Date: 6th October 2007
Match: United vs Wigan Athletic, Premier League
Venue: Old Trafford
John O'Shea *
Nemanja Vidic **
Carlos Tevez ***
Danny Simpson (30) *
Luis Nani (81) ***
Oliveira Anderson (21) **
Mario Melchiot *
Salomon Olembe **
Fitz Hall (50) *
Antonio Valencia (66) **
31 mins- Wayne Rooney
50 mins- Josip Skoko
Final score: United 4-0 Wigan Athletic
Tevez, Ronaldo (2), Rooney
It didn't seem like 5 minutes ago that I was at Old Trafford for the Roma game but here I was a few days later, ready and raring to go for the visit of Wigan.
I wasn't really too impressed with having this game kick off at 12.45pm (still waiting for our first Saturday 3pm kick off of the season which is ludicrous) but the one benefit of it was that there was almost no traffic on the short trip to the ground. We arrived about 90 minutes before kick off and found the forecourt teeming with people taking photos, having chats and mainly it had to be said, eating! This was even more so the case when we went around the corner where the chippies are- almost everyone was stuffing their faces with trays full of food. Clearly the chippies did good business today! After seeing Keith our program guy to pick up a new fanzine and matchday programs, we headed back down Sir Matt Busby Way and into the ground. It was considerably earlier than we usually go in- about 45 mins before kick off- and it was evident that many others in K have the same habits that we do as there was only 3 people in the concourse when we arrived! I wasn't really in the mood for a pre-match KFC so I settled for a pre-match meat and potato pie inside the ground instead. I instantly regretted this though as the pie was awful! Don't know how they get away with selling such garbage, especially at that price! To pass the time, I had a read of the program and the fanzine (which made me chuckle) and watched the lads warming up. From that, I could see what the team would be and I was quite happy to see Pique in the starting 11. He is a bit of a cult figure in our household due to a good performance against Crewe away a few seasons back. United fans there at the game latched onto him a bit and adapted every song to feature his name which was hilarious. For example because the Crewe fans were silent during the game, the United end split themselves down the middle into 'left side' and 'right side' and bantered amongst ourselves in a fun way. So, we sang songs like 'Pique for right side' and 'Pique agrees, left side is better than right side' and so on! It sounds a bit daft but it made for a great atmosphere and ever since that game, hubby and I have always looked upon him with a certain amount of interest and fondness. So I was keeping everything crossed that he'd put in a good performance. As for the pre-match build up, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the music played before Alan Keegan took charge of the microphone. It was good chart stuff- pop, indie, r'n'b etc. A really good, interesting mix. However when he took over, it went back to the usual stuff like Dirty Old Town-argh! The only thing I'm glad he keeps playing is This Is The One! He made a bit of a faux pas when reading the team out as the United team that had played against Roma was put up on the screens by mistake and he read it straight off them and announced it to the ground! D'oh! Looking around, there were a lot of people missing. The annoying people that sit next to hubby weren't there and indeed, their seats were empty for the whole game, the nice guys that sit in front of us weren't there and the Yorkshires were nowhere to be found. But present and correct were Royal Mail guy (still no jacket- but then maybe he was on strike lol!), Tweed Hat but with....shock horror.....NO HAT!! Shouting Guy behind me was there as usual and Ian MUFC's mate did actually turn up (late, without his wife or a cigarette!) so clearly his ban wasn't permanent.
The teams came out of the tunnel to the fanfare and a cheer from the crowd. There seemed to be a feeling of optimism in the air somehow as if we could sense that it might be a good day. Clearly Wigan fans had the opposite feeling as barely 1000-1500 (at best) of them turned up which I thought was laughable, considering the very short distance they had to travel. They may as well have not brought any fans at all actually as I seriously can't remember a single time I heard them sing! The game kicked off and shortly afterwards, Tall Bloke and Little Guy appeared. Tall Bloke was mumbling something about a heavy night last night and moaning about the 'bloody trams' as usual. He told me he had a good feeling about the game and reckoned that we'd win 4-0. I asked him if he wanted to bet £1 on it (as I won the previous bet at the Roma game although I didn't take his money!) and so we shook on it. I felt quite sure at that point that I would be victorious in this bet too. The first half started off in a rather scrappy manner. The referee Mike Riley had already been booed by the crowd when he was announced as the match referee before the game had even kicked off so when early on he began making unpopular decisions, it was clear he wasn't going to be welcomed with open arms at Old Trafford in the future. Almost every decision he made seemed to be wrong and brought shouts of derision from all sections of the ground. Shouting Guy behind me was understandably going mental as denied penalties, pointless bookings, unfair fouls, throws and free kicks not given and even being incapable of getting free kicks taken in the right position seemed to mount up. Certain songs were also aimed in his direction and it got to the stage where he was so bad, he was laughable. Drunk Bloke then decided to make an appearance about 12 minutes into the game, swaying and glowing as usual! He didn't sit in his usual seat though so again I assume that he just found the first one spare and plonked himself down in it! The half continued to be full of scrappiness and interruptions when Vidic got injured. He gingerly came off the pitch to be treated and we were down to 10 men for a fair few minutes whilst it was decided whether or not he should get back onto the pitch. Vidic seemed rather determined to get back into the game but the United staff won the argument as Vida headed down the tunnel, his match over. To cover his departure in defence, O'Shea was pushed back into defence and Anderson brought on in midfield and then of course shortly after that, O'Shea got injured. We'd actually noticed a few minutes before he went off that he seemed to be limping but we were hoping, as I'm sure he was, that he would be able to run it off. Alas, it wasn't to be and as he signalled to the bench, we lost another member of our defence. So on came Simpson and we hoped that a back four consisting of him, Rio, Pique and Evra would be enough to shut Wigan out for another clean sheet. We did have another scare before half time when Evra fell to the ground but much to our relief, swiftly got back up again. The half time whistle went and we were unsure what to make of the half in terms of the United performance as it was so overshadowed by the injuries and inept refereeing. As the players headed down the tunnel, you could see some United fans in that area of the ground had hung around to give the referee a bit of flak and when Riley approached the tunnel, there was a crescendo of boos and whistles. He was certainly left in no doubt what we all thought of his first half performance. Then I headed down to the concourse to see the half time highlights which were surprisingly short but definitely confirmed that we should have had the penalty which we were shouting so loudly for.
As the second half kicked off, there seemed to be more of a spark both on and off the pitch. The lads started attacking Wigan right from the off and the crowd responded by getting behind the lads by singing and cheering. Luckily we didn't have to wait too long for our first goal which arrived courtesy of Tevez after some excellent play. The lads were ecstatic and so were we as Tall Bloke gave me a big bear hug and a kiss in delight! United then continued to play exciting, attacking football and it felt much more like the free flowing style that we have become a bit spoilt by seeing all the time. The goals just seemed to keep coming after that as Ronaldo bagged a brace which Kuszczak seemed particularly chuffed about as he celebrated with a backflip! The crowd sang, "He plays on the left..." after each of his goals and each time, he applauded the fans in recognition which I thought was a really nice gesture. As the scoreline got to 3-0, I was beginning to think that the 4-0 scoreline that Tall Bloke had bet me maybe wasn't so stupid after all. Shortly afterwards, Tevez was substituted to a truly heartfelt standing ovation and he even seemed a little overwhelmed as he walked off. About 8 minutes from the end, Rooney made his own stamp on the game by sticking the ball in the back of the net and wrapping up the 4-0 win. I was genuinely shocked at the amount of people that got up and left after that (and I don't mean the Wigan fans) and it still never ceases to amaze me that people would rather sit in their cars than watch the last few minutes of a match that they paid good money to be at! Anyway, the 4-0 scoreline meant that Tall Guy had won the bet but as I reminded him that I let him off the £1 after losing the bet on Tuesday, we agreed to call it even. As the game was drawing to a close, one last puzzling decision was made by the officials in announcing just 1 minute of stoppage time (which clearly didn't take into account the time for goals or substitutions which it's supposed to) which wasn't even completed anyway *rolls eyes*. Still, a contented cheer arose from those of us still in the ground at the final whistle and on leaving the ground, I felt the kind of warm, fuzzy glow that only a good United performance and win can give me.
*Credit to Skysports.com for match stats
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