Wigan boss Roberto Martinez enjoys his status as a man in demand
Wigan Athletic 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2: Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said in December that even if they went down, he would not sack Roberto Martinez, such was his confidence in his manager.
Since then the Spaniard has galvanised his team, who not only survived with a game to spare – something the locals are not accustomed to – but play a brand of arrogantly attractive football that has transformed Martinez into one of the game's most fashionable bosses.
Yesterday's reports that Fenway Sports Group are plotting to approach Whelan for his prized asset to replace Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool are unwelcome and could end a most exciting era, but no genuine Latic would deny Martinez the opportunity to begin making an impression on a grander scale. After repelling Aston Villa's advances 12 months ago, the manager may find the short drive down the M58 harder to turn down.
"I'm not going to lie to you: I like the speculation," Martinez said, before joking about the Anfield rumours: "There is a manager at that club, but I heard Barcelona..." He added: "All I'm bothered about is working hard and making the chairman proud."
The celebratory atmosphere was struck with irony early on as Matt Jarvis' sumptuous curling effort floated beyond Ali Al Habsi. New Wolves manager Stale Solbakken has a job on his hands to keep hold of the winger, but more poignantly needs to fix a shambolic defence, as they soon found themselves 2-1 down. Newly invigorated Franco Di Santo pounced on indecisive defending to equalise, before Emerson Boyce thundered home an unmarked header two minutes later.
Boyce then produced a wonderfully brash volley to sign off a terrific campaign in which Wigan, above all else, have entertained. They were pegged back by a Steven Fletcher consolation but this day was all about a Wigan party.
Wigan: AL HABSI, BOYCE, LOPEZ, FIGUEROA, CALDWELL, BEAUSEJOUR, McCARTHY, McARTHUR, MALONEY, DISANTO, MOSES
Wolves: DE VRIES, BERRA, WARD, STEARMAN, ZUBAR, JARVIS, EDWARDS, HENRY, HUNT, DOYLE, EBANKS-BLAKE
Scorers. Wigan: Di Santo 12, Boyce 14, 79. Wolves: Jarvis 9, Fletcher 86
Substitutes: Wigan Crusat (Moses , 58), Rodallega (Di Santo, 78), Gomez (Maloney, 82). Wolves Ikeme (De Vries, 51), Forde (Hunt, 58), Fletcher (Ebanks-Blake, 75).
Booked: Wigan Lopez. Wolves Stearman, Berra.
Man of the match Boyce. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Wigan 50% Wolves 50%.
Attempts on target: Wigan 10 Wolves 7.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland). Attendance 21,986.