Dreaming of Wigan

How one fan realized his destiny through the power of Dreams

Wigan’s Wembley dream lives

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Have to admit, I didn’t watch the match, but I was still very happy to see Wigan beat just about anybody. That this third round victory in the Carling Cup came against Championship side Preston North End hardly bothers me. The manner in which they won, requiring two late goals to overcome a 1-0 deficit, also should matter little at this point.

All I care about is Wigan not embarrassing themselves, really.

From the match reports, it appears they did their best to do just that until late. Some bad defending led to a first-half penalty and a resulting 1-0 deficit. It took the Latics until two minutes before stoppage time to find the equalizer and up until the final play of the match for Charles N’Zogbia to secure the spot in the fourth round.

With his side unable to make any match look easy, Latics manager Roberto Martinez seems to have adopted a similar stance as myself.

“We started the game in such a slow tempo, and probably didn’t give the occasion the approach it deserved.

“But in situations like this you see the reactions of individuals as men and as a team, and we were really together at the end and managed to find the solutions.”


Written by bayarearefugee

September 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Wigan news

When it rains it pours

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There have been small signs of hope throughout Wigan’s season. The acquisition of Tom Cleverley seemed to be one. In his debut against Sunderland, he looked sharp and capable of making an impact.

Looks like we’ll have to wait at least a month to find out. Cleverley apparently hurt his knee in a training mishap and likely won’t return at least until the Oct. 16 match at Newcastle.

“He has a little problem with the medial ligament in his knee,” Latics manager Roberto Martinez said. “But he is a very strong, fit boy and we hope he’ll be able to heal quicker than is expected.

“In training, as you can imagine, it’s very competitive with all the talent we have in the squad.”

Wigan play Preston in Carling Cup action Wednesday.

Written by bayarearefugee

September 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

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Wigan falls to Man City (yes, I’m still here)

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I was out of the country last week (hey, Canada counts!), so I didn’t deem it important enough to write about Wigan’s tie with Sunderland. I didn’t watch it, but I paid attention enough to know they fell behind while a man up and then needed a 88′ strike to pull out a point. Once again, Wigan manages a baffling result.

Well, I was hoping for another baffler this week, but was sorely disappointed. The 2-0 loss to Manchester City was probably just about what you’d expect. Carlos Tevez scored early, then assisted on the second tally. Wigan looked outmatched for the most part, once again failing to must anything in front of the DW Stadium faithful.

In case you’re wondering, Wigan has played four of its first five EPL matches at their friendly confines and claimed a grand total of one point (in the aforementioned Sunderland draw) and have been outscored … wait for it … 13-1. This loss to ManCity, in which Yaya Toure did not score the second goal until 70′, qualifies as a competitive match by these standards. I’ll tell ya, I don’t want to be a fair-weather fan, but this is actually considerably harder than I had anticipated.

That Wigan has already established themselves as one of the teams that will undoubtedly be fighting relegation should come as little surprise. That they have done so with such a home-heavy schedule hardly bodes well for their future prospects.

Then again, maybe playing at home is not as much of an advantage as we’d like to think. Wigan, as you probably know, plays in front of the smallest crowds in the EPL. Their high-water mark for attendance this season was the opener against Blackpool, which drew fewer than the average MLS crowd: 16,152. Against ManCity, a team that I have to assume is considered one of their rivals, about 15,500 showed up. Judging from what I could see on video, there were nearly as many away fans as there were Wigan supporters.

Who knows, maybe the Latics actually play better on the road where they get to feel like a real-life top-division side. Their one win, against Tottenham, came on the road, after all.

So, maybe I’ve just got it backwards. Maybe the trip to Birmingham’s St. Andrews Stadium, and against the team Charles N’Zogbia could not come to terms with, is the perfect elixir.

Written by bayarearefugee

September 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm

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Wigan drives Harry Redknapp bonkers

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Somehow I missed this gem after Wigan beat Hotspur last Saturday.

Written by bayarearefugee

September 1, 2010 at 4:28 pm

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Wigan off the deck, beat Spurs 1-0

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Just as my faith is wavering, Wigan pulls me back in. A 10-0 collective thrashing in the first two EPL matches — both at home — had left little reason for hope regarding Wigan’s chances at Champion’s League-participant Tottenham’s White Hart Lane.

I had so little hope that I actually forgot to set my alarm this morning. Maybe that was a good thing.

When I finally awoke around 8:30 a.m. PST, the game was in its final 10 minutes and Wigan was clinging to a 1-0 advantage. Watching the final 10-plus minutes was about all my heart could handle.

Wigan surrendered numerous chances, at least one of which felt like it was a sure-fire goal, but held strong to claim their first points of the season.

Ali Al Habsi got the start in goal, his first of the season, and looked to be a massive improvement over Chris Kirkland. Al Habsi had some shaky moments, but Wigan was content to play nine men in the box for much of the match and provided him relief whenever it was needed.

Roberto Martinez’s strategy finally paid off when Hugo Rodallega found an opening on the right wing and fired a low shot past the Spurs keeper.

Al Habsi was one of four changes from previous contests as Ronnie Stam, Steve Gohouri and James McCarthy all got their first starts of the season.

It’s been quite a week for the Latics. It started out with a Carling Cup second-round victory over Hartlepool. On Thursday it was announced that Wigan agreed upon a transfer fee that would send Charles N’Zogbia to Birmingham City. Then news broke that the deal had fallen apart as N’Zogbia failed to come to personal terms on a contract. His situation remains unclear.

This week has been an insane roller-coaster. It had started out with me questioning whether I could really follow a team that was as bad as Wigan when I had no historic personal investment in them. The prospect of losing our best player hardly made that any easier. Whether or not N’Zogbia returns to the fold, though, this win served as a great reminder of why I wanted to start watching EPL, and Wigan in particular.

The Latics may not be a great team (I’ve come to terms with the fight for relegation), but Martinez has an amazing ability to pull wins out of thin air. In a way, it’s even more exciting this way.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 28, 2010 at 9:44 am

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Wigan accepts offer for N’Zogbia

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Assuming I understand this news correctly, it appears as if Charles N’Zogbia is as good as gone.

Wigan announced today that they have accepted an offer from Birmingham for the transfer of the newly minted French international. All that stands between N’Zogbia and his new team is for the player to agree to a contract.

Birmingham revealed on Wednesday that they had presented a new offer for the 24-year-old midfielder, which was apparently less than they had offered earlier in the year. This prompted a bit of a scolding from Wigan manager Roberto Martinez.

‘We had a couple of offers in May and now the offer is less than the one we had in May and then they go public in the press. It doesn’t look serious to me.

‘The valuation is very clear. If the team matches it he can speak with them. Until that happens he is a Wigan Athletic player. The transfer window brings you that distraction but when you get other managers talking about your players, that is really disappointing – to unsettle players and the press with no substance behind it.”

I’m going to go ahead and assume this means Birmingham at least came close to Martinez’s asking price of about $12 million. Unfortunately, with so little time left in the transfer window, I’m also assuming it’s too late to put that money to use.

My expectations for following Wigan were mainly that the Latics would keep it interesting. With two blowout losses and now the loss of their best player, I suppose “interesting” is still a fair word to use. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for “interesting” to turn into “intriguing.”

The Latics are still a young team, but they are definitely a less talented one. I have grown to have a fair amount of faith in Martinez’s ability to find hidden gems, but it’s hard for me to see how this particular move is going to be spun into a positive.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 27, 2010 at 8:44 am

Posted in Wigan news

Well, Wigan is better than a League 1 side…

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy Wigan avoided the ugliness that would have meant losing in the second round of the Carling Cup. Beating Hartlepool United 3-0 is definitely not a bad thing.

I am trying to dampen any positive feelings I have over it, though. Hartlepool, after all, is a side that sports an italicized script in their crest. To say they are less than bigtime is a bit of an understatement.

So, I won’t pretend as if I don’t care that Victor Moses scored his first goal of the season. Although, even Moses’ play deserves an asterisk since he left the game after a poor tackle.

“Hopefully I’ll be OK for Saturday,” Moses said. “I got smashed on my ankle, and it’s very sore, but fingers crossed.”

But this is the state of our season just two weeks in, I guess. We’re trying to find positives in wins over League 1 sides … and failing to find them without caveats.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

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Wigan not sitting still

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Say this about Roberto Martinez: He’s not willing to watch this Wigan campaign go to pot without a fight.

The Latics deficiencies are many and obvious, but at least there will be some new faces in coming weeks. Wigan has reportedly signed Mexican striker Guillermo Franco, acquired Chelsea’s Franco di Santo on a loan and signed Scottish defender Steven Caldwell.

The acquisition of di Santo promises the most return. It is hoped that the Argentine might be able to find some chemistry with countryman Mauro Boselli, who’s had some good moments but has yet to open his EPL account.

Caldwell, at least, is expected to be available for Tuesday’s Carling Cup match against Hartlepool United.

Caldwell was with the team during the preseason, but had not played in the Latics’ first two EPL matches. His brother, Gary, was recently named Wigan’s captain.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm

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0-6 Chelsea: This just sucks

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Two games into the season and Wigan is being outscored 10-0. Just to make us feel a little worse about that, Arsenal beat the team that beat us last week 6-0. Does that mean we are destined to lose 11-0 to Arsenal?

Don’t really know what to say other than Chris Kirkland probably needs to go to the bench if for no other reason than to preserve his sanity. Once again, he looked awful on several goals. The first one was really not his fault, as he made a nice initial save before the rebound was slotted home. He failed to be decisive on the second and third goals and, to be honest, I had kind of lost interest after that. I did see that the defense did not help him on either of the final two tallies.

Beyond that, not sure there’s much that I see changing in personnel. I guess it would be good if Victor Moses was there, but by the time he’s back there’s a good chance Zog will be gone. Games like today probably don’t do much to convince him to want to be in DW Stadium, which it should be noted looked awfully empty for an early season match against a Big Four side.

Despite losing in such a horrible fashion, it should be said there were some bright spots. The first 35 minutes were actually pretty good and I felt like Wigan actually controlled a fair amount of the play to that point. Hugo Rodallega was looking strong, Ronnie Stam was looking solid in his first start and Wigan’s trap was obviously frustrating the Chelsea attack.

The score seemed to change everything. Suddenly, the trap that worked so well was simply leading to odd-man rushes and Wigan lost all control over the midfield. Mauro Boselli had a couple decent chances to score in the second half, but he was correctly deemed offsides on a called-back goal and a well-struck header was right at Petr Cech. He does appear to be adapting to the EPL, though, which might be the only real positive to come out of this match.

Wigan will almost certainly find itself stuck at the bottom of the table this week, unless Newcastle finds a way to lose by seven.

I don’t think I can quite work up intense anger over this, but I will say that I’m starting to curse my destiny. At some point, I really need to see some rays of hope here. I applaud Roberto Martinez for coming out aggressively against a side as strong as Chelsea, but the defense just looks so bad. There seems to be very little organization in back and the entire “system” falls apart if the opponent can just manage to stay onside.

There does seem to be some offensive promise, but at some point there have to be goals. It won’t get much easier next week as we visit Tottenham and we face the very real possibility of returning to DW Stadium against Sunderland winless after three.

Make me a believer boys.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Wigan news

As N’Zogbia turns

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The latest news out of the rumor mill is that Birmingham City has renewed its effort to steal away our beloved Charles N’Zogbia.

As you may or may not remember, City was hot on the trail of The French Flash (just made that up myself!) but balked at Wigan’s reported $16 million transfer demand (look, I’m an American and I don’t know the key stroke for pounds so I’m just going to do rough conversions). City is reportedly considering an offer of about $14 million.

From the sound of it, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez does not want to part with N’Zogbia unless his price is met. But this may also be leading to some friction, as reports that N’Zogbia was on strike last week surfaced.

All of this has prompted Martinez to bemoan the transfer window staying open after the season begins.

“It would really help if the window was closed before the games started,” he said. “The transfer window gives a player a moment to think about their careers and their futures. By doing that you are disrespecting the team. If the window closed before the first game, at least the players can get focused. Football is a collective sport and at the moment the transfer window goes against that and treats it like an individual sport.”

The hope is that N’Zogbia will at least be ready for this week’s match against Chelsea. He would most likely serve as a replacement for the injured Victor Moses.

Written by bayarearefugee

August 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Posted in Wigan news