It is not just the first time the club has appeared in the Community Shield, it will represent the first time any team has taken part in what we have long been contractually obliged to call the “traditional curtain raiser to the season” after they have already opened their league programme.
A pity, then, that the club is struggling to shift tickets; not much more than 6,000 had be sold for their end by this morning. Which is no surprise in these straightened times, when most of a fan’s budget is already accounted for by forking out for a season ticket. And a club like Wigan doesn’t have the depth of support which allows casual fans to pick up the slack when the regulars aren’t there.
Given their record against Manchester United, it is perhaps even more understandable that their hard-pressed followers are less than enthused by the idea of dipping into already stretched pockets. The chances of them popping a second trophy in the DW cabinet are as close to insignificant as you can get in a two-horse race. But then everyone said that about the FA Cup final.
If nothing else, it will be an intriguing confrontation in the technical areas, a Glaswegian face off in which brooding intensity and an unshakable belief in the Protestant work ethic meets brooding intensity and an unshakable belief in the Catholic work ethic.
For Owen Coyle it will be a welcome return to the centre of attention, a good opportunity to test his new squad’s abilities against opposition of a scale they not going to encounter often in the Championship. Plus a chance for him to wear his shorts at Wembley.
But for David Moyes, the occasion represents something else, something more pressing. He needs to demonstrate that his summer work has not been entirely without point. He needs to show he is going places. Because, from the outside, thus far the impression has not been a good one.
His United hardly inspired on their foreign tours, a defeat here, a tepid draw there: it was not a champion’s progress. Worse, his efforts to improve and strengthen what he inherited have been so far fruitless. With one of his principal assets itching to move, he has been thus far unable to bring in any player of significance. The only purchase he has been able to show off this summer is Wilfried Zaha, who was bought by his predecessor.
The pursuit of Cesc Fabregas finally ground to a halt this week when the player pledged himself to Barcelona. Which was something always likely to happen: this is someone whose entire ambition was predicated on turning out for his hometown club. And while his progress has been stalled by the current strength of the club’s midfield, he was not about to leave just at the point he had become head of the queue to replace the aging Xavi and Iniesta.
Indeed, it is pretty self-evident that the two clubs from which even an employer as prestigious as Manchester United will have difficulty recruiting are Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is a mark of Moyes’s inexperience at the top level of transfer activity – and that of his chief executive, the newly-appointed marketing man Edward Woodward – that those were the very places he attempted to start his squad-strengthening exercise.
In the past, a barren close season would not have unduly affected Moyes. But now he is at Manchester United. And that means every last thing he does is pored over for meaning and consequence. He admitted this week that the scale of the job has taken him aback. He was not exactly in charge of a backwater outfit at Goodison, but the scrutiny there was as nothing compared to the forensic glare under which he now operates.
There is no crisis at United. To suggest such a thing is absurd. This is the champion club, the squad is substantial and their new manager is a thorough, intelligent, hugely able operator.
But Moyes has not enjoyed the kind of summer which would allow us to conclude he has hit the ground running in his new post. As yet there is no marquee signing (let’s face it, even if it comes off, Maroune Fellaini is not likely to set pulses racing in the Old Trafford stands). And still the saga of Wayne Rooney remains unresolved.
Ultimately pre-season is no real judge of things. Nor is the Community Shield (United, for instance, were guffed by Arsenal in the game ahead of the treble season, with many an observer suggesting they had bought a pup in the shape of Jaap Stam, given the runaround by Nicolas Anelka).
But the fact is, anything other than a handsome win will produce yet another bunch of questions about Moyes. That is the nature of the job he has taken on. There is no escape from judgement.