June 5, 2012 1 Comment
Over the last few seasons teams coming into the Premier League from the Championship have been more successful in avoiding relegation in their first season. QPR, Norwich and Swansea all survived this season, whilst the likes of Stoke, West Brom and Wigan have now established themselves as top-flight teams. So what do the three teams that are joining this season need to do to survive?
Reading are returning to the big time after relegation in 2008. There are many similarities though between this team and the one that finished eighth in their first season in the Premiership in 2006-2007. Just like that team there are no real big stars and Reading’s success comes from their solid shape, organisation and ability to counter attack. They have experience at the back in the shape of former Leeds man Ian Harte and Kaspars Gorkss, Exciting wingers in Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe and hardworking strikers in Jason Roberts and Noel Hunt.
The one different factor which may aid Reading’s survival chances this time is the backing of wealthy Russian Anton Zingarevich who recently bought 51% of the club. Certainly Reading will need to spend and add some Premier League experience and a proven goal scorer at the top level to the solid base that they already have.
The Saints last couple of seasons are very similar to that of Norwich City. From struggling in League One Nigel Adkins has secured back-to-back promotions to the Premier League just Like Paul Lambert did at Carrow Road. This has been achieved by having a prolific goal scorer at Football League level in Rickie Lambert just like Norwich has Grant Holt.
Much like Reading their success in the Championship was built on a solid defensive unit marshalled by Jose Fonte and Jos Hooiveld with the experienced Kelvin Davis in goal. Dean Hammond provides a good base in front of the back four, which allows the likes of Lambert, Adam Lallana and Billy Sharp to concentrate on scoring goals. With their current squad Southampton have a good chance of survival but much like Reading some more Premier League experience and strength in depth is required to give them an even better chance.
Everyone’s favourites to bounce straight back up did it the hard way after a 2-1 play-off final victory over Blackpool. They are a side that is already packed with Premiership and international experience with the likes of Winston Reid, Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole to name just a few. Despite scoring 81 goals last season ,which was the second highest in the division, a prolific striker is still needed as they created so many chances to win games which they drew in the Championship.
West Ham also have an advantage by having the experienced Sam Allardyce in charge. Allardyce has been there and done it with both Bolton and Blackburn, making Bolton a stable Premier League club and also taking Blackburn to a comfortable mid table position. Whilst many of the West Ham fans may not like the style of football that Allardyce plays, they cannot argue that it gets results and his meticulous planning may be what keeps West Ham afloat next season.
All three teams will have to spend to survive, with greater strength in depth being an issue for all three to cope with the rigours and pace of the top division. With three managers though who are very tactically astute and some exciting forward players Reading, Southampton and West Ham all have a great chance of making an impact in the Premier League next season.
By Chris Newman