Bolton, Blackburn, and Wolverhampton are now Championship clubs, and under England's bizarre league labels that's not a good thing. All three have been playing in the Premier League long enough not to want to spend multiple seasons reinventing what brought them success. They want a quick return, a successful lower division season followed by enough to stay up in 2013-14. It's that kind of long-term planning that's the nightmare scenario for all Premier League teams, put best at the end of Sunday's games by Stoke City manager Tony Pulis.
"I feel for Owen Coyle and for Bolton Wanderers because it's a great club, but on the other hand, I am so pleased that we weren't in that situation," Pulis told his club's official site. "We must do all we can to make sure that it never ever happens to us. Their situation is a reminder to everyone that you can't afford to take your foot off the pedal and so we know that we must keep pushing on. The Premier League is relentless, it's the toughest League in the world, so you have to rise to that challenge."
Getting your club out of that situation is one of the hallmarks of the Premier League, and it works in both directions. The look on Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's face when he saw that Manchester City had pulled off an unlikely win and taken the title was a not so subtle reminder of every point United squandered this season. In that moment, he had plenty in common with the managers at the other end of the table trying to reassess where it really went wrong.
None of them will find easy answers. Results will loom large, no doubt, but on the day they happened there was almost always an explanation. Injury, fixture congestion, or the reality that every team in the league will eventually get caught flat by an inspired opponent who does enough to deny them three points. That's as true for the struggling clubs as it is for the elite. Now the problem is one of recovery, and again that's as true for the clubs that thought they might be champions as it is for the clubs now part of the Championship.
Corner Rating: (with 1 none of the relegated Premier League clubs making a quick return to the top flight and 11 at least one of them winning automatic promotion) 10.
Last Week's Corner: We had the potential for a reshuffling of the top leagues in Europe as an 8. The final day of the Premier League means we need to push that number a little higher, say 9.5.
April 2nd's Corner: This is where we revisit the ranking from our Premier League relegation column. At the time, QPR, Wigan, and Wolves were in the relegation places and we put an 8.5 rating on that changing. It changed by the next week, when we raised our rating to 10. Right we were, though we'll resist the urge for the high-fives and file this under 'obvious.'