What does the term “Sleeping Giant” actually mean when referring to a football club?
Often when people mention this phrase, the name Newcastle United is mentioned Whereas I agree that Newcastle United is a big club, they have a large dedicated fan base, big stadium, not many large teams nearby to tread on their catchment area, it’s basically all there apart from success.
But I have to say in my estimation, they are not a “sleeping giant”.
First up we have to define what a sleeping giant is. To begin with the term suggests to me that the club is currently not reaching heights it once did. They’re no longer playing in the top flight of English football; instead they are languishing in the Championship or even lower.
I believe that the next criteria is that the club must have had an illustrious history and this has got to mean it has to have won trophies in its past. When I say “won trophies” I am not talking about a few divisional trophies or minor cups. For a club to be considered a sleeping giant I would say it’s got to have won major domestic honours and the only two really worth winning are the Premier League (Old First Division) title and the FA Cup. Indeed a true sleeping giant must have won both these honours at some point in their history.
So using this criteria as the basis for of analysis we will only look at clubs that are currently outside the Premiership and who have won both the English top flight title and the FA Cup.
- Blackburn Rovers – 9 (3 League and 6 FA Cups)
- Sheffield Wednesday – 7 (4 League and 3 FA Cups)
- Wolves – 7 (3 League and 4 FA Cups)
- Sheffield United – 5 (1 League and 4 FA Cups)
- Huddersfield – 4 (3 League and 1 FA Cup)
- Leeds United – 4 (3 League and 1 FA Cup)
- Preston North End – 4 (2 League and 2 FA Cups)
- Portsmouth – 4 (2 League and 2 FA Cups)
- Burnley – 3 (2 League and 1 FA Cup)
- Derby County – 3 (2 League and 1 FA Cup)
- Nottingham Forest – 3 (1 League and 2 FA Cups)
- Ipswich Town – 2 (1 League and 1 FA Cup)
* Special mention to Bolton Wanderers who have never won a Top Flight title but have won the FA Cup on 4 occasions.
So on the basis of past glories are these twelve clubs the sleeping giants of English football? They have all won the league title and the FA Cup.So if you want to awaken a true sleeping giant of English football then why not take up the challenge of one of the above mentioned teams, and restore past glories to the club.
Now if other European leagues are your preferred taste, why not try one of these European sleeping giants.
F.C. Nurnberg – Bundesliga 2 – (9 League titles and 4 Cup wins) Greuther Fürth – Bundesliga 2 – (3 League titles only) Fortuna Düsseldorf – Bundesliga 2 – (1 League title and 2 Cup wins) Karlsruher SC – Bundesliga 2 (1 League title and 2 Cup wins)
In France why not try Strasbourg, now in the French National League, (1 League title and 3 Cup wins)
In Italy, be brave and try Pro Vercelli, now in Serie B (7 League titles), although no Cup wins, a genuine sleeping giant, or should that be comatose.
Over to you, lots of great challenges in FM 2016, can you be the one, the really special one.
Article written by Gary Stevenson