Comparing the most talented Prem exits

Could Jack Grealish be the best ever player to get relegated?

2020/03/17 21:33
By Connor Andrews

We’ve heard plenty of times during debates over the quality of the current Premier League season, that Norwich might be the best team to ever prop up the table.

As people question Liverpool’s dominance, and disparage those around them in the table, the counterargument is that there’s never been as much quality at the bottom.

While it may be valid to question Daniel Farke’s insistence on all out attack in the big league, what isn’t up for debate is the quality of their side.

Todd Cantwell has caught the eye, while it might still be too early to call time on Teemu Pukki despite his early goal scoring looking long gone. And then there’s Emiliano Bueindia plus a raft of England U21s.

But it’s not just Norwich. Jack Grealish could well end up being the best player to ever go down, while his teammate, John McGinn, looked hell bent on helping his captian's survival bid before injury.

But who else rivals them?

Craig Bellamy

©Getty / Michael Steele

2000/01 was the year Bellamy really started to put himself in the public consciousness with some stand-out displays that unfortunately weren’t enough to stop Coventry’s 34 year top flight run from coming to an end.

He earned himself a move to Newcastle though, before joining Manchester City as their financial revolution began in 2009. 

The quality that came through the doors at City was extraordinary, but the Welshman never looked out of place, before switching to Liverpool where he continued to prove his best years came in his latter stages.

Bellamy never hit the very top level without having any big displays in the Champions League or title wins, but the relegation season with Coventry was the beginning of an impressive career, full of match-winning performances.

Grealish Scale: Bellamy was capable of world class displays that Grealish is yet to show at the top level, but he should still have a bigger impact than the Welshman.

Damien Duff

©Getty / John Walton - PA Images

An influx of talent at a bankrolled Stamford Bridge shouldn’t take away from the fact Duff was one of the best wingers in the world on his day, and a two time Premier League winner.

But the increased competition saw his chances at Chelsea diminish, and some poor career choices saw Duff relegated not once, but twice, first at Newcastle, then Fulham.

There were some big career highlights though including the 2010 Europa League final and 100 caps for Ireland, but a different path could’ve easily seen Duff add to his Chelsea success.

Grealish Scale: An impressive talent and career, but Grealish would be disappointed to not show more consistency with the skillset he possesses.

Gareth Barry

©Getty / Marc Atkins

One of the more recent examples coming to the end of his career, Gareth Barry broke the Premier League appearance record of 365 games, but soon went down to the Championship with West Brom in the summer of 2018.

Barry was nearly signed by Rafa Benitez as a Xabi Alonso replacement at Liverpool in 2009, which should say enough for his quality, but instead he opted for Manchester City, where he won the Premier League and helped transform them into a genuine force.

Barry still might return to the top flight and add to his appearance record, but right now it’s looking unlikely, with just three league appearances this season.

Grealish Scale: Future England international Grealish will certainly hope for a more spectacular career, but will see Barry’s longevity and consistency as the pinnacle.

Mark Viduka

©Getty / Alex Livesey

A classic big man goalscorer who perhaps had plenty more to his game than he was given credit for, Viduka went down with Leeds in 2004 when their quality shouldn’t really have allowed it. A squad full of future Premier League stalwarts, including James Milner and Aaron Lennon, Viduka was the biggest name of the bunch.

His 92 Prem goals put him 34th on all time league goalscoring, which is certainly bordering on legend status despite a lack of trophies.

The Australian was unstoppable on his day for club and country, and it still seems crazy he made his way out the league before moving to Middlesbrough, although an 11 goal campaign wasn’t really good enough for survival.

Grealish Scale: The numbers and esteem back up Viduka, but there’s a very good chance Grealish will go on to have a more trophy-filled career if he plans his next move well.

Joe Cole

©Getty / Adam Davy - EMPICS

This list is full of shocks, many bigger than a potential Aston Villa relegation this year, and it shows the quality on display, but West Ham’s 2002/03 squad is arguably the biggest of the bunch with an established star in Paolo Di Canio, and an up and coming Michael Carrick and top scorer Jermaine Defoe.

Joe Cole though, was the most exciting of the bunch, and serves as a warning to Grealish, that a stunning start at your boyhood club doesn’t guarantee a perfect career.

After relegation, Cole moved to Chelsea, where at times he showed his incredible quality, but never at a consistent level.

Things dropped off to a huge degree at Chelsea despite some big goals, and a move to Liverpool in 2010 confirmed his career was over as he struggled for fitness, but the talent was always there.

Grealish Scale: The perfect example of why Grealish needs to be careful, he will likely get his big move this summer, but needs to make sure his best days aren’t left in Birmingham.

Roy Keane

©Getty / Ross Kinnaird - EMPICS

A brutal year saw Brian Clough’s Forest briefly drop a league, but Keane was one of the high points in a campaign that ended in disaster.

The Irishman joined Manchester United that summer, and went on to be one of their best ever players, and by extension the Premier League’s and Europe’s. Keane still cites his time under Clough at Forest as the best coaching he’s received, but everyone knows he’s still reeling from his fallout with Sir Alex Ferguson.

Grealish Scale: Keane takes the prize as the greatest Premier League player to get relegated. The promise was there, and the career backed it up, if Grealish can get anywhere near Keane’s success, he’ll be an all-time great.


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