Manchester United 2 Wigan Athletic 0 – Latics go down


James Perch was unlucky in deflecting Van Persie’s shot into his own goal.

Two goals from Robin Van Persie – a spectacular header after 6 minutes and a lucky deflection in the 59th minute – were enough to give United victory.

Scott Carson in the Wigan goal had no chance with either goal. Despite the bad start Wigan gradually clawed themselves back into the game and Scott Carson was underemployed most of the match, apart from a fine save from a Welbeck shot as half time approached.

Wigan started the game with six new players on the field, including James McClean who joined them in midweek. In contrast United fielded only one new face, that of Wilfried Zaha.

Dave Whelan had pronounced in the week that it was a game for Wigan players to enjoy, without the pressure of having to fight for league points. Maybe that would explain the distinct lack of competitive edge from Wigan in the first 20 minutes as United were allowed to caress the ball round in midfield without physical challenges coming in.

If Roberto Martinez were still manager he would have been enraged by the way Wigan defenders wasted the ball with hopeful long punts which were meat and drink for the Reds defence.

However, as the second half wore on Wigan started to pass the ball around from the back, denying United possession and looking a much better team. Had McClean shown a cool head when put through by a long ball from Stephen Crainey, Wigan could have equalised. However, instead of pushing the ball back to Grant Holt who could have slid the ball in, he shot from the narrowest of angles and it went wide.

A few minutes later Emmerson Boyce had a good opportunity from a free kick, but he headed across the box when a direct header on goal would have produced better results.

Grant Holt and Nemandja Vidic were involved in a series of physical tussles, with the big Serb not coming out on top. It was revealing to see him apparently appealing to referee Mark Clattenberg as the teams were going off for half time.

Wigan started the second half quite well but the deflection off James Perch from Van Persie’s shot left them an uphill task. Owen Coyle wisely made a raft of substititions in the final half hour, saving key players for the more important immediate task of a league match next weekend.

Dave Whelan’s quote that he saw it as “a show game, a bit of a friendly game” was reflected in the tempo of play. There was a real pre-season feel to the match and Wigan really did not too seem too worried about the score.

The Good

Up until the second goal Wigan were in with a chance of leveling the match. After the initial United onslaught they held firm and did not fall apart in the way that they have too often done in the past against the Manchester team.

With so many new players in the lineup it is going to take time for the team to gel. However, the defence looked firm and when they built up moves from the back Latics looked a much better team.

The Bad

Wigan were awful in the first 20 minutes. You simply cannot allow a team of the quality of United so much possession of the ball.

Three out of the back four are new to the team and are adjusting to the concept of passing the ball out of defence, rather than playing a long ball. The goalkeeper Scott Carson was also guilty of kicking too many long balls, when he could have passed to a defender in space.

Player ratings

Scott Carson: 6 – could not be faulted for either goal. Needs to work on his distribution

Emmerson Boyce: 5 – not at his best. Patrice Evra gave him problems in the second half.

Leon Barnett: 8- excellent throughout. Made a memorable sliding clearance from a dangerous low cross from Evra in the second half.

James Perch: 7.5 – so unlucky with the deflection for the second goal. Otherwise played well.

Stephen Crainey: 6 – very involved with a lot of touches on the ball. Needs to work on his distribution.

Ben Watson: 5 – worked hard to stem the flow of United attacks, but not at his best. Substituted after 71 minutes.

James McCarthy: 5 – not at his best. Substituted after 86 minutes.

James McArthur: 5 – together with Watson and McCarthy could not wrestle the midfield out of United’s grasp. Substituted after 60 minutes.

Shaun Maloney: 5 – worked hard to no avail. Substituted after 71 minutes.

Grant Holt: 6 – gave Vidic a torrid time, but had no opportunities for goals. Substituted after 60 minutes.

James McClean: 6 – fast and skillful, but lacking in judgment, not only when clear through on goal. Substituted after 60 minutes.


After 60 minutes – Chris McCann, Callum McManaman, Marc-Antoine Fortune.

After 71 minutes – Roger Espinoiza, Jordi Gomez.

After 86 minutes – Nouha Dicko.

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Moyes has more to lose than Coyle – Community Shield preview


The FA Community Shield

Dave Whelan is well known for supporting his managers and his comments during the week have already taken pressure off Owen Coyle ahead of Sunday’s Community Shield match at Wembley.

Whelan said that he regards the match as “a show game and a bit of a friendly game”. He downplayed its importance in comparison with league games adding that “It is the game in the football season that our boys can enjoy. Every league game is something where there is a lot at stake – three points – and we’ve got to fight for every single point.”

Coyle will be leading out a team that has his stamp on it. He has made ten new signings and at least half of those are likely to start the match.  He has already adapted the tactical system in an almost seamless transition. His players – new and old – are united in the aim of getting Wigan Athletic back into the Premier League. Moreover he has already won over the fans, many of whom were initially leery about his appointment.

For Moyes it is a “no-win”, no matter what the result. Manchester United have beaten Latics in 15 out of the 16 times they have met. Nothing short of an emphatic win is expected by their fans – any other result would be unacceptable. If United do win it will merely be a step forward to the start of the Premier League season. After all what is a win over  a Championship side worth to fans who are expecting their team to win at least one of the Premier League or Champions League?

Moyes has already been under intense media pressure and his progress in the transfer market is under scrutiny. He will be leading out Ferguson’s team at Wembley, not having made any major signings up to this point.

Wigan are likely to go into the match with the same starting lineup that played in the 4-0 win at Barnsley last week. With up to 6 substitutes allowed Coyle might well take the opportunity to give squad members a taste of the Wembley experience. Providing he is fit we can expect Callum McManaman to come on at some time and he will be anxious to impress. The occasion provides dynamic young players like McManaman and James McCarthy a stage upon which they can show their talents in front in front of a large TV audience.

Manchester United won the first Charity Shield – now known as the Community Shield – in 1908. They have won it 19 times – more than any other club.

Just like in the FA Cup Final the odds are stacked against Wigan Athletic and a win for the Reds is by far the most likely outcome.

But Latics fans will continue to “Believe”  –  Wigan have nothing to lose and an upset remains possible.

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