‘Big’ clubs in League One: When patience was required
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 June 2019
Ipswich Town are preparing for their first season of third-tier football since 1956/57. STUART WATSON takes a look at how other ‘big’ clubs have fared when dropping into League One. Part one: Patience was required...
Played in the top-flight in 35 out of the previous 54 years. Went into the 2004/05 campaign, their sixth in a row at Championship level, with promotion ambitions. Hadn't played in the third-tier since 1950/51...
Relegation - 2004/05
Drew the opening four matches. Were still winless come the middle of September. Supporter unrest grew. Joe Kinnear resigned in December after a 3-0 defeat to rivals Derby left them bottom.
Gary Megson was appointed. Michael Dawson and Andy Reid were sold to Spurs in the January window for a combined £8m. Forest become the first former European champions to be relegated to the third-tier.
Position: 23rd - W9 D17 L20 Pts 44
Life in League One
Three seasons (2005-2008). Finished: 7th, 4th, 2nd
First season: 7th (W19 D12 L15 Pts 69)
Megson departs by 'mutual consent' in February after a 3-0 defeat at Oldham left them four points above the relegation zone. Frank Barlow and Ian McParland are put in temporary charge until end of campaign. A six-match winning run, including a 7-1 thrashing of Swindon, sees them narrowly miss out on a play-offs place.
Second season: 4th (W23 D13 L10 Pts 82)
Colin Calderwood is appointed. Seven points clear at the top in November, but stutter to finish fourth before suffering a shock defeat to Yeovil in the play-off semis. Won the first leg 2-0 away, but then lost 5-2 at home.
Third season: 2nd (W22 D16 L8 Pts 82)
Sign Aaron Davies and Chris Cohen from Yeovil. Neil Lennon comes in from Celtic. Keep a league record 24 clean sheets. Defence includes Wes Morgan, Luke Chambers and new signing Kelvin Wilson.
Finish 10 points behind Swansea, but win six of the last seven to pip Doncaster and Carlisle to second spot on the same points as the season before. Junior Agogo top-scores with 13.
Involved in a relegation scrap on return to Championship. Calderwood is sacked on Boxing Day. Billy Davies keeps them up. Finishes of third and sixth follow. Currently preparing for 12th successive season in Championship.
Paul Taylor (Nottingham Post) said: "There was kind of an assumption that it would be a short sabbatical, the chance to go to a few new grounds, but reality quickly dawned that this was a tough division to get out of.
"Every game was like a Cup Final to the opposition and became a war of attrition. Even when they got promoted it was by the skin of their teeth."
Five consecutive top-five Premier League finishes between 1998 and 2002. Failure to qualify for the Champions League two years in a row led to financial implosion. Decorated Yorkshire club had never played outside the top two divisions since being elected to the Football League in 1920...
Relegation - 2006/07
Three years after dropping down from the Premier League, finish bottom of the Championship.
Kevin Blackwell was sacked in September, caretaker John Carver didn't last long and Dennis Wise arrived. Experienced players like Tore Andre Flo and Robbie Elliott were signed in January, but things did not pick up.
With relegation virtually assured, the Yorkshire club entered administration and were deducted 10 points.
Position: 24th - W13 D7 L26 F46 A72 Pts 36*
Life in League One
Three seasons (2007-2010). Finished: 5th, 4th, 2nd
First season: 5th (W27 D10 L9 Pts 76*)
A major squad overhaul. Start the campaign with a 15 point deduction. Win first seven games. Wise leaves to become Newcastle's executive director in January. Former club captain Gary McAllister gets the job.
Jermaine Beckford scores 20 in his debut campaign. Beat Carlisle in play-off semis then lose 1-0 to Doncaster at Wembley.
Second season: 4th (W26 D6 L14 Pts 84)
McAllister sacked in December. Simon Grayson appointed. Eleven successive home wins sees team rise from 11th to fourth. Beckford scores 34 goals in all competitions. Lose to Millwall in play-off semis (L 1-0 away, D 1-1 at home).
Third season: 2nd (W25 D11 L10 Pts 86)
Fabian Delph is sold to Man City. Win opening eight games. Win 17 of 23 home games. Longest FA Cup run since 2003 as beat Manchester United in third round. Lose to Carlisle, on penalties, in Football League Trophy Final. Beckford (who twice hands in a transfer request) scores 31. Secure automatic promotion on nervy last day. Reduced to 10 men and 1-0 down at home to Bristol Rovers, but come back to win 2-1.
Just miss out on the play-offs upon return to Championship. Five consecutive finishes between 13th and 15th follow. Following recent play-off semi-final defeat to Derby, now preparing for 10th successive season in second-tier.
Phil Hay (Yorkshire Evening Post) said: "There was an element of everybody assuming it should be a doddle for a club like Leeds. And it would have been automatic promotion in that first season had it not been for an unprecedented 15-point deduction.
"In the second season there was a 2-0 loss at Hereford that everybody remembers. The longer it goes on, the more you feel like you're drifting out of the national football agenda. Come the third season it started to feel like they'd be stuck there forever. By the time they went up by the skin of their teeth it was beginning to feel desperate."
Owls had two seasons in League One between 2003 and 2005, finishing 16th and then fifth (beating Hartlepool in the Play-Off Final). Five seasons in the Championship followed...
Relegation - 2009/10
Brain Laws is sacked in December after a nine-game winless run. Alan Irvine is appointed. Relegated on the final day after a home draw against Crystal Palace.
Position: 22nd - W11 D14 L21 Pts 47
Life in League One
Two seasons (2010-12). Finished: 15th, 2nd.
First season: 15th (W16 D10 L20 Pts 58)
Milan Mandaric buys club in November, lifting the threat of administration. Irvine is sacked in February with the team 12th. Gary Megson is appointed. Neil Mellor, on loan from Preston, scores 20 goals.
Second season: 2nd (W28 D9 L9 Pts 93)
Several new signings, including Jose Semedo, Chris Lines and David Prutton. Megson is sacked in February off the back of 1-0 derby win against promotion rivals Sheffield United (the team is third). Dave Jones replaces him.
Gary Madine, in his first full season, scores 18 goals. Finish eight points behind Charlton, but pip Sheffield United to second.
Embroiled in a relegation battle upon return to Championship. Finishes improve year-on-year - 18th, 16th, 13th, sixth, fourth - before regression over the last two seasons. Currently preparing for eighth successive season in second-tier having finished 2018/19 strongly under Steve Bruce.
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After one season in the Premier League (06/07), the Blades were pushing for promotion back to the top-flight with finishes of ninth, third and eighth. They hadn't played outside the top two tiers since 1988/89...
Relegation - 2010/11
Kevin Blackwell left after just two games, fans calling for his head after a 3-0 home defeat to QPR. Assistant Gary Speed is promoted, but takes the Wales job in December. Went down under Micky Adams.
Position: 23rd - W11 D9 L26 F44 A79 Pts 42
Life in League One
Six seasons (2011-2017). Finished: 3rd, 5th, 7th, 5th, 11th, 1st
First season: 3rd (W27 D9 L10 Pts 90)
Danny Wilson takes over. Looked set for automatic promotion, but top-scorer Ched Evans is jailed and slip to third before losing on penalties to Huddersfield in Play-Off Final.
Second season: 5th (W19 D18 L9 Pts 75)
Continue to cut wage bill. Unbeaten until November, top over Christmas, but a rapid downturn in results follows. Wilson is sacked in April. Finish fifth and lose to Yeovil in play-off semis under caretaker boss Chris Morgan.
Third season: 7th (W18 D13 L15 Pts 67)
David Weir appointed. New co-owner arrives in the form of Saudi Prince Abdulaziz. Weir sacked after one win in opening 13. Nigel Clough appointed. Fall just short of play-offs after strong finish. Reach semis of FA Cup, losing to Hull.
Fourth season: 5th (W19 D14 L13 Pts 71)
Harry Maguire sold to Hull. Reach the League Cup semis, losing to Tottenham. Defeated by Swindon in play-off semis (drew dramatic second leg 5-5 away to lose 7-6 on aggregate).
Fifth season: 11th (W18 D12 L16 Pts 66)
Nigel Adkins replaces sacked Clough. Billy Sharp returns to the club from Leeds. End up mid-table.
Sixth season: 1st (W30 D10 L6 Pts 100)
Boyhood Blade Chris Wilder appointed. Sell Che Adams to Birmingham for £1.8m and Dominic Calvert-Lewin to Everton for £1.5m. Reinvest wisely in the likes of Leon Clarke, John Fleck and Jack O'Connell. Romp the division. Sharp scores 30. Finish 14 points clear of Bolton with 100 points and 92 goals.
Finish 10th in first season back in the Championship, earning plaudits for the style of football. David Brooks sold to Bournemouth for reported £11.5m. More good reinvestment as likes of John Egan, Oliver Norwood and David McGoldrick arrive. Promoted to the Premier League in second spot.