Liverpool top the list of 10 best Premier League clubs to support in the last decade

Dave Tickner
Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City are good teams to support.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City are good teams to support.

Last week we looked at the 10 most miserable current or former Premier League clubs to have supported in the last decade. It was a frankly harrowing experience we don’t care to repeat. So much despair.

So this week we decided it would be better to be more cheerful, and look at the 10 best Premier League clubs to have supported in the last decade. Turns out that’s actually much harder because almost everyone is miserable most of the time. Now we’re really sad again. This hasn’t worked at all.

Anyway, here’s the 10 if you can bear it.


10) Leeds United
These last couple were pretty tough to pick. Turns out it’s much easier to find 10 miserable clubs than 10 happy ones. A combination of various factors – limited ways of being successful, expectations and an often inflated sense of their own rightful place in the pecking order definitely among them – means misery is far easier to come by over an extended period than happiness in this stupid sport.

We considered West Ham. Statistically, the seventh best Premier League team over our timeframe, and they won a European trophy, didn’t they? That’s quite good, isn’t it? But also they’ve spent most of the last decade miserable about the football they’re watching, or the stadium they’re watching it in, or the manager overseeing it, or the owners overseeing it all. Or very often all four. Even this year, after that wonderful night in Prague and in the midst of a mainly competent league campaign, they’re still not really happy are they?

Then there’s Aston Villa. Happy enough now, sure, but miserable for much of the decade and even their current success is really only getting them back to somewhere approaching where they ought to be. Sure, it’s a big step-up from where they were a few years ago, but it amounts mainly to recovering ground lost through incompetence and their own mistakes.

So we’ve alighted instead on a couple of teams with great histories and whose most recent decade won’t rank as the best in the club’s history, but ones where fans worn down by long spells of incompetence and proper despair were at least able to feel something again.

First to Leeds, where the Marcelo Bielsa years sit firmly in the ‘better to have loved and lost’ category. For a brief but glorious time, Leeds were truly a big deal once more, blitzing the Championship and then causing all manner of Premier League chaos with their lovely, unvarnished Bielsaball.

All went to sh*t, of course, but here’s the thing with Leeds. When Bielsa left there were, understandably, laments for how long it would be before they found that connection with a manager again, if at all. It’s only been a few years and they’ve already found someone new in Daniel Farke. It’s not quite the same, but it’s still pretty bloody good.

READ: Top 10 best teams who never won the Premier League


9) Nottingham Forest
And the other one to slightly spuriously make the cut is Forest. Most of it has been awful, and we’re leaning heavily into precisely the kind of recency bias we’ve generally strived to avoid. But there it is. They go ahead of Leeds purely by virtue of not (yet) having suffered the relegation angst part of the deal, although it may well be in the post, but this was another club full of legendary stories and legendary managers who got to write a new chapter in a book they feared finished.

Steve Cooper took a very silly club with some very silly owners and a very, very silly transfer policy from the arse end of the Championship to some brilliant Premier League days in the space of two years.

And, while that story has ended, there do remain genuine hopes – despite their own unbudgeted largesse and because in no small part of the incompetence of others – that Nottingham Forest might yet be able to get a proper foothold and re-establish themselves as a Proper Top-Flight Club.

This will delight their fans, of course, but more importantly will be music to the ears of everyone’s dads, who were never able to quite bring themselves to strike Forest’s name from the list of the 20 teams in a Proper Premier League and now maybe, just maybe, might not even have to consider such blasphemy in the future.


8) Newcastle United
Our rule with relegation is that it’s fine as long as you turn the following season into a victory lap to get straight back up. In those circumstances, the net mood is surely preferable to just Crystal Palacing your way to season after season finishing 13th again with 47 points again (seriously, look at Crystal Palace’s current decade-long Premier League existence: never higher than 10th, never in a proper relegation fight, never even managing a final points tally that doesn’t begin with a 4. It’s no life).

Newcastle fans also benefit from the most relentlessly positive coverage bestowed upon any fanbase on earth – and we’re not just talking football here. There is no fandom on God’s green earth told so relentlessly and enthusiastically how special and important they are, about how they deserve good things. That this appears to be about 93% due to some of them having a propensity to remove their tops to reveal NUFC tattoos in quite cold weather is neither here nor there. Snice to be told you’re very special and important.

That certainly helped Newcastle’s righteous anger at Mike Ashley’s vexatious stewardship of the club, and has meant the fans haven’t faced anything like the awkward questions about the apparent moral 360 that has accompanied the arrival of owners far dodgier than the undeniably unpleasant Ashley, but owners who crucially promised to spend all the money to make Newcastle the new Manchester City.

That hasn’t quite happened, and this season has been a major disappointment in what was supposed to be a far smoother upward trend than this, but they still got back into the Champions League, and still retain the potential to do genuinely great things once they’ve worked out how to successfully finesse or at least stymie FFP sufficiently to buy all the Kylian Mbappes they want.


7) Tottenham
Let’s address the Worra Trophy aspect straight off the bat. No point pretending it isn’t there and isn’t real. A big part of supporting Spurs for the last decade has been being the butt of everyone else’s jokes and that can be quite exhausting.

But at the same time, there is something to be said for being noticed. There is, after all, only one thing worse than being talked about…

Spurs’ much discussed trophy drought is dwarfed by Aston Villa’s or Everton’s or Newcastle’s. There are fans of all those clubs who would argue with straight faces that they are bigger than (or at least as big as) Spurs, and yet they are just not talked about in the same vein.

Even this season, Newcastle – having supposedly formed a Big Seven last year – are to be found in the bottom half of the table. Imagine Spurs being where Newcastle are, and imagine how much we’d be hearing about it all. They’d be on their third manager at least.

The numbers are also compelling. We know people don’t like the ‘Big Six’ tag, that lots of fans of everyone else feel it is used to demean or somehow ‘other’ them, to mark them out as less than those big guys. But it is absolutely a real thing. In a combined league table for the last 10 years, the Big Six are miles clear of the rest. There is a 175-point gap between Chelsea (675 points) in sixth and West Ham (500 points) in seventh.

You don’t have to like it, but the Big Six isn’t something Sky made up for some reason. And here’s the other thing for those other fans: Spurs forced their way in, and constantly have to fight to retain their status. Your club could too, but hasn’t. The Big Six would already have been disbanded were Spurs to have successive seasons like Chelsea have just thrown in.

Spurs have picked up more league points over the last decade than either Chelsea or Manchester United, and that comes from a starting point of having absolutely no business to expect or demand such consistency. Every time Spurs look set to drop out of the elite, they find a way to cling on. Sometimes that’s via some ultimately destructive Conte short-termism, sure, but twice now it’s been in the form of progressive and exciting managers the fans can love.

How many clubs get two managers they can properly adore in the space of 10 years? Especially when you have the misery of Mourinho and Conte in between just to make the feels even feelier.

Spurs might not have won trophies, but they have spent the last decade consistently among the best five or six teams in the country and that really hasn’t always been the case over the decades before.

Spurs fans have also seen their side reach a Champions League final in ludicrously thrilling fashion, watched some of the best football their team has ever played, seen a wildly ambitious plan to not only build the best stadium in the world but to do so on the site of the previous ground achieved in grand (albeit slightly delayed) style when it really all could have gone horribly wrong, and spent most of the decade watching an academy graduate become their greatest ever player.

They may forever be the punchline, but the set-up has often been pretty wonderful really.


6) Brighton
Not often that fans can genuinely claim to be living through their club’s greatest ever era, but that’s the situation for Brighton fans right now.

They have spent 11 seasons ever in the top flight of English football, and seven of those are the last seven years. To get a true sense of just how far they’ve come, we must consider that this is a decade that began with Brighton finishing 20th in the Championship with Lewis Dunk (7) their leading scorer.

The following year they missed out in the play-offs, the year after that they got promoted, and having spent a few years establishing themselves and dodging relegation it’s been up and up for the last few years. Even the relegation dodging is quite good fun when it’s new and exciting and you get the right outcome. Terrifying fun, but fun nonetheless. People love horror films and rollercoasters, don’t they?

But it’s been the last couple of years that have really sent things into the stratosphere for Brighton, who have become the absolute byword for well-run football club, which is the best thing anyone else can say about your club in this day and tribal age, while embarking on a maiden European campaign where they finished top of a brilliant Europa group containing proper bucket-list European away days and above all spending every day of their lives on an apparent and relentlessly successful quest to pull Chelsea’s pants down in every way imaginable for ever and ever and ever. It’s not a bad life, is it?


5) Chelsea
It’s very, very sh*t right now with an unloved, untrusted and – worst of all – undeniably Spurs manager leading a shambling yet eye-poppingly expensive football team down a road to nowhere and a second straight mid-table finish.

This is, improbably, set to be the third time in the last decade that Chelsea have finished in mid-table. And we’re not talking about the eighth-placed finishes to which that anyone who isn’t Manchester City might be slightly vulnerable, we’re talking proper mid-table. Tenth. Even possibly 11th. Real mid-table. Proper irrelevant also-rans.

But this is supposed to be about the good stuff, and over the last decade, in between the recriminations, the ultimate (and let’s be honest entirely unsurprising) disgracing of Abramovich and the arrival of a cartoonish new owner who is a very rich f*ckwit, Chelsea have won two league titles, a Champions League and a Europa League. There is quite literally no other Premier League team that can claim multiple domestic titles and multiple European titles in the same period.

And if we accept as we must that ups and downs make the ups feel higher, then Chelsea have been on to a really good thing over the last 10 years. Although we would conceded that losing their last six domestic cup finals in a row might be pushing it a bit far. But it’s also taken only six years to rack up that many finals. They even got to one this year, their most miserable year ever in which things have got so bad that many of their fans are even Jonesing for another Mourinho return despite all the evidence available.

Even the current malaise is at least a proper mental one. When Arsenal were rubbish they just finished sixth or eighth for a bit and got the sads, Chelsea are showing them how it’s really done.


4) Arsenal
There’s a bit of recency bias here because a lot of the last decade has been, by Arsenal standards, really quite miserable. But that’s also kind of the point we get to with a lot of teams in this. The bad times aren’t much fun as they’re happening, but they really are character building, and they absolutely do make the good times better.

Look at Arsenal there, celebrating like they’ve been the third most fun team to support over the last decade.

It is also important to note that, while we do allow for historical precedent and therefore expectation-setting – we had Man United in our worst 10 teams to support, after all – the ‘bad days’ are still very much relative. While hearts may bleed for the desperate years in the doldrums spent finishing between fifth and eighth, they’ve still won four FA Cups in the last 10 completed seasons. Only 11 other clubs have won it more times in their entire histories.

So the bad times were only slightly bad really, while also offering a great deal of vindication to Arsene Wenger’s much-mocked ‘top four is like a trophy’ assertion, because winning the FA Cup really was never enough to make up for the loss of the top-four place that had appeared iron-clad for two decades.

But what that has all mainly done is set things up so wonderfully for where they are now, right back in there challenging for the big prize and going toe to toe with City and Liverpool in a way not one single other club has managed in the Pep-Klopp age.

They have financial heft without having sold their soul to achieve it and they have the doubly enjoyable situation whereby literally everything that happens to make them happy appears for some reason to also really, really p*ss off football’s dullest buzzkills.


3) Leicester City
Relegation really was just the banter icing on a truly absurd cake, given the utter absurdity that is Leicester from 2014 to the present day began with what looked like a doomed relegation bid.

Back in 2014/15, nobody would have expressed much surprise at the idea of Leicester being relegated. Although a Barclays – and for some reason League Cup – staple in the years around the turn of the millennium, 2014/15 was Leicester’s first top-flight campaign since 2004 after a wilderness decade that had even featured a brief drop into League One.

This background has to be understood to truly grasp the batsh*t enormity of what followed. We genuinely don’t think that even the repeated references to 5000/1 and fairytales and miracles have ever truly covered the sheer unimaginable ludicrousness of what Leicester pulled off in their lightning-bottling season of 2015/16. We know this, because even last season some people were still suggesting that an Arsenal title win would be somehow comparable. Sorry, but no.

Leicester’s title win in 2016 was and is the most extraordinary single accomplishment of the Barclays era and quite possibly stands alone in all English football history given the era in which it occurred. They are the most absurd of outliers in the list of title winners this century, not just in England but in any major European league.

That they struck in the absolute sweetspot of a season where City and Liverpool were still in the process of setting themselves up for greatness, Arsenal were navel-gazing, Chelsea were in the midst of a classic year-three Mourinho destroy and exit and Spurs were Spurs really doesn’t matter one iota. Even allowing for the Big Six all being assorted shades of dishevelled or disorganised there really was no logical timeline in which Leicester, after one year and one great escape back in the big time, should be the team to capitalise.

And even then, that’s still not the end of the madness. Sure, that team was inevitably picked off by the vultures and they fell away from their most absurd of highs, but not before giving the Champions League a riotously good crack in a freewheeling run to the last eight.

Then after a couple of years of mid-table recuperation and reflection they came again under Brendan Rodgers. There will be regret that neither of the seasons spent almost entirely in the top four could quite end with them there, but it still further established them among the decade’s most significant Premier League sides and there was an FA Cup along the way. Again, take a quick look at how many English domestic trophies in the last decade have gone to teams outside the five powerhouses, and then note that Leicester have one each of the two biggest.

Rounding off that absurd era with a genuinely bafflingly stupid relegation was really just a good bit of storytelling. Tie it all up in a bow: the era of unimaginable glory that began with an improbable escape from relegation ending with an improbable succumbing to it. And they’re going to bounce straight back up anyway.


2) Manchester City
Yeah, it’s not been bad, has it? When the only real quibble with how things have gone in the last decade is that if anything, Clive, for me, they’ve almost won too many trophies then you’ve got to be reasonably happy.

There’s been some really quite absurd coverage of an entertaining but entirely non-decisive 1-1 draw at Anfield this week, with much of it insisting Klopp’s Liverpool have been the reason Guardiola’s City have never been allowed to coast. Hmm. They have been allowed to coast really quite an enormous amount. They have had no challenge whatsoever in two of their five most recent title-winning campaigns.

What Liverpool have been is the team that has meant they haven’t been able to coast along in cruise control the entire time. That Liverpool have been the only team to do that is highlighted by the fact that when Liverpool didn’t step up, nor did anyone else until Arsenal had a go for a surprisingly long time last season.

Large numbers of City fans – who have seen genuine misery and despair in their relatively recent history on a scale none of the other Big Six can really comprehend – will still quite rightly scoff at the idea of winning too many things or winning too many of them too easily, but it is still just enough to keep them off top spot for us.

As is the fact that somewhere in the back of every City fan’s brain must exist the nagging concern of what exactly happens if and when anyone ever gets round to sorting out some punishments for those 115 trivial little indiscretions.


1) Liverpool
We’ve talked at length before about how we consider Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to have been the absolutely perfect Goldilocks Club during the German’s reign. They’ve won everything there is to win – as long as they pocket the Europa League this season, which they frankly ought – but never won any single trophy so often as to make it mundane or workaday.

We’re not getting into the This Means More-ry of Klopp and Trent because it is transparently a silly thing. But we don’t have too much trouble with asserting a second Premier League title for Klopp is a weightier bauble than a sixth for Guardiola.

Liverpool fans have also spent the bulk of the last decade watching some wonderful players play some wonderful football under a manager who has totally understood the assignment. Klopp totally gets Liverpool, and having a manager be so successful for so long while just totally getting your club and your city and all the rest of it really is not something ever to be sniffed at or taken for granted.

Worth remembering now also that absolutely none of what Klopp has achieved in his eight years at Anfield was handed to him or guaranteed. Liverpool looked no nearer claiming that elusive Premier League title when Klopp took over than they had for much of the firs two decades of Barclays.

Even the pain of his unexpected exit at the end of this season should ease in time to allow Liverpool fans to appreciate that, while the exact scale of success is to be confirmed, he’s going out with another successful Liverpool season, another successful Liverpool team, and still at the top.

The job may have burnt him out in the end, but better to burn out than fade away.