity of being the first Premier League side to concede a goal this season, but the sheet was not to remain clean for long.
On 16 minutes, Gary Taylor-Fletcher ran in Blackpool's first, by which point Wigan's league of nations defence were run ragged by Blackpool's attractive attacking style.
And things went from bad to worse. Marlon Harewood's quick-fire double before half-time was disasterous for the Latics, but fair play to the burly striker, he took both goals well, proving he is an astute signing by Holloway.
Apparently, Harewood almost ended up at League One Huddersfield, but he clearly still has a role to play at the highest level and his performance showed that Martinez was right to say, pre-match, that this was just about the worst time to be facing Blackpool, while their tails were up.
Harewood epitomised their spirit, seeming desperate to prove his worth throughout the half and rightly taking his reward. That his frustrations from spending so long in no man's land at Aston Villa were unleashed against the Latics was unfortunate.
The second half was a marginal improvement after a raft of early substitutions from Martinez, but if truth be told, the Seasiders already had the game won by then, and the fans looked on in shell-shocked silence as Wigan tried to play their way back into some kind of form.
When 5pm ticked around, fans were forced to digest the kind of result which requires clarification on the vidi-printers: Wigan 0 Blackpool 4 (Four).
The omens are not good. At times during the match, it appeared that we could be witnessing a new record - the record victory for a side promoted to the Premier League was Bolton's shock 5-0 drubbing of Leicester, and look what happened to Leicester: they finished off that season in rock bottom.
Last year, Wigan opened their account with a fantastic 2-0 away victory against Martin O' Neill's Europe-bound Aston Villa, a game which included one of the goals of the season from Hugo Rodallega.
This year, things could hardly be more different. One game in and Wigan are already facing a real test of their bouncebackability. The response to this devastating loss could tell fans a lot about what will happen for the rest of the season.
Here are some other straws for Latics fans to clutch at on this darkest of August days:
- A reaction is needed. Last season the team generally responded well after heavy defeats.
- There are 37 games to go, and lots of points to play for.
- Kirkland has got his two mistakes for the season out of the way in the first match, Wigan fans can expect the usual solid performances from the stopper from here on in.
- Boselli has got his competitive debut out of the way, and will know what to expect in future Premier League games. Hopefully he can hit the ground running now.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.