The final day drama was intense and emotionally sapping and that was just for a neutral. The final round see-sawed each way until Wolves turned the knife in Midlands rivals Birmingham City with a late goal from Stephen Hunt.
Never has a Wolves loss been celebrated so heartily by the home support. At 3-0 down at half time Blackburn had destroyed Wolves and perhaps a perverse way it turned out to be to Wolves advantage to be so far behind.
With nothing to lose and a goal difference that had rapidly turned from an edge to an anchor Wolves had no option but to push forward in search of goals.
But on such a day every celebration is matched to despondency and grief somewhere else. Only a few weeks ago Birmingham had secured a piece of silverware for the first time in close to half a century and now they have the strange combination of the Europa League and the NPower Championship to look to next season.
How long before we hear from the Birmingham manager that the Championship is the priority and that he will not be playing a full strength team in the Europa League?
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez certainly go things right against relegation rivals and it looked as if he made the correct call in the final game away to Stoke. Job one seemed to have been not to fall behind to a Stoke side that had not lost at Britannia since December 28.
They managed that and as it turned out a draw would have been enough but a goal from Hugo Rodallega was the cherry on top.
It is time to check out the wisdom of the crowd.
1. On March 6 Soccer Report Extra.com asked readers to pick the three teams they thought would be relegated come season end.
This is how the voting went (position on March 6 in brackets):
Wigan Athletic – 29.27% (20th)
Wolves – 16.10% (19th)
West Brom – 14.63% (16th)
Blackpool – 14.63% (15th)
Birmingham City – 9.27% (18th)
Blackburn Rovers – 7.32% (14th)
West Ham – 6.34% (17th)
Stoke City – 1.95% (12th)
Other – 0.49%
2. On February 28 the question was asked “who of the current top five will miss out on a Champions League spot for next season?” (Position on February 28th in brackets):
Tottenham Hotspur – 64.56% (4th)
Manchester City – 21.52% (3rd)
Chelsea – 13.92% (5th)
Manchester United – 0% (1st)
Arsenal – 0% (2nd)
3. Just after New Year – January 2nd – we asked where Chelsea would finish in the Premier League table come the end of the season. (Team in that position and points on January 2nd in brackets)
Fourth – 32% (Spurs/36)
Third – 28% (Arsenal/39)
Fifth – 22% (Chelsea/35)
Champions – 6% (Manchester United/41)
Runners-Up – 6% (Manchester City/41)
Sixth – 4% (Sunderland/30)
Seventh or lower – 2%
Stephen Hunt’s late goal for Wolves was certainly the final turning point on Sunday.
Nonetheless it is interesting to see how Tottenham impacted on the relegation race in the last few weeks of the season.
On March 6th they led 3-2 at Wolves with only three minutes remaining. Steven Fletcher equalized and Wolves gained what would turn out to be an extremely valuable point.
Now fast forward to May 7th and the visit of Blackpool to White Hart Lane. Charlie Adam had managed to miss a penalty and then score from another within a few seconds of each other and Blackpool was desperately holding on to a 1-0 lead with only a minute to go.
Jermain Defoe then stepped forward to equalize and Blackpool had to make do with a point rather than all three.
And then to the last day of the season Birmingham was in a desperate situation when a Craig Gardner struck a 79th minute equalizer after Roman Pavlyuchenko had given Spurs the lead.
The Russian struck again with a wickedly deflected shot and Birmingham single point evaporated and so did their current Premier League existence.
Last week’s last gasp win over West Ham followed by a win over Stoke was the first back-to-back wins in the Premier League for Wigan’s manager Roberto Martinez.
West Ham relegated – owners Gold and Sullivan
Birmingham relegated – former owners Gold and Sullivan
Blackpool relegated – Gold and Sullivan must have spent holidays there.
Find Your Own Punch Line
Three managers a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Israeli drop into the NPower Championship……
Player of the Weekend Nominees
David Hoilett (Blackburn Rovers)
Stephen Hunt (Wolves)
Charlie Adam (Blackpool)
Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham Hotspur)
Hugo Rodallega (Wigan)
The winner to be announced on Monday night’s Fox Soccer Report.
Champions League Podcast
We will be recording a Champions League podcast this week so if you any questions (sorry but who will win or what will the score be do not constitute questions) just click on this link and then send us your query. We will try to work in as many as possible.
Also check in Monday through Saturday for a bumper European Cup quiz. It is guaranteed to test the best.
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