Football fans often moan that they just need their side’s luck to turn before they start winning matches; maybe they claim they’re getting a lot of dodgy decisions against them, maybe they say they’ve been making lots of chances but narrowly missing them. This weekend’s entertaining Premier League match between Stoke and Wigan made me realise that they’re almost always wrong.
The moment of the match, and possibly even the season, came on 72 minutes, when Wigan left back Maynor Figueroa spotted Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen off his line when taking a free-kick inside his own half and was able to send the ball arcing perfectly over him and into the goal to goal to give his side a 2-1 lead. What an unlikely blow for Stoke to suffer. 57 seconds later Figueroa went from hero to villain, failing to pick up Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross from a corner. The defender headed in to tie the scores. The game finished 2-2. things have a way of evening themselves out.
What about Sorensen? The Dane was left with egg on his face when he was caught out by Figueroa, but made amends in injury time when he saved Wigan’s Hugo Rodallega’s penalty. Things have a way of evening themselves out.
The Wigan fans may curse their luck at missing such a crucial penalty that, if scored, would almost certainly have earned their side all three points. The penalty, however, should never have been given, Wigan’s Jordi Gomez, who was crudely felled by Stoke defender Robert Huth, was a yard offside when played in. Sorensen’s save only did justice. Wigan fans may claim that the penalty should have been retaken, after all, Sorensen did move significantly off of his line, a technical illegality, in making the save. Stoke fans will argue that Rodallega stopped in the middle of his run-up in an attempt to confuse the ‘keeper, another action that is against the rules of the game. Things have a way of evening themselves out.
The next time you open your mouth to bemoan an unlucky moment for your team, think about all the times in the match, or the season that you survived a defensive close shave, or were awarded a goal when the player was offside. One old saying says “you make your own luck”, another that “the more you practice the luckier you get.” Both imply that luck is driven by class. Maybe that’s why the teams at the top of the league always seem to be the most fortunate. Lucky bastards.