It’s April and the English Premier League is approaching the back end of another fine season. Sure, the EPL rarely reaches the dizzying quality of La Liga or the Bundesliga but, it more than makes up for it by how entertaining and competitive it can be. Every season begins with 4-5 teams with a realistic chance of winning the title. And even then, a team like Leicester FC can live a fairytale and win the unexpected.
For a few teams however, this season means they won’t be up for the EPL title next year. As it stands Hull City, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are all set to be relegated to the Championships while Newcastle, Brighton and one of the next four teams (including the once great Leeds FC) are set to take their place in the League.
Let’s begin with Sunderland first. The Black Cats have a decent manager in David Moyes and a fine striker in Jermain Defoe. And, that has not been enough. Right now, they are seven points off safety and with no respite from easy fixtures in sight, coupled with their inability to play any quality football, Sunderland FC and the Stadium of Light are almost assured of relegation as soon as the season ends.
Pretty sure this will be a hard reality to swallow for fans of Sunderland, especially considering its bitter rivals, Newcastle FC are almost certain of taking its place in the Premier League.
What about Middlesbrough then? They began well enough, getting a few wins and a draw up until the first half of the season. Fast forward a few months later, I can’t remember the last match they won. They have a world-class striker in the form of Alvaro Negredo but, his loan from Valencia hasn’t made much of an impact on the club’s futures. The club is five points off safety and like Sunderland, do not look likely to keep themselves afloat.
Also, I’m not very sure of the transfer system but, can Liverpool have Negredo please?
Finally, there is Hull City. It can be argued that Hull were the most divided, disorganized team heading into the season. They won opening day, without a manager but have since dropped. And sure, they have shown signs of persistence under new manager Marcos Silva, staying in the English Premier League is still a tough ask.
Hull is on equal terms with another team with a new manager, Swansea FC. The Swans under Paul Clement too have exhibited flashes of potential in the past few months but, it’s not enough. It’s a shame considering they have a legit world-class player, Gylfi Sigurdsson in their ranks.
Considering the resurgence of Crystal Palace FC and Leicester FC over the past month and the fact that Burnley have been outstanding at Turf Moor, it would seem that the battle for the bottom three will be between these four teams. Then again, this is the English Premier League. Anything can happen. And who knows, West Ham may soon join their ranks as well.
Relegation to the Championships won’t be the end of the line for any of these clubs. However, it is sure to be an expensive affair. Sure, there will be parachute payments that can help the said clubs stay afloat in the Championships but, it also depends on the faith club owners have not only in their players but also in their popularity, fans and ticket sales. Each of these clubs in danger of relegation need to be wary and smart about their business now.
They can either be as smart as the Benitez-managed Newcastle which used its sellable player assets to the tune of a 30 million pounds’ profit or as bad as Aston Villa, which recently posted a loss of 81 million pounds.
But again, there is still time for the lower card to be shuffled. When compared to our certain predictions as to who will win the EPL title, the race for the bottom three is tougher to predict. However they turn out, I look forward to Rafa Benitez and Newcastle returning to the English Premier League.
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