Burnley and Hull relegated from Premier League

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Burnley and Hull relegated from Premier League

They came, they saw, but they were eventually conquered. Burnley and Hull City’s brief stints in the Premier League are over, but at least they were entertaining stints.

There was rarely a dull moment at Hull, who burst onto the top flight scene for the first time in 2008, earning stunning away wins at Arsenal and Tottenham and sitting joint top with Chelsea and Liverpool at the end of October. They were joyous times, then it all went to their heads.

Boss Phil Brown staged a humiliating public dressing down of his players when they were 4-0 behind at half time at Manchester City on Boxing Day. As Brown sat his players down on the Eastlands pitch, laying into each of them individually for their displays, all of the public goodwill towards the manager appeared to evaporate. They were sixth in the table at the time, but the descent was about to begin.

Ultimately, they were only saved from relegation last season by the shambles on show at Newcastle United and Middlesbrough. Brown’s response? To grab the microphone and launch into song after their final game of the campaign – a 1-0 defeat to a Manchester United reserve team. As captain George Boateng stated at the weekend: “Would you ever see Alex Ferguson do that?”

The bizarre decisions continued into this campaign. Brown dismissed the entire canteen staff for a week after a 6-1 defeat at Anfield, a match in which the manager saw fit to choose 18-year-old centre back Liam Cooper to mark Fernando Torres. The Spaniard scored a hat-trick, and Cooper hasn’t started another game all season.

Brown appeared to have steadied the sinking ship in November with a small run of decent results, but the writing had always appeared to be on the wall for the somewhat eccentric manager, and he was dismissed as boss in March. Except he wasn’t.

Still officially on gardening leave as Iain Dowie was appointed “Football Management Consultant”, Brown’s situation underlines the mess that Hull are in, a mess clarified by chairman Adam Pearson – appointed in November – who used his programme notes for last week’s game with Aston Villa to pinpoint their financial troubles.

According to Pearson, former chairman Paul Duffen and Brown were financially irresponsible after promotion, and it could be a long time before Hull are back in the top flight. Ominously, Pearson states that administration is not on the agenda “at the moment.”

It’s certainly not at Burnley, who should be praised for living within their means following their unexpected elevation last season.

Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Liverpool confirmed an immediate relegation that many had seen coming, but supporters will be forgiven for wondering how different things could have been if Owen Coyle had been at the club all season, and not defected to local rivals Bolton in January.

Early-season home wins over the likes of Manchester United and Everton announced Burnley in the top flight, but they always appeared unable to carry on that form, and you sense that Coyle knew that.

Picking up just four away points all season isn’t a recipe for survival, and 14 defeats from Brian Laws’ 17 games in charge meant that the Clarets were always unlikely to be toasting to a second consecutive Premier League season come May.

Their experiences will stand them in good stead – even if chairman Barry Kilby sounded less than convinced about Laws’ future yesterday – but they certainly appear more likely to make a quicker return to the top flight than either Hull or fellow relegated club Portsmouth.

They’re down, but they’re not out, and the smallest club to ever play in the Premier League will fancy their chances of getting back there next season.

Burnley and Hull might not have been the most glamorous locations to grace the top flight, but they reminded football fans that it is possible for small clubs to succeed.

Sadly for them, it’s possible to fail as well.



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