Before our home match with Wigan earlier on in the season, I interviewed Dan Farrimond of the brilliantly named blog Jesus Was A Wiganer.
As you would imagine, neither of us predicted that the game would result in quite such a comprehensive scoreline for Tottenham. At the risk of allowing me to jinx his side once more, Dan has allowed me to interview him again to find his thoughts on the day his side lost 9-1 and what the rest of the season has in store for Wigan and Spurs.
Dan, welcome back to TottenhamBlog. OK, let’s get straight down to the elephant in the room. From a Wigan perspective, just what went so badly wrong that you ended up losing 9-1?
Well, I’ve all but blocked the game from my memory, so it’s hard to remember exactly where things went wrong, but I’ll give it a go anyway.
Immediately following the game, fingers were pointed at our stand-in left sided defender Erik Edman who, bless him, had just returned from injury and was trying to play his way back into the first team. Unfortunately he simply wasn’t up to speed and couldn’t handle Aaron Lennon, or anyone, really. Erik’s now left the club, so read into that what you will.
It wasn’t just his fault, though. There was a collective apathy, something that’s characterised our team when we’ve gone more than a goal down this season. They just about had things in control up until the second goal, but like the Man U and Arsenal games (5-0 and 4-0 defeats), they simply seemed to give up after that. Spurs never took their foot off the gas and everything they touched turned to gold, Chris Kirkland looking all at sea in the Latics net.
Anyway, like I said, it never happened.
Just how painful was the loss? Did you have to face a lot of stick from your non-Wigan supporting mates?
I couldn’t explain how embarrassing it all was. The day following the defeat, Roberto Martinez and Titus Bramble were set to officially open a new club shop in Wigan town centre. Needless to say the ceremony was cancelled as Sky Sports News and the BBC were crawling all over the place, asking random passers by – including myself – the very same question you’ve just asked me.
It was on the front page of all the tabloids and no matter how much you tried to forget it, some clever dick had to keep bringing it up again and again. It was really hard to swallow, and resulted in me hiding away for a few days for the heat to die down… which it never did. In fact, some people still won’t let me forget it.
These days, I’ve accepted it as one of those freak incidents, a bit like Maynor Figueroa’s halfway line goal against Stoke – not likely to happen again for many years to come. Besides, you don’t lose points for being absolutely hammered, and it’s not like we were expecting something from the game.
One thing that I was very impressed by was the fact that many of your fans stayed right to the end. I was then even more surprised when Mario Melchiot announced that the Wigan players were giving your fans a refund. How impressed were you by this gesture?
The reason the fans stayed until the end was probably because they had no choice as I’ll bet most of them came on the club coach, which will most likely have left well after kickoff. Plus I’d guess it isn’t very wise to walk around North London in a Wigan shirt when you’ve just lost 9-1 to Tottenham. If we’re 6-1 down with 20 minutes to play on Sunday, you can bet the Wigan fans will vote with their feet, just as they have been doing even in close games at the DW this season.
I was massively impressed by the money back gesture. By and large the club have been excellent in the PR/marketing department this season, even if it seems the vast majority (or maybe an extremely vocal minority) aren’t happy with our performances on the pitch.
It was the sort of result that might have killed a club’s season, but you bounced back straight away. Overall, are you happy with Wigan’s form and still backing them to stay up?
Yes, beating Sunderland the following week was a vital fillip. This current Latics side feeds on confidence, and I fear things might well have collapsed had we lost that game.
In my opinion we definitely have the talent to stay up, but then people said that about Newcastle last season, and if we drop down to the Championship we don’t exactly have the insane following they have to help us come straight back up.
The current management has installed a long-term strategy that means we may have to go down a division (maybe even two) to progress in the long run. Personally I don’t see how dropping to the Championship could benefit us, but hopefully that will not happen. If the new signings can have an impact alongside the likes of Rodallega and N’Zogbia then we have a very good chance, but I fear time is starting to run out with just thirteen games and some difficult tasks ahead.
We’re trying to remain positive, and if we pick up the points where we can get them we should just about be alright.
What’s your take on Roberto Martinez and how he’s performed in his first season at a Premier League club?
Whilst he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory so far, in my eyes he’s done just about as well as I expected, perhaps even better – after all, we’ve stayed out of the relegation zone for the most part, if not all of the season. Should we finish the campaign in the same position I’ll be more than happy.
From my own experience, most fans are behind Martinez, but that doesn’t stop them from letting him know what they think about some of his tactical decisions. He’s come in for some frightful stick due to his persistence with Scotland and Gomez, and in recent times the tendency to hold back when in winning/drawing positions rather than going for the jugular. On most occasions this gamble has backfired, but he’s new to the Prem so we’ll cut him a bit of slack.
Victor Moses was a player that I really wish that Spurs had gone for. From his brief appearances for Wigan, does he seem like he can go right to the top?
Hard to tell at this stage, but he has showed some promise in his two brief appearances as substitute. I’d been hearing good things about the guy during the transfer window (Palace propaganda?), with the likes of Man United and some other European heavyweights scouting him, and was delighted to hear we’d captured him along with Marcelo Moreno on the final day of the transfer window.
General consensus was that we badly needed a couple of strikers, and Victor in particular is already a very popular figure at the DW. We’re all itching for him to get up to speed as soon as possible, preferably before it’s too late.
We might just see him on Sunday, probably not in the starting line-up, but as a substitute later on. Hopefully from a Wigan point of view, he’ll be starting games sooner or later, thrusting him into the shop window for bigger clubs (including Tottenham). It’d be nice if we could hold onto him for a bit first, though.
Strangely since beating you 9-1, we’ve been in poor form, winning just 4 out of 13 league games. Has this surprised you at all?
I’m very surprised, not so much on the basis of the 9-1 drubbing as a standalone game, but Spurs’ excellent overall start to the season. Still, I find it interesting that you say ‘just’ four wins in thirteen games, a statistic we’d kill for at this stage…
Sorry about that. Anyway I will say Spurs have missed Aaron Lennon (as most teams would) but you probably know all about that. You’ve definitely got the players there – Jermain Defoe in particular has the potential to cut the very best defences apart – it’s just a case of getting them to click again, though hopefully after Sunday’s match… 😉
Every club has bad patches, it’s just a case of hanging on in there when you’re going through them. The good news is that you’re still in with a shout of those Euro places and with the likes of Man City and Liverpool not exactly having the best of results recently they’re definitely up for grabs at this stage.
What’s your verdict for the match on Sunday?
Well, I’m hoping for a draw but we’ll actually have to play well for that to happen. Still, the pitch could be a great leveller so you never know – if Moreno and Rodallega hit their straps there’s the slight possibility – as there always is with this Latics squad – of even getting a win. I wouldn’t put a quid on it though.
If I’m being realistic we may have to settle for an honourable defeat, though I’m sure it’ll lead to another chorus of boos at the final whistle. I think many of our fans expect far too much of a 36-year old manager making his Premier League debut this season.
A final question that I’ve been asking a lot of opposition bloggers of late. If you could choose one former Wigan player to join your current squad, who would it be?
I reckon what we’re desperately missing right now is the kind of striker that will consistently get you goals, no matter how scrappy. In our past five Prem games we’ve threatened a lot but haven’t been able to get that ball to cross the goal line as we’ve never had a man muscling his way through the back line to tap it into the net.
On that basis I would suggest we miss someone like Nathan Ellington from the 2005 Championship season. In fact if we’re going that way, I’d like Jason Roberts or Andy Liddell as well. The problem with those guys, and pretty much any other Latics legends you could care to mention, is that they were lower league players that did or would have struggled at the highest level – a bit like Jason Scotland and Jordi Gomez at the moment – and probably wouldn’t even get into the current first team.
If we’re talking Premier League quality, then I’m not going to deny we’re worse off for the loss of Emile Heskey. He won’t necessarily get us many goals, I just feel Scotland is a poor man’s version of Hesk, and hasn’t managed to do very much in the way of creating goals in the same way we know Emile can.
Thanks go out to Dan. Don’t forget to check out his site Jesus Was A Wiganer where an interview with myself will be appearing on Saturday.