Nowadays, the Premier League trophy is competed for by a small handful of big teams. Try as they might, clubs have done their best to smash through the long-standing status quo built up over the years, but money has continued to prove the deciding factor; if your beloved club has enough of it, they can compete at the top.
If not, chasing glory in one of the domestic cups or in the Europa League is often one's best hope of celebrating silverware. Life as a supporter of a perennial underachiever can be tough - but sometimes being a champion can be worse. With success often an expectancy rather than a pleasant surprise, when a player doesn't fit the bill, makes a mistake at the wrong time or simply can't reach the levels of their peers - the exit door regularly looms.
Often, the champions are made of the best and brightest stars around who carve out a place for themselves at the pinnacle where they manage to reside for years and sometimes decades, but there have been a number of players down through the seasons who have managed to capture glory for themselves only to become forgotten by the majority.
On top of the world one minute, not riding quite so high the next, these tales of woe and obscurity are more numerous than one might think. That said, sometimes the players go on to put their successes behind them. Moving forward and onto new pastures, some refuse to linger on the past as they forge new careers and positive experiences for themselves.
Here, we'll look at some of the Premier League's former winners who have, for one reason or another slipped away from the very pinnacle of the game. Despite claiming a medal for their efforts, these performers didn't last long as a champion in England and were soon shipped out to make room for others.
As ever, feel free to have your say in the comments section if we've forgotten anyone of note.
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10 Alex Manninger - Arsenal
Despite not making the required 10 appearances back in Arsenal's superb title-winning 1997/98 season, Alex Manninger was ultimately given special dispensation to receive a winners' medal following a series of terrific performances between the posts. In all, he pulled on the Arsenal shirt a mere seven times that season following David Seaman's injury towards the end of the spring.
However, it was what he did with his short time in between the posts for the Gunners which earned him the chance to count himself as an English top-flight champion, keeping six clean sheets as Arsene Wenger's men hurtled towards victory. Following this, he eventually went on to play for Juventus when they won the Serie A in 2012 and is currently still going strong with FC Augsburg having made nine Bundesliga appearances in the season gone-by.
9 Asier Del Horno - Chelsea
Now retired and only 34 years of age, this ex-Chelsea defender managed to pick up a shiny medal for himself due to his part in the Blues' 2006 victory under Jose Mourinho. Although not many will remember much good about this underachiever, he sure knew how to stop Lionel Messi causing damage as a quick glance back at his outrageously harsh tackle on the Argentina maestro in the Champions League clearly attests to (not that we're condoning that).
Eventually, Del Horno returned to Spain with Valencia and then Levante where he was ravaged by injury, retiring back in 2012. Seemingly out of football now, the Spaniard can always boast of having more league medals than Steven Gerrard, but it's difficult to see just how much comfort that will give him, considering he once mixed it with the very best only to see his time cut disappointingly short.
8 Igors Stepanovs - Arsenal
Sometimes players join a team at the wrong time. Sometimes they join a side at exactly the right time. Other times, their luck runs out before it has even begun. For Igors Stepanovs, he enjoyed a career in England that was somehow a strange mix of all three. Getting his hands on a Premier League title (despite not featuring the required 10 times) due to the fact he was on the bench for Arsenal's last match of the 2001/02 campaign as well as tasting success in the FA Cup - he did well considering he rarely looked comfortable in an Arsenal strip.
Since then, he has migrated into a coaching role. Currently in charge of the Latvia U17 side, the ex-Gunner is looking to guide his young squad to a number of big home wins this Autumn. Up against Spain, Andorra and Poland in qualifying for the 2016 European Championships, Stepanovs clearly already has his sights on yet more silverware.
7 Mark Atkins - Blackburn Rovers
Adored by Blackburn Rovers fans for his role in their 1994/95 triumph, Mark Atkins was a key member of that team as the Blue and White Army marched to victory ahead of Manchester United - a win that culminated in a dramatic final day as the late Jack Walker's club, having lost to Liverpool, were forced to wait for good news to trickle through from Upton Park.
Among others, "Super Atko" also went on to ply his trade with Hull City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Eventually, Atkins decided to head down the coaching route and he landed himself a job with Matlock Town which he was in charge of until October 2014.
6 Ronnie Wallwork - Manchester United
Once upon a time, Ronnie Wallwork had it all. Having lifted the Premier League trophy back during the Red Devils' 2000/01 season, taking home a winners' medal in the process, he had done just enough to earn recognition - a fairytale pinnacle to a career he had started at their youth academy back in 1993.
Fast forward 14 years however, and although he can still count himself as a 'United star' he doesn't ply his trade in the top-flight any more. Instead, he is an Ashton United player in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Often in trouble with the law, the now 37-year-old could have had a lot more success, but he never seemed capable of settling down wherever he went. A shame, really.
5 Christopher Wreh - Arsenal
Joining the club in 1997, fans of Arsenal would have been forgiven for thinking that Christopher Wreh was going to be the next big thing to grace Highbury's immaculately-combed surface. Related to George Weah, he was just 22 at the time and looked poised to make a big impact - and he had a decent start, involved in their great league and cup double (becoming the first Liberian to win an EPL medal along the way). He also scored some important goals throughout his tenure, such as the one he nabbed against Wolves in an FA Cup semi-final.
However, things soon took a turn for the worse as he was shipped out on loan to a number of clubs and eventually retired back in 2005, citing his intentions to focus his efforts on his musical endeavours - that said, he also applied for the job as manager of non-League outfit Newport Pagnell back in 2011, but was unsuccessful.
4 Federico Macheda - Manchester United
Okay, so Macheda never managed to get his hands on a Premier League medal during his time at Old Trafford, but the English FA have since changed the minimum required number of games to five instead of 10, so it's fair to say that he deserves a mention on our list. After all, if it hadn't been for his end-of-season displays back in 2009, United would have had to wait even longer for their 18th league title as he pocketed some vital strikes.
Since then, he has left United to re-ignite his career elsewhere following a string of loan spells and a changing of the managerial guard. Currently on the books at Cardiff City, he is still very young at only 23 years of age, but he definitely needs more regular playing time if he's to reach the dizzying heights again.
3 Darren Ferguson - Manchester United
When Sir Alex Ferguson led United to their first Premier League success during the 1992/93 season, his son Darren appeared in 15 of those matches, anchoring the midfield. Collecting a glinting and gleaming winners' medal at the end, he certainly played his part in achieving history. That said, he was injured for the second half of that season, as new man Eric Cantona joined in his absence to fuel them to victory, playing the best football they had done all season.
Since then, his forays into management have gone relatively well. Despite recently getting sacked as manager of Peterborough United he spent eight long years there, divided into two stints, so it's likely we'll see him back in football once more by the time the new season kicks into action in just a few short weeks.
2 Stefan Savic - Manchester City
Another inclusion in our list who is still incredibly young (something which means he could yet create new memories and bounce back), Savic won a Premier League medal with Manchester City during their 2011/12 campaign, one which saw the Montenegrin fill in for Vincent Kompany when he was injured.
Netting a league goal as well as recording 11 top-flight appearances, Savic made some decent contributions for the Citizens, but he was far too error-prone on the ball and looked a little too nervy for them. Now, the 24-year-old is with Fiorentina in the Serie A and seems to have found the regularity and the rhythm he was searching for.
1 Stephen Hughes - Arsenal
With an FA Youth Cup triumph to his name at 18 years of age as well as a wave of interest from afar in the Englishman's capacity to cement his place in a burgeoning Gunners outfit, Hughes' professional career couldn't have started much better. Picking up a Premier League medal in the 1997/98 season, he looked good enough to mix it with the squad Arsene Wenger was building, scoring a memorable brace against Chelsea in a 2-0 win that season.
Unfortunately, though, the plain sailing didn't last as he struggled to properly dislodge Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit from the line-up the following season, spending the intervening years lining out for Fulham, Everton, Watford and Charlton Athletic. Despite this, he enjoyed a brief spell with Coventry City in the mid 2000s as they narrowly avoided relegation from the Championship and has often featured as a pundit for Arsenal's Player Service.
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