West Bromwich Albion have been relegated from the Premier League after Southampton won 1-0 at Swansea City on Tuesday.
That result left West Brom five points from safety with one game remaining, Sunday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
It means their eight-year stay in the top flight comes to an end.
The Baggies – currently on 31 points from their 37 games – had hoped to reach the final day and repeat their memorable escape of the 2004-05 season.
With Stoke and West Brom’s relegation confirmed, Southampton’s victory has virtually guaranteed their safety due to their vastly superior goal difference over Swansea and Huddersfield.
The Terriers will confirm their survival by taking a point from their next two fixtures against Chelsea on Wednesday (19:45 BST) or Arsenal on Sunday (15:00 BST)
Too little too late?
West Brom were realistically consigned to their fate before Darren Moore took over as caretaker boss in April but it must feel like a case of what might have been for the Baggies supporters.
The former Albion defender was named Premier League manager of the month for April on Tuesday and the club’s upturn since he took control of first team affairs evoked memories of their survival under Bryan Robson in 2004-05.
In that campaign, West Brom were bottom of the division and eight points from safety at Christmas but recovered to survive on the final day of the season thanks to an unlikely sequence of results.
Moore has accrued 11 points from the 15 available since being named as caretaker and reeled in a 10-point gap to five points.
Victories at Old Trafford against Manchester United and over Newcastle and Tottenham, as well as draws against Swansea and Liverpool, leave a question mark over what might have been if the Albion board had acted sooner.
In a message posted on Twitter on Tuesday, Baggies defender Kieran Gibbs wrote: “Horrible feeling to be relegated, especially after our recent form as a team.
“It’s been a wild season on and off the pitch and has been a huge learning curve. Whatever has gone on this season there are no excuses – we haven’t been good enough for the majority of it.
“For that we are sorry to the WBA fans, who have been quite unbelievable considering the circumstances.”
How the West Brom managers have fared during the 2017-18 season
Manager Played Points Points per game Goals for Goals against
Tony Pulis 12 10 0.83 6 9
Alan Pardew 18 8 0.44 14 29
Darren Moore 5 11 2.2 6 3
What went wrong for West Brom?
On the surface, the season began in serene fashion at The Hawthorns.
With Tony Pulis at the helm, Albion opened with consecutive victories to ensure their best start to a top-flight campaign since 1978-79, when the ‘Three Degrees’ of Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson helped the club to a third-place finish.
However, by November Pulis was gone after a dramatic downturn in results – coupled with supporter disenchantment over his defensive style of play – led owner Guochuan Lai to make a change.
Alan Pardew was initially tasked with preserving the club’s top-flight status but the owner then sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman in February as the club’s poor run of form continued.
Meanwhile, a trip to Barcelona organised to boost morale ended with senior professionals Gareth Barry, Jonny Evans, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill having to apologise after a taxi was stolen from outside a fast-food restaurant in the early hours of the morning.
The quartet were interviewed but not arrested by police, while Pardew called their behaviour “unacceptable” and said he “felt a bit let down” after they had broken a midnight curfew.
At the time of Pardew’s dismissal in early April the club had won just once in 18 league games, taking only eight points from a possible 54 and had suffered eight straight league defeats.
Daniel Sturridge had scored 74 Premier League goals in 114 starts before joining West Brom on loan in January
Lack of firepower
An absence of goals has left West Brom as the third lowest scorers in the Premier League this term.
And their lack of firepower, coupled with a campaign that has not been quite as frugal defensively, had left them fighting an uphill battle throughout.
Pulis recognised the need for attacking reinforcements and signed Jay Rodriguez for £12m last summer, but the former Southampton striker has only managed seven league goals for the club.
The top scorer of the last two campaigns, Venezuela forward Salomon Rondon, is yet to break the 10-goal barrier and has also registered just seven in the league this season.
When Daniel Sturridge – a striker with a proven record in front of goal – arrived at The Hawthorns on loan from Liverpool in January, it looked as though Pardew had found a promising solution to their problem.
However, a hamstring injury picked up against Chelsea on 12 February meant that the England forward missed the next six games and has played just 21 minutes since as a substitute under Moore.
A deal that was hailed as “big coup” for the club has thus far amounted to 99 minutes of football at a cost of around £3.8m for the club.
Analysis – Does Moore stay on as manager?
BBC Sport’s Simon Stone
Darren Moore’s magnificent five-game stint in temporary charge may have lifted the mood of unremitting gloom at The Hawthorns but it cannot obscure a truly disastrous season when, until the beginning of last month at least, everything that could have gone wrong did.
The big question is what happens now.
The word is Darren Moore will not be the next manager, that he doesn’t really want it, despite having overcome Jose Mourinho, Rafael Benitez and Mauricio Pochettino during his time as boss – leading to his nomination as April’s manager of the month.
So if not Moore, who?
Baggies old boy Michael Appleton? Brentford boss Dean Smith?
After messing up the timing of Tony Pulis’ departure and getting completely the wrong man – Alan Pardew – to replace him, West Brom simply cannot afford to make another mistake.
There won’t be lots of money – spending too much on an underperforming squad and clauses that ensure cut price sales will see to that.
Owner Guochuan Lai and chief executive Mark Jenkins will endeavour to navigate their way back to the top flight on a restrained budget but it will not be easy.
Having seen local rivals Wolves head in the other direction, the Baggies need to bounce back quickly.
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