Bangkok Post – Tractor Boys plough a winning furrow into Premier League

A dramatic final week in the Championship saw two well-known clubs heading in opposite directions — Ipswich Town seizing the second automatic promotion spot for the Premier League and Birmingham City plunging into League One.

It was the second successive promotion for Ipswich, having come up from League One last season. The Tractor Boys have enjoyed an impressive season and the Suffolk club clinched promotion with a 2-0 home victory over Huddersfield who were relegated.

Ipswich were last seen in the Premier League in 2002 after which they had a lengthy spell in the Championship before slipping into League One in 2018, the first time they had been out of the top two tiers in 63 years.

Manager Kieran McKenna said he was looking forward to “a fantastic challenge” and praised his squad. “They’ve been incredible,” he said. “We’ve played very good football.”

The Tractor Boys have a proud history. In their first-ever season in the top flight in 1961/62 they remarkably won the Division 1 title under Sir Alf Ramsey. They had to beat Arsenal and Aston Villa in their last two games to clinch the title. Ramsey left the following year to become England manager.

Sir Bobby Robson became manager in 1969 and led them to an FA Cup final victory over Arsenal in 1978 and in 1981 they won the Uefa Cup. Ipswich were also runners-up in Division 1 in 1981 and 82 before Robson, like Ramsey, became the England boss.

Among the fine players during Robson’s time were John Wark, Terry Butcher and Paul Mariner. Dutch stars Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen also became key players.

After Robson’s departure, Ipswich were relegated and became something of a yo-yo team between the top two divisions. Their last spell in the Premier League lasted just two seasons before the 2002 relegation.

Not enjoying such good fortune are Birmingham City who have been relegated to the third tier League One for the first time since 1995.

Birmingham’s woes this season all began with the needless sacking of former manager John Eustace with the club in a handy sixth place, their highest position in years. Eustace had also steered the Blues to safety when relegation was a distinct possibility.

The club’s American owners, which include NFL quarterback legend Tom Brady as a minority shareholder, clearly wanted a “name” personality in charge of their team and they went for Wayne Rooney. It was not a popular choice with one fan writing at the time “Can’t help but feel Birmingham will regret this.”

Under Rooney, Birmingham went on to lose nine out of 15 matches before they sacked the former England star who felt he had not been given enough time.

They then brought in veteran Tony Mowbray which seemed a sensible choice. “Mogga” as he is known had a lot of experience and had enjoyed a decent spell with Sunderland before joining the Blues. Unfortunately Mowbray, 60, fell ill and former manager Gary Rowett took over for the last eight games but could not save the Blues from relegation.

Fortune did not favour Birmingham on the final day. Although they did well to defeat Norwich City, their three relegation rivals, Plymouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers, also recorded victories which condemned the Blues to relegation.

Unlike Ipswich, Birmingham have not been blessed with many exciting moments in football history. According to When Saturday Comes the Blues have “generally ploughed a furrow of even-keeled mediocrity” and it looks like that’s how it will remain for a while.

SOURCE: Bangkokpost.com : Sports   (go to source)
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