Ahead of today’s Community Shield game against Wigan, Alan Moore from This Northern Soul has spoken to RoM about the match and all things Wigan.
Scott: Where does last season’s FA Cup win rank in your favourite moments as a Wigan fan?
Alan: Yes, it’s definitely up there with that first 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough that proved that the Premier League isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
My earliest footballing memory goes something like this:
“and it’s Moore, he picks the ball up on the left, he jinks past one, tricks another, he’s through with only the keeper to beat and… Oh… He’s done it, Moore’s won the FA Cup for Wigan Athletic!”
Ok, so I’m about 5 years old and in the backs behind a small terraced house in Ince rather than at Wembley, and I’d spend the next ten to fifteen years disposing of any notion that the fantasy could become reality, but in those days the Cup was football. That’s probably because the concept is easier to understand for the young mind that a forty-odd game season but it’s the glamour, romance and emotion that stay with you as the mind gets older.
I suppose you can look at Latics’ recent history and say that we’ve had plenty of those things through our league campaigns and it would be true. We’ve been on a Boys Own (or Septuagenarians’ Own, if you prefer) adventure, going from the fourth division to the top table in double quick time, with plenty of bumps, scrapes and last gasp survivals along the way but the constant theme has been one of a club punching above it’s weight and that’s what the cup is supposed to be about, isn’t it?
Except it’s not. Yes we all like to talk about giant killings and all that, but the genuine chances of a team outside the top half of the Premier League winning the FA Cup are tiny and whilst all those adventures were great, bring great pleasure to look back on and bring some sense of achievement I don’t see too many fans who are jealous of Latics’ travails in trying to achieve mid-table mediocrity in the top flight.
The Cup trumps all that, because it’s something tangible, a real actual achievement, because it puts us in the history books, because we’ve now done something that no-one can deny they’d love their club to do and because fulfilling childhood dreams is simply one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Scott: Did you have any hope of winning ahead of kick-off?
Alan: Well, you know, take 22 men, goalposts, a ball and ninety minutes and anything can happen. So, no, none whatsoever.
Scott: If you had to choose between last season’s FA Cup and being in the Premier League next season, which would you pick?
Alan: The way I put this before the final was that “The Cup is for life, Premier League survival is just for another year” and I meant it without anticipating the depth of feeling that I’d get from it.
Afterwards, I’ve only ever felt anything like how I felt in the immediate aftermath of the cup final twice before and I can’t imagine that the FA Cup is ever going to keep me awake all night shrieking or need it’s nappy changing.
So, yes, I’m happy with how things turned out.
Scott: How do you feel about Martinez’s departure?
I was/am a big Martinez fan and I definitely would have liked him to stay and (hopefully) reap the rewards of a European campaign. I even thought he might do a) because of Europe and 2) because of pride (I got you relegated so now I’m going to fix it sort of stuff). Despite that, I’m fairly sanguine about the whole thing. Whether he went with Whelan’s boot up his jacksie, undercover of night or with everyone’s best wishes, nothing ever lasts forever and he was always going to go
sometime or other.
If there’s a regret, it’s whether we’ll now ever see his plans to further improve the infrastructure and youth set-up of the club ever put in place and if not how much that might cost us in the long run.
Scott: Are you confident that Owen Coyle can get you promoted?
He’s done it before with less financial clout, so why not. The difficult thing will be turning a club with a losing habit into one that wins and the signs are good on that front. How easily or quickly promotion comes will depend on how many of last year’s squad up sticks before the end of August. There are two or three players that currently (probably) tip the balance between us being a good first division side and being an exceptional one.
Apart from those, Coyle has bought some decent players who have experience of this level and the one above. Increasing the squad size at the same time. With a bigger, deeper squad it looks as if he may be preparing to take what will be a long season on from all angles and anything is possible.
Scott: Which players do you think United fans should keep an eye on in the game?
The forward line is going to look very familiar to you. Expect Holt to put himself about, Maloney to be busy and tricky and Beausejour to be hit and miss with his crosses. What might be new to you is seeing James McCarthy in more advanced positions. Coyle is definitely asking the midfield to break forward more and young James has already got a few goals in pre-season.
Scott: Do you care about winning the Community Shield?
It’s supposed to be a set-piece opening to the season, not a competitive game, isn’t it? I think winning it has only really mattered when there have been rivals at each end of the pitch, which I guess has happened a lot recently. For you, it’s a warm up game but our season has already started and it’s more of a distraction from the job at hand. I think I’d rather us be playing our second league game of the season, to be honest.
It’s Man U v Latics so by the law of averages it’s got to be 4-0.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.