Wigan revel in historic cup win
Published: 25.05.13 / Written by: David Gold
Wigan Athletic’s victory over Manchester City at the weekend was one of the greatest upsets in the FA Cup’s illustrious history.
The 1-0 victory was secured by a flicked header from Ben Watson in the final minute of the game. Fitting too, that Watson, who broke his leg months ago, should net the winner – Wigan owner and benefactor Dave Whelan broke his leg in the 1960 FA Cup final, ending his career.
This was no smash and grab in the style of Wimbledon’s ‘crazy gang’, winners of English football’s oldest club competition back in 1988 against Liverpool. Wigan outplayed City – and not for the first time this season. At home, Wigan completely outplayed City, creating chance after chance, but failing to convert them, and eventually they were punished on the break by the Manchester outfit. Roberto Mancini’s side were similarly lucky at home. Wigan ran rings around their opponents, somehow failing to score and eventually losing to a late Carlos Tevez strike.
It should not be lost on anyone the irony that Wigan would be in a good position in the Premier League, primed for safety, had they got what they deserved from their performances against City in the league this season. Instead they will take on Arsenal days after their FA Cup win needing to win to stay in the division for another year. The impossible task? They’ve done it before.
Let’s dwell on that cup win a bit longer though, not least as Wigan couldn’t, going to bed early on Saturday night rather than savouring their historic triumph. This was the first trophy in the club’s history and capped a remarkable rise for the side under Roberto Martinez, one of the best young managers in the sport. They outplayed and out thought Manchester City, who could not find a way past a resolute defence. Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Edin Dzeko, players signed for excessive sums from mainland Europe, seasoned internationals of the top level, could not break them down.
But Wigan attacked, passed and move with swagger and confidence. If you knew nothing about football prior to this game, you wouldn’t know which side was the one backed by a billionaire and the other a ‘mere’ millionaire.
Callum McManaman was the key man for Wigan, epitomising everything good about them. Clever, direct and tricky, he caused problems for City’s defenders throughout. They did not know how to handle him, and he created several chances himself with his tricky running. He brought three yellow cards from City players, two from Pablo Zabaleta, and he forced the corner from which Watson headed the winning goal.
It was a truly deserved triumph for Wigan but you wonder where they go from here now. They have two games to go to somehow save their Premier League lives. Martinez could well leave this summer if a big job opens itself up and he is tempted by it. This is a team punching well above their weight – and good on them for doing so too. It might just be that the FA Cup is the beginning of the end. But what a story it has been for a remarkable team.