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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Which of the Premier New Boys Can Stay Up? by Craig Simpkin

by Craig Simpkin for World Football Commentaries

Eden Hazard
Image credit: AndhikaMPPP.

Craig Simpkin discusses the blueprint of survival for Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford, respectively, in the new Premier League campaign.

Discussion Items:

1. Sign Good Players.
2. Add Some Top Flight Experience.
3. Keep Your Best Players.
4. Turn Your Home Into A Fortress.
5. Keep The Faith.

Despite rumours to the contrary, it’s not actually all that difficult to stay in the Premier League. Just take a look at the stats: in three of the last five seasons, two of the three promoted teams have gone on to survive – a success ratio of 66%.

Indeed, in the 2011/12 campaign none of the newly-anointed Premier League sides were sent back from whence they came. And whilst only Leicester City of the three survived last season, the signs are good for Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich for the coming campaign, despite what the current betting markets might say.

So what is the blueprint for Premier League survival?

1. Sign Some Good Players

It’s a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many clubs try to survive without adding any quality to their squad (hello Burnley). There’s no need to break the bank; just add some new faces who can mix it at the top level.

Arguably, both Watford and Norwich have done just that, whilst Bournemouth have gone down a slightly different path with their signings thus far. The Hornets have added Etienne Capoue, who has yet to live up to his undoubted potential, and Valon Behrami – who has played for some of Europe’s finest clubs (and West Ham) – to their roster. The signing of Matej Vydra, who bagged 16 goals last season, on a permanent deal is good business too.

The Canaries, meanwhile, have secured the signature of Yousouff Mulumbu, once tipped for full England honours, and someone who has played more than 100 times in the Premier League. Also signing on the dotted line is Graeme Dorrans, so impressive in a loan spell at Carrow Road last term.

Bournemouth have gone for a mix of youth and experience, bringing in talented youngster Tyrone Mings and Chelsea’s Christian Atsu on loan, while 37-year-old Sylvain Distin adds nous and know-how to a Cherries side lacking in top flight familiarity.

2. Add Some Top Flight Experience

The key to Leicester’s relegation resistance was in signing players who have operated in the top division, and are thus not overawed by its requirements. Esteban Cambiasso, Robert Huth and Marc Albrighton all played their part in retaining the Foxes’ Premiership status.

Bournemouth have brought in Distin, and you can barely get more Premier League experience than a bloke who has made more than 400 top flight appearances for the likes of Manchester City, Portsmouth and Everton.

Watford have introduced Behrami, who has played in three World Cups for Switzerland and made more than 50 appearances for the Hammers, and Capoue, but for the rest of their squad – Ben Watson apart – the Premier League is something of a mystery.

The majority of this Norwich squad have played in the top division, but that came in the 2013/14 season when they were relegated. There is such a thing as ‘bad experience’ too.

Kun Aguero
Image credit: AndhikaMPPP.

3. Keep Your Best Players

Just as important as making some quality additions is keeping those players who brought Championship success to the club on the books. Thus far all three of the promoted teams have managed to hang on to their key figures, with Watford’s Troy Deeney signing a new long-term contract in order to ward off the interest of Swansea, Stoke and the like.

4. Turn Your Home Ground Into A Fortress

Picking up the bulk of your points at home and then chipping away on the road is the classic template for success. This is true of Leicester, who won 26 points at home and therefore would have only needed 10 from their 19 away fixtures to stay up.

All three of the promoted sides were decent on home soil last season, and their ‘intimate’ stadiums will help to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that their more illustrious Premier League opponents might not find to their liking.

Indeed for Bournemouth, the newly-named Vitality Stadium - which has a capacity of just 12,000 - could prove to be their secret weapon, with every game feeling like a cup tie.

Chelsea Vs Arsenal
Image credit: AndhikaMPPP.

5. Keep the Faith

There were plenty of times when the Thai owners of Leicester City could have dispensed with Nigel Pearson last season, whether for the mid-season slump in results, the tactical naivety or the off field misdemeanours, but they kept the faith and were rewarded with another crack at the big time (before promptly sacking Pearson anyway).

In Eddie Howe, Bournemouth boast one of the most highly-rated young managers in the country: and they will do well to remember that should things get tough and the vultures start circling. At Norwich Alex Neil has worked wonders, and his record in charge of the club so far deserves unwavering loyalty.

Little is known of the new Watford gaffer Quique Flores, but should the Hornets board be as profligate as they were with managers last season – hiring and firing five in total – then they could be on a sticky slope back to the un-promised land.

About the Author

Craig Simpkin is a Journalism Graduate, freelance writer and editor. Has worked with Unibet, 888Sport, Carling and the Sabotage Times.
This is Craig's first contribution at World Football Commentaries.

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