Monday, May 13, 2013

With FA Cup win, can Wigan survive the chop?

The excitement of Wigan sinking the mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday was quickly overshadowed by the presentation of Manchester United's title in the colourful and emotional day that saw Sir Alex Ferguson officially bade farewell to a legion of football lovers.

United fans felt very special and rightly so, but it was an occasion for all the football world. The landmarks he set and just the sight of the man leaves a mark in the game and in sports in general that will never be achieved or seen. For a moment, we were all united with the United fans in honouring a great man. Even the noisy neighbours were quiet, of course reflecting on the defeat and then admiring the man the loved to hate.

It is the FA Cup that I wished to dwell on. Traditionally the most important match in the world until the era of the Champions League, the FA Cup provided the excitement it is historically known to provide. Underdogs in Wigan outplayed Manchester City from the onset.

Wigan were unlucky with a few marginal decisions which could be within acceptable human error from the officials, to an extent of the denied penalty seconds before their goal. The referee may have tried his level best and the sending off of Zabaleta was right but surely felt harsh that the middle man thought the penalty kick would have been taking away City's chances at the dearth cruel. I think he was relieved Wigan sored from the resultant corner from that questionable tackle.

A near post header settled the tie just seconds before the referee would blow the whistle for the end of regulation time and then the beginning of extra time. City switched off thinking of extra-time but they were on the back foot for most of the match, save for the few telling penetrative moves and completed attacks that will always be dangerous in the presence of David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri, Aguerro and Yaya Toure.

The sucker punch came at a time when City would have no opportunity to fight back. Wigan will need that intuitive and instinctive ability to inflict a killer blow when they play Arsenal this week to retain any hopes to survive the chop int the lower league. Their play proved just one thing, that on a given good day, they can beat the best. It is the story of consistency that bedevilled them and has left them in that precarious position.

In Roberto Martinez, they have a shrewd coach and manager who has been hailed with his survival skills with them last time around and it will be harder this season given that Wigan need to win all their remaining matches and still may get the chop regardless.