Ranked! The 10 most depressing teams to support in Britain right nowCrushing lows are as much a part of football as the dizzying highs, but these clubs have really put their fans through the meat grinder
Manchester City fans are revelling in Premier League title glory, Wolves supporters are relishing a return to the top fight and the Accrington Stanley faithful are in raptures after watching their team secure a place in the third tier for the first time in history.
Following these clubs is an absolute joy at the minute, so perhaps their supporters should spare a thought for the fans whose teams have brought them nothing but misery this season. These are the clubs you do not want to support right now...
Everton fans are well aware that they haven’t snagged silverware in more than two decades. Unlike their Arsenal and Liverpool counterparts, they don’t have inflated expectations because they won the league a few times when fingerless gloves and parachute pants were fashionable – but what they do demand is progress.
So, when Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri purchased a majority stake in the club in 2016, nobody could blame them for feeling a collective pang of optimism. Finally, the blue half of Merseyside was equipped with the resources to compete with big-spending neighbours Liverpool. Ronald Koeman was installed as manager off the back of an impressive stint with Southampton, handed a blank cheque and tasked with bringing the glory days back to Goodison Park.
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Fast-forward two years and it’s all gone horribly wrong. Koeman paid the price for poor recruitment with his sacking in October 2017, a team largely comprised of failed signings is chasing shadows across the Goodison pitch, and a weather-beaten Sam Allardyce sits on the throne of an empire in turmoil. Everton must be the only team on the planet capable of spending £150m and being worse off for it.
The days when they sat proudly at English football’s top table are a distant memory, forever frozen in fading photographs and battered Panini sticker albums. Many clubs have tumbled down the ladder over the years, but rarely is a decline as depressingly drawn-out as Coventry's.
Two decades ago, they were in the Premier League with stars like Gary McAllister and Dion Dublin among their ranks. Rewind 10 years and they were battling against relegation in the second tier, having dropped into it for the first time in 34 years at the end of the 2000/01 campaign.
These days, Coventry are a shambolically-run club, slugging it out in League Two, playing their football at a stadium that’s brought them nothing but off-field woes while operating under the ownership of Sisu, a company that once thought it was a good idea to temporarily move the team more than 30 miles down the road to Northampton.
The possibility of a place in this season’s play-offs could provide a degree of respite for the Sky Blues’ long-suffering fan base – and end a staggering run without a top-six finish since 1970 – but while Sisu are in control, they can be forgiven for being less-than-optimistic about the future.
Success and failure are relative in football, so when a fan base that has watched its team lift three FA Cups in the last four years starts calling for the manager’s head on a pike, supporters of more long-suffering lower-league teams can only roll their eyes in irritated bemusement.
Arsenal fans could learn a lot from a weekend in the stands at a freezing-cold Glebe Park, but somewhere between the ArsenalFanTV rants and growing season ticket-holder boycott, the Wenger Out movement might have a point. The Frenchman has gone from the mastermind behind a team of title-winning invincibles to the poster gent for his club’s decline over the course of a decade.
To put their downturn into perspective, Arsenal were unbeaten on the road throughout the 2001/02 and 2003/04 campaigns. This season, they’ve already lost eight times away from home and have three more league fixtures to play. National League outfit Tamworth are the only team in England’s top five divisions with as poor an away record as the Gunners in 2018.
Wenger doesn't seem likely to budge, but he may not have a say in the matter if his side fail to win the Europa League. A competition no Arsenal fan wanted their team to be in at the beginning of 2017/18 is now the one their entire season rests upon.
The term 'mid-table mediocrity' is bandied about a lot at Portman Road, and it’s easy to see why. This season is Ipswich's 16th successive one in the Championship, and their campaigns have long felt rather tired indeed.
Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, though, manager Mick McCarthy has finally broken free from the loop having left his post after last month’s 1-0 win over Barnsley. The former Wolves boss was once a popular figure among the Tractor Boys faithful, having stabilised the club and guided them to their first appearance in the play-offs for a decade, but he left under a cloud of toxicity.
McCarthy lost large sections of the Ipswich support during his final season, demonstrated when his decision to substitute debutant Barry Cotter against Barnsley was met with a chorus of boos. He admitted that a part of him “died” when his exit was confirmed, and likened his final days at the club to travelling in a driverless car. No doubt Town's feel something similar.
When administration forced Rangers to hard reboot as a Scottish League Two club in 2012, a fan base accustomed to seeing their team annihilate all that stood before them was thrust into the depths of despair. But that was merely the beginning of their problems.
The Gers’ road back to the top of Scottish football was bumpier than anyone anticipated, and hit a massive snag in 2015 when a two-legged play-off defeat to Motherwell forced them to spend an additional year in the second tier.
While the original incarnation of Rangers may have been liquidated, the expectations of the Ibrox faithful remain, so a third-placed finish during their first season back in the top flight was never going to cut it. Despite changing managers twice since then, things haven’t gotten any easier.
A return to Europe was cut short by a humiliating loss at the hands of Luxembourgian minnows Progres Niederkorn early in the current campaign. Two domestic cup eliminations later, the Gers are scrapping with Aberdeen and Hibs for second place in the league. The worst part about their predicament is that their supporters have to endure all it while watching Celtic move within touching distance of a historic double Treble. Since February 2015 they've won only one of their 12 meetings with the Bhoys – on penalties.
Leeds's fall from grace and dire mismanagement in the years following their appearance in the 2000/01 Champions League semi-finals is well documented. These days, they’re a perpetual second-tier club, desperately seeking stability in the aftermath of manager-eating owner Massimo Cellino’s time in the boardroom.
Although those dark days in the League One doldrums are behind them, a typical Leeds season now involves either an annual flirt with relegation or a play-off challenge that gradually falls apart as the campaign reaches its final stretch. That’s fine for some of their neighbours, but Leeds are a club with an illustrious history and scores of fans willing to travel the length and breadth of the country to watch their team play (badly, most of the time) on the road.
The burden of expectation has always hung heavy over Elland Road, and former manager Thomas Christiansen was crushed beneath its weight earlier this season when he failed to maintain a play-off push. His successor Paul Heckingbottom has managed just two wins in 13 matches, which is unlikely to save his job, even in the post-Cellino age.
4. North Ferriby United
North Ferriby were punching well above their weight in non-league football not so long ago, defeating fallen giants Wrexham at Wembley to lift the FA Trophy three years ago and climbing to the relative heights of the National League against the odds. The Villagers’ fairytale, however, is now over.
Although the Hull-based minnows put up a good fight in their 1-1 draw against big-spending Salford City at the Eon Visual Stadium in March, that result condemned them to back-to-back relegations and a place in the Northern Premier League for 2018/19. United’s latest relegation may have been on the cards for a while, but the club’s current plight is still giving their fans more than a few sleepless nights.
The Villagers’ very existence is under threat, with owner Jamie Waltham describing the club as “unsustainable” and hinting at the possibility of transferring its league standing to another local outfit. That triumph at Wembley must feel like it happened to another team.
3. Leyton Orient
It’s astonishing how quickly things can turn. One minute you’re dreaming of moving to a new 66,000-capacity stadium that was purpose-built for the Olympics, the next you’re in the middle of a bitter relegation fight. And no, that isn’t a reference to West Ham. Although the Hammers aren’t exactly a joy to follow these days, their fans have it easy compared to Leyton Orient supporters.
In 2011, the O’s submitted a formal request for tenancy at the London Stadium and a drawn-out saga began. When West Ham were touted as the stadium’s tenants, Orient proposed a groundshare deal which fell on deaf ears, and a subsequent legal challenge failed to convince the powers-that-be to reconsider their stance.
They were playing their football in League One back then but were no doubt hoping that a move to the London Stadium would propel them to bigger and better things. It’s highly debatable whether it would have, but missing out on it seemed to deal them a crippling blow. As recently as 2014 the O’s were in the League One play-off final – and 2-0 up at half-time – but have been relegated twice since then and are now mid-table in the National League. Oh, and they’re almost certain to lose their star player Macauley Bonne to a Football League club this summer.
It might be called the Stadium of Light, but Sunderland’s home ground has experienced only darkness of late following a dismal Championship campaign that's left them on the brink of back-to-back relegations.
The Black Cats have been stuck in a death spiral for much of the season, and that alone is upsetting enough for the fans even before those reports of Newcastle United gloaters planning to purchase tickets for their remaining home games to stage a relegation party.
Manager Chris Coleman has attempted to remain upbeat as the ship slowly sinks into the third tier of English football, and has made it clear he wants to remain at the helm, though it must be difficult for supporters to share his optimism and relish the prospect of an away day at Accrington next season. Unless owner Ellis Short manages to offload the Wearsiders, the brass tacks required for a sorely-needed summer overhaul are unlikely to be forthcoming.
1. Brechin City
Arsenal supporters think they have it rough, but while they’re begrudgingly cheering on Arsene Wenger and his team in the latter stages of the Europe League, Brechin fans will be trying to figure out how their club has managed to get this far into a season without winning a league game.
Last season was a stark contrast to 2017/18 for The City who, under the guidance of manager Darren Dods, booked a return to the second tier of Scottish football for the first time in 11 years via the Championship play-offs. The current campaign, however, has yielded just four points.
Steven Seagal could have filmed Under Siege 3 in Brechin’s goalmouth at a number of their matches this season, and their goal difference currently stands at a wretched -63. Brechin were put out of their misery last month when a 2-0 defeat to Greenock Morton confirmed their relegation to Scottish League One.