London: What seems like an inglorious departure from the English Premier League is far from it for Huddersfield.
Their fate sealed with six games remaining after losing at Crystal Palace 2-0 on Saturday, Huddersfield have matched the record for the earliest relegation. Derby were also relegated in March 2008 after 32 games.
But it was a miracle the northern English team secured a second season in the Premier League, having resisted splurging their newfound wealth to chase survival.
Even after breaking their transfer record three times in its first Premier League summer transfer window, Huddersfield still banked 30 million pounds in profit at the end of the season.
Huddersfield have been competing in a league where Manchester City has amassed a squad worth $1.6 billion, according to the CIES Football Observatory.
City’s title defence — and bid for a quadruple — remained on track with a 2-0 victory over Fulham, who could follow Huddersfield by being relegated in the coming week.
Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero scored to take City back to top place ahead of Liverpool’s clash with third-placed Tottenham on Sunday. By then, the Reds will have played a game more than Pep Guardiola’s side.
There was a laboured performance from Manchester United in beating Watford 2-1 in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game since being handed the Old Trafford manager’s job on a permanent basis.
Journey’s end for Huddersfield came at the scene of their first Premier League game — a 3-0 victory over Palace in August 2017.
Luka Milivojevic’s 76th-minute penalty and Patrick van Aanholt’s goal secured Palace’s 2-0 victory on this visit to Selhurst Park. With Burnley and Southampton winning, Huddersfield’s relegation was confirmed.
Huddersfield has scored only 18 times in 32 games and conceded 52 times, collecting only 14 points.
“The important thing for us is to go through all the details and find out what happened this season, to learn out of this failure,” said Jan Siewert, who replaced David Wagner as Huddersfield manager in January. “I will not talk about bouncing back because at the moment, this is a disappointment first of all, we have to take this and then go through all the details.”
In a scrappy Old Trafford display, Luke Shaw split the Watford defence to set up Marcus Rashford for United’s opener in the 28th minute and Anthony Martial netted from close range in the 72nd.
It allowed United to leapfrog Arsenal into the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Solskjaer, a former United striker, was named the club’s permanent manager on Thursday, having replaced the fired Jose Mourinho on an interim basis in December. Under the Norwegian coach, United has lost only once in 14 league games.
“We started so slow and sloppy and you could see we’ve had players out with injury and the international break,” Solskjaer said. “But after we scored, for the rest of the first half we played some great counter-attacking stuff (and) defended well.”