Some would say this is a thankless task — picking a starting XI and a bench from the three relegated sides. I examined the three relegated sides to see what could be salvaged and turned into a functional, if not stylish, Premier League team.
Stats, whether you love or hate them, paint a clear picture of why these sides struggled. Some ‘highlights’ include:
• Cardiff scored only 18 goals from open play
• Norwich’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored with his first shot on target of the season (on the opening day) but only managed eight more shots on target all season (and no more goals).
• All three relegated sides were in the Top 5 for shots conceded this past season (West Ham and Sunderland being the other two).
You could argue that these three sides had the three worst attacks of all the Premier League sides. I’ve gone for a more defensive shape (5-2-2-1) because in addition to the stats already cited, most of the sides in the bottom half of the table spent the majority of game time in their own half of the pitch so it made sense to me to build from the back.
On their respective sides, there wasn’t enough quality surrounding the players I’ve picked but mixed together they might just do the job. I excluded players on loan from other clubs, such as Lewis Holtby and Darren Bent.
With that entire preamble out of the way, here’s my Relegation FC:
Manager: Felix Magath – Fulham
I had a hard time picking a manager but in the end I chose Felix Magath. I think he might have got Fulham across the line had he come in earlier in the season instead of Rene Meulensteen. My other choice might have been Mackay but Magath is a much more proven commodity.
GK – David Marshall – Cardiff
Marshall was voted by the Cardiff City fans as the star man in their first ever Premier League season and rightfully so. He produced 153 saves this season, tops in the Premier League. Without Marshall, Cardiff would have been relegated long before they actually were.
RB – Sascha Riether – Fulham
Riether was voted Fulham’s Player of the Season in 2012-13 and he did little do diminish that standing in 2013-14. Riether generally has sound positioning, always seems to put in a good shift for his team and is a capable passer and crosser of the ball when he ventures forward.