The ACN Match Review – Wigan (a)


Dreary and turgid football, encased in a soggy crust of disappointment. At least the actual pies were worth the trip, says Matthew McGregor.

Hurrah moment

Wigan is the home of the annual World Pie-Eating Championship. They love pies around here. The mascot of the club is a literal pie. Crusty the pie. We aren’t far off British week – seven days in March when the country in general, and Wigan in particular, gives celebration to the great British pie. They eat pie barms here – a pie in a big bread roll. There’s even talk of a pie kebab; literally pies on a skewer.

I had a lovely meat and potato pie at halftime and it was the best thing about this game – by a long, long way.

Boooo moment

Look at what they make us give.

I was really looking forward to this game. It was the 60th different ground that I’ve watched Norwich play in. And during the last two games I’ve attended I saw City bang in eight goals.

So to say it was disappointing would be a serious understatement. I honestly don’t know what to write in this review. There was no action of any note. Mentioning the incidents that will be recorded in the stats as shots would be sarcastic. There was no excitement, no near misses, no sweeping moves.

Wigan didn’t quite park the bus but we had no real ideas for breaking down their very defensive approach. Almost every forward pass was to a Norwich player with his back to goal. Their chances came from passing errors by City players. Our chances barely came at all. It all had a feeling of an end-of-season game between two teams with nothing to play for. Maybe it essentially is, but at least it’s usually warm and sunny at the end of the season.

The atmosphere

Things got so desperate in the second half that large patches were spent working through the golden oldies. Paul McVeigh’s lack of height, Leon McKenzie scoring against the scum, Simon Lappin is the King of Spain. It was that sort of game where desperately dreary play on the field calls for desperate measures in the stands.

But as dreadful as the game of football was, a word has to be reserved for the fans who travelled. With literally no action of note on the field, the atmosphere was as good as it was at Preston and Coventry. The Norwich contingent – led by the City Elite drum – were singing almost non-stop. I wasn’t necessarily drum sceptical, but I wasn’t a drum enthusiast. I’m now extremely converted. City Elite and the drum have simply made games more fun than they would otherwise have been, and generate support for the team that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

The line-up

The same line-up as against Hull, but a very different performance.

Hero of the match

Angus Gunn’s saves in the first half means he should get it by default but given there’s so little to write about the game I’ll use this space to sing the praises of Wigan Central, a railway themed pub with a phenomenal range of fine ales. Not worth the journey to Wigan on its own but very, very worth a trip if you’re in the town.

Our post-match takeaway

Unfortunately, not all games are absolute bangers like the trips to Preston or Coventry. But let us thank the almighty that not all games are as turgid as this one. At points I was wishing I’d brought a book with me.

On paper this is a squad who could boss this league. But as they say, the only problem is that it’s a game played not on paper but on the pitch. This season is one of too little coaching, too little confidence and now too little time.

How can the same team who sailed past Hull flounder against arguably worse opposition? How can we score three against Coventry in quarter of an hour and then get pinned right back five minutes later? Some of the players aren’t as good as their records suggest, and some of the players aren’t delivering consistently on the promise they have. And opposition teams seem to have worked out Kenny again, pretty quickly.

Maybe today was an off day but maybe this is just a Championship team who need a lot of coaching and a ton of confidence before they can compete at the top of the table again. Maybe we’ve just found our level.


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