• Andrew Gabriel

How to Cope with your Favorite Team Getting Relegated.

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

As a West Ham fan, it is difficult to cope with the idea of having to find a way to enjoy next year’s Premier League campaign if it were to exclude my favorite club.

Many American fans jump on the bandwagons of massive worldwide clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or any of the big six, so for many in the states, relegation probably won’t ever be a problem.

I am a soccer fan first and foremost. I can enjoy a Premier League game even if my preferred club isn’t involved, but having my favorite team on my screen gives the game a whole other level of excitement.

West Ham full back Aaron Cresswell celebrates goal against Manchester United in September 2019 (Via football.london)

Unfortunately, it is well within the realm of possibility that my beloved Hammers will be playing in the second tier next season. So where do I go from here?

Despite the availability of the EFL Championship games on ESPN+, I want a Premier League team that I can root for, even if it is just for the time until West Ham gets promoted back to the Premier League.

How can you decide though? It depends on how much you want to be respected by other soccer fans.

If you want to be seen as a plastic fan that bandwagons successful teams, you could root for the winner of the past season, which next year will be Liverpool (and I know there are 13 games left but like come on).

While it is pretty much guaranteed your team will have a decent season, no self-respecting fan of any sport should pick this option.

On the flip side, you could set yourself up for potential heartbreak by choosing your favorite newly-promoted team, based on whatever criteria you choose, and root for them.

This decision-making method could turn out one of two ways, and this Premier League season is a fantastic example of both.

Say you chose to root for last year’s champions of the ELF Championship, Norwich City. You’d basically be subjecting yourself to the same frustration you experienced in the previous year if you were, for example’s sake, a Huddersfield Town fan.

Norwich are currently dead last in The Prem and are unlikely to see Premier League action in the ‘20/21 season, and Huddersfield currently sits in the 20 spot in The Championship, slipping further and further away from the possibility of promotion. By choosing one of them, you’d likely be putting yourself through the same decision-making process next year.

On the other hand, say you chose to support the newly-promoted Sheffield United.

The Blades are having a season that wildly outperforms any reasonably-thinking fan’s preseason expectations, sitting at sixth at the time of writing and are only one point off fifth place and a Europa League birth.

While this kind of situation is extremely rare, it is worth mentioning that in the ‘17/18 Premier League season, newly-promoted Burnley FC finished seventh place, so it is not completely unheard of for teams just entering the league to place high up the table.

For some, that may make this method of choosing a new Premier League team more enticing than taking the easy way out.

While you hope to see your (temporary) Premier League favorite flourish, you still have to figure out what to do about the fact that your actual favorite club has been relegated and will no longer be playing on NBC every weekend.

There are upsides to being forced to watch the EFL Championship to watch your favorite team. Not enough people have seen it, but I’ve found that the games in The Championship are exponentially more entertaining than their Premier League counterparts.

Leeds United celebrate a goal against Birmingham United that ended 5-4 to Leeds. The game is regarded as one of the best games of the 2010s (Via leedsunited.com)

Unlike the Premier League, Championship teams don’t have millions upon millions of euros to spend on top players in the world. The caliber of players is not to the standard of The Prem, but it isn’t like they’re bad in the least. The games are far more evenly matched and that makes them much more fun to watch.

It’s also way more fun to watch the top half of the table in the EFL Championship. In the Premier League, the top four teams qualify for the Champions League, but usually, towards the end of the season, the teams in the first, second and third spots don’t really have much to play for.

This isn’t true in The Championship. Since teams are fighting for promotion to the Premier League, there is an extra sense of urgency in their styles of play, especially in the top half of the table.

While the top two teams get automatically promoted, the teams in the three through six spots compete in a promotion playoff tournament to decide the third team that gets to experience the high life of English soccer.

Every once in a while, there are some great players to come through The Championship, such as John Terry, former Chelsea captain, who joined Aston Villa and captained them to the promotion playoff final in 2018. He then retired from playing and became assistant coach for Villa the very next season and helped manage them to promotion.

Another notable name is Wayne Rooney, scorer of the second-most goals in the history of the Premier League and the top scorer in the history of Manchester United, who recently joined Derby County after a year and a half stint with DC United of the MLS (vamos United). He also hopes to step into a managerial role in the coming years.

Rooney in his new Derby County colors (Via givemesport.com)

While it isn’t the glitz and glam of the Premier League, The Championship can be a really good thing for your favorite team.

It may also serve as a wake-up call that things are not going right at the club (looking directly at you, West Ham) and that things need to change. It may also be easier to watch your favorite team play, as there is a good chance that they will no longer be getting slapped up week-by-week by teams that spend hundreds of millions of euros on their roster (looking directly at you, Liverpool).

I don’t love the idea of West Ham United going down, I really don’t. The caliber of the squad is way too good to be playing in The Championship. Relegation could cause a lot of those players to leave because they feel they deserve to be playing in the top leagues, which, honestly, a lot of them do. That being said, I still love the club and support them unconditionally.

Come on you Irons.

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