James McClean calls out Oxford United fans following the dramatic Wigan Athletic winner at the Kassam Stadium of Saturday.
The Irishman has flourish since dropping down a league and joining the Latics, helping guide his new side to 2nd place in the third tier, two points behind league leaders Rotherham United and have a game in hand over them too.
Last season he fell out with Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill before leaving the club, but he’s gone on dramatically improve his form at Wigan.
McClean went into this weekend’s game against the U’s having scored five goals and produced four assists this term, a tally he added to in dramatic fashion.
With his side sitting at 2-2 in the final five minutes of the encounter, he set up a brilliant finish to give his side the lead late on.
What’s more, he also gave plenty vocal taunts to the home fans afterwards, having been apparently targeted throughout the game.
The commentators on BBC Sport Manchester were thrilled with what they were seeing late on, mentioning that McClean wasn’t shy in goading the home fans after the goal.
🗣️ “What a goal from James McClean!”
⚽️ #WAFC leave it late again, as they snatch the three points from Oxford
🥈 The Latics sit in second place going into Christmas
— BBC Sport Manchester (@BBCRMsport) December 18, 2021
James McClean spoke about the fighting spirit of his teammates as Wigan Athletic battled to earn a 3-2 victory at Oxford United.
Will Keane and Max Power’s first-half goals was cancelled out by Ryan Williams and Matty Taylor’s goals on either side of half-time, but McClean struck in the 86th minute to help Latics clinch all three points and make it 12 unbeaten in all competitions.
Speaking to Latics TV, McClean was proud of his side’s character and felt Latics got the result that they deserved for continuing to fight until the end.
“Up until that point, it was pretty frustrating to be honest as to be 2-0 up and being pegged back to 2-2, it would’ve have been a big two points dropped,” he said.
“This team has shown all season the character and the will to win here. It’s absolutely fantastic and tonight, we got our just rewards for how we kept going.
“It could’ve been easy to lose a two-goal lead and go into your shell but we showed that we’re a good side and I’m just glad to have got the winner and three points.
“It was great character. We’re a good team and we’re starting to believe we are a good team. We’ve got a really good squad and we want to keep winning games. We believe we can keep winning games and that’s the aim of every game.
“With the personalities we have, we keep going until the end. It’s no coincidence or luck when we score so many late goals.”
Latics were rallied on to victory once again by almost 1,000 supporters at the Kassam Stadium, and McClean was full of praise for their tremendous backing on the road.
“They’ve been absolutely fantastic,” he smiled.
“We kept going until the end and it was a just reward for them as well. They travel up and down the country in huge numbers with great support.
“It’s not the first time this season that they’ve driven the team on. We’re grateful for it.
“It’s easy to go the other way when things aren’t going well in a game. It makes a lot better for us on the pitch because we’ve got their backing – home and away – and when the fans are with the players, it makes for a successful recipe.
“It’s a massive three points and they will go home happy!”
Karl Robinson was full of pride as his Oxford side – who had 11 players missing through Covid and injury – bounced back from a tough 48 hours, saying: “I don’t think we felt sorry for ourselves at any stage.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve seen at this stadium, the football and the pace was mind-blowing.
“We just had nothing to change (off the bench), they brought on millions of pounds of players.
“But all the things we had control of went in our favour.
“They’ve scored a number of goals in the 85th minute onwards and you know why – you look at the strength in depth that they have and we’ll never be able to replicate that.”
The U’s head coach added: “I’m still angry that we lost, but I’ve said to everybody in there that I’ve never been so proud.
“I think there’s a flame burning in Oxford at the moment and that’s not just the players, it’s the fans.
“Covid’s at its worst, but we’ve come here with one of our best attendances of the season.
“Their goal from a set-play we probably could’ve done a little bit better.
“There’s a foul in there, which the referee didn’t see, which is fine because he misses them.
“Our play was sensational, I honestly believe that if these players can really believe in moving forward together then we’ve got a really good team.
“We’ve had 11 players that weren’t available and I don’t think there’s many teams that could do that. I think we should have won.”
Wigan Athletic manager Leam Richardson was full of praise for his players as they earned a hard-fought victory at Oxford United.
He said: “That’s all part of what seems to be going on at the moment.
“It’s a bad one, his calf’s gone so we don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
“Credit has to go to the players because they kept going.
“We knew before the game the challenges we would face within Oxford; they have a really good depth and quality of player, they have been together a while now and have the same manager and same group of players.
“I thought they probably shaded it in the middle parts of the pitch and were a little bit better, but both teams were outstanding out of possession and I thought within both boxes we looked a threat all afternoon.
“Credit goes to the players; I thought the fitness levels, the organisation that they carried today [were good], if you don’t play well, make sure your morale, your organisation gets you through them games and gets you a result.
“These lads will run for each other and that’s important in any team; if you have your teammate who wants to run for you then you’ll normally get the right side of the result and the lads are doing that at the minute.”
Richardson highlighted the importance of Latics having quality players within their ranks to decide tight affairs like Saturday’s five-goal thriller at the Kassam Stadium.
“If you’re building as a football club, then it’s down to your players and the quality of player that you carry,” Richardson added. “If you have good players who make good decisions, i.e. James McClean this afternoon, then you normally get on the right end of the result.
“Lads have a job specification within the framework of the team and they take information in really well.
“This week we have had all the abnormality with COVID again with the two coaches to travel and the working in separate units. So to then still keep our attention and importance on the game and carry a lot of things that we worked on and spoke about onto the pitch [is excellent].”
Twitter users reacted as James McClean calls out Oxford fans following the dramatic Wigan winner…
@DaveKnox71: Things you love to see. @JamesMcClean_23 scoring the winner and enjoying the moment. Could he have been getting abuse throughout the game 🤔🤣
@Oggiver: Watching James McClean score and give his customary cup of the ears to home fans when #wafc are playing away never gets old. What a bloke.
@Laurencereade: Oh he does it everywhere does he? Assumed our fans had had a go. Seemed a bit unnecessary but that’s life.
@janet_faz: Then the Oxford commentary team said he was inciting the home crowd, unbelievable 😳
@robashcroft1: I don’t know why people single him out for abuse he thrives on it! They are literally encouraging him to score
@benhutton7298: In terms of passion, work rate and shithousery James McClean is right up there. What a chap 💙
@james95c: Oxford commentators not enjoying McClean’s celebration… cry more! 😂 #wafc
@davidnaylor83: Oxford commentary team said McClean celebration un necessary……… tell you what’s unnecessary the Oxford fans giving him shit before he scored #wafc
Santa is red
I’m full of Christmas glee
Cause James McClean is livin’
In your heads rent free
James McClean is a legend 🇮🇪🤫pic.twitter.com/iFCDP6l6Os
— IP🇮🇪 (@IrishPropaganda) December 18, 2021
There’s something truly special about James McClean cupping his ears to the opposition fans 😂 pic.twitter.com/fAODnBLZOD
— Luke 🇮🇪 (@LukeUTD_) December 18, 2021