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Pioneer Plaque

In just one week’s time, it will be exactly 39 years since NASA launched their Voyager II space probe. Contained within this expensive collection of screws and mirrors is the infamous Golden Record, an analogue catalogue of mankind’s musical endeavour up to and including the space year 1977.

Originally, the record was intended to include depictions of a female and male human, but this decision was met by criticism from the United States media. This was not due to substandard drawing, nor the seemingly obvious fact aliens mightn’t have eyes in the first place. It was because… the figures were wearing no pants.

Owen Coyle, meanwhile, has obviously spent the entire summer stretching out his shorts to regular trouser length – or at the very least, he was gifted some tracksuit pants for today’s game. One suspects they will be more suitable attire for when he is inevitably sent out to the edge of the solar system. For the benefit of footballkind, you understand.

And he might as well have been circling Alpha Pant-auri today, because there ain’t a lot you can do when your players’ legs are struggling to shift even vaguely in sync.

Let the damage begin

From the moment Max Power’s speculative shot inadvertently cannoned off Billy Grigg’s forehead and into the North Stand goal, Rovers were second (and in some cases third) to every ball. Purely and simply, the hosts had snapped out of their pre-season stupor; the visitors were still unsettled by that message they spotted at Wigan Wallgate:

Welcome to Hell
Welcome to hell, Owen.

This state of affairs was best encapsulated by a short passage of play in the 27th minute. Upon receiving the ball just outside the Blackburn area, David ‘Goal Machine’ Perkins pondered a shot… for minus 23 nanoseconds, before passing the buck to Nick Powell. The ex-Man U man did unleash a strike hot enough for Jason Steele to spill, and Yanic Wildschut was in just the right spot to… slice onto the top half of the crossbar.

The attacking trio of Powell, Yanic and Grigg were lurking too close to Blackburn’s goalmouth for the visitors to achieve any sort of inner calm. And by half time, their worry had escalated to sheer panic.

You see, Steele wasn’t so lucky when Powell sent a second, arrowing strike his way. Though the Great British Olympian put palm to ball, it was a tad too late – he and it were already way over the goal line, and Latics had converted a free kick for the first time since caveman times. When Owen Coyle was in charge.

Caveman football
“If you think this bad, wait until you try Ug’s extra crunchy doughnuts…”

It was too much to bear for many North Standers, who retreated to the safety of the concourse, or maybe even the pub. Whelan certainly won’t be too happy about paying his stewards extra to open the exit doors early.

Half time glucose beverage.

Rovers began the second half with a little bit more ambition, if not sharpness. Assigning two man markers to Adam Bogdan yielded a couple of agitated defensive mistakes, which jollied those remaining behind the big Bog man’s goal.

Jack Byrne scraped the top side of the crossbar, which did much to halt their frequent renditions of ‘you’re not fit for anything’. This was surely the genesis of a spectacular comeback!

Except not. Except Max Power’s cross glanced off substitute Mikey Jacobs’ shin and into the South Stand netting via a despairing Shane Duffy. Except Wigan’s first proper attacking move of the half resulted in a contest-killing own goal.

Bummer.

Cheers, we’ll see you on Tuesday

What remained was a leisurely half hour of pre-season football, with all drivers turning down their engines to conserve energy for forthcoming midweek matches. During this period, Latics’ passing was occasionally sublime, Rovers’ shot-blocking frequently heroic. George of the Jungle level heroic.

Jack Byrne was closest to making the scoreboard operators lift another finger, elevating a close-range strike into Bogdan’s raised arms. It was almost as if the ball was attracted to two great magnets in the keeper’s gloves… a touch too typical for the visitors’ tastes.

Magnetic gloves
Adam Bogdan demos his new magnetic gloves for Twitter.

Typical of what, you ask? Well, I would say it’s the Coyle curse. But on this day, not even the sight of Owen donning a Blackburn kit and taking to the pitch himself could have spurred his side to victory, or even a point.

…Mostly because he would have immediately fallen foul of the officials’ new ‘pet offence’ – talking back to the ref. I can see the headlines now: “Coyle creates new record for quickest sending off after calling Graham Scott a right b—”

Yeah, I think we’ll leave it there.

Second opinion

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