After their FA Cup celebration in 2013, and their absorbing performances over the advance of the consecutive season, Wigan Athletic’s acceptable assignment this year will accept appear as a abruptness to many. Their antecedent attack had culminated in an FA Cup semi-final abode and a admirable fifth-place position, accident out in the play-offs to closing winners Queens Park Rangers.
This time around, Wigan will access the final weekend of the analysis at play-off block Brentford alive that even a win could be bereft to abstain a additional assignment in three years; in fact, depending on Rotherham’s midweek result, the Latics could already be planning for League One football by the time they access in west London.
Wigan would not become the aboriginal aggregation to chase up one assignment with another: Manchester City (1996 and 1998), and Wolves (2012 and 2013) are notable contempo examples of clubs sliding from the Premier League to League One in the blink of an eye. The adverse amid the Latics’ accepted anatomy and that of the antecedent season, however, could not be added striking. Fellow play-off semi-finalists Brighton, currently 20th, accept aswell endured a black season. Are their slumps in football affluence unusual, or apocalyptic of a play-off hangover that has bedeviled added Championship clubs afore them?
Perhaps surprisingly, Wigan and Brighton’s bottom-half finishes this analysis access to eighteen the amount of accident play-off semi-finalists that accept concluded the consecutive appellation beneath center (34% of all accident semi-finalists). The a lot of affecting case of this was witnessed in 1993, if Cambridge United followed up their 5th abode accomplishment of the antecedent year with a assignment from which they accept never absolutely recovered. Similar slumps accept been suffered in contempo seasons by Nottingham Forest (19th in 2012); Preston (17th in 2010); and Southampton, Derby and Wolves, who anniversary accomplished 20th in seasons 2008, 2006 and 1996 respectively.
Losing semi-finalists do not consistently attempt to animation aback from play-off disappointment, however. A lot of afresh there is the archetype of Leicester City, who absent out to Watford in affecting affairs in 2013, missing a backward amends that would accept anchored their abode in the final, alone to see the Hornets counter-attack and acreage the absolute draft themselves. The Foxes, of course, went on to win the afterward season’s Championship at a canter. In accomplishing so, they became the additional accident semi-finalist in alternating seasons to accretion automated advance the afterward year, afterwards Cardiff City in 2013. The three added teams to accept performed this accomplishment are Sunderland (2005), West Bromwich Albion (2002) and Middlesbrough (1992). In addition, three accident play-off semi-finalists accept gone on to adore a acknowledged play-off attack next term: Wolves (2003), Bolton (2001), and Ipswich (2000).
How do accident finalists tend to book the afterward season? Is the affliction of Wembley defeat too abundant for them to animation aback from the afterward season? Can it advance to a affecting demise?
To acknowledgment the endure catechism first: yes it can, and play-off history shows that assignment of a defeated finalist the afterward analysis has happened added generally than of a accident semi-finalist. Leeds, who absent to Watford in 2006, accomplished bedrock basal in 2007*. Fifteen years earlier, Brighton were relegated in 23rd position, accepting absent out to Notts County in the antecedent season’s final.
These are examples of affecting slumps, although four added accident finalists accept aswell accomplished in the additional bisected of the table at the cessation of their next campaign: a lot of recently, Watford (13th in 2014) and Blackpool (15th in 2013); afore them, Barnsley (16th in 2001) and Reading (19th in 1996).
Generally, however, accident finalists go on to adore hardly bigger aftereffect seasons than teams defeated at the semi-final stage; the boilerplate consecutive position of a aggregation baffled in the Wembley showpiece is ninth, a abode college than that of a accident semi-finalist. Three clubs who accept fared even better, accepting automated advance in their afterward campaign, are Reading (2012), West Bromwich Albion (2008), and Sunderland (1999). The three teams who accept asleep the anamnesis of a final defeat with success in the afterward year’s play-off final are West Ham United (lost to Palace in 2004, defeated Preston in 2005); Crystal Palace (defeated by Leicester in 1996; exhausted Sheffield United in 1997) and Leicester (lost to Swindon in 1993, exhausted Derby in 1994). Furthermore, bisected of all play-off runners-up go on to accomplish a top six accomplishment the afterward year: 12 from 24, with Derby able-bodied placed to access that to 13 from 25 this season.
What are the accessible affidavit why a aggregation ability book able-bodied or abominably the analysis afterwards accident in the play-offs?
Of course, there are too abounding factors to acknowledgment this catechism with a definitive, compatible response. However, the annihilation of the three relegated teams mentioned aloft – Brighton, Cambridge and Leeds – accept some commonalities. Accepting showcased alone aptitude and conceivably added claimed ambitions through acknowledged campaigns, key players were awash above-mentioned to the new season, or amid through it, notable examples getting Dion Dublin (Cambridge), John Byrne (Brighton) and Matt Kilgallon (Leeds).
All three clubs endured average-to-mediocre starts to their aftereffect campaigns, bidding the backup of managers in the cases of Cambridge and Leeds. Evidently, admission managers were clumsy to about-face their new team’s bottomward drive afore the season’s end. Indeed, Wigan’s contempo administering history mirrors that of Leeds in 2007 absolutely closely: three supremos in the hot bench (as compared with Leeds’ four) after any cogent advance in results.
A change of administrator aswell appears to accept been acute in the case of Derby’s slump from 4th in 2005 to 20th in 2006, with George Burley resigning in the abutting season. Burley would go on to adviser Southampton to the play-offs in 2007, in which, ironically, they would be defeated on penalties by the Rams. The afterward season, addition Burley abandonment preceded the Saints’ demise, as they too accomplished 20th beneath Nigel Pearson, their third administrator of that campaign.
At the adverse end of the scale, advancement drive and/or a acclimatized administering aggregation seems to carefully accompanying to teams bouncing aback auspiciously from play-off disappointment. For an archetype of this, we about-face afresh to George Burley, whose Ipswich ancillary appeared in four alternating play-off competitions amid 1997 and 2000, finishing 4th, 5th, 3rd and 3rd respectively. Afterwards Burley’s aggregation absent out in the semi-finals three year running, they went on to defeat Barnsley in 2000.
West Bromwich Albion, defeated by Derby in the 2007 play-off final beneath their almost new administrator Tony Mowbray, went on to win the analysis the afterward year. The Baggies had been relegated in 2006, and had sacked administrator Bryan Robson two months into their Championship return. Mowbray’s aggregation enjoyed a mid-season amethyst patch, accident alone one bout in fifteen, and were abounding people’s favourites to abound in the final itself.
A analogously absorbing accretion had been witnessed at Sunderland three years earlier; accepting been relegated from the Premier League with a (then-) almanac for the everyman anytime credibility total, Mick McCarthy’s ancillary hit aback to grab third abode in the Championship in 2004, afore accident out on penalties to closing play-off winners Crystal Palace. Big Mick’s aggregation stormed to the appellation the afterward year, accepting top atom by a seven-point allowance over abutting rivals Wigan, who will be acquisitive for their own changeabout of fortunes next analysis if, as seems likely, they abort to accomplish their phenomenon this weekend.
* Leeds entered administering appear the end of the 2006-07 season. The consistent 10-point answer finer rubber-stamped their assignment and acquired them to accomplishment bottom; their credibility account would contrarily accept apparent them accomplishment 22nd (the accomplished of the three assignment places).
James (Jamal) Orme is a writer, educator, and abandoned football fan. He is the columnist of two football themed children’s books: ‘The Victory Boys’ (2011) and ‘Team Spirit’ (2015).