Relegation likely to be wide open again
They days of the three promoted sides being easily picked off and sent back down by their new rivals in the top flight ended some time ago.
2002 broke the mould as all three newly promoted teams unsuccessfully beat the drop for the first time. Fast forward sixteen years and it has just happened again.
Brighton, Huddersfield and Newcastle managed to cling to their newly gained top flight status. This time round though it’s a very different Premier League they find themselves in.
Yesterday’s transfer news brought the rather surprising headline of Fulham signing Andre Schurrle from Borussia Dortmund.
It was a real eye catching piece of business by the West London club who have embodied the nouveau rich status of club’s formerly stratching a living in the lower reaches of the football league.
Fulham have not only snapped up World Cup winning winger from Dortmund, but splashed the cash on Jean Michael Serri. The Nice forward was linked to Barcelona and Liverpool just last summer so is quite a coup for the confidently spending Fulham.
It’s a show of confidence and a sign that, even newly promoted clubs, can now turn considerable heads with their financial pull.
This financial muscle has been mirrored elsewhere with clubs like Huddersfield Town spending big. Around £30 million has already been spent by the Yorkshire club as they once again attempt to fight off relegation.
Wolves, Cardiff and Southampton have all been signing cheques and strengthening as well. All will feel emboldened by the huge TV money on offer and will have expectant fans demanding they stay up.
It really is a tough one to predict this season. The spending power of the traditionally bottom half and in some cases lower league sides, has shot up. It has seen league standings which were once, relatively comfortable, become a bit more jittery.
Last season just thirteen points separated ten teams in the bottom half., this has come down considerably from the season before it was twenty-one points. This is obscured somewhat by Sunderland’s miserable campaign, but the numbers are still striking.
All of this money floating around is clearly narrowing the gap. Teams like Bournemouth can elbow their way up with a couple of wins. Equally a few bad results drags you right back into the dogfight.
Whether or not we will see an improved quality with all of this money remains to be seen. Clubs like West Ham, Wolves and Fulham will want to see an assault on the top half given their considerable outlay. Just staying up in 17th or 16th place is no longer sufficient. Ultimately though, some clubs who enjoyed relative comfort last season may have to settle for that.
Newcastle, Burnley and Crystal Palace are yet to seriously strengthen. In a league where you now have to spend thirty million just to stand still, this does not bode well for their fans as they prepare for another campaign in the maelstrom of the Premier League.