Derby, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe
It has been a season of struggle for Derby, Rotherham, Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe and for three of them it will end in relegation on Saturday

It all comes down to Saturday for the bottom four in the Championship.

Going into the final day of the season none of the teams in the second tier will start the day with an ‘R’ next to their name, even if Wycombe’s chances of avoiding going down are pretty far-fetched.

BBC Sport takes a look at the picture at the bottom of the Championship as England’s all-time record goalscorer Wayne Rooney looks to avoid relegation in his first season in management when his Derby side take on Sheffield Wednesday in a game that will see at least one of the sides relegated to League One.

Championship bottom four
How the picture at the bottom of the Championship looks going into the final day

21st – Derby County (43 points)

How has it come to this? For Derby, beaten in the Championship play-off final as recently as 2019, poor results on the pitch have been matched by total uncertainty behind the scenes.

In the weeks before the season started the Rams saw charges relating to a breach of English Football League spending rules, which could have led to a points deduction, dismissed.

Owner Mel Morris, who has invested in the region of £200m since taking over in 2015, has spent the campaign trying to sell the club. He agreed a sale to Derventio Holdings in November but, after a period of inactivity on the purchase, called the deal off in March.

A wretched start to the season saw Dutch boss Philip Cocu sacked in November to be replaced, after a period in caretaker charge, by Manchester United and England record-scorer Rooney.

The Rams won five of his first seven games in permanent charge through January and February – though, damagingly, both of their losses in that time were to relegation rivals Rotherham – and on 23 February they beat Huddersfield to move eight points clear of the bottom three.

However, since then they have won just one of their 14 games and go into Saturday’s must-not-lose clash with the Owls on the back of six successive defeats.

A takeover by No Limit Sports Limited, owned by Spanish businessman Erik Alonso, was agreed in April but is yet to be formally completed.

What do they need to do to stay up? First and foremost, they must avoid defeat. Regardless of anything else, if Derby lose on Saturday they will be relegated to the third tier for the first time since 1986.

A first win since 2 April will keep them up regardless of Rotherham’s result at Cardiff, while a draw will only be enough if the Millers fail to win in South Wales.

Colin Kazim-Richards
Colin Kazim-Richards is Derby’s leading goalscorer this season with eight but he has only scored once since 26 February

22nd – Rotherham United (41 points)

How has it come to this? Unlike Derby, it is no real surprise to see the Millers battling for survival at this stage of the season.

In the past four seasons prior to 2020-21 the Millers have been relegated to the Championship twice and bounced back up at the first time of asking both times.

They have generally had stability behind the scenes this campaign, although two separate coronavirus outbreaks meant they were forced to play four games, with three against relegation rivals, in nine days in April.

Ultimately, Rotherham find themselves in the relegation zone because they have been on the wrong end of tight games on far too many occasions. Paul Warne’s men have lost 26 times in the league this season with an EFL-high 19 of them being by just a single goal.

With 43 goals they are easily the highest scorers of the four strugglers but they go into Saturday’s must-win game at Cardiff without a victory in their past seven matches.

What do they need to do to stay up? A win and Derby failing to do the same will see the Millers start a new season in the same division they ended the last one for the first time since 2016.

Paul Warne
Paul Warne’s Rotherham secured a last-minute win over Sheffield Wednesday in Darren Moore’s first game in charge of the Owls on 3 March

23rd – Sheffield Wednesday (40 points)

How has it come to this? Much like Derby’s struggles, Wednesday’s on-pitch problems have been matched by chaos away from the field.

The Owls started the season with a 12-point deduction, later reduced to six after a successful appeal against the severity of the punishment, for breaching EFL spending regulations.

They moved off the bottom of the table with a 0-0 draw with Millwall on 7 November but boss Garry Monk was then sacked two days later by owner Dejphon Chansiri and replaced by veteran Tony Pulis.

The Welshman’s spell in charge amounted to a single win from 10 matches before he was also sacked on 28 December with the Owls in 23rd position, three points adrift of safety.

Their form initially picked up under caretaker Neil Thompson and they moved out of the relegation zone and to a season-high 20th place with a 1-0 home win over struggling Derby on 1 January.

They moved out of the bottom three again with a 2-0 win over lowly Wycombe on 9 February but then lost the following four matches before Darren Moore became their third manager of the season.

He lost his first three matches and then missed a couple of games after testing positive for Covid-19 before having to step away for an extended period after contracting pneumonia.

The Owls have been on the edge for weeks now and had Derby won either of their past two games they would already be down.

What do they need to do to stay up? Win. Anything other than a win will see the Hillsborough side relegated back down to League One for the time since 2012.

Should Rotherham also win then Wednesday will go down regardless of whether they record a victory at Pride Park.

24th – Wycombe Wanderers (40 points)

Uche Ikpeazu
Wycombe striker Uche Ikpeazu has come into some late season form with two goals in his past three games but his efforts are almost certain to be in vain

How has it come to this? Wycombe’s first ever season at this level of English football was always going to be a slog and so it has proved to be.

The Chairboys came up via the play-offs having qualified for the top six in League One on a points-per-game basis after the third tier season was curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It looked like being a record-breaking season for the wrong reasons when they lost their first seven matches.

Credit must go to boss Gareth Ainsworth and his players for recovering to even be competitive in a league where their budget is dwarfed by most of their opponents. Of the four strugglers, they are the ones in the best form right now, with five wins from their past 10 matches.

However, they have spent just one week outside the relegation zone all season and, realistically, their chances of avoiding a return to the third tier on Saturday are virtually non-existent.

Ainsworth accepted that they were down last Saturday after their impressive 1-0 win over Bournemouth and admitted the fact they were going to end the season just one or two points short of safety was “beyond his wildest dreams”.

What do they need to stay up? A miracle.

Wycombe will need to beat Middlesbrough by 12 goals, hope that Sheffield Wednesday beat Derby by a single-goal margin and that Rotherham fail to win in Cardiff.

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