It says something for Blackpool's extraordinary summer that in the aftermath of an entrance to the Premier League more stunning than anyone could have foretold, their chairman was openly talking of resignation.
Karl Oyston was always a reluctant leader. His father and mother had been forced from office, one jailed, the other driven out by the supporters, and he had not enjoyed the months that followed their play-off victory at Wembley. Blackpool had prepared for the Premier League by doing virtually nothing until last week when half a dozen footballers, ranging from the slightly well known to the completely obscure, arrived at Bloomfield Road, which on the afternoon the Premier League kicked off was a building site.
Oyston's reluctance to sanction any salary higher than £500,000 a year, which would pay for three weeks of Yaya Touré, had played a major role in the logjam, although anyone watching the fire sale of players on Humberside as Hull struggle to adjust to their new realities might understand why. Oyston called it "not a nightmare but a steep learning curve", with the sort of curves they have on the Avalanche ride on Blackpool's Pleasure Beach.
"I expected the landscape to be different," he said. "I expected the way people behaved to be different and I have been very disappointed in the way some agents have conducted themselves. My offer to step down is still there. I have told the board that, and I am very serious because I am not sure I have got the right approach for this division and the more I talk to other Premier League clubs the more I realise I am a lone voice. There was some accord with the things I said in the Championship but there does not appear to be any in this division."
Oyston will find there is no hall of mirrors anywhere on the Golden Mile that returns such a distorted reflection as the Premier League, where the tide of debt is as deep and unfathomable as some of the currents that wash Morecambe Bay. His relationship with his manager, Ian Holloway, has been sometimes fractious and his players had been paid their promotion bonuses only a few days before kick-off. Under the circumstances, it would have been entirely understandable had Blackpool capitulated.
Wigan should be a fair template for Oyston as a club who have prospered in the Premier League on very small gates and relatively limited investment, although Roberto Martinez's starting line-up cost 14 times more to assemble than the bunch of supposed strangers Holloway was able to field.
Wigan played like men who have now conceded 17 times in their last four Premier League fixtures. Amid all the hosannas for Blackpool, there is a warning for Wigan. Nine Augusts ago, Bolton, freshly arrived in the Premier League, went to Leicester, then a regular member of the old order, and won 5-0. Leicester never recovered, losing seven of their first 11 matches and finishing last. Curiously, they, like Wigan, had ended the previous season badly.
Holloway described the last few weeks as "the maddest work I have ever known" and perhaps in the short term the fact that he relied on a team of unknowns would have benefited him. While the seasoned pro Marlon Harewood scored twice just before half-time, the opening goal was scored by Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who had spent some of his career on the barren shores of the Thames at Dagenham and Grays. The fourth was struck, however unintentionally, by Alex Baptiste, who two years ago endured relegation from the Football League with Mansfield. They are hungry men who know they would probably not get a chance of Premier League football with anyone else.
"Our boys will keep going," said Holloway who next Saturday will take his players to the grandeur of Arsenal. "And that is one advantage we have in this crazy world. I am glad I am not working for Manchester City having to sign a player [Mario Balotelli from Internazionale] who says he would rather stay in Italy. Our fans deserved this day and they deserve another one next week, although I doubt they will get it, let's be perfectly honest."
Wigan 4-2-3-1: Kirkland; Boyce (Stam, h-t), Gohouri, Alcaraz, Figueroa; McCarthy, Diame, (Thomas, h-t); Moses (McArthur, 72), Watson, Rodallega: Boselli. Substitutes not used Al Habsi (gk), Gomez, Scotland, Golobart.
Blackpool 4-1-4-1: Gilks; Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Vaughan; Omerod (Sylvestre, 59), Adam, Taylor-Fletcher (Euell, 76), Grandin; Harewood (Basham, 60). Substitutes not used Rachubka (gk), Eardley, Edwards, Demontagnac.
Man of the match Taylor-Fletcher.
Referee M Halsey (Lancashire).
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