Wigan Athletic suffered a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal last night and suffered relegation for the first time in the clubs history.
The disappointment comes just three days after the Latics celebrated a famous 1-0 FA Cup final victory over Manchester City at Wembley.
The Latics have survived the drop for the last couple of seasons, despite boss Roberto Martinez working on a shoestring budget and at times selling his best players. This season was a relegation battle too far.
Athletic were the only club in the Premier League to have never suffered a relegation, that has now changed thanks too last night’s defeat. The Latics put up a decent fight, but in the end, Arsenal’s class shone through.
It really is a shame that the Premier League is losing such an attractive team to watch and a manager that always seems positive in his approach to the game. Although, the Spaniard could move on this summer, more on that later.
The Latics tried to play an expansive brand of football. Their forward line is a threat to every defence in the top flight, with attacking trio Shaun Maloney, Callum McManaman and Arouna Kone vital to their game play.
Wigan’s problems lie in defence and have done for a few seasons. Individual mistakes and poor defending have meant that for the last few seasons the Lancashire club have struggled against the drop.
Last night was the perfect example of the leaky nature of the Wigan defence. Their poor defending has finally cost the Latics their top-flight status.
Wigan seems to have become very popular in the last few days since their FA Cup final victory over Manchester City. They were the ultimate underdogs and deserved to defeat the former-champions. The victory was by no means a fluke either, as Wigan were the better team on the day.
Unfortunately, the last three games have summed up Wigan in the last few seasons, sometimes fantastic and sometimes calamitous. They enjoyed more of the latter than the former though this season.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is highly rated and is the current favourite to take over from David Moyes at Everton. Martinez’s tactical nous has been lauded at times during his tenure at the DW Stadium, despite his side struggling against relegation in the last few years.
Martinez has attracted the interest of bigger clubs in the past in the shape of Liverpool and Aston Villa. The Spaniard remained loyal to the Latics, but he may feel that now is the time to take a step-up.
The job at Everton will an attractive prospect to a lot of bosses, as the Toffees will finish sixth in the Premier League and in fact in nine out of the last ten seasons would have qualified for Europe with their current points total.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has stated that he believes that his manager will stay loyal to the club and help the club bounce straight back up into the top flight. However, Whelan also stated that he would not stand in Martinez’s way if the Spaniard wished to join the Toffees.
It will be tough for Wigan to bounce straight back up into the Premier League. A number of their top players are likely to move on this summer, with the likes of James McCarthy and Arouna Kone believed to be high on a host of Premier League clubs summer shopping lists.
It is vital that Wigan can keep the core of the team that won the FA Cup. It is also important that should they lose Martinez, which is highly likely, they find a boss with a similar philosophy. Too many teams have struggled to cope with life after the Premier League. I just hope that the Latics do not go the same way.
Everybody connected with Wigan should be proud of their football club. They have come a long way in the last two decades and I just hope that the progress the Latics have made is not wasted. At least the Latics fans will always have their FA Cup victory to dilute the pain of relegation.
Can Wigan bounce straight back into the Premier League next season?