I hope Wigan go down, I really do. I’ve no particular dislike of the club but it’s not even a football town. Wigan’s most boisterous support comes from the Billy Boston stand, named very appropriately, after a legendary Welsh winger who played for Wigan rugby league club between 1953 to 1968. That boisterous support basically used a bass drum to attempt to create an atmosphere, God forbid they actually did it by singing, shouting or what have you. Can anybody think of a legendary Wigan Athletic player they could name a stand after? Wigan Athletic couldn’t so they named the stand I was placed in today after their old stadium, Springfield Park and the entire stadium is named after the shy, retiring and too modest Dave Whelan, a man who played for Blackburn Rovers. Wigan can’t even fill out their stadium for the visit of United, Arsenal or Liverpool and worst of all, they hold back 1,000 tickets of the usual away fans allocation for United’s visit, to sell as corporate packages at £125.00 a pop. The face value of the ticket is £28.00, this means that Wigan are basically charging United fans £97.00 for chicken-in-the-basket or some other shite just so we can watch the match. It’s extortion basically. There are ticket touts operating, strictly speaking, illegally on Warwick Road yet they don’t take the piss like this. Wigan are somehow, perfectly within their rights to do this. The attendance today was 20,342 which means that officially, there was 4,791 empty seats in the ground. If they say so, but it looked like far more. United fans were screaming for tickets for this match, but Wigan, being the kind of small minded club it is would rather have advertisements for a betting company covering seats in a prominent position for TV cameras than having arses on them seats. Clubs with a mentality like that have no place in the top league. Their ground is in the middle of bleedin’ nowhere, all the backdrop is of sky and grass and whenever they score a goal, they need the stadium MC to induce them to celebrate by playing Tom Hark by The Pirhanas. My ticket today came from a very decent Wigan fan who procured me two seats for the Springfield stand, sat supposedly amongst Wigan fans but there were a lot of reds in there today. United fans, as per usual on the road, were in fantastic voice with plenty of songs celebrating players from days of yore like George Best, Andy Cole, Nicky Butt, Jaap Stam, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Eric Cantona. Once United got a grip on the game, with goals from Javier Hernandez (35 mins) and Robin Van Persie (43) in the latter part the first half, everybody with a red allegiance relaxed and enjoyed the game. Wigan were spirited but completely outclassed and barring a balls up of proportions last witnesses when Everton last played at Old Trafford, this game was won by half time.
One credit I will give the Wigan stadium MC is his taste in music. With a nod firmly to Wigan’s famous past glories for it’s soul dominated nightclubs, pre match and half time, we were blessed to the delights of Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin amongst many others. It was a real treat to be in a football stadium where proper music was being played as opposed to the generic shit that gets churned out at Old Trafford, Villa Park and all the rest of them. I just hope that Alan Keegan was here today and picked up some tips for what could be played over the tannoy at Old Trafford.
Wigan came out after half time with a renewed purpose and basically threw the kitchen sink at United for the first twenty minutes of the second half. For all that effort, they never looked getting past a watertight Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans. This was as comfortable United performance as I’ve seen all season. When a quick thinking Javier Hernandez seized on a Robin Van Persie free kick which had ricochet off the Wigan wall on 63 minutes to put United 3-0 up, I was now waiting for an avalanche of United goals which didn’t actually materialise. There was an exodus of Wigan fans after the third goal, they’d clearly seen which way the wind was blowing off the Leeds/Liverpool canal outside the ground and couldn’t stick around to see anymore.
Despite probing attacks from Javier Hernandez, Robin Van Persie and Ryan Giggs, United couldn’t add to the three goals until Van Persie gave the score a deserved and correct complexion on 88 minutes to make the score 4-0. Special mention for today goes to the frequently and in my opinion, unfairly maligned Ryan Giggs, whom to my eyes, had a great game. Giggs attacked with a vigour of a lad 15/20 years his junior and for the coup-de-grace on 74 minutes, did a perfect slide tackle on an attacking Ronnie Stam that Ashley Cole would’ve been proud of.
Happy New Year