Derby County’s brief and bitterly disappointing stay in the Premier League finally ended as they were relegated yesterday.
The Rams claimed their 11th point of the season after a 2-2 home draw with fellow strugglers Fulham consigning them to life back in the Championship.
Disappointed Derby manager Paul Jewell told the BBC: “It has been a long, hard season, a terrible season and a very difficult time.”
“Now that relegation has been confirmed there is only one thing that matters and that is the start of next season,” he added.
And, as well as being relegated after just one season in the top flight, Derby also look set to become the worst ever side in the history of the Premier League.
Sunderland claimed just 15 points in the 2005/6 season and Derby now need five points in their last six games to save themselves from abject humiliation.
But with County having scored just 16 goals so far this season, it seems increasingly unlikely that they will be saved from an unenviable place in English footballing history.
The Black Cats must be breathing a sigh of relief.
There is always talk of a gulf in class between the Premier League and Championship but never has it been so evident with Derby County.
Down the years there have been some awful Premiership sides, Swindon Town and Barnsley among them, but are any as bad as this current Rams side?
Billy Davies’ boys, in truth, have not been terrible at home claiming a victory against Newcastle and a credible draw with Portsmouth.
But County have been shocking away from home, they conceded six at Anfield, four at White Hart Line and five at the Emirates – which terrible for the top division.
If the Premier League is to the best in the world then it has to be competitive and, unfortunately, the league is predictable at the top and bottom of the table.
While something must be done to address the gulf, and bridge the gap, that will not save the Rams this season.
It may take a miracle for them to maintain their top-flight status.