Every season, three Premier League teams can’t cut the mustard in the top-flight. This is either a result of too many injuries, mismanagement, lack of quality, or simply bad luck. Additionally, every year, three other teams make the top six and fight their way into the best division of football the UK has to offer. The 2020/21 season provided a characteristically mixed bag.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion, Fulham and Sheffield United plummeted out of the Premier League, despite the best efforts of their managers to inspire them to victory.
Looking forward to another season, fans are clamouring to see newcomers and familiar faces battle it out once again to survive the drop and secure promotion that now secures a club upwards of £170 million if they can pull it off. But who is capable of pulling off the difficult leap from the Championship to Premier League this season? From the looks of things, it’s all to play for.
It’s been some time since we saw the Riverside Stadium host a Premier League match. However, under the management of Neil Warnock, a man who has achieved an impressive nine promotions in his career, they’re not to be underestimated.
They aren’t outright favourites: according to the latest English Football League Championship odds, the chances of Middlesbrough going up is a marginal 5/1, but they are by no means the least likely to pull it off. With talented forwards like Chuba Akpom and midfielders like Marcus Tavernier, there’s enough there to give other teams serious problems.
Fulham’s second half of last season was a dismal display. Ex-manager Scott Parker wrestled to try and make the great escape and avoid the drop, however, their one draw and four losses in their final five games sealed their fate.
This year’s Championship, however, shouldn’t phase them too much. Boasting one of the best squads on paper, and Alexander Mitrovic up top, a veritable goal machine in the second-flight with 38 goals in 57 Championship appearances, there’s every reason they should be able to make the top six, if not top two and achieve promotion. The up-and-coming talent and spot-kick specialist Harry Wilson also makes for some enjoyable viewing on his day.
Perhaps the most favoured to join Fulham, West Brom’s only difficulty has been the transfer sagas of important players like Matheus Pereira, who buoyed the squad’s attack up in the Premier League last season with flair and creativity. Issues like this, where a stand-off between player and club is likely to ensue, can unsettle squads who only have a few weeks left to prepare for their season.
West Brom may try and lure back several successful loanees from last season, including Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, with the hopes of building enough squad depth to see out a gruelling season. The odds of Fulham and West Brom going up stands at 15/8 and 11/4, respectively.
The Cherries are a side that used to be something of a Premier League darling, stringing together solid seasons for five years, before things began to nosedive and they fell back down in 2020. No stranger to hardship, the club famously entered administration in 2008 and dropped to League 2, only to win three promotions in six years.
They’ve gained a decent manager in Scott Parker and haven’t lost many experienced players, bar goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Bournemouth’s implosion in last year’s playoffs against Brentford evidences that there’s still fire in the bellies of a squad that possesses plenty of talent and initiative.
The Championship has always been the boisterous brother to the Premier League, and its brand of football is exciting, fast-paced and physical. The four teams above, none of whom are strangers to this style of play, will by no means have an easy ride back to the top-flight. In a league like the Championship, nothing is guaranteed.