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Relegation: The Trio of Clubs Descending from the English Premier League

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For passionate soccer fans, there’s arguably nothing worse than the sinking feeling of relegation. The most loyal will always cheer their teams on through thick and thin, regardless of how bad things may seem.

Sheffield United

After enjoying a superb 2019-20 campaign back amongst the English elite, finishing the season in 9th and within touching distance of European qualification, Sheffield United fans were full of enthusiasm. They expected the team to keep growing and build upon that success, bolstering the squad managed by Chris Wilder, the architect of a remarkable transformation at the club.

Wilder had guided the team to promotion from League One in 2016-17, then after settling for 10th in the Championship the following season, the Blades ended the 2018-19 campaign in second position. Wilder had achieved the impossible with Sheffield United, lifting them from the third tier to the Premier League within just three seasons.

Nevertheless, the 2020-21 campaign was utterly dire for Sheffield United, eventually costing Wilder his job as manager by March this year. Unfortunately, interim appointment Paul Heckingbottom couldn’t do any better. The team couldn’t escape their Premier League relegation odds, becoming the first to descend back to the Championship.

West Bromwich Albion

Following a period of being a yo-yo club for the first decade of the 21st century, West Bromwich Albion finally achieved a period of stability in the English top flight. For seven seasons, the Baggies managed to avoid relegation with relative ease, before eventually sliding back to the Championship at the end of 2017-18, going through four managers in the process.

West Brom were hopeful of bouncing straight back to the Premier League, although after failing to get past Aston Villa in the 2018-19 promotion playoffs, a change of direction was needed. Croatian coach Slaven Bilic was hired and, at the first time of asking, he achieved automatic promotion with the team.

Unfortunately for Bilic, returning to the Premier League was blighted by bad results. Stuck in the midst of a relegation fight by December last year, he was fired and replaced by veteran English manager Sam Allardyce. Despite a late bid to avoid the drop, including an impressive 5-2 victory away at Champions League finalists Chelsea, even ‘Big Sam’ couldn’t save West Brom.

Fulham

Based at one of the most iconic soccer stadiums in England, the Craven Cottage home of Fulham sits on the banks of the River Thames. Following a long period in the doldrums and slumming it in the lower leagues, the turn of the 21st century saw this famous club return to the Premier League for thirteen consecutive seasons, even qualifying for Europe three times.

Following relegation from the Premier League in 2013-14, the club endured a hugely difficult period, narrowly avoiding relegation to the third tier of the English game. Fortunes eventually changed for the better when Fulham won the 2017-18 promotion playoffs, although they spent just one season back in the Premier League, before descending again.

Owner Shahid Khan trusted former player Scott Parker with turning things around, which he did by guiding Fulham to fourth in the Championship, then winning the 2019-20 promotion playoffs. Fans hoped their popular manager would be backed with some serious transfer spending, but most signings arrived on loan. Although he was unable to prevent Fulham from being relegated yet again, the club kept faith in Parker and still hope he will stay in charge.

Premier League Survival is Tough

Of the three clubs who ultimately ended up suffering the agony of relegation, both Fulham and West Brom were newly promoted, while Sheffield United lasted just two seasons in the Premier League. This underlines the difficulty facing Norwich City and Watford, the winners of automatic promotion from the Championship this season, having bounced immediately back following their own relegations.

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