With all three newly promoted teams avoiding relegation last season, it will be interesting to see whether this year, Swansea, Norwich and QPR can achieve survival again or whether the infamous ‘second season syndrome’ will hit them hard.
Swansea and Norwich both achieved safety relatively easy last season but as a result of this success, have suffered. For both clubs it has been a summer of change as they have seen their manager’s move on to pastures new. Both Paul Lambert and Brendan Rodgers left their respective clubs to take on new roles at Aston Villa and Liverpool leaving the boards both in East Anglia and Wales with the task of finding new managers. Chris Hughton and Michael Laudrup were both swiftly appointed as they looked to steady the ship. Norwich have achieved this by retaining the services of captain Grant Holt, who had previously submitted a transfer request. This change at the helm could be seen as a fresh start for these clubs but in realistic terms it will be difficult for them to achieve the success of their predecessors, who both had unprecedented success; Lambert guiding Norwich to back-to-back promotions and Rodgers taking Swansea into the Premier League for the first time. For both of these teams, last year will be difficult to replicate and surviving another year will be more than enough to please the majority of their fans.
The story with QPR is a totally different one. Surviving on the last day of the season due to Bolton’s failure to win, much will be expected of a team, backed financially by Tony Fernandes, as they look to progress in the Premier League. They have already signed players such as Robert Green and Ji-Sung Park as they seek to build an established Premier League side with Mark Hughes, an established Premier League manager. The money is there to continue spending so many would expect QPR to have a much more secure season than last season, but in football, nothing can be taken for granted. In players such as Joey Barton and Adel Taarabt, QPR will always have the ability to self-implode.
With all three of the promoted sides, Reading, Southampton and West Ham looking strong, there will be a lot of doubt as to whether QPR and especially Norwich and Swansea, can stay up for a second season. One thing is for sure, this season promises to be an exciting year in the relegation battle.