League table image from PremierLeague.com
I know it’s still early days yet, and while the odds are on Sunderland and Birmingham to be relegated come the end of the season, the question is who’ll be the ones joining them? Portsmouth may be a favourite for the drop, given their poor performances and lack of pedigree and history at this level – but I’m holding out for the remote hope that the third team to go down this season will be Everton.
Putting aside my obvious bias against the Blueshites, there is a factor or two that leads me to this way of thinking. Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin is almost certain to face the sack soon, which means the future of Pompey will probably depend on a new manager come the new year.
Already there’s some talk of manager shortlists being scrutinised by club officials, with a surprise inclusion of Roy Keane for a possible player-manager role. (He’s still likely to sign for Celtic, though).
Regardless of the person selected, the point is that a new manager could possibly rejuvenate Portsmouth into trying to secure Premiership survival.
Everton, on the other hand, have a disadvantage in this regard. David Moyes‘ track record with Everton means he is unlikely to be sacked at this stage (or even if they do end up going down in the summer). His only hope lies with being able to use the limited funds at his disposal to acquire a player or two during the January transfer window and try to work his old magic on his players.
In other words, while Portsmouth will expect to be recharged from the outside, Everton will have to look within themselves for new strength.
I, for one, look forward to the historic possibility of Everton finally relinquishing their long hold on to their top-flight status* and join the ranks of the Football League where, frankly, most of their players probably deserve to play.
* Everton hold the record for most seasons spent in the top-flight of English football (113) and only Arsenal have a longer unbroken spell in the top flight than Everton (1954 – 2005).