Last years’ promoted teams, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Sheffield United are already feeling the harsh realities of life in the Premier League. But, with masses of money paid out in transfer fees and player contracts upon promotion, they will hope to duplicate the success of teams such as Burnley, Bournemouth and Wolves in the long run.
Two teams win promotion automatically every year, with a play-off for the final spot from the teams positioned third to sixth. It’s a long hard slog with 46 games in the league, (and cup games on top,) and the Championship always throws up some surprises along the way.
Before the busy winter period, here is our handy guide to how the promotion favourites are faring so far.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were last years’ play off final losers; despite sitting at the top of the table for most of the season the players tired and they lost their way. Losing first-teamer Pontus Jansson and top-scorer Kemar Roofe, and without the funds tore place them, they have looked to youngsters on loan from the Premier League this season. With another pre-season under his belt and described as the ‘best manager in the world’ by Guardiola, expect them not to tire this year. They steamrollered over Swansea, only to lose in the 90th minute, so they will hope Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa bed in and make an impact as they don’t want the same problems as last season, when they lacked the cutting edge in attack.
Swansea City may be flying high at the start of the season, but expect this to be a temporary surge, much like a 100:1 outsider out front in the Grand National. They will fade, but expect Welsh rivals, Cardiff City, to hold steady throughout the season. Neil Warnock is an old hand at getting teams promoted, holding the record with 8 promotions in his management career. Cardiff have a solid squad of players, ready to rotate over the busier periods; when other teams drop off. Don’t be surprised when they’re, at least, in the play-off spots come the turn of the new year. And with Will Vaulks catapult throws, expect some last-minute goals ruining everyone else’s party.
Fulham spent big last year to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Caretaker manager Scott Parker did enough at the end of last season to get the job full time. They have a large squad of players, most with Premier League experience who will itch to get back to the top-flight. Like Leeds, they have dipped into the Premier League loan market, bringing in the experience of Harry Arter and the exciting Ivan Cavaleiro from Wolves, and kept hold of star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. Expect Mitrovic and Cavaleiro to be pushing each other in their own personal goal-scoring competition to the end of the season and don’t be surprised if Mitrovic reaches the magical thirty.
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