Saturday, 27 December 2008

Pies, Damn Pies, and Statistics

Wigan 2 Toon 1

Well for 70 minutes was groundhog day... Boxing day at Wigan.. Spending the afternoon sandwiched between fully-grown, slightly inebriated, men dressed as Santa (including one guy who seemed to think that Santa wore a hat and boxers... and nowt else. It was freezing and he was tinged with a purple hue by the end of the game), Tweety Pie, Sylvester (the cartoon one, not the disco diva) four Smurfs, Darth Vader (a very weedy Darth at that) and numerous Spidermen. Watching Ryan Taylor score against a woeful Newcastle side and then seeing a spiteful, excessively aggressive Wigan midfield attempt to kick any creativity out of the game. It was as though I was reliving every game for the past four years at the JJB again and again... They say that you don't remember pain, until something painful happens to you again - well I'd say its true, because halfway through the first half, I just knew I'd experienced this level of angst before.

But then, just as I was cursing (which I do loudly and often) my sheer stupidity at trekking to deepest darkest Lancashire to watch the turgid fare that Wigan against Newcastle always is, I think that the referee got bored. I really can't think of any other explanation for Mike Dean's bizarrely erratic decisions towards the end of the game. At first he seemed to be happy to let the game flow (well, it would have done if the players had been up to doing anything as creative at 'flowing') but then Cattermole decided to stamp his authority onto the game.. literally. His actions had already cost Newcastle the services of Barton in the game at SJP, and now he's put Habib Beye out of the game for a considerable period of time. Git. Anyway, Dean decided that a yellow card would suffice.

In the second half Dean got even worse. He decided to give a penalty for a foul that was committed midway inside the half and that the lineman had given a full 20 yards outside the penalty area. Not content with that he sent off Bassong for the foul. Git. He then booked both Duff and Butt for having the gall to point out his ineptness at giving incorrect decisions. Almost as though he wanted to redress the balance, he then gave a penalty for a foul on Andy Carroll for a challenge by Kirkland that most goalkeepers would have gotten away with. But, of course he couldn't be consistent... he just booked Kirkland. Dean's final act of card-happy madness was to book Carroll for being fouled in the penalty area... Now, call me a traditionalist, but isn't that supposed to be a penalty? Double git.

The upshot of Mike 'git' Dean's invention was positive in a small way though - it was the most exciting end to a game at Wigan I've ever seen. Newcastle should have got a point at the end, if only Duff could have remembered that he needed to put the ball between the posts and and not around it. However, the negatives far outweigh any positives - for a team that was defensively light anyway; the loss of Beye, Enrique and Bassong is catastrophic. Liverpool tomorrow must be licking their collective lips and polishing their shooting boots at the thought of coming up against a very makeshift defence.

Wigan is famous for its pies - I assume that's what crossed Viduka's mind as he got halfway through the second half... "Humm, I'm a bit peckish - I think I'll see if the pie shop is open" so he wandered off the pitch and down the tunnel. The chants of "you're not fit to wear the shirt" were sung in anger rather than irony, but works on both levels.

So, thank you Mike Dean and Mark Viduka - 24 hours on and I'm still very angry at both of you. Gits.

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