Sunday, 18 March 2012

Scharner Refuses To Dance On Wigan's Grave


Paul Scharner did not celebrate his equaliser. He refused to dance on the grave of the club he once served so well.

In fact, you could almost sense the sadness he felt at scoring the goal in this 1-1 draw for West Brom that looks destined to send Wigan down.

He knew cancelling out James McArthur's opener meant Wigan failed to move out of the bottom three.

Knew it meant they now face a run of games that includes clashes against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal needing more points than seems feasible.

Knew it meant their seven year stay in the Premier League is all but over.

Scharner may feel guilty but Wigan's demise is all their own fault.

You don't need the help of Sherlock Holmes to work out why they have spent so much of the season stuck at the bottom of the table.

A catastrophic lack of goals has hampered their attempt to replicate a Barcelona style of game in the Premier League.

Roberto Martinez's Spanish flair has been evident in the Latics ability to paint pretty pictures in possession but with no cutting edge, it's most been all fur coat at the DW Stadium.

For too long Martinez has defended the indefensible. Too often he has talked of bad luck and opponents brilliance rather than conceded his strikers are charlatans.

He has relied on Tin men to save Wigan. Frontmen with no heart that have let down their team-mates again and again.

Hugo Rodallega has spent the season counting day the days until he can quit for a bigger club on a free transfer, whilst Franco Di Santo has bottled more chances than he has taken.

An embarrassing total of 12 goals in 15 home games has provided just one win at the DW Stadium and that came on the opening game back in late August.

How they needed their luck to change. For a lengthy period that seemed unlikely. Wigan were back to doing what they do best – missing sitters.

Franco Di Santo set the tone for an afternoon of sheer frustration for the home side when he cracked a volley just off target from long ball over top.

The hitman popped up in the box again moments later to meet Jean Beausejour's perfect cross only to screw his shot wide.

And it was a hat-trick of missed opportunities for Di Santo when James McCarthy teed him up for a drive Ben Foster brilliantly tipped away to safety.

Next up was Gary Caldwell, fluffing a close range shot. Fellow defender Emmerson Boyce got in on the act, heading a Maynor Figueroa cross against the bar.

West Brom were struggling to a foothold in the game but still managed to sniff out opportunities – as all teams that arrive at the DW Stadium do.

Jerome Thomas dragged a shot wide and in the 23rd minute, then Gareth McAuley aimed his header past the post to the relief of a defence caught ball watching.

That respite did not last long. Wigan were soon piling forward again. James McCarthy flashed a shot past Ben Foster from distance that pinged back off the bar.

Wigan were falling over themselves to score – literally in Shaun Maloney's case when he tumbled backwards attempting to divert Antolin Alcaraz's header home.

Roy Hodgson looked baffled as he headed in at half-time. His was a team that were bettered only by the two Manchester clubs when it comes to picking up points away from home.

Here they were enduring a chastening experience, rarely seeing the ball and allowing their opponents time and space to prosper.

The law of averages suggested that at some point Wigan would get lucky. They did, in the 54th minute.

Victor Moses battled his way to the touchline and fired a waist high ball across the goal. Billy Jones could do little but let it hit his body and McArthur was there to prod home.

Now the tempo of the game changed. West Brom suddenly found some hunger as fear ran through the veins of their opponents.

Thomas shot wide and then finally Paul Scharner, of all people nodded home a Chris Brunt corner to deflate the home side.

Wigan threw everything into getting a winner and failed by the narrowest of margins when a cross deflected off McAuley and Foster saved brilliantly at the post.

That left Martinez rueing those missed chances and facing up to life in the Championship.

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