Another Premier League season has entered the history books following the conclusion of eight months of drama. The relegation battle went down to the final day of the season, with three clubs scrapping it out to extend their stay in the top flight of English football. Everton, Leicester and Leeds started the day hoping to play in the same league next season as the three clubs who have been recently promoted to the Premier League from the Championship.
Leicester have gone from being Premier League champions to the Championship in seven years. Their fate was sealed on the final day of the season despite beating West Ham 2-1, finishing two points behind Everton who themselves beat Bournemouth to stay in the division. So much has happened at the club in those intervening years that the journey from A to B could never really be a straight line. Their deeply loved chairman Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was killed in a helicopter crash outside their stadium. A training complex was built at a cost of £100m. The tourism-based businesses owned by the club’s owners suffered a severe downturn as a result of the pandemic. They came within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League in two successive seasons. They won the FA Cup. By the last day of the season they were dependant on Everton slipping up to have any chance of survival but it was not to be.
Three seasons after Marcelo Bielsa gloriously returned the West Yorkshire outfit to the top flight after a 16-year absence, Leeds find themselves once again out of England’s elite. Leeds will also be playing Championship football next season after finishing five points behind the Toffees. Sam Allardyce had been appointed as manager last month but he was unable to save the Yorkshire club in his four matches in charge. Both Allardyce and the club as a whole in their own statement apologised for the relegation that was confirmed by a 4-1 home loss to Tottenham, with Leeds also stating they are in a “strong position” to mount an immediate promotion bid.
Southampton finished rock bottom of the Premier League with a paltry 25 points, bringing an end to their 10-year stay in the top flight. After a sorry season that has seen them occupy one of the relegation spots since November 5, their 12th home defeat of the season against Fulham meant they will be playing in the second tier next season. They last suffered relegation from the Premier League in 2005 – it took them seven years to win promotion back after a period that also saw them relegated to League One. Three managers have occupied the St Mary’s hot-seat this season and none of them have managed more than three league wins with Ralph Hasenhuttl, Nathan Jones and Ruben Selles all failing to find a winning formula at the club. Southampton are a football club burdened by trouble and strife. It has been that way since their European zenith under Ronald Koeman – an extension of the fine work Mauricio Pochettino had undertaken in the two seasons before his arrival.