Its an argument you hear every day in the pubs, on social media outlets and football forums….who are still a ‘big’ Club, despite falling from grace and clinging on to memories of the days when they were, or amongst, the best clubs in England.
Here, FantasySports.co.uk ranks our top five clubs who continue to live in the past :
There is no doubting that Liverpool remain one of the biggest names in domestic football, but cannot escape the fact that it is now almost three decades since they were last proclaimed Champions of English football and, apart from a smattering of Cup successes, have lived firmly in the shadows of deadly rivals Manchester United, whilst watching the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City rise to ascendency, notwithstanding the staggering achievements, albeit one season only wonders, of Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City. True, they have won the Champions League in recent times (2005), but it is only the change of format that has allowed them entry into the ‘Champions’ tournament – if the format had remained the same of their halcyon days where they won the European Cup 4 times in 8 seasons, they would not be competing in the tournament at all, and wouldn’t have since 1990/91….27 long, long seasons for Liverpool fans to endure. Indeed, take away their League Cup win of 2011/12, and it will be over a decade since Liverpool won anything. Next year anyone?
Famous winners of the last ever ‘Division One’, Leeds United’s fall from grace has been quite staggering considering their proud history and devout fans, who create one of the most hostile atmospheres wherever they travel – but have to endure rival fans mockery more than laud their own teams successes nowadays. The true glory days of the late 60s and early 70s, where Don Revie’s Leeds United team were about the best in Europe, let alone England, are now firmly consigned to books and You Tube videos – with the team now not much more than a mid table Championship club, having been relegated from the Premier League in the 2003/04 season and not returning since – in fact they even dropped a further division down for three seasons across 2008 – 2010 – but since their return to the Championship they have not managed to finish better than 7th – a trend which looks very likely to continue this season as a minimum. Leeds fans still claim to be the number one team in Yorkshire and say its just a matter of time before the glory days come back to (H)Elland Road…but that may more be Yorkshire pride speaking than anything else.
The epitome of how a club can be transformed by having a rich, passionate owner – and then can fall back into the wilderness once that ownership is sadly lost. Blackburn Rovers were a team floundering around the second tier of English football in the 80s, until local steelworks owner and lifelong fan Jack Walker took over the club and invested, literally, millions of pounds into the team and appointed Kenny Dalglish as manager. Rovers famously went on to finish second in the Premier League within three seasons of the appointment and the following season went one better, as Blackburn famously won the Premier League by losing at Liverpool, but still doing enough to see off Manchester United. But that was as good as it got and they were relegated just four seasons later. Despite returning to the Premier League, they could never firmly re-establish themselves and dropped out of the top flight again in the 2011-12 season, never to return. Indeed they were relegated from the Championship and now reside in the third tier of English football. Fans of Rovers may not crow about things as much as our number 1 and 2, but they still bring up their League success and the S.A.S whenever possible!
For Jack Walker at Blackburn, read Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest. Under Cloughie, Forest were Division One Champions, European Champions, League Cup winners and top flight regulars that always threatened to break back into the big time. Without, and since, Cloughie, Forest have become a shambles of a club – having 30, yes THIRTY, different managers in place – temporary or permanent, since Cloughie departed the City Ground scene in 1993. Since Forest last left the Premier League in the 1998/99 season, they have not returned and never really got close to getting back. They dropped into the third tier of English football for three seasons and all current signs point to that happening again rather than becoming a top tier Club again. Fans of Forest remain loud and proud, but only have local rivals Derby County’s embarrassing 2007/08 Premier League campaign to point to rather than any successes of their own – and after Leicester City’s Premier League success recently, very much struggle to claim to still be the biggest club in the East Midlands.
Again, having huge success in the early 1980’s seems a far cry for Villa fans now – finding their team in the Championship for the second successive season and despite a long tenure in the old Division One and Premier League were, for a long time, casting nervous glances downwards rather than hopeful ones up. The Aston Villa team of the 90’s – with the likes of Dwight Yorke and Dion Dublin banging in the goals, were a solid outfit and considered possible of challenging the then dominant Manchester United and subsequent Arsenal teams – but always seemed to fall short of expectations. League positions then started to worsen and after a few seasons of flirting with the drop, fell through the trapdoor in the 2015/16 season – tallying just 17 points. Although they are very much in the mix for promotion back to the Premier League this season, returning to former glories and standards seem a huge reach for arguably the Midlands number one Club, with Premier League survival being much more likely than any real chance of success any time soon.