Wigan Athletic succumbed to a 4-0 loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Fourth Round, but ask any Wigan fan and they will tell you that the scoreline doesn’t represent how much the Latics fought for a result.
Wigan burst out the blocks with a fiery display that left the defending champions with their backs to the wall. Fantastic performances from Morsy, Power and Perkins at the start created a handful of chances, including quite a powerful volley from Callum Connolly that went straight at Romero in the United goal, but they couldn’t be converted. The Red Devils seemed stunted and contained for 44 minutes of the first half before they were allowed too much space in the closing minutes and Fellaini popped up before half time and headed home to send the teams in a 1-0. A huge blow to the mentality of the Wigan team going in at the break.
It wasn’t just the players putting in a terrific performance however, the 3,000 Latics faithful roared and chanted throughout the first half and continued for the whole game. The scenes at the away end was a huge contrast to the 70,000 United supporters around the stadium who produced as much atmosphere as a funeral (probably mourning the death of their title hopes for this season) and were sufficiently drowned out by the sea of blue and white who were as loud as ever.
Wigan started well in the second half but you could tell that goal just before the break may have rocked their momentum. There continued to be Latics chances, including a fantastic opportunity with a seemingly gaping goal but the ball landed to David Perkins and he placed the ball into the path of the prone Romero. United, who bearing in mind still had a really strong team out, seemed to finally find a rhythm and were creating chances through nice passing plays. Eventually United’s efforts payed off and, at the 57 minute mark, a corner was converted by defender Chris Smalling and Wigan suffered another blow to their confidence. The Manchester United crowd still refused to sing even with a 2-0 lead however and were overshadowed throughout the match by a constant barrage of Wigan chants. I know they call it the Theatre of Dreams but I didn’t think that meant that the home supporters slept throughout the game!
After the second it seemed heads may have dropped a bit from the Wigan players and they couldn’t keep up with some of United’s quality players. Goals at 74 and 81 minutes in from Mkhitaryan and Schweinsteiger respectively sealed the game off and sent United into the next round. Many United fans agreed that the game was over and, just minutes after the fourth goal, half the stadium subsequently left leaving the 3,000 Latics travellers to continue their phenomenal support with even less competition from the fans who were supposedly there to support their team.
We went into this game with nothing to lose and I feel we can leave the game with our heads held firmly towards the sky after a battling performance from the Wigan players. Each player gave their all out on the Old Trafford pitch and we can keep morale and spirits up knowing that for parts of the game we really challenged one of the biggest clubs in the country. If we battle like we did out there in our current relegation battle then I wouldn’t bet against us staying in the division. The next few days remaining of the transfer window may prove crucial to how the season pans out though; keeping hold of key players and signing a few new faces could mean we pick up valuable points against some tough opponents including Sheffield Wednesday on Friday. If we can carry the atmosphere into that and the DW will be roaring, probably ten times louder than the crowd at Old Trafford! Up the tics!
By Harry Robinson