The remnants and benefits of being a Premier League team help in the first season in the Championship and the three relegated sides are at the head of the betting to be the champions in the second tier this season. Derby are the shortest priced team who have not come down and in Nigel Pearson they have recruited a manager who is proven at this level. Sheffield Wednesday were 7th last season and can get in the mix for promotion this time.
Newcastle and Aston Villa are big city clubs with a loyal core of supporters. However, reputations don’t count for anything when teams are fighting to stay in the Premier League. It was bad management and direction that caused their demise last season but relegation has been costly because they will receive much less television money. Norwich’s natural place in the order of English football is probably in the second level and they look least equipped of the three relegated sides to go back up.
Love him or hate him Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle, does what it takes to get back into the Premier League immediately by spending the money to achieve that objective. Several players are still of Premier League quality and are committed to the cause. Newcastle have the players and infrastructure for promotion but going up as champions may be beyond them. Some players who froze in the Premier League last season can do the business in a less demanding division.
Aston Villa were described as one of the worst teams in the history of the Premier League last season. Their tally of 17 points was abysmal but they were better than that. The soap opera of the club of the field affected performances and confidence was low. However, in Roberto Di Matteo they have chosen a coach who played for Italy at the highest level, won the Champions League with Chelsea and managed West Brom to promotion to the Premier League. If Villa start well the fans will get behind them they could win the Championship by a street.
The three relegated teams could make an immediate return because Norwich have a squad that can compete at this level. Manager Alex Neil got the team promoted two seasons ago and the current crop are no worse than that team. Norwich have become a yo-yo team and they have the tools and management to go back up. However, sport is rarely straightforward and any one of the three could struggle to regain their top level status and benefit from the ridiculous amount of TV money.
Derby are one team that could break into the top three and they are another club with the support to spend the money to get out of the Championship. They are a Premier League team in reality playing at the second level. The club have a good base of season ticket holders who have remained loyal as successive managers and groups of players have failed to take them to the Promised Land. Pearson is not everybody’s cup of tea as he seems like a bit of a bully as he was in his playing days. However, he does know how to build a winning team but not quite good enough for promotion.
On paper the three relegated teams look the strongest in the league but football is played on grass and not paper. Relegation must affect a player’s confidence and a strong mentality is required to prosper in the tough Championship. Players from other sides may not have the mental scars and a team often comes from left field to challenge for promotion and this season it could be Sheffield Wednesday who reached the play-offs last year.
Wednesday lost the play-off final last season and that setback can be hard to take. However, the team can respond by getting out of the division but that may require the post-season route again. The club have invested in talent that would not look out of place in the Premier League and they have shown the ambition and intent to reach that level as a side. The key to Wednesday’s prospects is starting on the front foot and not sulking about how last season ultimately concluded with heartache at Wembley.
Newcastle and Villa have enough to make their stay in the Championship a one year experience and Sheffield Wednesday can be the third team to go up while the experience of Di Matteo can help Villa win the Championship.
Have a fantastic weekend!