Well off the field they took down the Champions League hoardings, the stewards wore their normal bibs and the match programme returned to normal size. On the field the team did nothing to make Twente Enschede worry overmuch let alone Inter Milan.
For those who remember the defeats against Stoke and Wolves last season, this was more similar to the Wolves one in that we faced a team who defended valiantly and we canâ€™t complain about the result. The only difference was that Kevin Doyle got his goal early on whereas in this game Rodallegaâ€™s goal on the break came late. After weâ€™d gone behind we put Wigan under real pressure and Al Habsi was called into action to tip away a Kranjcar shot and punch over a Dawson volley. Previous to that heâ€™d got down well to a Defoe shot in the first half but that was it.
The signs werenâ€™t promising from the word go. Huddlestone gave the ball away with his first four touches, Lennon was unable to get past his full back and Bale was being shepherded towards the sidelines and not allowed to make the runs into the box that have become his trademark. Within ten minutes Harry was out at the edge of his technical area, red in face and hands on hips. He looked less an angry parent and more a furious mill owner, speechless at the fact that his staff appear to have forgotten their station. The fact that your nameâ€™s been pulled out a goldfish bowl in Monaco does not mean that youâ€™re allowed to forgo the graft that got you there in the first place.
Wigan played five across the middle and doubled up on Lennon and Bale. We never had the wit, pace or played with the tempo needed to create the space required to make an opening. Redknapp will have learnt something about a lot of his players, much of which he wonâ€™t like. Pav, Gio and Kranjcar were sent on from the bench to make a difference, only the Croatian did anything like that.
Wigan hit the bar in the first half and also missed from a couple of yards just before they hit their winner. The 200 odd away fans whoâ€™d turned up made the most of it and celebrated in style. Kaboul missed the chance to equalise in injury time with a header. It wouldâ€™ve been an injustice.
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