Which of the Premier League new boys can stay up?
In just under one month’s time the new Premier League season kicks off and another exciting campaign awaits the twenty teams who form the top tier of English football. For some clubs, the battle to stay up is as intense as the battle for European spots, and for the three newly promoted teams – AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich – survival will be their only target for May 2016.
Because of the huge chasm in terms of finances and squad depth, newly promoted teams find it difficult to stay up. In the last 2014/15 season, Leicester, QPR and Burnley were promoted from the Championship, but only the Foxes remained in the league come May. When you look at the league’s recent history, atleast one promoted team has been immediately relegated back to the Championship every season.
Bournemouth won the Championship in 2014/15, while Watford also gained automatic promotion by virtue of finishing second. Norwich took the third spot, winning their playoff final against Boro to book their place in the Premier League.
The bookmakers list the three new clubs as their favourites to face relegation after 38 games, and not without good reason- the gap in standards between the Championship and Premier League means that Championship managers are hard pressed with their limited resources to keep their players fresh and firing throughout a taxing season which also includes numerous Cup ties. In recent seasons though, the likes of Crystal Palace and Leicester City have survived the dreaded drop, and the three promoted ones will look to emulate them.
So which team, or teams can survive? With the newly struck television deal, existing Premier League clubs have extra money to strengthen their squads, meaning that teams will be more competitive than ever, and there are no free points on offer. In this article, we will discuss the merits of all three promoted sides as the countdown continues towards opening day on Saturday 8th August.
Exciting times ahead
Last season’s Championship winners AFC Bournemouth, under promising manager Eddie Howe, have the opportunity to rub shoulders – and tactically engage – with Mourinho, Wenger et al, and it will be very interesting to see how the small club from the south coast compete at the highest level. Howe masterminded an excellent attacking team in the previous campaign, which found the net on 98 occasions, helping guide the Cherries to the top flight for the first time.
It’s been a remarkable journey for the Cherries- in 2008-09, they were struggling to preserve their Football League status, and now six seasons later, they are among England’s 20 best teams.
Bournemouth have already been busy in this summer’s transfer window by acquiring Sylvain Distain and Tyrone Mings to bolster the defence, while Christian Atsu and Joshua King have arrived to offer pace and trickery up-front. A worrying concern for the Cherries must be their lack of experience at Premier League level. Bournemouth will come out and attack teams – as it’s the only real way they know how to play – but Howe must organise his side defensively against much stronger opposition this time around.
Watford have experienced two previous promotions and relegations from the Premier League in their recent history, so the Hornets will be hoping to secure some much needed stability this season. The Vicarage Road outfit have also endured a managerial reshuffling with Slavisa Jokanovic leaving in the close season after steering Watford to the top flight from an eight-year absence. Spaniard Quique Sanchez-Flores has taken the reigns – and work has already begun on assembling his squad to take on the Premier League.
Midfielder, Etienne Capoue and defender Jose Holebas have joined from Tottenham and Roma respectively, with several others experienced players likely to join before the opening kick-off. A new long-term contract for striker Troy Deeney is seen as another solid move by Watford. The key to their chances will lie with Sanchez-Flores. Unproven in England as a manager, he will have to hit the ground running, otherwise Watford could be left behind.
Delia Smith and her Norwich team had the pleasure of gaining promotion via the play-offs with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley back in May. The Canaries made the decision to sack Neil Adams as manager and replace him with Alex Neil in January – a 34 year-old with limited previous experience of management as boss of Hamilton – and it proved to be a masterstroke. Neil guided his new club to third place in the Championship prior to that play-off win. Norwich have raided West Bromwich Albion for two signings so far this summer; Graham Dorrans and Youssouf Mulumbu will join the squad that already has plenty of experience at Premier League level – and that could be telling.
It is difficult to offer any real confidence on any of the three promoted clubs surviving in the Premier League, but Norwich may end up gaining the most points of the trio. Their squad has more understanding of what it takes at Premier League level – in comparison to their fellow promoted rivals – and that could count in the quest for top flight survival.