Wigan End Of Season Review: Cup Glory, Relegation Gloom And Every Pie Along The Way

After Wigan's season of highs and lows, the 'Pie-Eaters' can look forward to trips on the continent, thanks to their F.A Cup win, as well as to England's second tier clubs, following relegation from the Premier League...
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After Wigan's season of highs and lows, the 'Pie-Eaters' can look forward to trips on the continent, thanks to their F.A Cup win, as well as to England's second tier clubs, following relegation from the Premier League...

Wigan End Of Season Review: Cup Glory, Relegation Gloom And Every Pie Along The Way

The ‘I f*cking love this game’ highlight of the season?

Ha ha do you really need to ask me that question?

The season ticket shredding moment?

Everyone and I mean everyone saw it coming. You know when a whole ground groans in anticipation as Gary Caldwell passes the ball directly to a Swansea attacker in his own half? That's the moment. That's when we knew we'd cashed in our Premier League chips. It kind of made our FA Cup final win all the more remarkable after that midweek disaster.

Moment that just about summed it all up?

Emmerson Boyce carrying severely disabled four year old Joseph Kendrick onto the Wembley pitch in his arms as mascot for the FA Cup final. I'm welling up just writing it. We get more stick than any other club in the country off a nation of armchair banter merchants but as a football club we are both proud and humble and stick together like no other. The merciless stick we get just galvanises us because we know how exceptional our club's achievements are. You can't imagine the pride that I still feel about everything to do with that day. We'll live off it for years.

Got the right manager?

He's the managerwho won us the FA Cup. But also the manager who got us relegated. He will be remembered longer for the first achievement than the second I reckon. Plus it's also true to say that he kept us in the Premier League longer than any other manager.

The fact he has been in negotiations with the chairman this week demanding a sizeable transfer pot and a new training complex shows a long term commitment to the club on his terms. Or alternatively shows that he cares tremendously about Wigan Athletic, and there's not many football managers around who you can say have any kind of affinity with Wigan let alone such a strong one. Most managers and players only look at doing two to three years anywhere nowadays so to actually request a facility to be built that will exist long after he's moved on is indeed admirable.

Yeah there is that relegation thing and our continually appalling defensive play but I still buy into the vision. And if he leaves us then I hope that his assistant Graeme Jones stays and continues to tweak and develop it *cough* defensive coach in the same way that Swansea have evolved since Martinez left them.

Player of the season?

Shaun Maloney. The Scottish Messi has been sublime all season, thankfully staying injury free and showing a real appetite for the game which maybe had been missing during his spells at previous clubs. A joy to watch and another one we're hoping and praying will stay.

What would you change next term if you were the gaffer?

It's hard to say as there are so many unknowns. Defensively, we need to improve as Championship defences will put us under even more pressure and there's a feeling that we will always wilt under gung ho football. It may be that we don't have to change anything and just play our natural game and because we have dropped a level and the Championship is a much more open league anyway therefore things will fall into place. Who mentioned Wolves then?

Which player would you like to sign?

Ooh we need lots of them. Probably a whole team in fact as we've already got a minimum of 55 games lined up next season. Coupled with that we've let eight walk away, mainly loanees and out of contract and that's before the vultures start circling around our better players and offering them a much quicker return to the Premier League.

Even if we kept the remaining squad intact we'd need another forward, a couple of centre halves, cover for wing backs and a couple of attacking wide men. I'd hope for a bit more British grit to cope with the more physical nature of the Championship but I can't see where it's going to come from. I'm not sure players even in the Championship would want to move to us given we could end up lower in the table than them but I suppose we do have that dangling carrot of European football to offer.

We really are going to look like a different team come August so expect our customary slow start, probably commencing with us getting tonked by United at Wembley in the Charity Shield. The first task is to get the managerial position sorted and then whether it's Bob or any other ensure we get the right players in. We don't need superstars we just need a team, well a squad who can get used to winning again after we've been crawling around the arse end of the Premier League for several years.

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Biggest own-goal?

Playing last season's player of the year Gary Caldwell in the Swansea home game. Clearly unfit and more jittery than a middle aged light entertainment broadcast who has just received a stern knock at the door. Believe it or not, he was brilliant the season before last, scoring the winner at Anfield to boot but the man is basically a walking own goal. And he's the captain!

Biggest t*sser?

Mick Dennis of the Daily Express, a man who continually puts the boot into Wigan Athletic and did a proper hatchet job the day or two after the cup final absolutely devoid of facts and logic and full of bitterness. He's just about the worst of any number of media w**kers who love to use their position to belittle Wigan Athletic. He's a Norwich fan. How many times have Norwich won the FA Cup Mick?

Whoops. He's got my email address.

Best away pub?

The Ship and Mitre in Liverpool. Its range of strong continental beers ensure I lose my phone at least twice a season

Best pie?

I can speak with some authority on these matters due to another project I have ongoing. Premier League pies are as you'd expect - overpriced and flatter to deceive. For that matter the one I had at Macc in the cup was expensive too at £2.90. Maybe they had put the price up because the Wiganers were in town? We might not have many fans but our pie consumption ratio per head is Champions League standard. So I tend to eat my pies elsewhere pre-match and two in particular stand out. The Pie Factory in Dudley before West Brom wins the volume award for their massive Cow Pie and the best flavour was Sweeney & Todds in Reading with their Six Nations pie (Steak, Guinness, Leeks, Mustard, Garlic and er...something Italian I forget what) Great chips too.

Best chant?

How does Shaun Maloney get into the bath? He puts his left leg in, his left out, in, out, in, out, he shakes it all about. Yeah I know we nicked it off Newcastle but it's a corker when it gets going and the little chap has been a star this year.

Player’s tweet of the season?

I love the one of Callum McManaman sat on the team coach with the FA Cup

I know the mere mention of his name gets Geordies foaming at the mouth after that tackle and rightly so but he's just a daft lad from Huyton and a terrific prospect. We've not had a player come through the youth system since Leighton Baines so for that reason we're particular proud of him. Just a shame he burst onto the scene under those circumstances.

Best laugh you had all season?

At 7.20pm on Saturday 11th May, I laughed and cried for ten minutes solid in complete disbelief at what we had just done. It's alright winning the FA Cup innit? Less so in the semi-final mind you given the number of moody middle aged gentlemen who were growling "Northern c*nt" into my desperately trying to look glum face

How do you plan to get through the summer without football?

I'm writing a book all about pies (http://www.lifeofpies.co.uk) and dreaming of watching my little football team play on foreign shores