The Most Likeable Teams to Be Relegated From the Premier League

23 May 2020 01:19

"Oh they're charming. They play in silly yellow."


That was how Hugh Grant described Norwich City to American co-star Matthew McConaughley on Football Focus in January. He then predicted the Canaries would win 8-0 at Old Trafford.


While Grant's scoreline estimation may have been slightly off the money, he has painted a pretty accurate picture of Norwich this season.


Despite this being their fifth top flight campaign in the space of nine years, there has been an innocence about Daniel Farke's side this time around.


They play open, attacking football, they refuse to surrender these principles no matter who the opposition (sometimes to their detriment), and in Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendía, they possess two incredibly talented, creative, and downright watchable players.


However, this cannot detract from the fact that the Canaries are rooted to the bottom of the table, six points from safety and with a goal difference of -27. It begs the question: would this 2019/20 Norwich City side be the nicest team to be relegated from the Premier League?



Wigan Athletic (2012/13)


Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - FA Cup Final

You can't help but have a soft spot for Roberto Martinez's Wigan.


They had already endeared themselves to the neutral by pulling off their famous great escape the season before - miraculously winning seven of their final nine league games to stave off almost certain relegation - and went one better by completing the ultimate underdog triumph in the 2013 FA Cup final with victory over Manchester City.


Three days after their famous Wembley victory, Wigan lost 4-1 at Arsenal to bring their eight year tenure in the Premier League to an end.


Their 2012/13 team reads like a Peter Kay routine on Premier League nostalgia. "Do you remember Franco Di Santo? Who remembers Shaun Maloney?"


In a measure of Wigan's success, despite suffering relegation Martinez was not sacked but instead offered an even better job at Everton.



Blackpool (2010/11)


Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League

If Hugh Grant had a thing for Norwich's shirt kit colour, you can only imagine what he'd make of Blackpool's tangerine attire.


Like their shirt colour, Blackpool's football was chaotic and joyful in equal measure. There were 4-3 victories, 5-3 defeats and Charlie Adam was pinging passes and firing in free kicks left, right and centre like a Scottish Steven Gerrard.


The Tangerines scored 55 goals during the season; that's the same number as fifth place Spurs. They also conceded 78, which no other team came close to.


Blackpool's entire season was narrated by Ian Holloway, offering up pearls of wisdom in his thick, Gloucestershire accent.


They were relegated on the final day of the season, despite amassing 39 points. Fittingly, Blackpool bowed out with an entertaining 4-2 defeat.



Hull City (2009/10)


Hull enjoyed a rollercoaster debut season in the top flight following their fairytale, Dean Windass inspired, promotion. They were incredible during the first half of the season. Inspired by silky Brazilian Geovanni, they beat Arsenal and played out a narrow 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford.


After 6 December, Hull won just once in the league, were given a half time team talk on the field on Boxing Day, avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the season and Phil Brown sung on the pitch to an adoring crowd in celebration, despite being sober and not Delia Smith.


Unfortunately, the magic didn't last.


The following season, club record signing Jimmy Bullard was simultaneously brilliant and disastrous, lurching from match winning moments of inspiration, to a fight with teammate Nick Barmby.


The team famously reenacted Brown's half time team talk after scoring against Man City, Brown was sacked in March and Ian Dowie was parachuted in, and the Tigers were relegated with 30 points.



Reading (2007/08)


Steve Coppell's Reading took the Premier League by storm during their inaugural top flight campaign, capturing the imagination of the neutral (Stephen Hunt's Petr Cech incident aside) with their energetic, easy on the eye football.


This was an unlikely band of heroes; Steve Sidwell, Kevin Doyle, Nicky Shorey and Graham Murty, who all bound together to finish eighth - denied a spot in the UEFA Cup by a single point.


Losing Sidwell in the summer was a blow, but Coppell's side continued to put on a show the following season. They played their part in two of the season's most entertaining matches - but were ultimately on the wrong end of the result on both occasions - suffering a 7-4 defeat to Portsmouth and a 6-4 loss at Tottenham.


Their ability to ship goals decided their fate, as Reading were relegated on the final day of the season on goal difference.



Ipswich Town (2001/02)


The Tractor Boys were a loveable underdog story after finishing fifth in the Premier League and qualifying for Europe in their first season back in the top flight. They had achieved promotion the previous the season following three successive years of playoff heartache.


However, their attempts to balance their UEFA Cup adventures and their domestic campaign the following year - coupled with the loss of goalkeeper Richard Wright to Arsenal - proved costly, as they were relegated with a thumping defeat at Anfield on the final day of the season.


This Ipswich team had an infectious spirit, while playing attractive football thanks to the ball playing, attack minded midfield duo of Matt Holland and Jim Magilton.


Despite relegation, they even qualified for Europe the following season through the UEFA Fair Play rankings. Because that's how nice they were.



Source: 90min