Everyone knows the top clubs of Barclays Premier League, but what about the ones on the bottom? This past weekend we saw wonderful displays of effort and emotions as teams fought for their lives. Throughout the season, the bottom of the table was crowded with competition. All three relegated teams this campaign had more points than any team that was relegated last year. Life isn’t easy in the Premier League, and this year was a prime example. Here’s a goodbye to a fantastic season for the forgotten teams.
First, here’s a look at the teams that survived on the last day.
Blackburn jumped to a 3-0 lead at Wolverhampton and eventually won 3-2. The Rovers only won three of their previous 18 matches on the road while giving up 43 goals, a league worst away from home. Wolves may have lost, but were given a nice nudge by Birmingham and Blackpool to stay one point above the relegation zone.
Wigan had to win to make sure they were safe and they did just that. In the bottom for the entire season, they came through when it mattered most. Credit is due to Hugo Rodallega, Charles N’Zogbia and of course, manager Roberto Martinez. Wigan is always on the edge, but always finds a way to survive.
Birmingham had a tough battle, having to go to Tottenham. The Blues only had two road wins, while Spurs only had one home loss. The cards were stacked against Birmingham to succeed and with the foot of Roman Pavlyuchenko on fire, they couldn’t survive. A club that was promoted just two seasons ago will rejoin the Championship, although in bad spirits. The team has developed Joe Hart and Ben Foster into two of England’s best goalkeepers. They brought in an electric striker midseason for a little spark, but Obafemi Martins dealt with injury problems and was ineffective for the most part. Players like Roger Johnson, Liam Ridgewell, Lee Bowyer, Sebastian Larsson and Cameron Jerome will be missed (although some will be picked off by clubs in first leagues). The good news is Alex McLeish will remain manager of the club, as he done a lot for them. Expect Birmingham to be fighting all season for promotion once August comes around. Don’t forget, they also get a spot in the UEFA Europa League after winning the Carling Cup. Some players may stick around just for that.
Blackpool wouldn’t let go of their season, having not lost in four straight games prior to a difficult test at Manchester United to finish the season. After going up 2-1, it almost looked like destiny until the ugly happened. The Seasiders fell apart and ended up losing 2-4, giving up three goals in the matter of 20 minutes following their second goal. They were a team that brought unexpected things to the pitch weekly, and always could make a match entertaining, giving up the most goals in the league (78), yet also being able to score as many as top club Tottenham (55). Things won’t be as easy for them, and manager Ian Holloway knows it, expecting the team to break up. Charlie Adam will most likely be moving away along with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, David Vaughan and a few others. It will be trying times for the Seasiders, but you know Holloway won’t give up.
And now we move on to West Ham. Oh the gunners. At least you can say you saw this coming. They started off the season in a deep hole, tried to make a midseason run, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as they finished six points behind Birmingham and Blackpool. West Ham moved up to the Premier League in 2005 and has only played Championship soccer three times since the Premier League was created in 1992. Avram Grant is out of the managerial position and the club is still without one, but will most likely be after another big name considering their decorated history. As for the players, it could be a very similar situation as it is for Blackpool. Scott Parker, the England National Team player, is already on a few radars and probably won’t be playing in the Championship next season. What will happen to the team’s slew of forwards that were ultimately ineffective this year (Demba Ba, Carlton Cole, Robbie Keane, Victor Obinna, Frederic Piquionne)? And then there’s Robert Green, the England travesty. He made a mess of plenty of balls this season and in the World Cup, but still may get the call to play in the Premier League for another side.
The 2010-11 campaign was one to remember for a lot of reasons. The relegation clubs won’t be the first thing people think of, but that shouldn’t be the case after they gave us a season full of suspense.
Adam Zdroik co-hosts RotoRadio: Soccer Edition on Sunday nights, which covers all things Fantasy in the English Premier League and also hosts FootiePhantomRadio which encompasses soccer anywhere in the World. He also provides analysis for other sports such as Football, Basketball and Baseball. You man email Adam directly @ zdroik@RotoExperts.com or follow him on Twitter @ RotoZdroik