Parking the Bus: Wigan and Steve Bruce's Only Game Plan

Bobby ChewContributor IMay 13, 2009

WIGAN, ENGLAND - MAY 02:  Wigan Athletic manager Steve Bruce instructs his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers at the JJB stadium on May 2, 2009 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Parking the bus? How is that relevant to football?

The first time I heard and read about this word was from former Soccernet columnist, Phil Ball. He is, in my opinion, a brilliant columnist who wrote primarily on Spanish football and yes, you have guessed it, "Parking the bus" is a Spanish concept of a team who go to an away match in search of a draw, meaning that they also take with them the team bus out onto the pitch and park it in the goal area.

Javier Clemente, a former Spain national coach, also known as an ultra-defensive coach, was responsible for the birth of that metaphor, says Phil Ball. While at Murcia, for an away crunch match against Real Madrid, Javi Clemente left out two of his strikers and took a collective bunch of defenders and midfielders (the "bus"). Hence the term, park the bus.

More recently, Chelsea "parked the bus" in an away Champions League semifinal match against Barcelona which riled up the Barca players, coaches, and fans alike. So a Spanish concept put into practice on a Spanish beautifully ironic.

Coming back to the point, there is a small matter of a long overdue Greater Manchester derby match tonight. Small matter but high in significance as the destination of the trophy hinges on the result of this match. So if Wigan "parks the bus" to deny Manchester United victory, then Steve Bruce will have ensured that we will be in store for a most interesting remaining two matches of this season's Premier League challenge.

I hope that they do so, but it's still a tall order. Wigan have neither beaten nor forced a draw against the Red Devils since the Latics got promoted.

Wigan cannot score goals at the moment. Worse still, they are leaking goals and the Mancs are just well capable of capitalizing on any defensive error. With United possessing a 100 percent win record against Wigan, I am not sure if this could be the "mistake" that Rafa spoke of.

Stranger things have happened this season so we shall just wait and experience what this match has in store for us.