Wigan Athletic ran out against Blackpool yesterday afternoon with a buzz of excitement and anticipation around the DW Stadium, not only from the fans in tangerine who were witnessing the Seasiders first venture in the top flight for 40 years but also the home section who thought a good start to the season was on the cards.
In actual fact Latics fans should have realised something wasn`t quite right in the week building up to the game, Blackpool have had a dreadful preseason, unable to sign players, their ground not ready for the opening day, talk of unrest over player bonuses, four players brought in on the eve of the season but not a word of a moan from their boss Ian Holloway.
The moaning and talk of doom was coming from Latics boss Roberto Martinez ‘The worst time to play them`, `They will attack and that will surprise people.`, ‘They go at opponents instead of sitting back`, hardly a rallying call to the Latics players.
On to the game, the Latics were shocking and Blackpool were excellent and the 4-0 score-line actually flattered Martinez` men, Blackpool could have been 4, 5 or even 6 up by half-tine.
As early as the second minute the Latics were cut apart and a ball across the box gave former Latics striker Brett Ormerod the chance to open the scoring but he fluffed his lines with the goal at his mercy.
It didn`t take long for the visitors to pop in the first goal of the game though, on 16 minutes Marlon Harewood, who had a great debut for Blackpool, knocked a ball in from the right and Gary Taylor-Fletcher unmarked at the far post side-footed past a lumbering Chris Kirkland.
Taylor-Fletcher should have made it two 5 minutes later when he ran through a static Latics back line to fire home only for the assistant referee to flag for off-side when he was clearly at least four yards on side.
Latics reprieve didn`t last long when provider turned goal scorer, Marlon Harewood had the ball out on the left, he slipped Alcaraz a dummy skipped inside and hit a shot from 22 yards that a desperate Chris Kirkland could only help into the net.
On 43 minutes Harewood made it 3-0 when he side-footed in from an acute angle after Kirkland parried Elliot Grandin`s shot to his feet, Blackpool were flying and the Latics had fallen apart.
Martinez made two changes at half-time replacing Emerson Boyce and Momo Diame giving Ronnie Stam his debut and Hendry Thomas a taste of the action.
Latics should have pulled a goal back within a minute of the re-start when Steve Gohouri headed home a Ben Watson free-kick but once again the assistant referee wrongly flagged for off-side when Gohouri was clearly on-side.
The Latics showed a bit more thrust in the second half with Ronnie Stam displaying his attacking qualities down the right, his pace and directness could bring a new dimension to the Latics but in this game it was too little too late.
Blackpool boss Ian Holloway also made changes in the second half and encouraged his side to sit back and allow the Latics more possession, he closed the game off and for all the possession there was no way through for Martinez` team, the closest they came was a Boselli header that glanced off the top of the bar on its way into the South Stand.
For all their closing off of the game Blackpool still looked the most likeliest to score and on 75 minutes Chris Kirkland compounded his nightmare performance with an absolute howler when he allowed a 35 yard Baptiste cross slip over his line at his near post, the Latics keeper hung his head in shame and the home section of supporters streamed out of the ground booing loudly as they departed.
A 0-4 final score-line isn`t the way Latics fans envisaged this game to finish, the phrase ‘proper preparation prevents poor performance` is perhaps something that Martinez and his backroom staff should consider ahead of the forthcoming matches.
The Latics were simply shocking, indecisive throughout the side, players too far apart from each other, they couldn`t pass water never mind the ball, they looked a side of strangers and the defence was Sunday league standard, no, that`s disrespectful to the Sunday league. I use the term side instead of team because team was the last thing that Wigan Athletic appeared to be.
Next up? Chelsea then Spurs so no need to panic
Chris Kirkland – 3
Awful, looked stiff and the weight of the captaincy too much for him
Emerson Boyce – 5
Poor game from Mr Reliable, subbed at half-time
Maynor Figueroa – 5
Looked like his mind was else where, Liverpool?
Antolin Alcaraz – 4
At fault for Harewoods first goal, well off the pace
Steve Gohouri – 4
Didnt play well with Alcaraz, they looked like strangers
Mopmo Diame – 4
Had his poorest game for the club since joining, continually got caught in possession or gave the ball away, his poor pass led to Blackpools first goal
James McCarthy – 7
The only player to come out with any credit, ran all afternoon
Ben Watson – 5
Poor game, his dead ball delivery was awful
Victor Moses – 6
Tried to get the Latics going but lack of movement or support from his team mates left him isolated
Hugo Rodallega – 3
Did Hugo play? Anonymous
Mauro Boselli – 5
Two headers that was it, didnt get any quality service and appeared to become very frustrated as the game went on
Ronnie Stam – 6
Direct and showed some glimpses of quality
Hendry Thomas – 5
Came on for Diame at half time, didnt make any impact
Not on the pitch long enough to make any impact
Roberto Martinez – 1
The Latics looked totally unprepared, motivated or organised, the pressure is on with Chelsea and Spurs to come
Ian Holloway – 9
His players were full of desire and had a game plan that worked a treat