With draws against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in the bag, Steve Bruce may already have thought his side had already had their say in the title race and would be looking forward to a nice final afternoon in the sun, helping his old gaffer celebrate the close of another successful league season.Â Instead it will be all eyes on Latics as they face the unlikely sounding prospect of Premier League winners medals being dished out on the JJB sandbank.Â
Of course, Sundayâ€™s game means that Latics have been dragged into the psychological battle between Chelsea and United, with everyone being of the opinion that weâ€™re a good and honest enough team to do our bit and give Sir Alexâ€™s boys a game.Â Of course thatâ€™s not what they are really saying.
The likes of Fergie and Giggs are jut covering their backs.Â Of course they reckon United will win, they might not believe that itâ€™s going to be dead easy, but you can bet that there wonâ€™t have been that much contingency planning going on over the lat week or so.
For Chelsea, itâ€™s a little bit different.Â Simply, theyâ€™re trying to put pressure on United, opening up the possibility of defeat through either over confidence or a hyped up Latics but they are sending us a message too.Â
You donâ€™t have to a genius to work out that â€œthereâ€™s no chance that Wigan will roll overâ€ essentially is a veiled â€œWigan had better not roll overâ€ threat.Â I donâ€™t think for one minute that we would, but to some extent think that maybe we should.
The big clubs, in one way or another, have shown a fairly spectacular lack of respect to recent relegation battles and it would be nice to think that two clubs that featured in this yearâ€™s mess would be able to effectively stick two fingers at the other end of the table by â€œblooding some squad playersâ€ and making both the game at the JJB and the one at Chelsea dead rubbers.
Not that either club would enter into such collusion, but you get where Iâ€™m coming from.Â On the other hand, itâ€™s probably even better for us to be the bigger men and go out there, play up and play the game.
The other thing you have to wonder about Chelseaâ€™s mind game is whether or not it will have the desired effect.Â Reminding us of our duty might provide a healthy check on our â€œhonestyâ€ but it runs the risk of winding the lads up too much.Â We saw, last week, how key discipline is in big games, get the lads over excited about the thing and United are likely to run rampant.
At the end of the day, this is just another game for Latics, thereâ€™ the possibility of moving another place up the table, or indeed a slide down, but the extra couple of million wonâ€™t make that much difference when it comes to next August.Â Thereâ€™s something to say about playing for pride, but you have to suspect that this wonâ€™t be enough.
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