The Best Teams To Ever Be Relegated From The Premier League
Reigning champions Leicester may have pulled away, but this season’s Premier League relegation battle still has an unusual touch of quality about it. Hull and Swansea, revitalised by Marco Silva and Paul Clement respectively, are currently vying with Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace sides packed with individual talent, while Sean Dyche’s Burnley and Slaven Bilic’s West Ham linger within touching distance of the bottom three.At least two of these teams will face the drop. And those that do go down could well join the list of some of the best to suffer relegation from the Premier League. Speaking of which…
GREAT ON PAPER, NOT IN PRACTISE: BIRMINGHAM 2005-06
Entering their fourth consecutive season of top-flight football, there was optimism that Birmingham could push beyond mid-table in 2005-06. Steve Bruce had a squad filled with individual talent, including Dutch international right-back Mario Melchiot and two England internationals in centre-back Matthew Upson and attacking powerhouse Emile Heskey, fresh off one of his best seasons.
The loan signings of Jiri Jarosik from Chelsea and Nicky Butt from Newcastle brought experience and class to midfield, while former successful loanees Jermaine Pennant, Walter Pandiani and Mikael Forssell had been made permanent members of the team.
However, while Bruce’s side looked great on paper, they were not so effective in practise. They were plagued by a scoring deficiency, with Heskey, Forssell and Pandiani struggling to repeat the previous campaign’s form. Ultimately Jarosik would be Birmingham’s top league scorer with a mere five to his name as they finished 18th.
FADED CHAMPIONS: BLACKBURN 1998-99
In 1995, Blackburn were crowned Premier League champions. And in 1998, they qualified for the UEFA Cup after a strong sixth-place finish. However, the 1998-99 season saw them fade completely from the league’s upper echelons.
Roy Hodgson had a strong spine to call upon in Stephane Henchoz, Tim Sherwood and Chris Sutton, however Sherwood would leave during the season. His departure, along with that of Scottish defensive leader Colin Hendry, left the team vulnerable. Meanwhile, the £7.5 million signature of Kevin Davies didn’t work out, and Sutton struggled to find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
After winning just two of their opening 14 fixtures, Hodgson, who not long before had been seriously considered for both the German and English national team jobs, was dismissed and succeeded in the dugout by Brian Kidd. But, following a brief turnaround, Blackburn won just one of their final 14 games as, four years on from winning the title, they were relegated to the second tier.
THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN: LEEDS 2003-04
Between 1999 and 2001, Leeds flirted with a concerted title push while reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and the Champions League in successive seasons. Yet, in the years prior to the Premier League’s gargantuan television deals, they paid a high price for some reckless spending.
Mismanagement led to a financial meltdown that forced the club to sell most of their best players, and in 2003-04 their demise was sealed with a 19th-place finish that saw them drop out of the top flight for the first time since 1990.
Despite the best efforts of academy graduates Paul Robinson and Alan Smith, the goals and finesse of Mark Viduka, and the youthful promise of Scott Carson, Aaron Lennon and James Milner coming through, Leeds had gone from Europe’s premier competition to England’s second tier inside three turbulent years.
AMBITION AND DEDUCTION: MIDDLESBROUGH 1996-97
The summer of 1996 saw Middlesbrough make two eye-catching signings in the form of Brazilian midfielder Emerson from Porto for £4 million and hard-working Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli from European champions Juventus for £7 million. Added to a squad already containing tricky creator Juninho, there was an obvious air of ambition about the club’s transfer market dealings.
Ravenelli settled immediately to life in England, hitting 31 goals in all competitions, but Emerson was unable to adjust with similar ease. And, despite high expectations and runs to the finals of both domestic cup competitions, Bryan Robson’s side stuttered in the league.
Docked three points after postponing a game against Blackburn due to a player shortage caused by an unfortunate series of injuries, Middlesbrough, agonisingly, finished two points away from safety. Having
also lost both cup finals, Ravanelli, Juninho and Emerson soon left, and the club was forced to rebuild in what was then known as the First Division.
THE MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND: NEWCASTLE 2008-09
Following the dismissal of Bobby Robson in 2004, Newcastle rifled through a series of managers in a failed bid to maintain top-six status. Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder and Sam Allardyce all had brief spells in charge before Kevin Keegan returned to St. James Park in January 2008.
A club legend for his spells as both player and manager at Newcastle, Keegan wasn’t able to return the club to contention for the European places, but he did avert a relegation battle. However, by September a disagreement with the board led to his resignation. This preceded a managerial merry-go-round as Chris Hughton and Joe Kinnear took charge before another club legend, Alan Shearer, was installed in the dugout.
Despite the presence of Shearer, along with the goalkeeping heroics of Steve Harper, defending of Fabricio Coloccini and goal threat of Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins, one win in 13 games was enough to confirm the club’s painful descent.
BURST BUBBLE: WEST HAM 2002-03
The 2002-03 season initially seemed as if it would be an exciting one for West Ham. They had finished seventh in the previous campaign and possessed a squad capable of pushing on. Goalkeeper David James was protected by a back line featuring Tomas Repka and the emerging Glen Johnson, while the midfield was patrolled by academy graduate Michael Carrick, soon to be joined by Lee Bowyer.
Even more exciting was West Ham’s attack, which contained the flamboyance of Joe Cole with the spontaneity of Paolo Di Canio, the languid movements of Frederic Kanoute, the promise of Jermain Defoe and Trevor Sinclair, who had played surprisingly well for England at the 2002 World Cup.
However, the bubble burst as soon as the season began, with a calamitous 4-0 defeat to Newcastle. And from there the situation was only worsened by a terrible run of results. Manager Roeder, having collapsed hours after a crucial win over Middlesbrough, was succeeded on a temporary basis by Sir Trevor Brooking, but an unbeaten end to the campaign couldn’t halt the club’s slide as they finished two points off of Sam Allardyce’s Bolton in 18th.