Worrying About Wigan

Ah, Wigan. We were such fast friends last year. This year, we haven't seen quite so much of each other. Oh well. Still, it's good to be back. Perhaps we can make a go of things again?
If Wigan are to progress they really need to start taking home points from sides so obviously their betters. And if their visitors Tottenham Hotspur at to establish more than a toe-hold in the Top 4, they really should swat Wigan with gimlet-eyed determination.
I'm worried about Wigan though. Obviously not with the same intensity I worry about getting cancer; a loved one dying or even why Tesco's Hoisin duck flavour crisps are more addictive than crack, but I worry nevertheless. They didn't go down last season by the skin of their teeth (this cliche assumes teeth has skin; we move on…) but already it's as if they've been relegated and given up. The programme's riddled with errors (Tom Huddlestone isn't that hard to spell correctly); the hackfood is a kind of lukewarm potato pie with potatoes on the side and they cheekily still charge for wi-fi.
Charging for wi-fi is one thing – they're not really meant to – but apart from five glorious minutes circa 3.06, it doesn't work. And they don't have a technical person to help. One club employee suggests – ignoring the fact a password is needed – that it doesn't work because too many people in the ground are using it. Even Crystal Palace have working wi-fi and even sitting next to the blessed Mark Ryan of the Mail On Sunday – who was forced to review the match on his Blackberry – doesn't stop the afternoon from being a little bit stressful, even with my blessed dongle. He argues Gary Caldwell is the worst player in the Premier League. Inexplicably forgetting Heidar Helguson for a moment, I plump for Steve Gohouri…
Unhelpfully, the game is terrific and needs a careful eye. Tottenham are streets – and two goals – ahead by half-time. They're excellent. Gareth Bale is unplayable, Luka Modric is unstoppable and even Emmanuel Adebayor looks engaged.
In fairness, Wigan are so spectacularly awful they'd have made Totteridge & Whetstone look like world beaters, let alone Tottenham Hotspur. They surrender possession too cheaply too often. Without the injured Emmerson Boyce and Antolin Alcaraz, their defence is more feeble than Priti Patel's intellect. Without the departed Charles N'Zogbia and Tom Cleverley their midfield lacks a hint of Premier League quality. Without the injured Hugo Rodallega they won't score. Ever.
Surprising even themselves Wigan pull one back early in the second half, but when Gohouri get himself sent off for a tackle on Bale so stupid even Harriet Harmon wouldn't have contemplated it, the game's up, much as Tottenham almost fall asleep. My neighbour acknowledges I might be right about Gohouri. Tellingly, I couldn't express an opinion on how well Brad Freidel is playing since there was nothing to judge him on.
Afterwards, Roberto Martinez is at his most Micawber-ish, ignoring the first half and concentrating only on the second. I put it to him (ooh, get me, Bernstein and Woodward) that his team are worse than last season and haven't replaced Cleverley or N'Zogbia.
In the nicest, most charming way, Martinez is having none of it. He admits they can't afford to replace those players, but bizarrely claims the squad was better than it was last season. I can't believe it. He just can't, but then again he spurned Aston Villa's advances. Obviously they'll be better when the injured played come back and obviously he was right all along when he said Wigan wouldn't go down last season, but there's something different about them this season on the field as well as off. Something more resigned…
Harry Redknapp is in one of those moods where he feels he can admit his side coasted after the break and be generous to the opposition and so he is. He praises Adebayor and Bale and says Jermain Defoe was sent home suffering from a virus. The next England manager? I can see it, but that doesn't make it right.
The Clash
This Is England
on Cut The Crap, CBS, 1985
The Clash's last stand.