Queens Park Rangers and Reading were officially relegated on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides have looked destined for the Championship for some weeks now, with the pair starting the day nine points adrift of safety. And with fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa playing each other on the final day of the season, a win was required at the Madejski Stadium to give either side a chance of avoiding relegation.
So perhaps typically, the full time whistle blew on a drab goalless draw which condemns them both to the second-tier of English football. For the Royals it is an instant return after earning promotion as champions last season, whilst the Londoners are demoted after narrowly avoiding the drop on the final day of last term under Mark Hughes.
Current Loftus Road boss Harry Redknapp insists he will remain at the club next season, but he accepts it will be a big ask for his side to regain their Premier League status at the first attempt. However, he is determined to get his players fitter than ever for the challenge ahead, which incorporates a far more demanding league programme.
“It will be very difficult to get promoted,” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “There are some good teams in the Championship. We have to come back in pre-season and get super fit because the Championship is Saturday-midweek, Saturday-midweek and if you’re not fit enough to go the pace, you won’t survive and you won’t get out of that league.
“That’s the key. Whoever the players we have here, they’ve got to be worked on in pre-season and they’ve got to be willing to want to get super fit to compete at that level. It will be a big challenge. There are lots of good teams and massive clubs. We are going to have to work very, very hard. It’s a real good challenge. It’s possible but it ain’t going to be easy.”
Reading manager Nigel Adkins, meanwhile, has advised his players to bottle the feeling of relegation and use it as motivation to get out of the Championship next season. The former Southampton manager was only installed at the Madejski Stadium in late-March, so he will have a clean slate to work from when the pre-season preparations begin ahead of August.
“I said to the players in the dressing room that it’s not nice getting relegated,” Adkins told Sky Sports. “We’ve got to bottle that feeling. We’re going to be a Championship football team so what we’ve got to do is give ourselves an opportunity to get back in the Premier League and learn the lessons quickly from this season. We’ve got a nice bunch of lads who work hard. It’s a great football club and we have to rebuild and get ready for next season.”