Before the season began you could have two bets on Blackpool. One, at odds of 5,000-1, was that they would win the Premier League and, according to the town's Evening Gazette, some 53 people thought it worth a flutter, although nobody risked more than a tenner.
The other, more plausible, bet was that the seaside boys would go through the entire Premier League season without winning a game of football. You could have 25-1 on that.
This morning one of those bets has fallen. Blackpool can still win the championship. If they could play Wigan every week they would do so at a canter. Ian Holloway's side may have been tossed together like a cheap salad but it was the side who have spent the past five years in the top flight who performed like strangers.
The DW Stadium is often notoriously empty, but the boos still poured down like November rain. Wigan's previous game had been an 8-0 humbling at Stamford Bridge, and the announcement that Chelsea looked forward to welcoming Wigan's supporters back for next Saturday's encounter drew some hollow laughter, although the home support that remained did applaud Blackpool off. There was generosity even in this bleakest of defeats.
The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, summed up the afternoon by pointing to what seemed a perfectly good goal from Steve Gohouri that was disallowed for offside and what appeared to be a cross by Elliot Grandin that arrived from the shadows of the stands and somehow found its way into Chris Kirkland's net.
However, of a first half that saw the most unfancied team in the history of the Premier League score three times, Martinez was less forgiving. "It was unacceptable," he said. "We knew Blackpool would have a honeymoon period but we did not match them in any department whatsoever. We simply thought we could turn up and play our football."
Charles N'Zogbia, perhaps Wigan's best player last season, did not turn up at all, with his manager saying the Frenchman was "mentally unfit to play", although he said reports that N'Zogbia would be leaving the DW Stadium were premature.
It said a lot for the way Blackpool eviscerated Wigan's defence that the latter badly missed Titus Bramble. Marlon Harewood, barely considered fit enough to train with his new team-mates, scored twice, once when the usually reliable Kirkland somehow allowed a shot from distance beneath his body and then when Grandin's shot was pushed into his path by the gloves of the Wigan keeper.
Had Gohouri's goal been allowed to stand a minute after the interval, Martinez might have overseen some kind of fightback and Mauro Boselli, his £7 million signing from Estudiantes, did strike the bar. But Wigan did not deserve any other result.
Blackpool are not in a position to make £7m signings from Argentina or anywhere else. Their performance was summed up by Gary Taylor-Fletcher, whose career has taken him to Northwich, Grays and Dagenham, not so much backwaters as dry gulches of the game. And yet when he met Harewood's long, low pass that sliced through the Wigan area, he scored Blackpool's first goal in the Premier League and looked as if he had been playing there all his life.
Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the match: Taylor-Fletcher
Match rating: 8/10Reuse content