SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND – MAY 11: A Sunderland fan sings during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

After going unbeaten in all but one of their last ten games (only loss against EPL champs Leicester) dating back to February, Sunderland have once again survived relegation by beating Everton 3-0 in their next to last game of their English Premier League season.

Sunderland’s win means their city rival Newcastle United and Norwich City join Aston Villa as the three teams who will be relegated to the English Championship, the second league of English soccer.

Sunderland staying up in the top league was especially great for their fans as it meant seeing their rival Newcastle dropping to the lower league. Newcastle had been in the Premier League since 2010 and reached a high position of 5th, a Europa League spot in 2012. Since then, the team was in turmoil with many blaming owner Mike Ashley and a host of questionable managerial decisions after Alan Pardew went to Crystal Palace. The team hired Rafa Benitez in March and Newcastle got better, being unbeaten in their last five games. But it wasn’t enough as even Rafa’s skill couldn’t save the poor job Newcastle did earlier in the season.

For Norwich, they have experienced a kind of yo-yo effect when it comes to promotion and relegation. Over the past six years, Norwich promoted to the Premier League in 2011. After treading water in the EPL midtable, Norwich relegated to the Championship in 2014. a season after, they promoted by winning the promotion playoff and the season after, this season, Norwich is heading back down.

Both Newcastle and Norwich seem built to make an effort to get back to the Premier League next season but it won’t be easy. The Championship is very competitive and have many teams capable of promoting but Norwich seems to have a solid base to build around and if Benitez stays on at Newcastle, they both have a good shot to promote next season. Benitez supposedly has a clause that allows him to leave this summer if Newcastle is relegated but he could stay. Aston Villa is also getting relegated but to be honest, they’re essentially a lost cause and have so many issues that it’s more likely they’ll drop to League One then move up to the Premier League.

As far as Sunderland is concerned, this is another season in which they have survived relegation. It’s become somewhat of a tradition with Sunderland and manager Sam Allardyce to survive relegation every season in recent years. Since Sunderland promoted in 2007, their EPL finishes have been 15th, 16th, 13th, 10th, 13th, 17th, 14th, 16th and will finish 17th this season when only 17 teams stay in the Premier League.

For Allardyce, he has never been in charge of a team that has been relegated. And he has had experience at that. As manager for Bolton, they finished 16th when they promoted into the EPL in 2001-02. The next season, Bolton survived once again by finishing 17th. After a half decade of of midtable seasons, Allardyce found himself with the task of taking over Blackpool in the middle of the 2008-09 season and managed them to a 15th place finish. After getting West Ham promoted and putting them in a solid base to move up the table, he went to Sunderland in October of this current season. In maybe his greatest escape yet, Sunderland won 15 of their last 30 possible points and moved Sunderland to the final survival spot after being in the relegation zone for a total of 237 days, more than Aston Villa.

With the EPL title race and relegation battle already determined before the final game on Sunday, the only unknown to the season is who will win the European spots. Manchester City needs to draw or better to clinch the final Champions League spot or else Manchester United can go past with a win against Bournemouth. West Ham, Southampton and Liverpool are still alive with Man United to get a Europa League spot while Liverpool will have a chance for the Champions League if they beat Sevilla in the Europa League Final next Wednesday. Still a lot of drama when everyone plays their final game at the same time on Sunday.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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