The Relegation Zone: the Final Three

12 April 2014 08:48

Where do I start, the three teams in contention for Championship football next season are Fulham, Cardiff City and Sunderland. Each team have had their calamities and fair amount of replacements, but so far they seem to have failed to free them from the red zone.

Premier League Bottom Half;

Bottom half of the Premier League

Fulham’s final fixtures;

Fulham vs. Norwich City

Tottenham vs. Fulham

Fulham vs. Hull City

Stoke City vs. Fulham

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace

Cardiff’s final fixtures;

Southamption vs. Cardiff City

Cardiff City vs. Stoke City

Sunderland vs. Cardiff City

Newcastle vs. Cardiff City

Cardiff City vs. Chelsea FC

Sunderlands final fixtures;

Sunderland vs. Everton

Man City vs. Sunderland

Chelsea FC vs. Sunderland

Sunderland vs. Cardiff City

Man Utd vs. Sunderland

Sunderland vs. West Brom

Sunderland vs Swansea City

Fulham currently under their third manager of the season Felix Magath, after Rene Meulensteen and Martin Jol failed to get the team to perform and move them up the table. When Rene Meulensteen was given a promotion from assistant coach to manager at the time looked like a very clever coup. As he was highly rated at Manchester United and was one of those coaches that tends to have a good relationship with players. They also appointed Ray Wilkins and Alan Curbishley that looked very positive and were signs that the tide could change at the Craven Cottage. But the time wasn’t given to him and Mr Magath was brought in, who is a manager who has won the Bundesliga three times with Bayern (twice) and Wolfsburg. So far we haven’t seen much change in results with a loss to Cardiff City within that. But with the win against Aston Villa last week (who have awkwardly swapped with West Ham in the relegation pack) Fulham showed some fight in the game, we hadn’t seen from them recently. The fixtures ahead for The Cottagers are winnable or games they could get more out of than the teams below them. This could be crucial in their survival and is a potential hope for their fans.

Cardiff City and their fans haven’t quite had the season in the top flight they would’ve hoped for. A season of controversy and troubles with owner Vincent Tan, strange appointments and the sacking of some top staff and manager Malky Mackay, who had done a good job but always looked vulnerable after all the controversy.

“We will see if we can produce the miracle that we need” the words of current Cardiff City Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, after the 3-0 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Crystal Palace. You can understand those desperate words from him as the last fixtures for Cardiff City are extremely tough and compared to the other teams around them. They have had a lack results even when they have played okay, these results have left them where they are and looks like that isn’t going to change. Solskjaer is running out of time for a ‘super sub’ performance to get them out of jail now.

Sunderland FC is bottom of the table and in the worst place to be, coming into the final games of the season. The one hope they have is that they still have two games in hand, even though you could count the Man City and Chelsea making those games mute on paper. But on the other hand their final four games are against teams they can get points from and that includes Man Utd at home as The Red Devils season is now over, they could be weak to a team who are fighting for survival and have had their worst home record for years.

Sunderland also changed their manager as the outspoken and explosive impact of Di Canio who saved them from relegation the season before burnt out and the entertainment aspect of him faded very fast for Sunderland fans and allowed for Gus Poyet’s appointment. Personally on a non football side I still wish they’d kept Di Canio, to see a Mouriniho and Di Canio face off and to get to see one more touchline foolery as I couldn’t get enough of it.

Since Poyet came in, a more stable environment was placed over Sunderland and allowed them to become less of a controversial and constant story in the league. But with this cool down, the football hasn’t seen this effect and could really do with a kick for one last grasp of the ledge to survival.

Overall Fulham’s season now hangs on the game at the weekend and will either give them a crucial boost and the points on the board to get out of the relegation zone and bring in Norwich a team on thin ice after the sacking of Chris Hughton. But could also destroy them and put survival a step further away. Cardiff are now going to have to fight hard and pull out a performance out the bag as it looks like it’s too late. Sunderland has the hand over Cardiff waiting to try and swap places with them in the upcoming fixture when they face each other, to give themselves a chance.

Source: DSG