all’s well that ends.

I used to think – as recently as last season – that relegation was the worst thing that could happen to a team. I remember saying to Pete, shortly after the appointment of Roberto Martínez as Wigan boss, “I’d rather go down playing good football than stay up playing ugly.” But those sorts of things are easy to say when you’re a comfortable mid-table side who aren’t going to go down, and I think I’d rather have stayed up no matter what. Good football doesn’t really mean much when you follow the matches through livetext.

We flirted with relegation in the subsequent season, without ever looking really likely to go down, but it still got me worried. Which is silly, we were never going to get relegated from a league featuring those Portsmouth and Hull sides.

This year, the flirting has progressed to a long-term relationship, and all the connotations that entails. I may have struggled to cope last year, following my team only through the hype-refracting lens of the media. This year, however, I’m remarkably calm in the face of relegation. The big difference is, obviously, that I moved to Manchester and can now go to the games. Going to football teaches you what matters, or at least, it’s taught me what matters.

And so to Stoke. What’s going to happen this afternoon? I think we can stay up, but can and will are different things entirely. I’m not convinced about that second part. But what happens this afternoon isn’t what matters, not really. Wigan will survive to fight again after the summer, whether it be in the Premiership or the Championship. And I’d rather go down playing good football than stay up playing ugly. This time I mean it, because I understand what it really means.

you are my sunshine
my only sunshine
you make me happy
when skies are grey
you’ll never notice
how much i love you
so please don’t take my sunshine away




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