It’s a phrase that is routinely bandied around each and every season because each and every season there is a top-flight mainstay who endures a calamitous campaign.
On this occasion it has accompanied the plight of Leicester City, a side blessed with brilliant game-changers and a top-class manager, who saw their Premier League odds take a dramatic turn for the worse when they surprisingly failed to win any of their opening seven games.
It was a horrendous autumn that had them deemed to be in crisis but at that early juncture the football myth in question was held back.
After all, Brendan Rodgers’ men were expected to turn things around, what with having Youri Tielemans in midfield and James Maddison pulling the strings.
When their suffering persevered however, out it was trotted, by pundits and print journalists alike.
With the 2016 Premier League champions in serious peril near the foot of the table, and with fixtures fast running out, their chances of dropping were minimised for a baseless reason that simply makes no sense. They will be fine, so said the experts, because the Foxes are ‘too good to go down’.
There are currently three games to go and with just one win from their last 13 outings, Leicester are firmly implanted in the relegation zone.
They are down in the depths with Everton, who have blinked nervously in the face of relegation all season long.
The Toffees have lacked bite and ideas up front and have persistently struggled to hold onto leads, on the few occasions they have taken the lead, but back to the myth we go because back in the Eighties, Everton were really good.
And as everyone knows, when a back-line shorn of all confidence is facing Bukayo Saka, or Marcus Rashford, or Mo Salah, it’s a salient help that their predecessors thirty years ago were Kevin Ratcliffe and Derek Mountfield, and they were exceptional.
Furthermore, Everton have been residents of the top-flight for nearly 70 years and so we encountered a tweaked version of the long-standing myth. Everton are too historically good to go down.
🗣️ “There’s no hiding from it, we know where we are. It’s one big push now to try and keep the club where it definitely belongs.”— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 19, 2023
Mason Holgate says he’s confident that Everton can beat the Premier League drop this season. pic.twitter.com/4ziRhMRBvC
Elsewhere, in what has been a bumper year for established clubs struggling against all expectation, West Ham have never been properly included among the relegation candidates despite spending 71% of 2022/23 to date in the bottom six. We all know why, of course. Because they’re ‘too good’.
Mention of the Hammers incidentally is pertinent, them being the most famous example of a side widely considered too good to drop, duly dropping.
In 2002/03 they boasted a team resplendent with stars, from Joe Cole and Michael Carrick in midfield, to Defoe, Di Canio and Kanoute in attack.
Frankly, with such an outstanding squad they should have been prominent in the Premier League winner odds but instead – after several months of external denial of the mere possibility of it happening – Glenn Roeder’s side tumbled into the Championship.
There are hardly the only ones either, but we don’t need examples of well-regarded sides experiencing relegation to know that it’s a complete fallacy to suggest that any side is ‘too good’ to plummet. Common sense tells us this.
A team is only as good as the results they harvest and their points on the board. Everything else is little more than idle speculation.
*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*