If you remember back to the previous two seasons before our relegations, we had finished 12th and 13th respectively and it didn’t exactly look like we were going anywhere. Yes admittedly that is where we finished this season, however for a return to top flight, and in a squad that lacked any quality in depth, 12th was a very good place to finish (it could have been even higher if it wasn’t for the last game).
Relegation is never an easy thing to go through as a player, and as proved in our situation, it separates the strong and committed from the weak. There were clearly some players that had no interest in the future of our club and simply wanted the best for their careers, and in some cases their wallets.
The likes of Mark Viduka, Michael Owen and Damien Duff were all undoubtedly top class players, but for whatever reason they never performed consistently for us and we were left with a squad of less skilled players to try and achieve promotion.
However in the Championship commitment and passion is a must, and we probably wouldn’t have come straight back up if those players hadn’t left. Although fans would have much rather watched a premier league team, I have to be honest and say I enjoyed some of the games in the Championship more than Premier League fixtures. It was refreshing to see players busting a gut to get to every ball and there is no doubt it would have significantly boosted the teams morale to be winning week in week out.
Also it made Mike Ashley realise that our current business model was unsustainable for a mid-table Premier League team, never mind a Championship team. This year has seen the best net financial income for the past decade and we seem to be a lot wiser before handing older players lengthy contracts and paying ridiculous transfer fees.
Of course no-one likes to see their team go down, but in my opinion it was worth it and we have improved because of it, what are your thoughts?
On a sidenote, any of you Facebook users should head over HERE and help us get past the Mackems in this popularity contest « Would you cut a deal for this guy? | View from the away end – Norwich City. »