May 7, 2012, 10:55 AM EDT
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.
Jul 27, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT
Liverpool looks focused on improving its shape heading into the upcoming Premier League season.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT
Raul Fernandez held Vancouver to a draw while Portland won a 3-2 barnburner with Montreal.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:08 PM EDT
This may not be as toast as it first appeared.
Jul 27, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT
With Thibaut Courtois hot on his trail, Petr Cech isn’t about to let the youngster’s hype get in the way of his 11-year Chelsea career.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:43 PM EDT
AC Milan got hosed, but Mario Balotelli had some fun as a second-half substitute.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT
It may have been in jest, but Roberto Martinez has set rumors alight.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT
Lovern becomes the third Southampton player to move to Liverpool this summer.
Jul 27, 2014, 4:56 PM EDT
AC Milan got thumped for the second straight US preseason friendly. What does it mean?
Jul 27, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT
Having played under Redknapp for 2 years at Spurs, the QPR boss wants him back.
Jul 27, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT
With a good World Cup, Spurs has affirmed the importance of Jan Vertonghen’s presence to their back line.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
Pjanic is good at kicking – all kinds of it.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
What Italy needs is an FIGC president that works to prevent racism, not one that uses racist terms when referring to players from elsewhere.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
At 41 years of age, the forward has made a return with Puebla, although he was unable to help his new side break a goalless draw.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
The referee handed out eight yellows and sent a Kansas City player off, although they still came back to take all three points.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
The manager can stop worrying — he doesn’t need to keep bringing in multiple trophies to keep his job with the Bavarian giants.
Jul 27, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT
The New York Red Bulls star and former France international is adopting a wait-and-see approach to the end of his playing career.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:42 AM EDT
It’s back to QPR for the forward, while Brendan Rodgers will need to seek other options to help compensate for the loss of Luis Suárez.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:54 AM EDT
It’s official! The Colombia goalkeeper joins the Gunners on a long-term contract, and is expected to make his first appearance next month.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:59 AM EDT
Internazionale need more firepower up top. United need more depth in midfield. This switch seems like an ideal solution.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:06 AM EDT
The Real Madrid manager seems to enjoy destroying the hopes of players, clubs and fans by putting to rest rumors of summer transfers.
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