Is This The Worst Premier League Bottom Five In Recent History?

There are several weak outfits at the bottom of the top flight
12:00, 10 Aug 2023

The hype around the start of the new Premier League campaign is enough to fill any football fan with optimism and excitement. Maybe this is the year your side goes all the way, what if they finally get their hands on silverware, how about simple survival for some of the smaller sides? The possibilities are endless and Sky Sports would have you believe this is going to be the greatest season we’ve ever seen. 

The title race could be epic this time around, but down at the bottom we might be about to witness the lowest quality relegation battle in almost a decade. There’s five clubs who you could already consign to finishing between 16th and 20th. And they are all having a pretty rotten time of it. 

Let’s start with Sheffield United. The Blades did remarkably well last season in the Championship to secure second spot ahead of Luton Town and a threatening Middlesbrough. Under Paul Heckingbottom, they remained in second from November until the end of the campaign and looked like they could be competitive in the Premier League. 


But a lot has changed since then. Star man Iliman Ndiaye has been sold the Marseille, Sander Berge has joined Burnley and the loanees who starred last term, James McAtee and Tommy Doyle, haven’t returned yet. John Fleck, Oli Norwood, George Baldock, Chris Basham and John Egan are all part of a core of players who were relegated from the Premier League three seasons ago and this current crop is arguably now worse than the side which scraped 23 points in the top flight. They aren’t going to be very good this season. 

Neither are Wolves, who made the first managerial change of the season as they parted ways with Julen Lopetegui this week, with Gary O’Neil coming in as his replacement. The Spaniard’s departure points to an array of issues going on behind the scenes at Molineux. Their transfer dealings left him with his hands tied behind his back as Nathan Collins, Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez all departed to weaken the squad. The lack of preparation and continuity makes relegation a distinct possibility for a side who have been relatively comfortable for the past five seasons. Even with the speedy turn-around to appoint O'Neil on a three-year deal, there are so many issues for the former Bournemouth manager to fix.

Luton Town are the next contenders and they are the outliers in this list of five. The Hatters are preparing for their very first Premier League campaign and a wave of positivity has enveloped the club over the past decade. Their rise has been remarkable and their story shows the beauty of the English football pyramid. But their squad on paper is not ready to compete in the Premier League. 


The players who got them here deserve a chance but their recruitment this summer has not been as inspiring as many had hoped. Instead of spending big, as Nottingham Forest did last summer, they’ve brought in Ryan Giles, Mads Andersen and Tahith Chong, without breaking the £20m mark in total spend so far. Team spirit is all well and good, but this squad as it stands isn’t good enough to stay up in the Premier League. But they might just do it due to the weakness of their rivals. 

One of those rivals is Everton. They could and probably should have been relegated in one of the past two seasons and they are now perennial strugglers in the Premier League. Even with Sean Dyche in charge, the squad doesn’t look to be improving. They are still searching for attacking reinforcements and relying on injury-prone Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score the goals to keep them up. Their squad is weak, and with the new stadium on the way they don’t look to have any finances available to strengthen to any great degree. If Dyche can keep their heads above water that will be a success, but Everton are looking incredibly weak yet again. 

The final member of this quintet is West Ham United. David Moyes got his moment of glory when the Hammers won the Europa Conference League at the end of last season, but they’ve lost the heartbeat of their side in Declan Rice. The captain departed for Arsenal, and now it looks as though Lucas Paqueta could also be on the way out. If they lose their two best players in one window, and fail to recruit a recognised number nine, they could be in danger, especially with the Europa League to contend with. How they spend their new-found millions could dictate whether they stay up or not. 

These five all look like they are in serious trouble this season. You don’t have to be anything special to avoid relegation this term. Just don’t be a complete mess. There’s light at the end of this tunnel though. In a perverse way, the worst bottom five in recent memory might well deliver us the greatest relegation scrap of the modern era. 

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