In the latest edition of KICK OFF Magazine we examine the recent plight of Borussia Dortmund who, until a month ago, we propping up the Bundesliga.
They have improved their form dramatically since then and should avoid relegation, but their flirtation with disaster proves that no club can ever claim to be ‘too good to go down’.
Did you know that Manchester City were once relegated the season after winning the League title, or that Manchester United were relegated 40 years ago, and Atletico Madrid dropped out of La Liga as recently as 2000?
No club, no matter how big, how famous or how recently successful is immune to a run of poor results and bad luck, and that is certainly the case in the Absa Premiership this season.
Platinum Stars – double cup-winners last season, this season trying to ‘do a Dortmund’ and break clear from the mire at the bottom. Moroka Swallows – Orlando Pirates’ original ‘Soweto Derby’ rivals, now in deep, deep danger of suffering relegation for the first time ever.
AmaZulu – Older than Pirates, but this does not exempt them from relegation woes. Thrice before in PSL history they have been relegated, and they are now making a desperate late bid to avoid that fate again. They are certainly not too good to go down.
On paper, Dikwena should never be fighting relegation. Yes, they have lost some top players since last season’s successes – most notably the redoubtable Issa Sarr in midfield – but they still have the bulk of the side that impressed last season.
And for this reason, most fans have reckoned that Stars are too good to go down. Probably so, but just like Jurgen Klopp’s men, ‘tomorrow they go back to the relegation fight’, they cannot rest until they are mathematically safe.
AmaZulu’s sudden improvement might be coming too late to save them from filling one of the bottom two places but, with their confidence sky-rocketing, none of the other strugglers can rest for a moment.
Swallows, in particular, must be worried, operating as they do on a shoestring and unable to offer the biggest incentives to convince struggling players to lift their games.
Swallows have been an ailing club one way or another since David ‘Pine’ Chabeli ‘stole’ the club in the mid 80s. Once the most entertaining of teams, The Beautiful Birds soon lost their lustre and have never fully recovered
Occasional cup wins have done little to restore pride, and now they are in danger of becoming a famous club that discovers that having a famous name is no guarantee of safety.
Already inaugural PSL champions Manning Rangers have fallen away completely, while Bush Bucks of Durban have never returned to greatness after suffering relegation in 1990, just five years after winning the League.
The other Bush Bucks, Imbabala of Mthata, were once feared, but now toil away in the lower divisions, while the champions of 1987, Jomo Cosmos, are now a yo-yo club at best.
Santos, who won the League, BobSave and BP Top 8 titles at the turn of the century, found themselves relegated a decade later.
Free State Stars are past masters of fighting against the drop and will hope that north eastern Free State home advantage keeps working for them, while fear of being sucked into the relegation battle has prompted Black Aces to fire Nations Cup hero coach, Clive Barker.
Yes, the dreaded relegation axe respects no name and cares little for gilded history and past good form.
To read the full story on Dortmund's relegation battle and other big-name teams that have been relegated, get the latest edition of KICK OFF magazine (issue 456). You can CLICK HERE to get your digital copy right now!