Ranking the 5 greatest escapes in English football
There's still plenty of time for a teams to save themselves from the drop, but will it be as impressive as these escape jobs?
With 10 games to go, just seven points separate 13th-placed Southampton and second-bottom Aston Villa in the Premier League.
In the Championship, every side up to 17th is a maximum of five points above the relegation zone, while Wigan climbed out of the drop zone with a 1-0 victory over league leaders West Brom over the weekend.
Tranmere, meanwhile, are seven points off safety with a game in hand in 21st in League One.
With plenty still to play for in the hunt for survival across England’s top three divisions, there are a number of teams – which ones? Name ‘em - capable of achieving a great escape that would rank among these amazing comebacks.
Given that Leicester rewrote football logic to win the Premier League in 2015/16, it’s easy to forget how much of an achievement it was just to stay up the previous season.
The Foxes great escape of 2014/15 is something that Robert Huth ranks above lifting the trophy.
“I’m almost a little bit prouder than when we won the league, because we were so far adrift from safety,” the defender told the club’s website.
If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for the opening spot on this list.
The Foxes were bottom of the league with nine games to go and were seven points from safety.
Seven wins, a draw and a defeat against eventual champions Chelsea later, they finished 14th.
Alongside Sunderland in 2013/14 and West Brom in 2004/05 (more on them later), they are one of just three sides to have stayed up having been bottom at Christmas.
And they weren’t done making history there…
Rotherham and Bournemouth 2008/09
A knock-out punch from a heavyweight boxer, a one-way ticket to Australia and starting the season on -17 points.
There are certain things you don’t expect people to come back from.
Clearly, no-one told Rotherham and Bournemouth in the 2008/09 campaign.
Both clubs were deducted 17 points by the EFL for not exiting administration in the correct way, while Luton were also docked 30 points.
Rotherham were also forced to play their home games at the Don Valley Stadium – an athletics and rugby league ground in neighbouring Sheffield – after being kicked out of Millmoor, which had been their home for more than 100 years.
To summarise, it was a bleak situation.
Yet by early December, both Rotherham and Bournemouth had a positive points balance and after 36 games, neither side were in the relegation zone.
By the end of the season, Rotherham had accrued 58 points and Bournemouth 46 – totals that would have ordinarily put them sixth and 10th respectively.
West Brom 2004/05
“It’s not a statistic I want to hear,” said West Brom manager Bryan Robson after he was told that no team bottom of the Premier League at Christmas had ever stayed up.
“We’ll just have to prove that the impossible can be made possible,” he added.
And that’s exactly what West Brom did, even if Robson was speaking more in hope than expectation.
The Baggies had taken 10 points from the first half of the season, winning only once, and occupied a spot in the relegation zone from November through to May.
It wasn’t until the final day of the season that survival ever looked realistic.
Dubbed Survival Sunday by Sky Sports, each of the bottom four still had a chance of staying up.
West Brom started bottom of the pile, one point behind Crystal Palace and Southampton and two behind Norwich.
None of the teams above the Baggies managed to win, while second-half goals from Geoff Horsfield and on-loan Kieran Richardson gave them a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth.
History made. Boing, boing.
“Michael Flynn’s made the impossible possible. I didn’t think it could be done. It’s unbelievable… people will remember what he achieved.”
So impressive was Newport’s escape from the drop in the 2016/17, even Thierry Henry felt compelled to praise them.
The Arsenal legend – who struck up a friendship with Newport manager Flynn as they studied for the UEFA Pro Licence – was right.
A quick Google search shows paperback books commemorating their achievement still for sale.
The Great Escape: Newport County 2016-17 is available on Amazon for £14.99, in case you’re interested.
It’s remembered with good reason. In terms of drama, this escape is hard to beat.
The Exiles were bottom of League Two and 11 points from safety with 12 games to go, having already been through two managers.
Flynn was promoted from his role as first-team coach and told the players to “restore some pride in the shirt”.
They did more than that, winning six of their next 11 to open a two-point gap to second-bottom Hartlepool going into their final game against Notts County.
But with Hartlepool beating already-promoted Doncaster and having a better goal difference, Newport needed a win.
Step up club captain Mark O’Brien with the score at 1-1 in the 89th-minute to keep the club in the EFL. Cue pandemonium.
We’re always told about the grave consequences of relegation in football.
But Rochdale’s escape from the drop in 2017/18 was more significant than them simply securing their place in League One for another season.
In March 2017, Dale midfielder Joe Thompson was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in four years.
He had been playing for Tranmere in 2013 when he began treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, before announcing the following year that he was in remission.
Remarkably, this time Thompson was back playing football within nine months after making another full recovery.
On the pitch, though, his side were struggling.
Rochdale were bottom of the table and 11 points from safety with 16 matches to go. Despite having four games in hand, even the most positive fan must have expected relegation.
But a run of three defeats in their following 15 matches, of which Thompson featured in five, set up a three-way shoot-out for survival on the final day.
Rochdale occupied the final relegation spot and were at home to promotion-chasing Charlton, while Northampton and Oldham were either side and faced each other.
That game finished 2-2, while Rochdale stayed up with a 1-0 win. The scorer of the winning goal? Two-time cancer survivor Thompson.
How could this not top the list?
Visit Betway's football betting page.