LONDON, May 11 (Xinhua) — Fulham’s 2-0 defeat at home to Burnley ended any lingering question marks over which three sides would be relegated from the Premier League at the end of the season.
It is the first time the relegation issue has been resolved with three games still to play, and there hadn’t been many doubts about who would go down this season, with Sheffield United starting the season with 15 defeats and two draws before winning their first game.
Meanwhile, West Brom, whose relegation was confirmed by defeat to Arsenal at the weekend, never looked like ending their reputation as a ‘yo-yo’ team by starting the season with 10 games before their first win (against Sheffield United) and then embarking on a run which brought them just one win in their next 15 league games.
Fulham, meanwhile, had to wait seven games before their first three-point claim on returning to the top-flight (with that win coming against West Brom) and then also had a run of 15 matches before their second victory.
Coach Scott Parker built a tidy, neat team capable of passing the ball effectively, but ultimately a lack of goals and expensive defensive errors cost them dear and the same could probably be said of West Brom.
Despite other teams, such as Burnley, Brighton and Newcastle United all having their problems this campaign, the fact is they all had too much for the bottom three, as Burnley showed in the 2-0 win at Craven Cottage which sealed Fulham’s relegation on Monday night.
A combination of the difference in class between the Premier League and the Championship, combined with a lack of money for transfers and a short pre-season as a result of Covid-19, meant it was always going to be hard for Fulham and West Brom to make the step up.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United’s campaign was ruined by a breakdown in relations between former coach Chris Wilder and the club owners, combined with ‘second season syndrome’ and poor summer recruitment.
Speaking after his side’s relegation, Parker laid bare the realities of the situation. “We knew it was always going to be a challenge, but it is bitterly disappointing not to do that. The performance levels have been there, the fine margins and gulf in class in this division are so small. We’ve been so close at times but yet so far. Over the last five or six games, we’ve just fallen short,” he said.
“My players have given absolutely everything this year, and I have seen that again tonight. Endeavor, desire, effort, but we have fallen short on quality at times,” continued Parker.
Norwich City and Watford will be in the Premier League next season and they know the challenge that awaits them, with the task of emulating Leeds United rather than West Brom, Sheffield United and Fulham.