English Premier League Preview Part 1 - The Promoted Sides
The Promoted Sides
The first part of a 5 part series looks at the 3 sides that joined the Premier league for the 2015/16 season after gaining promotion from the Championship. The bottom 3 sides from the 2014/15 season (QPR, Burnley and Hull City) replace them. These sides often have the toughest challenge being torn between rebuilding an already successful side or showing faith to the players who got them there in the first place and believing that they can make it at the next level. This season see's Bournemouth, Watford and play off winners Norwich City join the top flight. All have different approaches to the new season.
(Note - thanks to premierleague.com for transfer information throughout article).
Players In (major only) - Artur Boruc (Southampton), Adam Federici (Reading), Josh King (Blackburn), Christian Atsu (Chelsea - loan), Tyrone Mings (Ipswich), Lee Tomlin (Middlesbrough), Max Gradel (St Etienne), Sylvain Distin (Everton)
Players Out (major only) - Ian Harte, Mohamed Coulibaly, Mile Addison, Joe Partington (all released)
Managed by Eddie Howe, The Cherries arrive in the Premier League as champions and make their first appearance in the top division. Aged just 37, Howe is one of the most respected managers in the game and played much of his career with AFC Bournemouth. He has been the manager since 2012 and was named Football League Manager of the Decade for the 2005-2015 period. Their story is even more remarkable by the fact that the club almost went out of existence in 2009. Scoring 98 goals last season, this is an attacking side full of flair and adventure.
Howe has managed to keep the nucleus of his side together and expect free kick specialist Matt Ritchie, Marc Pugh and Yann Kermorgant to be amongst their key players. Howe has managed to retain the services of goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who was an impressive member of the Southampton side of the 2013/14 season, as well as adding the experience of well travelled Sylvain Distin. He has also added former player and Ivory Coast international Max Gradel who scored 17 goals for St Etienne last season and Josh King from Championship side Blackburn Rovers. King is a Norwegian international and former Manchester United and could be a good pick up for Howe. Expect Bournemouth to be a handful at the Dean Court home as with a capacity of just 11,464 it likely will be a lively atmosphere and few sides will fancy a trip to the freezing English South Coast in the winter months of November to February. Their home form will determine if their season in the top flight will continue into the 2016/17 season.
Players in (major only) - Sebastien Prodl (Werder Bremen), Giedrius Arlauskis (Steaua Bucharest), Jose Holebas (AS Roma), Matej Vydra (Udinese), Eteinne Capoue (Spurs), Valon Behrami (Hamburg), Allan Nyom (Napoli), Jurado (Spartak Moscow), Steven Berghuis (AZ Alkmaar)
Players out (major only) - Jonathan Bond (Reading), Lewis McGugan (Sheffield Wed), Diego Fabbrini (Middlesbrough).
Not only did Championship runners up Watford add significantly to their squad over the summer months but they also changed their manager with Enrique Flores taking over from Slavisa Jokanovic who failed to agree new contract terms. Whether that was a smart move remains to be seen but this will be the 6th manager since the club was taken over by the Pozzo Family in 2012.
Giampaolo Pozzo also owns Udinese of Italy and Granada in Spain. He has a wide scouting network and has been keen to break into the Premier League. The Udinese idea is to utilize the network and discover young up and coming talent with a view to developing and selling them on for a large profit. At Udinese they enjoyed success with the likes of Alexis Sanchez (now of Arsenal) and Fabio Quagliarella. There is no doubt that Watford will benefit from the infusion of talent over the summer and there is also no doubt that the owners will be backing the manager particularly with the wealth on offer in the top division. However, whether the side will have time to gel is open to question.
Manager Flores won the Europa League in 2010 with Atletico Madrid and also had spells at Valencia and Benfica. before spending 2011-14 at UAE based side Al Ain FC. It is hard to think that this sets him up to get off to the fast start required in the Premier League were there is no time for a settling in period and where he faces a baptism of fire away to Roberto Martinez's unpredictable Everton side at Goodison Park. The current side boasts Premier League experience in goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, formerly of Tottenham, Etienne Capoue, Ben Watson and Craig Cathcart. However, they likely will rely on skipper and top goalscorer Troy Deeney to get them their goals. Deeney has 77 goals in 205 appearances and last season he became the first Watford player to score 20 goals in 3 consecutive seasons. He is fast, powerful and a clinical finisher and it will be interesting to see if the 27 year old can repeat his form at the top level. If he does you cannot rule out a possible England call up for the 27 year old. Playing at the 21,577 capacity Vicarage Road, the Hornets no doubt will take some scalps at home but whether they can take enough points to survive is dependent on how quickly the manager and his players can adapt to each other and the Premier League.
Deeney for England?
Players in (major only) - Graham Dorrans & Youssof Mulumbu (both WBA), Robbie Brady (Hull City), Andre Wisdom (Liverpool - loan)
Players out (major only) - Mark Bunn (Aston Villa)
Norwich City boast the youngest manager in the Premier League in Alex Neil who is just 34. He led Norwich to promotion via the play offs with a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough and in some quarters the Scot has been likened to a young Alex Ferguson. The club can call on some strong support at its home ground of the 27,244 capacity Carrow Road including long time fan and culinary genius Delia Smith. A loyal fan and joint majority shareholder, Smith once came on the pitch during a Premier League game against Manchester City at half time to encourage the supporters to get behind their team more. The club boast a solid celebrity fan base with Stephen Fry, Hugh Jackman, Ed Balls and Myleene Klass amongst some of its fans.
The club has kept a majority of the side that helped them gain promotion and many of those players were also in the side that were relegated in 2014. They will also welcome back Ricky Van Wolfswinkel who joined in the 2013/14 season with a superb goalscoring record of 54 goals in 119 games across 4 seasons for FC Utrecht and Sporting Lisbon. Unfortunately the man once known as Hatricky played more like Rip Van Winkel and scored 1 goal in 25 games for the Canaries, his only goal coming on his debut. Whether he can return to his form of old remains to be seen, Never the less in Cameron Jerome and Gary Hooper, Norwich have two players capable of scoring the goals that could keep them up. They have also made useful signings in Robbie Brady, who if he stays fit, is more then able to supply the ammunition. The addition of Mulumbu and the impressive Wisdom, who spent last season on loan at West Brom, has further strengthened the squad without over stretching the budget. Sebastien Bassong and goalkeeper John Ruddy provide further experience and if Neil can add a one or two more loan signings he might have enough stability in the side to stay up. Just like Watford and Bournemouth home games will be crucial and maybe Delia will need to rally up that 12th man once again.