Emmerson Boyce of Wigan Athletic is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring his side's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers at DW Stadium.
Has been a long time coming this post, I have been looking at just how many times I can say well done to the players and the manager. Because the turn around in not only performances but results in the last three months of the season was fantastic. That saw a team stone dead last, only lose three times in the seasons last fifteen games, what a remarkable feet.
It all really did come down to needing to pick up points and we the fans felt that February would have to be an all win month. As it turned out it wouldn't be, and for us at least it would be the most testing of times. Our side was playing brilliantly. We swept aside Everton and Bolton picking up four points in the proccess and it looked like we could steam roll past the next three games.
As it turned out though we would only pick up three points from a possibletwelve as we faced Aston Villa, Swansea City, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion. In each of the four games we had chances to score and even win the games, but in all four we failed emphatically.
So it came to the day against Liverpool. In 19th place and we all felt like we had been deserving a win for the past few games. So we the fans were hoping and praying for some kind of miracle to happen, that the players could stand strong and get points, before the hard list of fixtures to come.
So up step a class act of Wigan Athletic, as we tore Liverpool apart from start to the very bitter end. We didn't have it all our own way. Yet out new 3-4-3 system was finally starting to pay dividends as the width was giving us freedom to play. So after a soft penalty for us, and Maloney's conversion before half time. We were on cloud nine, nothing could stop us!
Apart from a top quality strike from Luis Suarez. And you felt that we may fall away. But that was the Wigan of old. Instead we held firm and went on the attack, which finally paid off. Gary Caldwell managing to get in round the back of the Liverpool defences to score.
That was the turning point in our season, the manager had believed, the players were believing and now the fans were too.
Yet there was one more hurdle to overcome. Getting that elusive home win. We hadn't won since our second home game. The fans gave the players the atmosphere and cue 90 minutes of outstanding football from Wigan, and you wondered how it was only 2-0 to us at the end. Maybe we could stay in the Premier League.
Yet all the hard work would come crashing down at our away trip to Chelsea. We didn't play bad, it was two refereeing mistakes that would let Wigan down. One a very obvious offside, the other a little tighter. Even so, you would hope that the linesman would spot them, and the players clearly felt they should have united in arguing with the referee.
Even when we went a goal down we still battled on and drew level, and Gary Caldwell nearly even put us into the lead, before Chelsea went down the other end to score. It was proof of our new attacking, lets get at them nature, could rattle teams and we need it to with Manchester United and Arsenal to follow.
And we all know how those two games went. Both were played in a majestic manner as our boys in blue worked hard and till the bitter end to grind out two amazing results.
The first against United was a pure attacking display, never letting them have the ball for a minute and driving towards the opposition goal trying to work the gaps and get in behind their defence, and we were doing it with relative easy. Showing just how much belief the players had to take on one of the countries top teams, and we got our just rewards with a 1-0 win courtesy of a brilliant goal from Shaun Maloney.
Arsenal was a pure defensive display. After finding ourselves 2-0 up inside ten minutes we worked for 80 to keep Arsenal from breaking in behind our line and in the end, after a brilliant second half were everyone worked their socks off. We came away with a 2-1 win. up to 16th in the table, you felt that we could go safe.
Yet next we were to play Fulham. Oh dear our boggie team is anyone expected more than a defeat then you were crazy. Yet the lads very nearly came away with a draw. It wouldn't have been deserved as we were slow sluggish and the cracks of having played four games in two weeks was beginning to show, but to lose it in the last five minutes was a big blow.
That defeat was what spurred the team on to not just beat Newcastle but destroy them. Our best performance of the season in my eyes. One minute attacking the next defending situations beautifully, as we took the game to the seasons high flyers and stopped them playing their game. They even changed systems to play like us and that cost them dearly as we ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, and kept us believing of survival.
And survival is what we confirmed against Blackburn. Before the game we knew a point would more or less see us safe. But that wasn't going to be good enough, we needed to win and make sure before playing what could be a tricky game against all ready relegated Wolves.
The game against Blackburn was how you would expect it to be. Cagey a both teams knew one wrong move could see them lose their chances of survival. But eventually Blackburn had to be bold to go out and get the win, as they needed three points more than we did. And that opened up the back door for Wigan in the second half. It took along time but with three minutes to remain and one corner, the wall that had been Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper finally let up. Antolin Alcaraz getting free in the centre to slam the header home. His most important Wigan Athletic goal by a mile.
So that was it for us, we could then sit back and relax going into a final day game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. And that is how the players took it as a bit of a chill with the fans loud in voice the players were a bit lax to begin with but slowly edge their way back into the game, having gone behind to win it 3-2. Courtesy of a first league double from Emmerson Boyce.
What a way to end the season with three wins in our last three games. And you had to ask why play like this only now? If we had been this arrogant and this willing to play the fast and sharp style of football Roberto wants us to play. Then maybe we could have been pushing for Europe.
But as it was I think we were all happy to stay in the league, and are itching to see yet another season of the 'small rugby town team' playing the world's greatest football league.