May 7, 2012, 10:55 AM EST
So many players through the years have told me the same thing about life in soccer abroad:
There is pressure attached to playing for trophies and spots near the top of the table, of course. But make no mistake, they say, there is no pressure like the incomparable, desperate weight that comes with a fight to avoid relegation.
Nothing cuts so deeply in the game abroad, where the systems of promotion and relegation are omnipresent (and sometimes shadowy) features of the landscape. The scourge and the stains of relegation aren’t just psychological, either. Club solvency could be at stake. Individual reputations certainly are. Not to mention this: any top flight club that falls through the relegation trap door will almost certainly see a big roster breakup.
Think of your office or place of business. Think about working alongside a good group of people, about forming alliances and sharing good times, all in the name of working toward bigger, shared goals. And then think about the weight of knowing that it’s all coming in for a hard landing – one that may well see the entire group broken up mercilessly.
Well, here you go: Wigan meets Blackburn today in a match laden with relegation implications.
Blackburn is holding on by the thinnest of threads, one that could easily snap today, when anything but a win would officially cast Rovers down with Wolverhampton as two of the three sides already relegated for 2011-12. (Wolverhampton has been circling the relegation drain for weeks now.)
A Wigan win would seal the “staying up” deal for Roberto Martinez’s club, which has performed so admirably down the stretch. A draw would probably suffice for Wigan, too. (See the full EPL table here.)
That’s because Queens Park Rangers (still ahead of Bolton) looks like the sacrificial lamb, about to go into Manchester City with all the glory of the EPL title about to fall spectacularly around the Etihad Stadium, so long as City takes care of business.
Bolton goes to Stoke City this weekend; anything but a win means curtains for the Wanderers, which would fall into England’s second tier.
Mar 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
Oh MLS: What fun is there in following the narrative?
Mar 3, 2015, 8:40 PM EST
If you’d like your supporters group to be featured on future episodes of ‘I Was There’ simply send pictures/video to @NBCSportsSoccer or NBC Sports Soccer on Twitter on Facebook using the #IWasThere.”
Mar 3, 2015, 7:47 PM EST
Vancouver may be missing that huge, huge name but is solid top-to-bottom.
Mar 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EST
It could be a dark year in Commerce City, but don’t forget that this was a promising young team that floundered last year.
Mar 3, 2015, 6:47 PM EST
The brash Englishman is happy to call the win a turning point for his club, which moves out of the relegation zone for the time being.
Mar 3, 2015, 6:28 PM EST
Videos, recaps, analysis and more from the three PL games during Week 28 on Tuesday.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:53 PM EST
After a late win against Palace ended their goal drought, Saints remain in the top four hunt.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:52 PM EST
The pair of managers had to be separated on the touchline after Poyet angrily approached Bruce, who had been loudly criticizing a dive from Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell.
Mar 3, 2015, 5:17 PM EST
This should be the year TFC breaks its MLS playoffs’ duck. But nothing’s ever certain in Toronto.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:54 PM EST
Villa net late win after PK drama, move out of relegation zone.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Relief for Southampton, as Mane’s goal seals crucial win to keep top four hopes alive.
Mar 3, 2015, 4:42 PM EST
The Tigers stay a point ahead of Sunderland. Hull is in 15th place with 27 points.
Mar 3, 2015, 3:45 PM EST
Watch the second half of all three PL games on Tuesday, right here.
Mar 3, 2015, 3:29 PM EST
A referee in Cyprus has come clean, describing an incredibly deep-rooted problem of match-fixing in the country that makes us wonder how prevalent this problem really is.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:35 PM EST
The FA says the finding of “significant new information” has led them to extend the investigation.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:09 PM EST
A massive relegation six-pointer between these two north east rivals. Watch live online, here.
Mar 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Can Villa get their first win under Sherwood in this huge Midlands derby? Watch live online, right here.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:50 PM EST
Can Saints get back to winning ways as old boss Pardew brings Palace to town? Watch live online, here.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:33 PM EST
With just over 72 hours to go until the MLS season kicks off, talks between the league and the Players Union still ongoing.
Mar 3, 2015, 1:08 PM EST
The Dynamo have a few new pieces and Owen Coyle is a trailblazer, but things still smell of the failures of last year, and this season looks to be a mountain for the Dynamo to climb.
- Tuesday’s Premier League roundup: Saints, Villa win; Hull, Sunderland draw 0
- 2015 MLS season preview: Toronto FC 0
- Aston Villa 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Late drama hands Sherwood first win (video) 0
- Southampton 1-0 Crystal Palace: Mane’s late goal gets Saints back on track (video) 0
- Update on MLS labor strike: Players Union, league at impasse as situation looks dire 8
- 2015 MLS Season Preview: Top 10 Newcomers 1