Where did it go wrong for the Premier League's relegated clubs?

All three promoted sides are heading back to the Championship
All three promoted sides are heading back to the ChampionshipProfimedia
For just the second time in Premier League history, all three promoted sides will be relegated straight back to the Championship - with Burnley and Sheffield United all returning to the second tier and Luton set to follow.

The last time that happened was in 1998 when Barnsley, Bolton, and Crystal Palace failed to avoid the drop the season after earning promotion.

This year, Sheffield United were condemned to relegation in April and Burnley just a fortnight later. While still mathematically in with a chance of survival, Luton is all but down going into the final day.

Rob Edwards' side are three points from safety but have a far inferior goal difference to 17th-placed Nottingham Forest, which leaves them needing to win and hope the club above them loses by 12-goal swing in their favour.

That likely leaves all three teams heading back to the Championship, so Flashscore has decided to take a look at what went wrong for each club.

Premier League bottom five
Premier League bottom fiveFlashscore

Hatters' terrible 2024

Ultimately for Luton, their squad lacked the quality needed to stay in the Premier League.

While they had plenty of fighting spirit and took games against the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Aston Villa right to the wire, they didn't have that extra bit of quality or experience to turn spirited performances into actual points.

Add to that an incredibly poor run of form since the turn of the year and Luton now find themselves likely heading back to the second tier.

The Hatters have won just two of their 20 league games in 2024 ahead of the final day - managing one more victory would have left them in realistic control of their own destiny.

In hindsight, plenty of results that went against them could have been different with a bit of added Premier League experience to their squad.

For example, throwing away a 3-0 lead against Bournemouth to lose 4-3 or failing to pick up wins against direct relegation rivals like Forest, Burnley or Sheffield United.

In their league games in 2024, nine of them were decided by one goal - very fine margins for survival.

Only five players in their entire squad have played consistent Premier League football during their careers; Ross Barkley, Tim Krul, Andros Townsend, Marvelous Nakamba and Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Interestingly, none of those are defenders. It's difficult not to wonder what might have been if the Hatters had added an experienced centre back to their defensive unit.

Having an experienced head at the heart of their defence might have helped turn those agonising draws and defeats into more points - or even kept their goal difference manageable.

Of course, Luton lost captain Tom Lockyer to an unforeseen health issue which didn't help their chances either, leaving them heading back down to the Championship.

Clarets' erratic squad building

When a club spends close to £100 million on players, supporters would be forgiven for thinking that would leave their squad in a better position heading into the season.

Burnley did just that - signing 15 players in the summer of 2023 - in an attempt to build a side ready to take their neat, fast-paced style of play from the Championship to the Premier League.

Of the team that got the Clarets promoted, four key players were loans that then needed to either be recruited permanently or replaced.

Jordan Beyer returned on a full-time basis, while efforts to bring in Nathan Tella - now almost invincible with Bayer Leverkusen - and Ian Maatsen (about to play a Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund) were ultimately unsuccessful.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis would end up going back out on loan to the Championship, suggesting Burnley opted not to bring him back for the top-flight campaign.

After missing out on key targets, the Clarets looked elsewhere and aimed for youth to fill the gaps in their squad.

Only two players signed in the summer were aged over 25; Lawrence Vigouroux and Nathan Redmond (both 29).

Talented prospects like James Trafford, Aaron Ramsey, Luca Koleosho and Zeki Amdouni were brought in alongside players with more experience such as Dara O'Shea and Sander Berge.

While putting them in a good position for the future, those signings ended up not being enough for the here and now - leaving the feeling that Burnley perhaps could have spent their money a bit better.

Also, after failing to land Maatsen, they didn't sign another left-back which became an issue for them throughout the campaign.

Burnley's last 20 games
Burnley's last 20 gamesFlashscore

Burnley's erratic squad building - coupled with a reluctance to change tactics that weren't always working - left them with a mountain to climb come the back end of the season.

The new crop of players took time to adjust to the Premier League with just 13 points from 27 games midway through March.

Something seemed to click following a 3-3 draw with West Ham, though, with the youthful side going on to pick up 11 points from their next 10 losing just three matches.

That would suggest the squad needed time to acclimatise to a harder division and that ultimately, had they been more balanced in their summer transfers, the Lancashire club might have been in better stead for survival.

Blades dooming themselves

Sheffield United were the first side to be confirmed relegated after a 5-1 thrashing against Newcastle but, in reality, barely gave themselves a fighting chance before a ball was kicked this season.

The Blades' two best players during the promotion season in 2022/23 were Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge.

By the end of the summer transfer window, both of them had been sold.

Ndiaye made a switch to Marseille in France while Berge departed for Burnley - United's direct relegation rivals.

This left the Blades in a worse position heading into the season than they had been upon promotion before the summer.

Sheffield United's last 20 games
Sheffield United's last 20 gamesFlashscore

Couple that with the fact that they had very little money to improve their side to begin with and it was a recipe for disaster right from the start.

Sheffield United went on to lose 27 games ahead of the final day and concede a record-high 101 goals, with the Blades on course for the third-worst Premier League points tally ever.

Their awful defence on top of a lacklustre attack left them with very little to celebrate across the campaign and resulted in a return to the Championship as one of the worst top-flight teams ever.

Ali Pollock
Ali PollockFlashscore


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