Each season the same names tend to end the campaign in almost pre-determined positions. Although this term has seen the emergence of Newcastle United and Swansea City, the majority of teams look likely to enter the summer months having finished in their expected spots.
The big six are all expected to occupy the upper end of the table, with maybe the exception of Liverpool, who have disappointed since their Carling Cup victory, this group with the be followed by the likes of Fulham and Sunderland in mid-table, while the usual candidates will partake in the relegation scrap. This order has been established over the past few years, with teams almost excepting their role within the division, remaining happy to sit at the big money table of the Premier League.
The likes of Wigan and Everton have been key examples of this over the course of many seasons, with each team carving out their own niche within the Premiership, whilst maintaining a solid and responsible off-field mentality. Wigan in particular have gained the reputation of a lower mid-table club, continually being near to the relegation spots, but ultimately keeping their top-flight status, whilst the Toffees always seem to secure positions just inside the top-10. The solid running of the clubs may not excite the fans all too often, but there is a lot to be said for stability in the turbulent world of football, as various teams have discovered down the years.
Dave Whelan and Bill Kenwright have rejected the approach of instant success it seems, in favour of continuity and stability, and although it may not be glamorous the clubs are both, to an extent, enjoying their roles. Despite many seasons of near relegation, Whelan has stuck by manager Roberto Martinez, who has continually kept the club safe in the division, which is a trend that rarely exists in the modern world of the football owner, with managerial upheaval becoming the norm when results take a slight slide. Wigan’s success has been built upon a philosophy of becoming an almost stepping-stone club for exotic talent, offering players a platform to establish their skills before being sold on for a profit. This has happened with Wilson Palacios and Antonio Valencia, both of whom impressed, before moving onto Tottenham and Manchester United respectively, securing financial boosts for the club. Everton meanwhile have been a similar, if more successful adaptation of this, again sticking with their manager, in David Moyes, but producing their own talent for the first-team, with the cream of the crop being sold on for big money, as was the case with Wayne Rooney.
These routines are successful for the owners, who can sleep easy knowing that their clubs are running at a sustainable level, but for fans, success is measured in on-field achievement. However, the risks breaking rank and moving up the ladder have been all too apparent down the years. The most recent example of ambition leading to decline is Portsmouth, who after winning the FA Cup in 2008; face the prospect of relegation to League One. Mass investment put the cub in financial hot-water, with playing staff operating on the sort of wages that could only work with guaranteed European football, especially with Fratton Park being unable to secure large scale income. Although witnessing their side lift the FA Cup with the likes of Sulley Muntari, Glen Johnson and Jermain Defoe performing regularly was undoubtedly enjoyable for fans of the south coast club, it’s almost guaranteed that supporters would trade the few seasons of success for Premier League stability and more importantly the guarantee of their club still functioning for the foreseeable future. A similar fate befell Leeds United, and to an extent Charlton Athletic , both of whom have tumbled through the domestic league system, from the heights of the top-tier.
These examples display the achievements of Bill Kenwright and Dave Whelan, whose responsible approach has achieved success at their clubs. Although it’s been proven that investment can gain short term victories, the pitfalls of such actions can be dangerous. Wigan and Everton have the ability to push on and achieve further, but it could damage their long term-stability, with Whelan and Kenwright aware of the risks.
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