This up and coming season sees Leicester, Burnley and QPR joining the Premier League elite – but how will they fare???????
Leicester City – After a decade long absence the Foxes are back in the Premier League. They ran away with the Championship attaining over 100 points which is remarkable response if you consider the way they went out of the playoffs the previous season (from a Knockaert penalty miss to a Deeney goal in less than 60 seconds) and the fact that it seemed Nigel Pearson’s time as manager was up. Well one year + on and Mr Pearson is the toast of Leicester after a season from the gods in the Championship, which could easily be titled – ‘How to come back after a massive (within touching distance of the promised land) disappointment the season before’ and proof that sometimes (I agree not always) but sometimes keeping a manager in charge and giving them time to implement their ideas CAN bear a lot of fruit. Leicester left everyone in their wake, only Burnley managed to keep up and as mentioned over a century of points, a fantastic achievement. Credit has to be given to the owner at the King Power Stadium, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who has grand plans for the club. He cleared their 100 million + debt during the season and has promised the manager substantial funds (they have already broken their club record signing fee with the capture of Leonardo Ulloa from Brighton for 8 million rising to a potential 10 million pounds) to build a team to challenge for the Europa League places (at least) over the next few years. Their other summer purchases to date have been to secure players on longer term contracts as well as bringing in Premier League experienced players (Marc Albrighton and Matthew Upson), especially as Pearson is a big believer in the team ethic and bad pennies are not welcome. Leicester fans will be dreaming of a return back to the glory days if they can survive this season.
Burnley – What a season Burnley had under Sean Dyche, dubbed the ‘Ginger Mourinho’. Burnley had finished mid table the season before and ended the 2012-13 season in a bit of a damp squib with only one win in their final nine league games, no pre-cursor to what was to come the season just gone. They started strongly and despite people thinking they could not keep up the form for the whole season, and they would be caught by more fancied teams, notably QPR, Notts Forest and even Leeds United, but apart from a winless November they just kept finding more week on week, winning matches and in a footballing style. What was even more remarkable was that they had sold their main striker and the clubs top scorer, Charlie Austin, to QPR the previous summer, but Danny Ings and Sam Vokes took on the responsibility and some – scoring over 40 league goals between them. Another reason why their season was such a surprise to a lot of people was that their recruitment of players, which was, pre-season – a selection of players that all came to the club on free transfers. They spent money on Ashley Barnes to aid their promotion push in January. When you compare this minimal spend to what some of their Championship rivals had spent you have to credit the club as a whole, especially Dyche and how he blended together a team that plays easy on the eye football, under a tight budget and that are a success. So after four years away, they make a return to the top flight of English football and their initial prize is a visit of Roman’s boys from the Kings Road (yes people the Ginger One vs the Special One) – they will be hoping for a similar start to their last campaign at the summit of English Football, when their first home game saw Manchester United beaten on a balmy and raucous night at Turf Moor. Burnley (unsurprisingly) are the bookies favourite for relegation, but with a manager who clearly has ability, has proven he can take over a group of players and improve them markedly anything is possible for the Clarets come the Premier League season 2014/15. They have recruited six players over the summer, as we stand including experienced Premier League performers Matty Taylor and Steven Reid, though Dyche is on the lookout for more players and has openly admitted it has been a struggle especially as he is looking for a certain type of player to fit in. I think we can safely say his philosophy has and is working and an exciting season awaits for the Northwest team.
QPR – What a rollercoaster season for Harry’s boys (actually a rollercoaster few years I’d say and I’m sure their fans would agree!!!!!!!). They started well in the Championship last season then faded. This is a team that had a larger wage bill than Atletico Madrid (who won La Liga and got to the Champions League Final). A dramatic last minute goal from Bobby Zamora in the play-off final (when they were down to 10 men and holding on for extra time) was enough to see them return to the Premier League after their relegation the previous season, redemption for Harry and Chairman, Tony Fernandes. You would think that of all three of the teams that have come up from the Championship that QPR would be best equipped to stay up, however their finances are in a mess. As mentioned their wage bill was ridiculous for a Championship club, but the fact they were in the second tier of English football (with such a spend) tells you everything you need to know about how badly the club was being managed at boardroom level. Furthermore with reported losses of around 65 million pounds, even though they have been promoted, a potential fine may well still occur. So how will they get on this season, things are already looking a bit more promising in my opinion. Tony Fernandes, has now sold his Formula 1 team, so can really concentrate on making QPR stable in the Premier League, especially as he has never been shy on spending money on players. They seem to have got their act together in regards of their transfer dealings and instead of signing fancy ‘dans’ from abroad as we stand they have invested in two young and upcoming players from relegated Cardiff in Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch. Add to this the loan signing of Mauricio Isla (26, a Chilean international with seven seasons in Italian football, winning two titles with Juventus) and of course the marquee signing of Rio Ferdinand, it seems that their spending is much less blasé and scattergun than their previous policy. Futhermore Loic Remy will be available to the manager after the collaspe of his move to Liverpool. QPR will be expected to survive in England’s top flight next season and anything but this I feel will be the end of the managerial reign of Harry Redknapp and maybe another sell off for Mr Fernandes.
So how will our newbies fare??????? To be honest I’m NOT making ANY predictions. So called experts have said this seasons title race will be the most exciting and closest ever, I feel the same about the relegation battle. I don’t see any team being cut adrift early doors. From last seasons promoted teams, Hull and Crystal Palace survived and Cardiff who had gone up the previous season as the Championship winners went down. One thing is for sure all three teams (like all teams in the Premier League) will have their ups and downs throughout the season and I’m sure all the promoted teams will take 17th place now if offered. Enjoy (if you can!!!!!!!)
Let me know what you think – you can also tweet me @biggishmouth or go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth