What a time to be alive… Liverpool 4-3 Barcelona, Tottenham 3-3 Ajax, we have witnessed some of the greatest few days of football in the history of the sport. But nothing quite riles me up more than a good ol’ relegation/promotion story. With just one match-day to go in the English top flight, the 3 clubs going down to the Championship have unfortunately already been decided. In descending order, Cardiff City, Fulham and Huddersfield Town have all booked their one way ticket to the second tier of English football. Cardiff and Fulham head back down just one season since their promotion. By team, let’s take a look at what went wrong and what to expect from them in the near future.
You are a cold-blooded heartless fan if you don’t feel for Cardiff this season with what they have been through. A club record signing in Emiliano Sala, who tragically passed away from a plane crash en route to Cardiff for me is enough to excuse their performances this season. They were given no breaks either, with Sala’s previous employers FC Nantes, enforcing legal action on their stalling of their hefty payment for the deceased forward. In terms of their gameplay, Cardiff lacked a central piece to the team. The bluebirds did not have that one man, that one powerhouse part of the field that manager Neil Warnock could build the team around. Calum Paterson led the team in goals and surely gave it his all in front of goal but average performances all around the pitch never gave Cardiff that fear factor. With Sala, the whole season could have been different, and I truly wish to see the Bluebirds back in action in the top-flight very soon; however, I do not see that as overly possible in the near future. As it stands, I see Cardiff finishing mid-table in the Championship next season.
Remember when people had Fulham finishing 8th at the start of the season… yeah, me too. I was one of the skeptics of all that summer business and it proved to be their downfall. However, it could be that summer business that propels them back up next season. With big arrivals of Alfie Mawson, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jean Seri, Andre Schurrle (the list goes on), it all looked very promising for the cottagers. After conceding the most goals in the Premier League upon their relegation, all the hype seems like a distant memory, albeit their defensive injury crisis. A promising attack with a leaky defense was not the balance Fulham needed to stay in the league as a newly promoted side. However, if Fulham can manage to retain their star players and further revamp their squad if they can, the London club have a great chance at earning a spot back in the top flight. And I’ll say it here first, Fulham will be PROMOTED next season.
Ah, Huddersfield, where do I start. Well that was the problem, the start… and the middle… and the end. All around, this has been a terrible season for the Terriers. After a miracle season last campaign to seal another year in the top flight, luck didn’t come around so easy this time. Struggling for goals, struggling to not concede, struggling for possession, Huddersfield were the underdogs in every match this season. Building around the creative midfield presence of Aaron Mooy, it still wasn’t enough to influence this team beyond the relegation zone. A controversial sacking of club icon David Wagner for the Borussia Dortmund YOUTH coach was a ballsy move… very ballsy. Surprise surprise, it didn’t work out and Huddersfield are this year’s cellar dwellers. In terms of other teams poaching talent, there is not much to worry about here, other than Aaron Mooy who will be a huge loss should he seek a move elsewhere. I don’t have very high hopes for them next season either. In the 2019-20 Championship season, I see Huddersfield Town finishing in the bottom-middle of the table and not under too much threat of a relegation to League 1. In terms of a return to the Premier League, I do not see it happening in the near future and maybe one day in the distant future we will meet the Terriers again, so until then, hats off to a solid 2 year stay in the league.
Written by: Andrew Diefenderfer Follow him on Twitter @DiefDorf