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Championship

What faces clubs relegated from the Premier League?

The Boot Room

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Year in, year out, Championship previews offer much attention to the three teams that have been relegated from the top flight. Their money, their status and their playing squad all contribute to perceptions regarding how ready they are to challenge again. It is an understandable rhetoric, often teams manage to retain the nucleus of their Premier league squad, and as such should be expected to offer a substantial threat, furthermore, rather than crashing back down from the top flight, they are gently cushioned into the Football league via cash laden parachutes. However, a swift glance at the 2014/15 Championship table provides a contrasting image as to the fates of the relegated sides. Norwich managed the impressive feat of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking, after a rough patch mid-season, the appointment of Alex Neil reversed fortunes with the Canaries finishing the season in fine form and carrying that momentum through the play-offs. Those efforts were not to be replicated by Cardiff & Fulham, the Bluebirds finished the season in a respectable 11th, yet far from the play-off pace, while Fulham, despite having an eleven million rated striker in their ranks spent much of the season flirting with relegation, eventually stuttering to a 17th placed finish. Norwich can be seen as the exception here when considering that in the past five seasons only three of the fifteen relegated sides have made an instant return to the top flight. Trawling through league tables of old reveal the differing fortunes that relegated teams have endured down the years.

The Instant Return

The Championship is often, and correctly, said to be one of the toughest, most competitive leagues in football. The prize of promotion is so great and the battle so fierce, getting out of the division is no easy feat. It doesn’t happen often, but a few teams down the years have accomplished it at the first time of asking, making a prompt return to the Premier League before anyone’s had time to really notice their absence. Tyne-Wear rivals, Newcastle and Sunderland have both executed the instant return in the past decade. After relegation in 05/06 with a paltry tally of 15 points, Sunderland, with Roy Keane at the helm overcame a tumultuous start to the following season before storming the Championship title in the latter half of the season. After 16 consecutive seasons in the top flight, Newcastle ensured their Championship tenure was brief, led by Andy Carroll’s goals the Magpies made an emphatic return winning the Championship title with 102 points.

Andy Carroll inspired Newcastle to an instant Premier League return after their relegation from the top flight.

Worse Before It Gets Better

Like a phoenix going down in flames to arise from the ashes, just as Gandalf fell into the shadow only to be reincarnated with a shiny new exterior…you get the picture. The pain of suffering not one, but two relegations is undoubtedly vast, it is quite the fall from the riches of the Premier League only to find yourself in League One, where trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge seem but a distant dream. Yet in recent years League One has become something of a springboard back to the top, Norwich and Southampton have been the most recent exponents of the third tier rebuild. The sides followed a similar trajectory, both relegated in 04/05, followed by three years in the second tier before sharing relegation once more to League One in 08/09. Paul Lambert’s appointment from Colchester, whom had thrashed Norwich 7-1 in the season’s opening fixture, overcame that rout, launching themselves to the League One title.  That momentum carried through the next year as Grant Holt fired the Canaries to 2nd place and successive promotions. Saints took an extra year to return to the Championship but when they did they too secured their return to the Promised Land with consecutive promotions. The two sides find themselves in the middle of our Venn diagram so to speak, they provide examples of how damaging relegation can be, yet as I write this, both are Premier League clubs. Wolves may well be next in the sequence, suffering back to back relegations to League One, they returned to the Championship last year, Kenny Jackett’s side impressed narrowly missing on play-off football by goal difference. Watch this space. Such yo-yoing between leagues, experiencing pain and joy in equal measure really puts fans through the mill, but it’s certainly never boring, which is more than be said for the chaps in our next section.

Stagnation

Since relegation in 01/02, Ipswich Town have simply stayed put. The Suffolk side, the division’s longest servants have endured 13 arduous Championship campaigns, the majority of which have offered little more than mid-table mediocrity. To give an indication of the length of that stay, since being anchored in the Championship, Ipswich fans have watched their nearest rivals, Norwich, suffer three relegations to go along with four promotions culminating in three separate spells in the top flight. Trying times for fans, yet they can take some solace that they have not suffered the same fate as those under the next banner.

Since their relegation, Ipswich have spent 13 consecutive seasons in the Championship whilst arch rivals Norwich have bounced around the leagues.

The Downward Spiral

Unlike Norwich and Southampton, others have not been able to propel themselves back from the third tier, instead they have been dragged into the quagmire of League One and beyond. Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008, fast-forward to today, it’s a very different story. After relegation from the Premiership in 09/10, Pompey struggled in their first season in the Championship, the following season suffering back to back relations to League Two where the currently reside. Portsmouth’s story shows the financial perils facing sides dropping down the league ladder.

We can speculate, but there’s no telling what fortunes await Burnley, Hull & QPR this season. Let’s not forget the new arrivals, Bristol City, MK Dons and Preston North End, don’t be surprised if the teams with gathering pace outlast those fallen from grace.

The Numbers: Teams Relegated From the Premier League in the Past 10 Seasons

26.6% – 8/30 teams in the past 10 seasons have made an instant return to the premier league.

25% – 5/20 of relegated sides that did not regain instant Premier League status, have since gone on to be promoted in subsequent years (excludes Cardiff and Fulham due to only one season back).

26.6% – 8/30 teams that have suffered relegation from the top flight have then gone on to drop below the Championship

66.6 % – 4/6 of those sides have gone on to make a return to the Championship, with 2/4 of those teams gaining promotion to the Premiership (excludes Blackpool and Wigan).

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Wolverhampton Wanderers

Goncalo Guedes and Andre Gomes would make Wolves top-six contenders

Wolves have been linked with a move for the Portuguese pair this week.

Mathew Nash

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Wolverhampton Wanderers fans are getting used to seeing their team linked with big names. But two of the players linked in the last seven days would truly take the club to a new level. The Portuguese pairing of Barcelona’s Andre Gomes and PSG’s Goncalo Guedes are both being linked with moves to Molineux.

Of course, the common denominator is their agent. Jorge Mendes represents both players and has previously facilitated their moves to Valencia.

Now both players are said to be available at their clubs, who are trying to balance Financial Fair Play.

According to The Sun, the Barcelona midfielder Gomes is available for around £30 million. Guedes, who was chosen to lead the line with Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup recently, is set to be sold by the French champions who need to balance their books in the eyes of UEFA.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

According to Get French Football, PSG need to raise around £53 million by July from player sales. The club wants a fee of up to €60 million (£52 million) for the player but there appears an acceptance that €45 million (£39.3 million) might get the job done.

If Wolves have that sort of money available from the Fosun group then spending nearly £70 million on the Portuguese dup would be a magical piece of business.

Both are excellent commodities who would walk into many of the top clubs in European football. If Wolves were to actually bring them in, with talk of Rui Patricio also abounding, then they would be serious contenders for the Premier League top six next season.

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Leeds United

Should Uwe Rosler offer Pawel Cibicki a Leeds United escape route?

The Swedish forward has struggled to make an impact at Leeds United.

Mathew Nash

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Last summer Leeds United beat off plenty of competition to sign Swedish attacker Pawel Cibicki from Malmo. As reported by The Sun the forward cost Leeds a fee in the region of £1.5 million and it seemed a wise deal. Capable of playing anywhere across the front-line the Malmo star was known to current Leeds star Pontus Jansson and looked something of a coup.

That has not been the case.

(Photo credit should read JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old played just 10 times for Leeds this season and despite impressing some fans, even bagging two assists, he was not given a prolonged chance under either Thomas Christiansen or Paul Heckingbottom.

Therefore, his future seems to be away from Elland Road and perhaps a return to Malmo would be the best option for the player.

If he did so he would be joining up with someone else who knows all about the brittle nature of a Leeds career. Uwe Rosler was recently appointed the new boss at the Swedish powerhouse.

The German lasted just 12 games as Leeds manager before being given the ceremonial axe by ‘manager-eater’ and former chairman Massimo Cellino.

Now he is being tasked with taking Malmo to the next level and fans at the club would love to see Cibicki back at the Swedbank Stadium. It could prove to be a match made in Leeds reject heaven.

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Leeds United

Leeds United should target Marcelo Bielsa teacher’s pet Stephane Sparagna

Leeds United’s new boss was a big fan of Sparagna at Marseille.

Mathew Nash

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Leeds United have completed one of the more eye-catching managerial appointments in Championship history, with the appointment of Argentine legend Marcelo Bielsa before the weekend.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Marseille boss is a cult hero in the sport for his revolutionary tactics and influence on some of the best young managers in the world today.

He also often sees things in certain players that others don’t. He can make a player thrive, who then falls away once he departs. Aurtenetxe at Athletic Bilbao a prime example. From playing in the Europa League final and being on the verge of the Spanish national team, to being released by Dundee.

Another player who fits this bill is French central defender Stephane Sparagna.

(Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Bielsa plucked him from the reserves back in 2014 just as his Marseille career appeared to be dwindling away. Bielsa quickly turned him into a squad regular and soon Arsenal were snooping. When Bielsa left, Sparagna fell out of favour – with injuries also a contributing factor.

But Bielsa’s influence cannot be understated. Sparagna said so himself, telling Europe1 Sports that the Argentine was the ‘only one who believed in him.’

Nowadays the 23-year-old is impressing in Portuguese football with Boavista but Leeds need a new central defender. They need players Bielsa can trust, especially if a three at the back formation is implemented at Elland Road.

The former French youth international underwent corrective knee surgery in May but is expected back for the new season.

Considering he would be an affordable, trustworthy former Bielsa product in a position that Leeds need reinforcements, Sparagna would be a welcome recruit.

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