Newly promoted trio must punch above their weight


LONDON • Just seven years after coming within hours of going out of business, Bournemouth will complete a rags-to-riches rise when they kick off their first Premier League campaign on Saturday against Aston Villa.

The club underwent a facelift thanks to the inspired management of Eddie Howe and the subsequent investment of Russian benefactor Maxim Demin, whose petrochemical fortune has bankrolled them since 2011.

Howe, 37, who secured Bournemouth's promotion to the second tier in 2013 and then led them into the Premier League as surprise Championship winners in May, spent the close season analysing how clubs of similar stature had fared in their first seasons.

That research showed him that Barnsley, Blackpool and Swindon Town, all relegated after one season, reached the Premier League playing an attacking style that was brutally exposed against higher quality rivals.

Howe has been trying to follow the example set by Swansea City. Their swashbuckling promotion in 2011 was followed by a subtle switch to more cautious tactics and careful transfer dealings that allowed the club to punch above their weight.

While Bournemouth's progress has delighted football romantics, Watford's return to the top flight for the first time since 2007 has had a savvier edge to it.

They have benefited from their takeover by the Pozzo family though their success was not without casualties. The Italian owners went through four managers last term, then parted company with Slavisa Jokanovic in the close season.

The new man in the hot seat is former Valencia and Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez Flores.

Preparing to embark on their eighth Premier League season after going up via the play-offs, Norwich City are the most familiar of the three promoted clubs.

Their Scottish manager Alex Neil, 34, has earned comparisons with Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson. Neil made his name in Scotland with Hamilton Academical before leading Norwich into the Premier League just five months after taking charge.



Manager: Eddie Howe

2014-2015 Championship: 1st


In: Sylvain Distin (Everton, free), Tyrone Mings (Ipswich, £8m), Christian Atsu (Chelsea, loan), Joshua King (Blackburn, undisclosed), Artur Boruc (Southampton, free), Adam Federici (Reading, free).

Out: Ian Harte (released), Josh McQuoid (released), Darryl Flavahan (released), Mohamed Coulibaly (released), Joe Partington (released), Miles Addison (released), Ryan Fraser (Ipswich, loan), Brett Pitman (Ipswich, undisclosed), Jayden Stockley (Portsmouth, loan).

Key Man: Callum Wilson

A relatively unknown striker a year ago, the 23-year-old scored 20 league goals in his debut season at Bournemouth, firing the club to the top flight for the first time in their 116-year history. The England Under-21 international's exploits attracted the attention of a host of Premier League clubs this summer. But he has since committed to a new four-year deal with the Cherries.


Manager: Quique Flores

2014-2015 Championship: 2nd


In: Etienne Capoue (Tottenham, £6.3m), Steven Berghuis (Alkmaar, £4.6m), Matej Vydra (Udinese, £4m), Valon Behrami (Hamburg , £3m), Jose Holebas (Roma, £1.8m), Juanfran (Betis, £1.5m), Giedrius Arlauskis (Steaua Bucharest, free), Sebastian Prodi (Bremen, free), Allan Nyom (Udinese, undisclosed), Miguel Britos (Napoli, free), Jose Manuel Jurado (Spartak Moscow, undisclosed)

Out: Lewis McGugan (Sheffield Wednesday, £300,000), Jonathan Bond (Reading, £250,000), Vujadin Savic (released), Luke O'Nien (released), Marco Motta (released)

Key man: Troy Deeney

Only Ipswich's Daryl Murphy scored more than his 21 Championship goals last season. The Watford captain is the club's first player to score at least 20 goals in three successive seasons. If the striker can continue in the same vein, he will be repaying Watford for standing by him when he was in prison three years ago for fighting in public.


Manager: Alex Neil

2014-2015 Championship: 3rd.

Promoted via play-offs.


In: Robbie Brady (Hull, £7m), Andre Wisdom (loan, Liverpool), Graham Dorrans (West Bromwich, £3m), Youssouf Mulumbu (West Brom, free) 

Out: Luciano Becchio (Belgrano, free), Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, free), Kyle Callan-McFadden (released), Carlos Cuellar (released), Javier Garrido (released), Sam Kelly (released), Cameron McGeehan (Luton, undisclosed)

Key man: Bradley Johnson

He was initially known as a tenacious defensive midfielder but has since developed an eye for goal - regardless of whether he is playing on the left side or in a deep-lying role. The 28-year-old scored 15 goals to propel the Canaries back to the Premier League. Having played in the top-flight with Norwich from 2011 to 2014, he will know what to expect of top-level football.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline 'Newly promoted trio must punch above their weight'. Print Edition | Subscribe