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Blackburn vs. Wigan: 9 Things We Learned from Crunch Relegation Battle

Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIMay 9, 2012

Blackburn vs. Wigan: 9 Things We Learned from Crunch Relegation Battle

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    On Monday, Blackburn were officially relegated by a Wigan side that has really hit its stride in the penultimate game of the season.

    The Latics had been in extremely fine form beforehand, and Blackburn knew they faced a tough task against a side that are very much on the rise. Rovers needed a win to keep any hopes of staying in the Premier League alive.

    It was not as pretty as Wigan's 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle a couple weeks ago, but a late Antolin Alcaraz strike officially kept Roberto Martinez's side up and sent Steve Kean's down to the doldrums of the Championship.

    The crucial relegation clash taught football fans many important things. Here are nine things we learned from one of the biggest matches of this late stage of the season.

Steve Kean Is as Good as Gone

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    Steve Kean really doesn't deserve the treatment he has gotten this year at Blackburn, but he can do nothing about the unfortunate circumstances he has found himself in this season.

    Managing a team that lacks quality in a number of positions, he has been forced to deal with a ridiculous lack of investment by disinterested owners Venky's and the sale of many of his best players.

    The Blackburn side that managed to stay up last season included the likes of Phil Jones, Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen, defensive stalwarts who have all departed.

    When he has not been saddled with legal trouble, he has faced ferocious fan protests and calls for his head.

    Not exactly the best conditions for a manager to operate under.

Roberto Martinez Is a Genius

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    Somehow, some way, Roberto Martinez always manages to rejuvenate his side at the end of the season and get Wigan to play their best football when it matters most.

    After beating Blackburn at Ewood Park, the Latics mathematically ensured their Premier League survival for another season, despite their poor start to the year.

    And Wigan have not experienced their best run of form of the whole season against cupcake opposition. Among the teams they have beaten in recent weeks are Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester United.

    At the head of this improbable revival has been Roberto Martinez, who has arguably worked his biggest wonder yet.

Wigan Is the Arsenal of the Bottom of the Table

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    Whereas most clubs near the bottom of the Premier League table play unimpressive, sometimes almost brutish football, Wigan bring a slick passing game and technical ability that is quite refreshing.

    Even when Blackburn tried to get into the game in the second half, they could not overcome their opponents' movement and counterattacking ability—in short, Wigan have the ability to outplay opponents in the bottom half of the table.

    Sometimes, their neat play even stymies more prestigious opposition, and the Latics beat Arsenal at their own game a few weeks ago by out-passing and counterattacking better than their heavily favored opposition.

    Against clubs that Wigan have a more reasonable chance of beating, like Blackburn, their strategy often works to perfection.

Blackburn Are a Disaster at the Back

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    When Steve Kean arrived at Blackburn, he inherited a stable and formidable defence of the promising Phil Jones, Christopher Samba, Ryan Nelson and Michel Salgado.

    All but Salgado are gone, and even he no longer plays.

    In their place for the Wigan game were the likes of Scott Dann and Gael Givet, unmitigated disasters, and Bradley Orr, who will feel very much at home in the Championship next season.

    Even though Rovers only conceded one goal on the night, Paul Robinson, who has not been great himself, had to withstand constant assaults from Jean Beausejour and others who owned their half of the pitch to the tune of 63-percent possession.

A Chicken Can Symbolize a Club

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    Who would have thought that one of more enduring symbols of this Premier League season would be a pitch-invading chicken carrying Blackburn's flag?

    The owners of the now-relegated club, who have sunk the 1995 Prem winners to the Championship, are an Indian poultry company called Venky's, and the two men in charge are wealthy brothers whose family owns this fowl enterprise.

    After promising investment in the squad and the arrival of marquee players like Ronaldinho, the aloof owners have done nothing to improve the team, and have instead sold all of the club's best assets.

    The irony of the chicken settling in Wigan's goal—which Blackburn could not penetrate all night—was unmistakable.

Jean Beausejour Can Be a Big Player

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    While almost all of Blackburn's signings have flopped, Wigan unearthed a gem when they brought in Jean Beausejour from Birmingham City in January.

    Against Blackburn, the Chilean winger shone, marauding down the left-hand side and constantly troubling the makeshift Rovers back line.

    Though he did not score it, he provided the inspiration behind Antonin Alcaraz's winner, and his consistent excellence on the night merited a great play like the one that mathematically ensured his club's top-flight survival for another season.

Blackburn Do Have Some Bright Spots

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    Blackburn are a team going through possibly the worst period in their history and have been relegated from the Premier League, but that does not mean there aren't a few bright spots in their lackluster team.

    It just means all signs of life will be extinguished this summer.

    Junior Hoilett, again, was very positive on the night, making the sorts of darting runs and slick passes that his teammates seem unable or unwilling to make, despite the immediate threat of relegation.

    And Yakubu was typically great, serving as almost a one-man attacking outlet for Rovers and making fans wonder where the team would be if they had not lucked out on what was supposed to be an insignificant transfer from Everton last summer.

    Unfortunately for Blackburn, both players (and, likely, captain Paul Robinson) will not want to stick around at the stagnant club past the end of this massively disappointing season.

Wigan Could Climb the Table If They Are Consistent

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    If Wigan could just perform like they seem to at the end of each season when the pressure is truly on, the Latics could climb several spots in the Premier League table.

    Few teams can deal with their passing and movement when they are on their game, as a Newcastle side that was thoroughly dismantled last week while in a run of fine form can attest to.

    Roberto Martinez seems to have some otherworldly inspirational powers during this time of the year, and he could become a legend at the DW Stadium if he could inspire these types of classy, gritty performances from his boys during the middle of the season.

    The nails of all Wigan supporters will appreciate finally assured of staying up before the final two games of every season.

We Won't See Much of Blackburn Anytime Soon

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    Unfortunately for loyal Blackburn fans who had been used to success 15 years ago, there doesn't seem to be a way for their side to return to England's top flight anytime soon.

    At the center of the club's woes is their ownership situation.

    No team can ever succeed if it is not properly backed by intelligent brass, and Rovers arguably have the worst owners in all of England.

    Venky's are not interested at all in seeing their club succeed, and the purge of all quality players from the club this summer will make it extremely hard for a team that shuns all investment and opportunity for growth to make the necessary improvement to return to the top-flight.

    Until they change ownership, which does not appear to be on the cards, Blackburn might fade away into obscurity.

    And it all will have started with their loss against Wigan.

     

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