Opinion: Slow start but performance showed shoots for the future
Feature by Paul Farrington
Updated Tuesday, 21st August 2012
After all the excitement about the big season kick off it was forgotten that there is a frightening gulf in power between the big boys and the rest of the division.
Chelsea paid a rumoured £32 million for their star summer signing (and they also had £25 million in youthful Brazilian Oscar on the bench).
The Latics meanwhile were delighted to have the illuminating hair style of Arouna Kone (£2.7 million) and Spanish centre back Ivan Ramis (£3 million) within their ranks. Loan signing Ryo Myaichi and nineteen year old Fraser Fyvie weren’t involved for this one.
Considering the sums involved one can forgive the early errors of Ivan Ramis who after a crazy first five minutes and certainly two mistakes to forget for the new boy as the Latics trailed Chelsea by two goals after the few kicks of a ball.
The big defender possibly learned more in the first five minutes of the contest than he could in a the whole of a season as he got to grips with the expensive Hazard. The Chelsea new boy was running Ramis ragged, first turning him on the half-way line and laying Ivanovic in for the opener before drawing the foul from Ramis for the penalty.
It was a tail of two new boys in the first five minutes. From then on it was a much more even contest, although Chelsea had little to play for with the game already largely won.
Ramis grew into the game a little more and showed enough to warrant further opportunities to impress. It is certainly worth mentioning that the Spaniard of over 400 La Liga games turned down more money at West Ham to move to the Latics.
We also caught a glimpse of Arouna Kone who looks very much in the mould of a Jason Roberts type striker and will certainly offer something very different to both Franco Di Santo and Mauro Boselli. It would appear Martinez has a variety of striking styles to choose from with that trio.
There was plenty of evidence that the team can build on the success of the tail end of last season. The McCarthy and McArthur double act in midfield looked slightly rusty, but one that will no doubt get going as the season progresses.
And it is also worth remembering that even with Moses and Maloney on the pitch, the Latics had Ryo Myaichi and Jordi Gomez is reserve for the flanks.
Last season’s star signing Jean Beausejour was also missing through injury and the Chiliean managed seven assists last season, so as well as disrupting the settled back three, his attacking threat will have been sorely missed.
As we have grown to learn, the flowing football was also in evidence with the Latics largely matching Chelsea in terms of on the ball confidence and swagger. The final pass was often missing, but the level of off the ball running seemed somewhat reduced as the players are evidently still some-way off top fitness.
Whilst the a defeat is far from desired on the opening day of the season, Latics fans will have seen enough evidence that there is enough talent and desire within the squad to avoid a repeat of last season’s struggles. So much so that even a possible mid-table finish could be muted.
The crazy five minutes apart there wasn’t too much between the sides and give the gulf in budgets that is very comforting. Thankfully we won’t be playing Chelsea every week, and although there are no easy games in the Premier League, Southampton away next week will be much more of a level playing field.
It is worth remembering that it wouldn’t be a Wigan Athletic Premier League campaign if we didn’t start slowly and one must be pleased that we didn’t go down 6-0 as just two years ago. That season we also played newly promoted Blackpool early on and were defeated 4-0. Latics fans will be hoping for a better result, and a quicker start, against Southampton next week.