Former Norwich City striker Kevin Reeves expects final day Premier League relegation battle for current club Wigan
The Premier League relegation battle will go to the final day of the season again – according to the former Norwich City striker working for one of the five most threatened clubs.
Kevin Reeves, chief scout at bottom-of-the-table Wigan Athletic, who visit Carrow Road on Sunday (4pm), expects another nail-biting finale in May.
Wigan preserved their Premier League status last season with a 1-0 win at Stoke in their final fixture, and with just two points currently separating the bottom five, the Lancashire club are bracing themselves for another nerve-shredding end to the campaign. A 2-0 home defeat by Swansea wrecked the Latics' hopes of escaping the bottom three at the weekend, but Reeves believes manager Roberto Martinez can pull them clear of trouble again.
'We definitely feel we can do it again,' he said. 'We've actually been playing well until Saturday. We had three decent results, two draws and a win, to keep ourselves in touch.
'We had a massive win at Bolton, because had we lost there we might have been left adrift.
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'There are five teams together at the bottom. Someone a bit unexpected normally drops into it as well, as Birmingham did last season, and that may happen.
'But realistically it looks like three from the five at the bottom and we have to try to make sure we're at the top of those five.'
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Wigan have finished between 10th and 17th in their six Premier League seasons since winning promotion in 2005. They were 16th in each of the last two seasons.
'The 42 points we got last year was a lot,' said Reeves. 'I don't think it will take as many as that this time – we only needed 36 the year before – but I don't think it will be any less dramatic.
'I honestly would not be surprised if it went down to the last day again. I suppose it's a little bit in the nature of the club but for Wigan to stay in the Premier League for seven years has been an incredible achievement.
'It will be very tense towards the end, but the difference this year is that nobody has been cut adrift. In the past there was always one club left behind like Hull, Burnley, Derby or Portsmouth but not this year.'
Former England international Reeves and Martinez have enjoyed a long association since the Spaniard arrived at Swansea as a player, where Reeves was coach, in 2003. Last summer, Martinez turned down the Aston Villa managerial vacancy and signed a new contract at the DW Stadium, but last week's performance against Swansea was criticised by chairman and owner Dave Whelan before he met his manager on Monday to clear the air.
'Rob is an incredibly positive person,' said Reeves. 'He feels defeat as badly as anybody else. When I was coaching at Swansea and he was playing, there was never a more devastated player after a defeat but he'd pick himself up and in a day he'd be positive and ready to go.
'Rob thinks he can win every game he goes into, and that positivity transmits itself to the players.'
Wigan will need that belief as they prepare to visit Norwich, but may take comfort from the fact that three of their four Premier League victories this season have been away from home – at Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton.
Reeves, the first �1m export from Carrow Road when he joined Manchester City in 1980 after scoring 42 goals in 133 games for John Bond's Canaries, has been impressed with the progress of the promoted teams in the top flight.
'It's fantastic. The clubs that have come up have acquitted themselves really well, as good as any promoted teams I can remember, because normally two or even three are in the bottom group,' said the 54-year-old Reeves, whose scouting duties mean he will miss Sunday's game.
'I'm just finding out where I will be this weekend but I am sure I will be listening and keeping in touch,' he said.