Archive for the ‘Wigan’ Category

Wigan Athletic's Perch celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Manchester City during their English FA Cup quarter final match in Manchester
Devang Desai and Richard Whittall sit down to discuss the Wigan’s repeat against Manchester City, Arsenal’s trophy chance and the knives coming out at Barcelona.

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Bolton Wanderers v Swansea City - FA Cup Fourth Round

A director who worked with him once said of Owen Coyle that there was “a touch of the Bill Shankly about him.” That was in 2007, but unfortunately for said director, even hindsight does not fix a broken brain. Supposing, as we must, that the guy was referring to The Bill Shankly rather than A Bill Shankly, and that the ‘touch’ related to managerial ability rather than sexual prowess, it would not be unreasonable to say that Coyle has fallen short of Shankly. Coyle, for instance, has missed out on all of the European Cups played out during his career so far, via relegation and unemployment, and in fact has won only a playoff title since the remark was made. Small but significant details.

I’ll go further. I think Owen Coyle is not only not good in comparison to Bill Shankly, but someone who could and should be written-off on his own merits. Alone, not being Bill Shankly is not so bad. Many people are not Bill Shankly. I myself am not Bill Shankly. Yet. That isn’t the point here: Owen Coyle is not Bill Shankly, but he’s also a fiercely inadequate Owen Coyle. Me and four friends brainstormed for three hours and could only come up with his wearing shorts as a managerial strength, and even then the group was split on whether this was something which should be punished or rewarded. (I was strongly pro-short.)

All of which leads to the problem of Coyle’s appointment as Wigan manager today. The first thing it made me think of was the letter ‘y’, over and over again, which was odd, because I rarely think in terms of single letters. But then I realised I wasn’t thinking of the letter ‘y’ at all, I was thinking ‘Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why?’. Which also explained why the letter ‘o’ had also cropped up in my thinking: ‘Why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why?’

If the world was a meritocracy – if football was a meritocracy – there is no way the man I have begun to describe here would have got a job at reasonably appealing club like Wigan, even though they’ve just been relegated. The possibility of Coyle, who at Bolton showed such little aptitude for managing a football team, getting an almost equivalent job mere months after that incident, could not happen in a world which rewarded only Good Things. In the case of Coyle, failure – Bolton weren’t just relegated, they then started to drift towards the bottom of the Championship – has been rewarded.

And the reason failure has been rewarded is (if you’re going to name one reason) because football, like most industries, goes with what it knows. Coyle might well have done a great interview to get the job (although, have you heard him speak?), but the man he is supposed to have been up against is Steve McLaren, another man who has now failed at more jobs than he has succeeded. In football, the same names get all the jobs. The principle behind this makes some sense: when you have seen what a potential manager can do already, you know more about them, so you’re in control of the risk when you appoint them. Fine. But if what you know about the established figure is that they aren’t very good, then the useful thing about this knowledge should, surely, be that it enables you to avoid that figure?

It’s this second bit where football seems to struggle. Success is rewarded, but failure isn’t punished. If you like: The Market doesn’t work. You end up with Owen Coyle’s legs in charge of a football team. And Coyle isn’t a one off. Alex McLeish still gets work. People still think Rafael Benitez deserves top jobs. David O’Leary still gets linked with clubs. The system is broken.

Maybe the worst part of this way of thinking is that new talent doesn’t get let in. I’m not thinking of anyone in particular, but I also am. I wear shorts all the time and I’ve never been relegated; I know most of the players at the big clubs from playing with them on FIFA and I really would like the money: job please.

The fact is: Owen Coyle has the job and I don’t. Don’t tell me that’s a meritocracy. No-one’s ever going to see that I really am the next Bill Shankly, instead, just months of Owen Coyle’s stupid legs.

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - FA Cup Final

The Wigan chairman just had to get his two cents in on Roberto Martinez’s departure, blabbing to talkSPORT and SkySports and seemingly anyone would put his words in electronic print.

The gist is Whelan expects “somewhere around £2 million” in compensation for losing their Spanish manager to Everton. He also gave specific details on his phone call with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, and Martinez’s movements in the next few days.

This candid talk is of course a Whelan trademark. He ruffled feathers when he spoke to the press about Liverpool FC’s inquiries over Martinez in 2012. He also said something excruciatingly daft about Callum McManaman’s nasty tackle on Massadio Haidara this season.

This story is made even more hilarious by Wigan’s short statement on the matter:

Wigan Athletic can confirm that following an approach made by another football club, permission has been given to Roberto Martinez to discuss a vacant managerial position.

After discussions between Roberto and Chairman Dave Whelan, it was reluctantly agreed that Roberto, who remains the Manager of Wigan Athletic, would be allowed to speak another club.

There is no further comment to be made at this point.

Really? Someone should talk to Dave about that.

Scenes from the FA Cup Final

A rainy day at Wembley ends with some history. Here are some of the best photos from the day Wigan beat Manchester City for the F.A Cup.

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - FA Cup Final Read the rest of this entry »

Wigan capture the FA Cup

Wow. Gus Johnson angered American viewers with his commentary and Pablo Zabaleta was sent off after receiving his second yellow for a reckless challenge on Callum McManaman but the story is Wigan. For the first time ever a side that won the FA Cup could be relegated. For a few days–perhaps longer–that hypothetical will not matter (and either way they’ll still have Europe). Dave Whelan’s club lifts the trophy at Wembley. That will never not sound strange. Strange but awesome. Sport can be great sometimes.

Gif via the always great @FeintZebra


In fairness to football, nobody has actually tried to defend Callum McManaman’s stud-based inquiry into Massadio Haïdara’s leg last Sunday—except, that is, Wigan owner Dave Whelan and the Football Association, the people with power and influence. Then again, that was enough to remind us that the people with power are largely (and I hope this doesn’t sound unpleasant) thick, thick, thickos.

Whether it’s Whelan, with his classic insight that “The ball was there and McManaman got the ball as clean as a whistle,” or the FA with its refusal to review—and therefore indirect endorsement of—the incident based on archaic precedent, the men with their hands on the triggers appear to be operating below normal capacity in terms of brain power. They are a leg short of a chair; they are an eyebrow short of a symmetrical face; they are a Dan Brown novel. We’re so often driven to believe that these people are selfish, money-mad con men that it’s easy to forget they are usually stupid too. Here is a reminder.

The concern with Whelan’s quotes, of course, is that his is not a willful ignorance, patched together as a part of some slick PR campaign. When he says that his team’s player “got the ball as clean as a whistle,” alongside admitting that he has actually, genuinely, seen the incident to which he’s referring (the large-scale merger of Callum McManaman’s foot and Massadio Haïdara’s leg), there’s a real chance that he might really mean what he’s saying. Imagine that. He might believe his own words. For this to be the case—for him to really mean it—serious mental deficiency is a required explanation. It is not for me to question another man’s intelligence, but conveniently his own words have already completed an exhaustive inquiry.

Some detail for you. Whelan reckoned that McManaman “played the ball” first and “then followed through and they collided.” That, alone, isn’t an entirely unfair version of events, though it does nonchalantly skip over quite how hard and high that “follow through” was. But to take from even that description the conclusion that the Wigan player, McManaman, got the ball “as clean as a whistle” is either a fundamental misunderstanding of the phrase “as clean as a whistle,” supposing that it means “not very clean; if anything, extremely dirty,” or a fundamental misunderstanding of the core idea of getting the ball “cleanly” in a tackle. The deal with a clean tackle is that you don’t break the opponent in half either before or after getting the ball, David. Football 101.
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Liverpool destroy Wigan

Luis Suarez recorded the second hat trick in EPL action today during a Liverpool rout at DW stadium. The Reds supporters in attendance chanted the name of former manager Rafa Benitez in one of the funnier incidents this year. In case you missed it, Liverpool scored some pretty goals. Here they are, all GIf’d up.

Downing 0-1

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