Latics visit Eastlands on Saturday evening for a high-profile fixture against one of the wealthiest clubs in world football. Manchester City currently lie third in the table and Wigan are now rock bottom. City’s lavishly assembled team of superstars will make it difficult for us, but there may also be other factors that come into play.
Back in May 1999 Wigan lost to Manchester City in the Second Division play-offs due to a poor refereeing decision – a blatant handball by the City striker Shaun Goater. The reason I mention this is that after the Rooney/Clattenburg fiasco last week we now have to contend with another referee with a reputation for making bizarre decisions.
Stuart Attwell is refereeing the game despite controversy in the fixture last year. Last season’s fixture resulted in Roberto Martinez being fined and warned as to his future conduct after criticising Attwell’s performance in Latics’ 3-0 defeat. Roberto was incensed by the second-half sending off of Gary Caldwell for a tackle on Carlos Tevez and later accused Attwell of lying over the reasons for the dismissal.
Martinez commented at the time, “We are all human beings and we all make mistakes, but to give a decision after something you don’t see, that is lying, you are making it up,”
“He said he saw Gary Caldwell with both feet off the ground. That’s why he gave the red card. But Gary Caldwell only went with one foot. That is a real injustice.”
It was a rare outburst from Martinez and it cost him £2,250 as the FA hit him with a fine.
Attwell was also involved in the famous ghost goal, when he awarded a goal to Reading against Watford, despite the ball being four yards wide of the goal post.
Wigan didn’t have any luck in the 1999 play off semi final when Goater handled the ball, so maybe it is time for fortune to favour us and a certain Mr. Attwell to perform his duties impeccably.