22 May, 2011

England's most Irish club; WOLVES stage dramatic comeback to stay in Premier League: Birmingham and Blackpool (very unluckily) are relegated whilst Wigan save themselves at the death:

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"Mick always behaves with dignity and deserves to survive"
"I told you I was going to save my smiles for the 22nd May.  Well, here they are!"
- Wolves (and Ireland's) Mick McCarthy

In an amazing sporting weekend and in quite possibly the most dramatic final day the Premier League has ever seen:  Wolves come back from 0-3 down to save themselves whilst Wigan beat Stoke to pull themselves out of the mire in an amazing story; whilst Blackpool undeservedly go down and Birmingham lost a last minute goal meaning they were condemned to the Championship.
Ireland's Stephen Hunt (left) saves Wolves from relegation
Whatever doubts there ever might have been; there is now no doubt that Ireland's Mick McCarthy is a truly great manager after achieving promotion and consecutive Premier League survivals. 
Four years ago; Wolves' chairman Steve Morgan was looking for a new manager.  He approached Mick McCarthy about the job and Mick told him:  "If you expect me to get promotion, then I'm staying on the beach!"  Well Mick not only achieved promotion with Wolves;  he has now kept them in the Premier League for two consecutive seasons.  With the budget Mick McCarthy has had at Wolves; to achieve what he has is a truly remarkable footballing achievement.

Blackpool: desperately disappointed and desperately unlucky
PLENTY TO PONDER:  Brilliant Blackpool boss Ian Holloway
Elsewhere; it was sad to see Ian Holloway's Blackpool lose 4-2 at Manchester United.  It was a defeat which condemned them to relegation and the Premier League will be a poorer place without Holloway's effervescence and  
"There's a great group of lads here but that group will probably dissipate now," - Blackpool boss Holloway

never-say-die enthusiasm.  Blackpool scored 55 goals; which is more than any other relegated side in Premier League history.  That statistic is an indication of how Blackpool play.  They play the way that kids dream about; quite simply; attack, attack, attack.  However, it's at the back where they had their problems.  I still feel that the Tangerines are the unluckiest of the relegated sides.  They had hardly any money to spend and didn't even have a stadium to play in for the first few games of the season but were very, very unlucky to go down; considering what a breath of fresh air they've been to the Premier League.  "This is a great group of lads I've got here but that group will probably dissipate now," - said Blackpool boss Ian Holloway immediately after his side's defeat at Old Trafford.

Wigan stay up with dramatic late Rodallega winner
Roberto Martinez'  Wigan Athletic pulled off a great, late escape; taking seven points from their last three games to escape the drop with a point to spare.  This is now Wigan's seventh consecutive season in the Premier League; another fantastic achievement considering the club's resources and the fact that the ground only holds 25,000 fans.  Having spent most of the day inside the relegation zone; they performed what seemed like the impossible to achieve another truly Great Escape in a season where it's difficult to argue with Martinez' assertion that:  "No-one deserved to get relegated this season.  The clubs that went down can consider themselves very unlucky."

Birmingham City down after late loss of form and late loss of goal
Carling Cup winners Birmingham City join Blackpool (and the already relegated West Ham United) in dropping down to the Championship after losing 2-1 at Tottenham.   Today's games embodied the entire season as with three minutes remaining; Birmingham were safe as they were drawing 1-1 with Spurs and Wolves were losing 1-3 at home to Blackburn.  However;  Ireland international Stephen Hunt scored in the 88th minute for Wolves to save the Molineux men and condemn City to relegation.  Blackburn didn't conceded again which confirmed their survival.  It was a truly amazing final day as during the day; four sides occupied the two relegation places still to be decided; but two (Wolves and Wigan) pulled themselves out of it.  The tightness of the day summed the entire season.   A season as tight is unlikely to be seen again.
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