Now the perennial routine of midweek has set in, the weekend seems a long way back, so to call this article a ‘weekend review’ seems rather inappropriate. Regardless, the football witnessed over the last five days has been just what the doctor ordered.
On Monday night, 3,000 Wiganers plucked up the courage to enter the Lions’ Den at Ewood Park. All of whom were hoping for a Latics win to secure survival as none were likely to count their eggs before they’d hatched, Wigan started the brighter but Blackburn chirped up after the break after a poultry first half display. In the end, an eggsellent header from Antolin Alcaraz sealed the victory for Wigan.
Okay okay, maybe that wasn’t very subtle and others have probably already beaten me to it, but let’s be honest, it’s not every week a chicken is found on the field of play.
This rather humorous moment that topped off a comical season at Ewood Park, no other club in the country is enough of a laughing stock to reach those lows. But the funniest thing was, the chicken got far closer to the Latics goal than any Blackburn player did in the first half.
Yet it begs the question, how on earth did a fan manage to smuggle a chicken into the ground? Usually, the stewards treat the presence of plastic bag like an atomic bomb and if you’ve got a bottle top, that’s practically considered the same as carrying a meat cleaver into the ground. Over the years, I’ve been frisked and all sorts just to make sure I’ve got no intentions of a terrorist attack, as if Osama Bin Laden would bomb a football stadium. Yet now all that bird flu paranoia’s out of the news, bringing a chicken along to the game seems fairly legitimate, as long as he’s got a ticket of course.
The result was in the balance for the majority of the game, and whilst Latics typically had most possession and created the most clear cut chances, Blackburn did create a few dangerous situations from set pieces and caused several goal mouth scrambles, but little more.
Latics’ fluid front three of Di Santo, Moses and Maloney all spurned opportunities before Alcaraz showed them all how it was done, heading home from a right wing corner. With only three minutes to go, it was the season crushing moment that consigned Blackburn to what many had feared all season. The inevitable had been confirmed: Blackburn were relegated.
On the other sign of the coin, Latics were safe. Unbelievably, Wigan, who had spent from September up until April in the bottom three, have survived with a game left to play.
The feat really is a remarkable one, logic suggested that with just 22 points from 29 games and only one home win all season back in March, the chances of Martinez’s men winning at least five games from the remaining fixtures looked slimmer than a bulimic super model’s legs.
So it’s great testimony to the players that they not only managed five, but six wins to ensure Wigan aren’t going anywhere. For the record, the victories came against Liverpool, Stoke, Man Utd, Arsenal, Newcastle and finally, Blackburn. Who on earth would have guessed it?
Blackburn started descending down the slippery downwards spiral a long time ago, and now they’ve fallen through the trap door, the decline may accelerate.
Key players are likely to leave, with prized assets Junior Hoillet, Yakubu and Paul Robinson all being reportedly targeted by other clubs. The well publicised divide between the supporters and the owners/management team will only have been increased by the confirmation of failure, Blackburn are a club in monumental turmoil with every possible hindrance occurring thick and fast for them. For the sake of the fans, despite contributing to the decline via their protests, I hope that the Venkys leave the club alone before they cause more damage.
In comparison, it makes things up the road at the Reebok look all rosy. The reality is totally different.
I don’t care if the opposition have got the England manager in charge, if you’re in a relegation fight and you’re winning 2-0 at home with ten minutes left, you should never end up with a draw.
When you consider that we’ve turned over Liverpool, Man Utd, Newcastle and Arsenal; and QPR have beaten Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool recently, Bolton really should be beating West Brom in these circumstances.
The fact of the matter is, the teams around Bolton have severely upped their game and showed that they really want survival. Now I’m not questioning the desire of the Bolton players, but you have to wander if they deserve to finish ahead of those that have beaten top class teams to earn their top flight status for next year.
Bolton just haven’t done enough, and I fear for them going into the last game of the season. Although I don’t want them to go down, Bolton away is one the highlights of most seasons after all, my head says they probably will.
Having said that, they’re at the Britannia on Sunday and we all know what happened the last time a relegation threatened team played there on the final day of a Premier League season. But Bolton need a win, or it’s bye bye to Coyle and Co, in hindsight, we could have drawn at Stoke last season and still stayed up.
The only result that seemed to go against us this weekend was the QPR one, at the time, Djibril Cisse’s last minute winner seemed like it could be a significant one as it saw off the challenge of Stoke at Loftus Road. In terms of their survival push, it was very important as otherwise, they’d be level on points with Bolton going into the final day. But the result doesn’t affect our safety, and that’s all I’m bothered about.
The only other satisfaction that I’ll get from this season’s final league position is finishing above Aston Villa, if it happens that is. It’s not that I have anything in particular against Villa, it would just show Charles N’Zogbia, and any other want away Wigan stars, that the grass ain’t always greener.
Goal of the Week: Any of the goals at Craven Cottage in Fulham’s 2-1 win over Sunderland would be worthy winners, Clint Dempsey, Phil Bardsley and Moussa Dembele all hit screamers.
Lee McCulloch of the Week: Andy Carroll came off the bench to transform the Cup Final against Chelsea and earned man of the match for his performance against the same opposition on Tuesday night. Yet for the two goals that look like winning City the title, Yaya Toure is this week’s hero.
Lee Cattermole of the Week: Anybody connected with Blackburn Rovers, it’s been a grim season and the weeks and months ahead look nothing but bleak.
Quote of the Week: “You said Carroll was unplayable when he came on, tell us what you mean by that.” Adrian Chiles demonstrates that common sense isn’t his specialist subject, having said that, I’m not entirely sure what is.
Boselli Watch: After sealing survival, Roberto Martinez thought he’d got make use of a magic genie to make next season a little less nervy. “Hello Mr Genie” said Martinez, “I Lionel Messi to play for Wigan next season, can you manage that?” The genie shakes his head and says: “I’m sorry Mr Martinez, such demands are impossible to grant, please make another request.” After pondering for thought, Martinez replies “Okay, I have a player who I want you to turn into a twenty goal a season striker, his name is Mauro Boselli.”
“Okay” replies the genie, “I’ll get on the phone to Barcelona right away…”