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Premier League great escapes: Managers who defied the relegation odds

| 20.12.2021

Five survival specialists in the top flight

Eddie Howe is bidding to keep Newcastle in the Premier League but faces a tough task despite the expected transfer spending spree in January.

The Magpies failed to win their first 14 matches of the season and are in a perilous position heading into a tough run of Premier League fixtures in December.

There is still hope for the former Bournemouth boss, though, and here we look back at five managers who have pulled off Premier League great escapes.

Sam Allardyce

Allardyce lost his record of never having been relegated from the top flight when in charge of West Brom last season but he still has an impressive background in terms of survival fights.

He took over at Blackburn during the 2008-09 season when Paul Ince was sacked with the club 19th in the league after 17 games – the last five of which had all been lost.

Allardyce kicked off his reign with a 3-0 win against Stoke and El Hadji Diouf proved to be a shrewd signing as Rovers lost only once at Ewood Park in the second half of the season.

He returned to fire-fighting duties by replacing Dick Advocaat at Sunderland in 2015, with the Black Cats having taken three points from eight games.

A 3-0 win over rivals Newcastle kick-started the survival bid and victories by the same margin over Norwich and Everton during the run-in secured their top-flight status.

The last of his Premier League great escapes came at Crystal Palace in 2016-17 after he succeeded Alan Pardew with the Eagles 17th in the Premier League – although things got worse before they got better.

The former England boss had to wait seven league games for his first win before surprise victories at Chelsea and Liverpool – either side of thumping Arsenal 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

A 4-0 hammering of Hull, who dropped out of the Premier League as a result, ensured Palace retained their place in the top tier.

Alan Pardew

Palace sat in the Premier League’s bottom three when they sacked Neil Warnock in late December 2014 and replaced him with Pardew the following week.

The south London club were on an eight-game winless run in the top flight, stretching back to the previous November, but three wins from Pardew’s first four league games set the ball rolling.

By the end of the season he became the first Premier League manager to secure a top-half finish after being in the relegation zone at Christmas.

Bryan Robson

The former England captain became the first Premier League manager to lead a club to safety after they had been bottom at Christmas when West Brom pulled off arguably the best of the Premier League great escapes in 2005.

The former Baggies midfielder replaced Gary Megson in October and the club had accumulated just 10 points by Christmas Day.

They were still bottom heading into the final game of the season, but just two points behind 17th-placed Norwich, and a last-day home win against Portsmouth coupled with favourable results elsewhere sealed an unlikely escape.

Gus Poyet

Poyet said Sunderland needed โ€œa miracleโ€ if they were to retain their Premier League status at the end of the 2013/14 campaign as they sat seven points from safety with six games remaining after collecting one point from eight games.

The Black Cats still had to play at Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United but after a draw at the Etihad Stadium, Sunderland won four successive games, including victories at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, to secure their top-flight status with a game to spare.

Nigel Pearson

Leicester became only the third Premier League side to be bottom at Christmas and avoid relegation after West Brom and Sunderland.

The Foxes were seven points from safety at the foot of the table after 29 games but a 2-1 home win over West Ham on April 4 sparked a four-game winning run and just one defeat in their final five games saw them retain their top-flight status with a game to spare.

Pearson’s side took 22 points from the last 27 available and the following season under Claudio Ranieri went on to secure their fairytale title triumph.

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Andrew McDermott