The 11 most miraculous relegation escapes in English football
11. Wigan, 2011/12 SEASON
Rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and enduring a thoroughly miserable league campaign, Roberto Martinez’s Wigan shocked even themselves with their morale-boosting 2-1 victory at Anfield on March 24, 2012. Remarkably, the Latics then proceeded to win six of their final eight games, including successes over both Arsenal and Manchester United.
Martinez’s men eventually finished seven points clear of the trap door, through which Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves fell. After the vital United win, Martinez said: “I won’t be here forever. Perhaps one day Wigan’s hearts will fail, and we’ll go down, but I’m confident it won’t be this season.” Right on all counts, Roberto.
10. Sunderland, 2013/14 SEASON
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet claimed his side’s escape from relegation “will go down in Wearside folklore”. It was indeed an impressive survival act. Seemingly down and out in March, Poyet’s men won four games on the trot in April, including victories over both Chelsea (at Stamford Bridge) and Manchester United.
They also drew against eventual champions Manchester City, and the unlikely star of the show was striker Connor Wickham, recalled by Poyet in late March from his loan spell at Leeds, and whose rediscovered goalscoring abilities saw him named Premier League Player of the Month for April. Wickham even turned provider, setting up Seb Larsson’s winner at Old Trafford. “I firmly believe that Connor, and the club, will now go from strength to strength,” insisted Poyet afterwards. Sadly not, Gus.
9. Leicester, 2014/15 SEASON
Bottom of the league with 10 games to go and seven points adrift of safety, the future was certainly not bright for Nigel Pearson’s Leicester. Little did they know, though, that this period would prove the turning point for English football’s most sensational achievement of all-time.
The Foxes had been without a victory for almost two-and-a-half months but set off on a stunning end-of-season run, winning seven of their last nine matches – including a final-day 5-1 smashing of QPR – to eventually finish a lofty 14th. In one of those matches, at fellow relegation battlers Burnley, the Clarets missed a penalty only to watch Jamie Vardy go up the other end to score the winner in a 1-0 smash-and-grab. Then 2015/16 happened.