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.
Nov 26, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Is the FA getting too involved in non-events?
Nov 26, 2014, 10:30 PM EST
Wenger was in good spirits following his side’s victory that put an end to his two-match losing skid.
Nov 26, 2014, 9:50 PM EST
Yes, Barkley dove and yes, (news flash) Martinez is overly protective of his players.
Nov 26, 2014, 9:10 PM EST
Thigh injury sidelines Moses for 8 weeks.
Nov 26, 2014, 8:32 PM EST
“I feel that right now I am playing some of the best football of my career,” Fabregas said.
Nov 26, 2014, 7:38 PM EST
“It goes without saying, I’d love to come,” Heskey told BBC Radio Leicester.
Nov 26, 2014, 6:44 PM EST
Poor Franck. All fired up and not even on the 23-man shortlist.
Nov 26, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Can Liverpool build off this draw in Sofia? Their manager Brendan Rodgers has cause for optimism.
Nov 26, 2014, 5:21 PM EST
All the action from the penultimate games in Groups A-D, as two teams booked their spot in the last 16.
Nov 26, 2014, 5:19 PM EST
The raid on Southampton continues, as their recruiting guru heads to Spurs.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:43 PM EST
It was an upbeat display from the Gunners, who move on to the Champions League knockout stage.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:42 PM EST
Reds cough up late goal, but can still advance to the last 16 of the UCL with a win over Basel in their final group game.
Nov 26, 2014, 4:10 PM EST
Watch Ronaldo go level with Raul as he puts some pressure on Messi.
Nov 26, 2014, 3:41 PM EST
Good start for the Arsenal, scoring early through Yaya Sanogo.
Nov 26, 2014, 3:10 PM EST
As Tottenham continue to struggle, Mauricio Pochettino believes his team needs more rest between competitions.
Nov 26, 2014, 2:27 PM EST
The Zenit skipper earned three points for the home side as Benfica’s Champions League dreams ended in St. Petersburg.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:58 PM EST
Follow all the action from the UCL’s eight games on Wednesday, right here.
Nov 26, 2014, 1:13 PM EST
Former Reds’ goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar had some choice words for the struggling Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s tumultuous season continues.
Nov 26, 2014, 12:29 PM EST
The Bayern star was outshone by Sergio Aguero’s hat trick in Munich’s 3-2 loss to Manchester City.
Nov 26, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
Stoke City will be without their on-loan winger as the Nigerian international is sidelined with a thigh injury.
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