Often, what has happened in the past can help to shed light on what is happening now.
With that in mind, I’ve done a little bit of research to find out how teams relegated from the Premier League have done in the following season. I’ve gone back to 2005-6 – so, not including this year, that’s 10 seasons.
I have an agenda in all of this. I don’t think that some of us are sufficiently appreciative of the effort that Rafa and the team have put in this year.
We are about to go into the biggest game of the year on Monday night – when a win against Preston will see us automatically promoted….and with the team standing right on the verge of that achievement, there is an undercurrent of people grumbling that – ‘well, we’re only going to finish second’, and ‘we’ve been playing rubbish football for half the season’, and ‘most of the team isn’t good enough for the Premiership’.
With some people it’s as if they just assumed that we were going to cruise through the season, slaughtering ever team that we came up against – and anything less than that was going to leave them disappointed.
So here are the facts:
Premier League relegated teams (with Championship final league positions the following season in brackets)
2005-6: 18 Birmingham (2nd), 19 West Brom (4th), 20 Sunderland (1st)
2006-7: 18 Shef Utd (9th), 19 Charlton (11th), 20 Watford (6th)
2007-8: 18 Reading (4th), 19 Birmingham (2nd), 20 Derby (18th)
2008-9: 18 Newcastle (1st), 19 Boro (11th), 20 West Brom (2nd)
2009-10: 18 Burnley (8th), 19 Hull (11th), 20 Portsmouth (16th)
2010-11: 18 Birmingham (4th), 19 Blackpool (5th), 20 West Ham (3rd)
2011-12: 18 Bolton (7th), 19 Blackburn (17th), 20 Wolves (23rd)
2012-13: 18 Wigan (5th), 19 Reading (7th), 20 QPR (4th)
2013-14: 18 Norwich (3rd), 19 Fulham (17th), 20 Cardiff (11th)
2014-15: 18 Hull (4th), 19 Burnley (1st), 20 QPR (12th)
2015-16: 18 Newcastle (2nd), 19 Norwich (8th), 20 Villa (12th) (current positions)
Number of relegated teams winning automatic promotion in the following season: 6 out of 30
Number of relegated teams finishing in top 6 in the following season: 16 out of 30
So, the chances of bouncing straight back up automatically over the last 10 years have been 1 in 5.
The odds of finishing in the top 6 have been (more or less) evens.
The average position of a relegated team the following season is between 7th and 8th.
Interestingly enough, if you drill down into the figures a bit more, you can see that it isn’t getting any easier. The 6 teams to bounce straight back up automatically were Birmingham and Sunderland (both 2006-7), Birmingham again (2008-9), Newcastle and West Brom (2009-10), and Burnley (2015-16).
Which means that if we finish in the top 2 this season we will only be the 2nd team in the last 7 seasons to have bounced straight back automatically – Burnley last season being the only other one.
That puts the achievements of this year into perspective. There is a fairly vocal minority who apparently think that a team like Newcastle should be skating through the Championship, knocking in hatfuls of goals as they stroll back to the Premier League. And they would have you think that finishing second, with a lot of nail-biting and a load of scruffy performances, is no great achievement.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course but I think those people lack a bit of perspective. The brute facts I’ve set out above show that getting straight back out of the Championship really isn’t easy.
Most of the teams who do get automatically promoted have been building for it for a while – like Brighton this year. The teams who have just been relegated are (by definition) coming into a Championship season straight off the back of a bruising and demoralising experience. As often as not relegation has led to them losing key players.
It just isn’t easy to turn that right around. Perhaps some of us have been a little bit spoiled by the experience in 2009-10 and think that for a ‘big’ team like Newcastle to go straight back up, is nothing more than you would expect. Those of us with a few more years under our belts will remember how horrendously difficult it was for Newcastle teams to get out of the 2nd tier in the 70s and 80s and 90s.
Add to that our transfer business from the last year. Of course the myth peddled is that Newcastle spent big bucks last summer and, effectively, bought their way back up. But we all know that the club actually had a huge net £40m transfer surplus last summer.
So Rafa has taken a squad which was poor enough to get relegated last season, has seen a net outflow of £40million worth of playing assets, and in spite of that, has put together a squad which is on the verge of doing what only one other team from the last 21 teams to be relegated has managed, and gain automatic promotion the following season.
The facts don’t lie. If we finish in the top 2, regardless of how we stagger to the finish line, it will be a major achievement.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])