The battle for Premier League survival is reaching its unavoidable climax with Swansea and Southampton facing an eye-wateringly crucial duel at the Liberty Stadium tonight.
But this season’s relegation race has been fairly subdued compared to some in the past, with no team being condemned to the drop early following a howlingly awful season, unlike this lot…
Those who witnessed it first hand still find it hard to talk about, even over a decade later.
For some, the trauma prompted them to move far away from home and adopt new identities. No one who saw every match of this 15-point Premier League season has retained the ability to hold eye contact with other human beings.
One of the forgotten tragedies of the modern game.
Derby County (2007-08)
‘15 points? Hold our beer…’ said the Rams, just two years after Sunderland’s season of abject pain.
Led by permanently furious touchline imp Billy Davies, no one gave Derby much of a chance of survival, given that their promotion itself had come as something of a surprise.
Wholly devoted to the task in hand (of being f***ing awful), they won just one of their 38 matches, with Davies deposed and replaced by the equally clueless Paul Jewell.
Glasgow Rangers (2011-12)
After a massive financial brouhaha, Rangers were turfed out of the SPL and were reborn as a ‘newco’ – but hopes that the Scottish Football League would be sympathetic were trashed when the majority of SFL clubs voted for them to keep falling until they reached he Third Division, from where they would have to climb their way back up to the top.
They’ve just about made it now, but the blue half of Glasgow is still very much in the shadow of Celtic, for now at least.
Manchester United (1973-74)
Just six years after lifting the European Cup, the Red Devils had been transformed into one of the most hapless clubs in the land, rudderless in the wake of legendary manager Matt Busby’s departure.
Throw in the fact that mercurial genius George Best was mainly beard and booze (the most dramatic thing he did in 1974 was to get arrested on suspicion of nicking a fur coat), and it proved to be a perfect storm of rubbishness for United.
Relegation was all but confirmed when their former star Denis Law (who had switched to Manchester City) backheeled in a winner at Old Trafford, leading to a pitch invasion and a 85th minute match abandonment, with the 1-0 scoreline being allowed to stand.
Manchester City (1982-83)
This was not supposed to happen at Maine Road. The club had become one of the big spenders of the top flight in the previous few seasons, and only missed out on the 1981 FA Cup after a replay defeat to Spurs.
But an irreversible slide took hold of the club in 1982 and by the final day of the season, a point was needed at home against Luton Town to clinch survival. The twist was that Luton themselves needed a win to stay up and relegate City and you can guess the rest.
A 1-0 Hatters win saw their manager David Pleat scampering across the pitch as City were condemned to the second tier.
Aston Villa (2015-16)
They might be on the brink of a return to the Premier League right now, but let’s not forget what an absolute s***show they were when they fell out of the big league a couple of years ago.
Tim Sherwood’s managerial copy book was well and truly blotted as he guided them to the bottom of the table, with Remi Garde taking over and finishing the job off spectacularly, as a meagre total of 17 points were accrued.
Oh, and Joleon Lescott managed to enrage Villa fans by ‘accidentally’ tweeting a picture of his flash new car. Wow.
Swindon Town (1993-94)
After promotion-winning boss Glenn Hoddle was lured away by the bright lights of Chelsea, poor Swindon’s fate was more or less sealed from day one.
Hoddle’s number two John Gorman was but his demeanour was like that of a man who had been put in charge of a jumbo jet while only possessing the ability to get a Twix out of a vending machine.
Defeat piled upon defeat as the Robins floundered in the newly-birthed Premier League. Come the last day of the season and their 95 goals conceded was rounded up to a nice 100 with a 5-0 home defeat against Leeds.
A final mention for the North East’s crown princes of failure.
Not content with meekishly sliding out of the Premier League under the steely but inept glare of David Moyes, a total absence of serious player investment triggered a second relegation in two seasons.
There’s a new owner on his way to the Stadium of Light – surely he’ll prevent another drop into League Two in 2019, won’t he? Won’t he…?