The current top-flight stays of Fulham, Stoke City and Sunderland have now extended to 12, five and six years respectively.
Wigan Athletic’s relegation (after eight seasons) has left the above trio as the Premier League’s longest serving clubs outside of this season’s top seven and Aston Villa.
As achievements go, developing resilience and staying power are not among football’s most glamorous. For those teams without a longstanding foothold in the sport’s upper echelons and/or substantial financial backing, it is the most realistic marker of success.
Of late, the initially mentioned clubs have been contemplating their appreciation for this self-achieved consistency, and a natural desire for wanting more.
Owner Mohamed Al-Fayed has (for the most part) striven to ensure Fulham have not punched above their weight. His decision-making has largely been marked by an adherence to the practicalities of survival in the Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to retire brings to an end a monumental period of football history. One by-product of the Scotsman's announcement is that it leaves Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp as one of the last of the game’s old guard still in management.
Rather than preparing to enjoy a newfound status as the top-flight’s most senior manager, QPR’s relegation means Redknapp is facing (at least) a year back scrapping with The Championship’s myriad dreamers.
It is the next engaging, potentially engrossing, step in a long and eventful coaching career—one that began over 30 years ago.
Redknapp’s adventures still retain the interest of a great many football fans and observers. Still, it is slightly jarring to compare his current situation to that which he was in a year ago.
Sunderland’s love affair with Paolo Di Canio has seen initial hesitation on the part of the former give way to increasing affection. Doubts over the Italian’s personal beliefs and lack of top-flight managerial experience have diminished with the team’s improvement on the pitch.
The revitalized Black Cats won bragging rights in the Tyne-Wear derby, before the Italian led them to a win over Everton that has increased their chances of Premier League survival. This unlikely relationship between the tempestuous, yet highly astute Di Canio and his newly acquainted Mackem brethren is sure to be a passionate one right until the end.
Di Canio in many ways represents the stereotypically fiery Italian persona, and has transfixed English football audiences from his playing days at Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic, right up until more recently with his first foray into management at Swindon Town.
The 44-year-old’s return to the British Isles in 2011 further re-established one of the more prominent connections between his adopted home and the calcio culture that has so captivated its English equivalent in recent decades.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur meet on Sunday in a contest in which the result has ramifications for potential European qualification. It is also an occasion that will see two of the Premier League’s most fascinating projects in action.
Helmed by former Chelsea employees Brendan Rodgers and Andre Villas-Boas, both clubs are putting their long-term health in the trust of these young managers. Both have grand ideas and philosophies as to how to fulfil the lofty ambitions of two of England’s underachieving traditional powers.
A decidedly old school principle, one that was previously lacking, has played a large part in their respective team’s strong recent form—leadership. For that, they have Jamie Carragher and Michael Dawson to thank.
The central defenders were not regarded as first-choice starters for the first few months of the season. Carragher was still around as one of Liverpool’s wise old heads, but Dawson was told he could seek a transfer with his first-team opportunities likely to be limited. Queens Park Rangers were reportedly interested, but he decided to fight for his place.
It is interesting contrasting Reading with Aston Villa right now. The Royals are one point and one place behind with a game in hand following Tuesday night’s action.
But while Villa seem locked into a downward spiral of discontent, Reading are showing signs of acquiring a genuine upward sense of momentum.
With Chelsea coming to the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday maintaining such a sense will be easier said than done. But in their recent form Brian McDermott’s men can find cause to be optimistic.
For a little while hope seemed like it would remain elusive as Reading lost seven on the trot starting in late November. The last of that run saw them lose heartbreakingly away to Manchester City; Gareth Barry scored the match’s only goal in stoppage time when a valuable point looked on the cards.
Since that game they have won three of their five Premier League outings. Last time out they got the better of Newcastle United, a win that was vital in them keeping touch with the teams immediately outside the relegation zone.