If you look at the heyday of Colin Hendry, it’s quite clear that the Premier League looks like a very different place. There are many teams that were up in the top league but have now dropped down into lower leagues. Obviously there are lots of top teams that remain at the top, but the others? Where are they now? Colin Hendry takes us through where the top Premier League clubs are now… starting with the team he won the Premier League with – Blackburn Rovers.
|8||Queens Park Rangers|
|14||West Ham United|
Colin Hendry recalls the joy of taking the Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers back in 1994; however, it’s clear they aren’t quite what they were – so what happened and why?
Hendry states “Blackburn was the epitome of the ideal example of a small town provincial club put on the map by a local business man. He put money in, won the league and gave the locals more than they could ever have dreamed of.”
When lifelong supporter and businessman took over the club, they sat 19th in the second division. However, money was made available to improve the club. However, as Hendry states, normally when this happens, owners and managers plough millions into top players. Blackburn took a slightly different route; they bought players, developed players and sold them on for a higher fee. They also spent a lot of money on the backstage team – the manager, coach and off-pitch crew. They invested in the club and not just the players. They bought Shearer for £3.5 million and sold for £15 million; bought Chris Sutton for £5 million and sold him for £10 million – and bought me for £25k and sold me for £3m”
One of the first steps they took was appointing Kenny Dalglish as manager October 1991. This saw Rovers secure their promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 91/92 season – which took them into the top flight for the first time in 26 years.
As Hendry states, one of the biggest investments Blackburn made was the purchase of Alan Shearer for a record fee of £3.5 million… with the extra investment, not only did they hit the Premier League, but they flew up the table – finishing 4th in 92/93, 2nd in 93/94 and top of the charts in 94/95. However, it went a little wrong after that.
Dalglish moved to the position of Director of Football and the role of manager went to his assistant, Ray Hartford. They started the next season poorly and were hanging around the lower half of the table for most of the season – they also finished bottom of their group in The Champions League.
Then the next season seemed to be even worse and this saw the resignation of Harford. They failed to secure a good manager and managed to hang on by their fingernails with the help of coach/manager Tony Parkes. The next summer they invested in another top manager – Roy Hodgson who managed to save them for a while. However, after poor results in 98/99, Hodgson was sacked and replaced as manager by Brian Kidd – but that couldn’t save them and they were relegated at the end of the season.
From Good… to Bad… to Worse
The 2000s saw a bit of resurgence from the club. The beginning was rough, and they looked to be facing relegation to Division 2, but were saved by the appointment of Graham Souness. In 2000, Walker died and fittingly, that year, they returned to the Premier League. With the promotion they got more money to spend and made some signings, such as Andy Cole for £8m. All went swimmingly for the team for a long time – when they won the Football League Cup. However, the big problems came when it was sold to the Indian company, V H Group in 2010. As Hendry states “The buyers seemed to treat it like a franchise; they didn’t think it could be relegated and that’s where it went wrong.”
The new managers sacked Big Sam and replaced him with Steve Kean. The next year they posted a loss of £18.6 million and it went from bad to worse as they were relegated again – after an 11 years spell in top league footie. Despite trying to get it back, the club failed miserably and dropped again into third tier football.
On the Way Up
It does seem though that they are on their way back up again. After being in the third tier for just one season, they have moved back up the Championship and are looking to climb the tree again. Currently, the gave a decent performance against Newcastle, managing to score 2 goals, but losing out in the end. They are currently sitting at 14th and are working their way towards going up. They are a stronger side now with Bradley Dack. It’s quite a journey, but each step counts.
Sunderland is another team that Colin Hendry has picked out as having spent a lot of time at the top but has suffered with a loss of form and a huge fall from grace. But how and why?
Sunderland has fallen down two leagues and the team – and fans are suffering. This is a team that has had a difficult run, and have been very up and down. After being in and out of the Premier League, they returned back into the Premier League in 1999. They managed to finish seventh in 1999/2001 and also in the 2001/2002 season. However, the following season saw the club being relegated in 2003.
However, Mick McCarthy took them back up in 2005 for the third time in 10 years. However, as Hendry says “despite massive investment it just didn’t happen on the pitch” Hendry blames it on the “wrong recruitment of players – buying players that simply could not play at that level of football” he goes on to say that players that they did recruit of that level, such as Lewis Grabban “went on loan and ended up scoring against them”.
As Hendry states “Managers don’t always get a direct say in recruitment” and this in itself causes issues. Despite promotion in 2005, they went back down again the following year and were once again out of top league football.
Going Back Up… and Down
After the next relegation, the club was taken over by Drumaville Consortium and appointed Roy Keane as manager. Under his guidance, they had an unbeaten run on 17 games and once again won promotion to the Premier League. The next season saw a lot of comings and goings, but they still managed a 10th place finish. They managed to stay up, despite some close shaves, until 2015.
It was in 2016 that they really suffered though – they made their worst start ever to the League and took 2 points from 10 games and suffered relegation again. They the suffered a second relegation down to third tier in 2018.
Tomes are definitely tough for Sunderland – and their fans who are always so passionate. Everyone wants to see them get back up there, but some serious changes need to be made in order to move on up.
They were quite a force in the Premier League at one point, but are currently down in the Championship – where they are now sitting comfortably in 9th place.
Leeds United have also been big players in the Premier League… and it looks like they make a return sooner rather than later as they are currently sitting top of the table and in line for a promotion.
Queens Park Rangers
This is another team that has been relegated to the Championship League. They are currently holding their own at the moment and are mid-table at 11th place.
Wimbledon are no longer Wimbledon as we know them. They dissolved and became MK Dons (Milton Keynes Dons) They are now all the way down in League 2 and are in a bad way.
Sheffield Wednesday is currently in the Championship and sitting around 16th place. Although they are not at the heights, they are steady and look to be settled in that league for now.
Have suffered some falls as they are currently sitting in League One. They haven’t really been a Premier League side for a long while and it’s highly unlikely they’ll be back any time soon.
Aston Villa are a team that have had a great history in the Premier League, but are currently sitting down in the Championship. They are mid-table at 12th spot and most people would love to see them coming back up in the Premier League… sooner rather than later.
This is another team in the Championships – but a team that are doing well and could well be promoted before too long – even this season. They are sitting in third place and it is highly possible that a return to top flight could be happening sooner rather than later.
This is a club that is currently in the Championship – but could well be sliding down even further at the end of this season – as they sit in 24th spot – bottom of the table. Times aren’t looking good for the club and it looks like this will get worse before they get better