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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland down but will they bounce back?

There will be no final day drama in the Premier League relegation zone this season. Hull City's 4-0 loss at Crystal Palace on Sunday confirmed they would be joining Middlesbrough and Sunderland in next season's Championship.

Here's a look at how each club failed this season and what happens next ...

Hull City

What went wrong?

Hull began the season as if relegation was a certainty, with just 13 first team players for interim manager Mike Phelan to call on, following Steve Bruce's resignation in July.

Phelan was, miraculously, named Manager of the Month for August, but it would be October before he got the job on a permanent basis as the club lurched on in limbo. He was eventually sacked after Christmas when the results continued to decline.   

Despite the improvements that Marco Silva brought to the club, both in terms of organisation and with some astute purchases, the margin for error was too slim. Silva took over on Jan. 5 when Hull were bottom and although he pulled them out of the bottom three, they were hauled back in.

Silva's team froze when already-relegated Sunderland arrived at the KCOM Stadium on May 6, with Hull two points clear of Swansea. Panicky Hull wilted under the pressure of favouritism and lost 2-0 in what ultimately proved to be a fatal blow to their hopes. 

Prospects for a return?

Silva will speak to the club's owners, the Allam family, this week, but his contract expires after Sunday's final match with Tottenham. He seems destined to leave, as will the five loanees that arrived during January. Hull are likely to require a new team, as well as new management, next season in the Championship,

Staying in the Premier League?

Defender Harry Maguire has won admirers, as has midfielder Sam Clucas. Winger Kamil Grosicki impressed after joining from Rennes in January. Despite relegation, Silva is a contender if potential vacancies at Watford, West Ham and Southampton arise.

Moral of the story

Don't start a season with 13 senior players. You are playing catchup from that point on.


What went wrong?

Boro did not slump to the bottom three until March 4 after a 2-0 loss at Stoke but theirs was a slow-burning, predictable slide. Two weeks later, manager Aitor Karanka was sacked. His safety-first football meant his team had the best defensive record below the top seven, though Boro scored the fewest goals.

Karanka's removal for assistant Steve Agnew was a reluctant gamble by owner Steve Gibson, and it failed. Boro have won just one game under Agnew and that was against Sunderland on April 26. Attempts to play more attacking football only led to the team conceding more.

Prospects for a return?

Gibson spoke at the weekend of his determination to bounce straight back, and a willingness to spend. He is now in the market for an experienced manager, and expects to keep the nucleus of the team together.

Staying in the Premier League?

Defender Ben Gibson has been scouted by Chelsea and Arsenal and is likely to go to auction. Alvaro Negredo, contracted to Valencia until 2019, might be loaned to another team back in English football. Calum Chambers could find himself with a similar loan arrangement from Arsenal. Midfielder Marten de Roon could interest a lower-level Premier League club.

Moral of the story

Defending well is fine, but failing to score goals will always prove costly.


What went wrong?

From the moment Sam Allardyce took the ill-starred decision to become England manager in July, Sunderland were in trouble. Replacement David Moyes has looked like damaged goods all season, unable to revive the charisma with which he once energised Everton. A fifth successive relegation battle was lost, there could be no escape act this time.

Moyes became the first Sunderland manager since Steve Bruce six years ago to complete a full season and was hampered by the low budget handed over by increasingly detached owner Ellis Short, and a series of serious injuries to Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole, Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair. But Moyes' Sunderland have not been out of the bottom three since August, putting in a frankly pathetic effort to stay up. He predicted a relegation fight from the first game onwards, but got that one wrong, too -- there has been little fight in Sunderland this season.

Prospects for a return?

Fans at the Stadium of Light clearly don't believe Moyes is the man to turn the club around, judging by the barracking he has received in recent weeks. Having been a Premier League club for the last decade, the club is not geared -- neither financially nor in personnel terms -- for life in the Championship. Things may get worse before they can better on Wearside.

Staying in the Premier League?

Striker Jermain Defoe has remained a shining light, and his contract allows the veteran to move for free. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has excelled in adversity, and is interesting a number of Premier League clubs. Defender Lamine Kone's desire to join Everton last summer preceded a season of poor performances but someone may gamble on a player who once performed well for Allardyce.

Moral of the story

Flirt with relegation often enough, and it will become an inevitability.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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