The Promoted Clubs: Who, What, Where And How Good?

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 12:10

The Promoted Clubs: Who, What, Where And How Good?

Bournemouth

How did they get there?
By winning the Championship in, and with, great style. There is no doubt that the romance of Bournemouth’s rise through the divisions has been slightly overplayed, but Eddie Howe oversaw a remarkable run to the Championship title last season. Having been 25/1 to win the league in August (a longer price than 13 other teams), they first hit the front on November 5 and only spent another seven matches outside the top two all season.
What are their chances?
The squad and manager are certainly acting confident, talking up the club’s prospects of Premier League consolidation rather than mere survival.
That’s all well and good, but recent history demonstrates that promoted sides find it incredibly tough to hold their own. Last season’s trio finished 14th, 19th and 20th – Leicester’s late run under Nigel Pearson stemmed the tide. Only one club (West Ham) have come up and immediately finished in the top half. That was aided by some significant spending.
Winning the Championship also doesn’t mean much, unfortunately. Over the last four seasons, the Championship winners have finished an average of 17.5th in the Premier League. They have collected an average points total of 34. Howe and Bournemouth don’t need me to tell them that isn’t enough.
Meet the manager
Bournemouth’s success is owed in part to Russian multimillionaire owner Maxim Demin, but Howe’s influence is the defining factor. Speaking to right-back Simon Francis, he revealed just how thorough the manager is in achieving his goals.
“He does a lot of mental work as well as physical,” Francis says. “We work not just on the training pitch but watching videos of different matches, different formations and how we can each improve. He brought things into my game that I have never worked on before. As an example, I watch a lot of videos of other right-backs, the specific runs they make. We look at how they perform, the type of runs they make when the winger has the ball. He just adds things to my game that nobody else has, and everyone else is the same.”
Howe’s success has, inevitably, seen him linked with clubs of a higher stature than Bournemouth, but striker Callum Wilson rejects that notion.
“Listen, Eddie has got Bournemouth in his blood now. He’s taken the club from the brink of being relegated from the Football League to the Premier League in two spells, and he has been the driving force behind a magical journey. I don’t see why he would want to leave, I’m sure he will be here for years and make himself even more of a legend.”
Who are the players to watch?
Persuading Wilson to sign a new long-term contract is a huge plus, given the reported interest in him. He is still 23 and has scored 41 league goals in two seasons. After Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Jamie Vardy demonstrated an ability to thrive at a higher level, there should be no qualms about Wilson doing the same.
Away from the strikers, winger Matt Ritchie contributed 17 league assists last season, while no defender created more chances or made more assists in the Championship this season than Francis. Harry Arter makes things tick in midfield.
Who have they brought in?
Some pretty exciting signings, actually. Tyrone Mings was one of the Championship’s best prospects, and has been bought for a fee of up to £8m. Max Gradel has also arrived from St Etienne after a fine season in Ligue Un, and again fits Howe’s style perfectly. Crucial Premier League experience arrives in the form of Sylvain Distin, whilst Christian Atsu and Josh King represent shots to nothing. Lee Tomlin is just a weird one.
What’s been said?
“We may have less of the ball this season so that could be a new experience for us and we’re going to have to be ready for all the challenges that face us. Our core principles will never change, we’re just going to have to do them better and that’s the challenge I’m going to lay down to the players. The minute we start changing things too much, I think we come away from our strengths” – Eddie Howe.
What’s the best bet?
Callum Wilson – Premier League top goalscorer (80/1 each-way – various)

Watford

How did they get there?
By finishing only two points behind a Bournemouth side who were seen as serenity personified, Watford and the Pozzo family made the case for a very different route to the Premier League. They won more games than Bournemouth, scored only seven goals fewer and conceded five more. They also had three more managers than the champions. This was the vindication for leadership and achievement through chaos.
What are their chances?
Firstly, it must be pointed out that Watford are the shortest odds of all three promoted to go straight back down, and the favourites to finish rock bottom.
Now for some cautious positivity. If uncertainty increases anticipation and intrigue, Watford may be one of Europe’s most interesting clubs to watch this season. Let’s play a game: 1) Think of a number between one and ten 2) Now add ten. 3) Now subtract ten. 4) Now add ten again. Whatever number you now have is where Watford might finish. And I really need to work on my games.
“I believe part of the success of the team is down to the level of cohesion,” said Arsene Wenger of his Arsenal squad last month. “We have a good level of cohesion and at the moment what is very important to our squad and myself is to see how we can move forward again.”
Watford are living in an opposite reality. Everything comes down to whether the Pozzos can continue to subvert footballing logic by drawing success out of another big fiery mess, with a huge turnaround of players and coaches. It could be wonderful or it could be a disaster; it will definitely be worth watching.
Meet the manager
Having gained promotion last season, Slavisa Jokanovic left Vicarage Road after the two parties failed to reach an agreement over wages. The claim is that Watford offered a basic salary of £1m per year; Jokanovic wanted £2.5m.
The manager’s chair didn’t have time to go cold, however, with Watford quickly announcing the appointment of Quique Flores. The 50-year-old arrives with a pretty glittery CV, having won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid and having managed Benfica and Valencia too.
However, it is worth pointing out that his last four years of management have seen him enjoying the sun in the United Arab Emirates. He now looks like a cross between Phil Brown and Andrew Collins. Much will depend on Flores’ ability to adapt to a new league, and do so quickly. It’s not hard to see him clearing his desk in late October. Pepe Mel and Juande Ramos seems more likely than Rafa Benitez.
Who are the players to watch?
Troy the boy Deeney should rival Callum Wilson to be the latest English striker to take the Premier League by storm. Having scored 64 goals at Championship level in the past three seasons, Deeney has more than earned that opportunity. Fans will have been delighted to see him sign a new five-year contract last month.
Heurelho Gomes, for so long a joke figure at Tottenham, is one of the few players in Watford’s squad with Premier League experience, and he also signed a new contract this summer. Of those who helped get the club promoted, Gabriele Angella and Almen Abdi were both key, but it remains to be seen how many of that core will be replaced by the raft of new signings.
Who have they brought in?
Lots and lots and lots. Watford are a club for whom standing still is an admission of weakness, and this summer has seen an extraordinary number of arrivals Vicarage Road. So, take a deep breath: Sebastian Prodl (free, Werder Bremen), Giedrius Arlauskis (free, Steaua Bucharest), Matej Vydra (undisclosed, Udinese), Jose Holebas (£1.75m, Roma), Etienne Capoue (£5.7m, Tottenham), Valon Behrami (£3m, Hamburg), Allan Nyom (free, Udinese), Miguel Britos (free, Napoli), Jose Jurado (£6m, Spartak Moscow), Steven Berghuis (£4.6m, AZ Alkmaar). Phew.
They have players of 22 different nationalities in their squad, Italian owners and a Spanish head coach. Just sit back and await the madness.
What’s been said?
“I expect to understand what is going on! For me, it is not easy to train another club in Spain at the same level as Atletico Madrid and Valencia. The best thing was to change the competition. And if I only want to work in an amazing league, then for me it means working in Spain or in England. Although the way we play here and over there is a little different, the level of intensity is similar” – Quique Flores.
What’s the best bet?
Team to concede the most goals – 11/4 (Unibet, 888Sport)

Norwich City

How did they get there?
Via the most comfortable Wembley afternoon imaginable. Norwich swatted aside Middlesbrough in embarrassingly easy fashion in the play-off final in May, thus ending a remarkable run which saw them win 15 and draw four of their final 21 league games of the season.
Having been in 11th position in late November and seventh when Neil Adams was sacked in January, Norwich’s inspirational return to the Premier League was masterminded by Alex Neil. He is the prodigal son of Scottish football management.
What are their chances?
I’m trying to be positive, but I just can’t see Norwich staying up. The nucleus of the squad remains from their 2013/14 relegation, and the new signings just don’t add enough quality for me to feel excited. Crucially, in Wilson and Deeney both Bournemouth and Watford have strikers you would be confident can thrive at this level. I’m not going to pretend that Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary Hooper, Cameron Jerome and Kyle Lafferty make me feel the same.
The hope is that Alex Neil’s influence will be sufficient to make up for the shortfall from their last crack at survival, and it is easy to understand why. Outside of that support, optimism gives way to realism. I’m sure fans will delight in telling me I was wrong should it be proven so.
Meet the manager
When Paul Lambert was sacked by Aston Villa on February 11, it left the Premier League without a Scottish top-flight manager for the first time since 1984, the end of an era of dominance. Alex Neil now stands alone. His plaudits would say that he is the next on the production line of great Glaswegian coaches.
Still 34, Norwich is just Neil’s second job after a successful spell in charge of Hamilton. To put his success in statistical terms, he has been a manager since April 2013. In those 28 months he has lost just 16 league games. Nice work.
“I said to Stephen Fry when the whistle had gone he should be knighted, you wait, he’ll get one. I’m with the fans on that one,” said majority shareholder Delia Smith after the play-off final. “We are just bowled over by him. He is incredible. He is a lovely man, he’s intelligent, self-confident and he doesn’t have an ego – and that’s quite hard.”
Who are the players to watch?
Two years ago, I picked a then-19-year-old Nathan Redmond to be the signing of the season after Norwich had got him on the cheap from Birmingham City. I’ll admit that Storeydamus didn’t quite get it right that time, but Redmond provided six goals and 13 assists in the Championship last season to spearhead his club to promotion. He doesn’t turn 22 until March, and yet has already played 168 domestic matches, plus 61 for various England age-group teams. Redmond will be the key, and keeping hold of him in January crucial.
Who have they brought in?
Meh. Robbie Brady is a decent signing but, having been relegated with Hull last season, £7m is a huge transfer fee for a player with a year left on his contract. That aside, none of Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans or Andre Wisdom hugely inspire. All three have been left unwanted by West Brom in one form or another recently.
What’s been said?
“Every game I went into last year people were telling me we were favourites and we had the best squad. I don’t think too many will tell me that this year. We will approach it exactly the same way and attack it. We will be desperate to win and providing we continue to perform the way they have done in the six months I have been here we should be fine” – Alex Neil.
What’s the best bet?
I wanted to pick Nathan Redmond at 150/1 for top assists provider, but each-way bets are not permitted. Instead, I’ll be grumpy and pick Norwich at 9/2 to finish bottom. Canaries can tweet me their abuse, arf.
Daniel Storey

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