With West Bromwich Albion’s fate sealed last week we can now prepare ourselves for a dramatic conclusion to the Premier League season on Sunday. The neutral (including yours truly) will relish it and will want to see as many twists and turns as possible. Anyone supporters involved will have struggled to sleep for a week.
We all have our own predictions as to who will go down and what the sequence of results to will be. What I wondered is what effect will relegation have on the clubs involved.
West Bromwich Albion – 31 points (already relegated)
Even the most biased of Baggies supporters could not have been surprised about the clubs fate this season. However there seems relatively little for the Hawthorns club to worry about. Brom perenially spend within their limits upon promotion and Tony Mowbray has followed similiar traits. Signings that broke the £1 Million mark included: Scott Carson (£3.5 million), Marek Cech (£1.4 million) ,Luke moore (£3 million), Zuiverloon (3.2 million) , Valero (4.7 million), Aboulaye Meitie (£2 million) and Roman bednar at £2.3 million.
Not taking into account players that left that Hawthorns, the Throstles have forked out around £20 million. No doubt a few of the above will leave to recoup some of this. It is also likely that some contracts will include a drop in wages upon relegation ,West Brom should be relatively comfortble providing they spend their parachute monies wisely next season and offload a few big-earners.
Middlesbrough – 32 points
Although ‘Boro are technically £85 million in debt, the vast majority is owed to chairman Steve Gibson – which is the equivalent of owing your Dad 200 quid. Conisdering Gibson’s patience with Gareth Southgate it seems highly unlikey he will let the club suffer. However should ‘Boro suffer the drop (and it seems likely they will) they will have to get wheeling and dealing quickly. One of the first names out of the door will be Alfonso Alves, who was signed for a fee rumoured to be £12.7 million and one shudders to think what kind of wages the Brazillian is on at the Riverside. After breaking his foot against in the relegation six-pointer against Newcastle and a poor goals return for the club, ‘Boro may have to brace themselves for a big financial loss. The other big name out of the door, and the one Middlesbrough will miss most from an on-field perspective is Stewart Downing. A host of clubs will have relished the prospect of Boro’s demise in order to sign Downing and it is thought that Spurs will lead the chase after keeping tabs on the winger for considerable time. Boro will be hoping for auction fever from rival clubs in order to raise as much cash as possible. It will come as no surprise that Tuncay and David Wheater will also raise the eyebrow for a host of clubs, with Robert Huth also likely to be the subject of some interest.
Should Middlesborough fail to survive, the winds of change are likely to blow through this cold part of the country including the possibility of a new manager. With numerous players likely to leave and taking into account the squads lack of experience, ‘Boro may well have to be happy with a season of stability next season rather than a promotion charge.
Newcastle – 34 Points
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. There may have been talks of a conspiracy theory in regard to the strength of Manchester United’s team selection at Hull. But based on perfomances alone, Newcastle are where they deserve to be. If Newcastle are relegated we will witness a real exodus from St James Park, which in turn demonstrates the extent of the problems the Magpies will face. The list of players likely to leave include: Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obamfemi Martins, Damien Duff, Alan Smith, Nicky Butt, Jose Enrique, Geremi, Gutierrez and possibly Steven Taylor. If things continue in the trational ways of the Tyneside soap-opera then you wouldn’t rule out yet further changes at either boardroom or management level. Chairman Mike Ashley has been ostracised from the club before and if he cannot either persuade Shearer to take the job permanently and/or the Toon don’t get off to a flyer in the championship he knows showing his face in the Sir John Hall stand would be a tad unwise.
Newcastle will have to do their best to wheel and deal as early as possible in order to get the new players to gel as a unit early in the forthcoming season. The first thing they need to do is oust Joe Kinnear from his role, he isn’t physically fit to do job, and if the club are indeed relegated the job starts the minute the final whistle is sounded on Sunday. Although sacking managers isn’t a sign of stability, do any of us genuinely think that Kinnear would stay in the job until the end of next season – fit or not? With expectations and pressure form the fans likley to be huge and the club not in the best of health financially, relegation would hit United very, very hard.
Hull City - 35 Points
And to think the start Hull City had. The Tigers are clawing on for dear life in the Premier League and require one last roar this Sunday to ensure survival. Hull are likely to face a considerably weakened Manchester United team on Sunday which may give them half a chance of stealing a point. Whether any of that will come to fruition is another matter. Should Hull find themselves with an instant return to the Championship you would feel that financially the club will not suffer to the degree some of their rivals will. City were desperately unlucky to lose Jimmy Bullard so quickly after his £5 million move from Fulham and could find him leaving the club sooner rather than later at a cut-price fee. Bernard Mendy and Andy Dawson will also have attracted some attention, Giovvani’s early season exploits may tempt a rival club into a gamble. Hull however – are sound financially, have a good boardroom and a good manager in Phil Brown. Providing they can keep the nucleus of the squad together City should be stable and will look to try and bounce back at the first attempt.
Sunderland – 36 Points
The fans and players alike pleaded for the board to give Ricky Sbragia the managers job on a permanent basis, the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ now springs to mind. Should Sunderland fail to beat Chelsea in Guus Hiddink’s last league game in charge, the Mackems may need another black cat in the dressing room for luck. The club would appear financially sound given the money they have spent in the last few seasons however I would still expect a few to leave. Sunderland shouldn’t really be in this trouble given what they have spent over the last couple of seasons. If the club are confined to the Championship, it is likely they will look to offload the wages of Steed Malbranque and Craig Gordon. I cannot see Kenwyne Jones staying at the Stadium of Light, particularly with Tottenham knocking on Niall Quinn’s door. Kieran Richardson and Anton Ferdinand will attract offers and no doubt the pair pick up a fair size wage packet each too. This being said, Ellis short is now linked to a buy out of the club followed by a change of manager and a £200 million transfer kitty – if Sunderland stay up and we are to beleive the tabloids.