Wed. Nov 25th, 2020

Premier League Teams Loved by the Neutral – Ranked

5 min read
Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle were universally popular | Stu Forster/Getty Images

Not everyone in England is fortunate enough to support an illustrious Premier League side, so while our team in the lower echelons of the football pyramid are making us miserable every week, it’s nice to have a soft spot for a top flight team who can distract us from said misery.

Marcelo Bielsa’s fearless Leeds side have already started turning the heads of the neutral this season with a selection of exciting, expansive and adventurous performances.

Who can they hope to emulate and rival as the Premier League’s best ever neutral-loved sides?

Daniel CousinDaniel Cousin
Hull recorded a particularly famous victory over Arsenal | Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Having been volleyed into the top flight for the very first time in their history by the boot of 39-year-old talisman Dean Windass, very few gave Hull a hope of surviving in the Premier League.

But during their opening three months of life in the top flight, Phil Brown’s boys didn’t just survive – they thrived. Inspired by the goals of Brazilian forward Giovanni, the Tigers had beaten Arsenal and found themselves in third after nine games.

The wheels soon came off and Hull survived by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the season, before suffering the drop the following campaign. But for those brief, blissful months in the autumn of 2008, Hull were everybody’s favourite plucky underdog.

Ashley WilliamsAshley Williams
Swansea won the League Cup during a real purple patch in their history | Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea had the neutral well and truly seduced with their slick brand of passing football. Leon Britton was south Wales’ answer to Xavi – what wasn’t there to love?

Even the departure of Rodgers could not allow our love to waver, as the very suave Michael Laudrup came in, bought Michu – who only cost £2m – and went and won the League Cup.

Garry Monk continued their footballing philosophy and guided the Swans to a Premier League high of eighth. However, Monk soon departed, a series of bizarre, brief appointments followed and the sheen began to come off. But Swansea made a real go of being the most likeable Premier League team for a good four years.

PALACE V FORESTPALACE V FOREST
Collymore was a catalyst for Forest’s success | Anton Want/Getty Images

Another fresh faced Premier League team that appealed to the neutral, Nottingham Forest finished third – a joint highest finish for a newly promoted side in the Premier League – during their debut season.

This was largely thanks to the goals of Stan Collymore and the ability of silky ball playing midfielder Lars Bohinen, with Stuart Pearce providing defensive solidity at the back.

Forest finished above Liverpool to secure European football for the first time in a decade.

Ipswich v ChelseaIpswich v Chelsea
Ipswich were an unexpectedly brilliant side | Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Ipswich finished the 2000/01 Premier League season fifth – no newly promoted side has been as successful since.

The Tractor Boys were largely tipped for a season of struggle but instead went into the final game of the season with a shot at qualifying for the Champions League.

The attack minded midfield pairing of Matt Holland and Jim Magilton were a treat to behold, while Marcus Stewart’s 19 goals made him the top flight’s second top scorer. Ipswich were relegated the following season but still qualified for the UEFA Cup via the fair play rankings – because that’s just how nice this Ipswich team were.

Mark RobinsMark Robins
Great team, horrendous kit | Ben Radford/Getty Images

The maiden season of the Premier League threw up a yellow shaped surprise package in Norwich City.

The club had narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, lost star player Robert Fleck in the summer and were dressed in a quite frankly hideous home strip. By Christmas, Norwich were eight points clear at the Premier League summit, led by poster boy Mark Robins.

The Canaries ultimately missed out on the title after an end of season stutter, but still finished a remarkable third and endeared themselves to neutrals up and down the country in the process.

Charlie AdamCharlie Adam
Blackpool were a very fun Premier League side | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Ian Holloway’s Blackpool were chaotically, infectiously brilliant.

They scored 55 goals – the same number as fifth place Tottenham – and conceded 78 – no one came close to matching said tally. Charlie Adam was pulling the strings in midfield and scoring from absolutely everywhere, and Holloway was just as entertaining in his pre and post match press conferences.

The Tangerines were heartbreakingly relegated despite amounting 39 points – but they lived every minute of life in the Premier League as if it was their last, and you could not help but get swept up in the joy of their journey.

WIMBLEDON V NEWCASTLWIMBLEDON V NEWCASTL
Great team, great kit | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

There was a reason Kevin Keegan’s 90s Newcastle side were branded the Entertainers. They played terrific, attacking, free flowing football and had an absolutely banging kit to match.

With the likes of Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Peter Beardsley gracing the St. James’ Park turf, Newcastle boasted firepower and flair in equal measure.

They came oh so close to being rewarded for their glorious brand of football in 1995/96, but famously fell just short, and will go down as one of the best teams to never win the Premier League.

Claudio Ranieri, Wes MorganClaudio Ranieri, Wes Morgan
The perfect underdog story | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Everybody loves an underdog. Leicester City‘s 2015/16 Premier League title triumph is the ultimate underdog story that got outrageously out of hand.

Having narrowly avoided relegation the previous season and then been forced to replace Nigel Pearson with Claudio Ranieri in the summer, hopes were not high going into the new campaign. But Leicester just kept winning. The bubble never burst.

Leicester made everybody dream. As neutrals watched Andrea Bocelli perform at the King Power and felt waves of emotion towards this team of misfits – assembled by a misfit – to whom they had absolutely no affiliation, you couldn’t help but think that anything is possible.

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