Although it’s a common-held view that the gap between the Premier League and the Championship has grown into a vast chasm, for every QPR there has been a Crystal Palace, and the likes of Stoke City and Swansea City have cemented themselves at accepted elite sides over the course of the past five to ten years.
2014/15 saw both the aforementioned Super Hoops and Burnley make an immediate return to the second tier – and had it not been for a miraculous late run, Leicester City would have joined them, too – but that should not serve as a source of great negativity for the current crop gearing up for life in the big time.
Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich enter the ‘big time’ with varying levels of reputation, with the Cherries set for their bow, the Canaries back in at the first time of asking and the Hornets sat somewhere in-between.
Although fans of the threesome will be preoccupied with thoughts of whether or not their teams can actually cut it in the money-spinning world of the ‘Prem’, the rest of us are looking over for a few Fantasy Football bargains.
Promoted sides offer risk/reward opportunities, with low valuations in place due to the players’, often, lack of top tier experience and the prospect of relegation battles, but every now and then a real diamond in the rough can be found – Charlie Austin last season for example.
With the most expensive of the ‘newbies’ coming in at £6m (Matt Ritchie and Steven Berghuis), there is value in the market, but it’s not wise to fill your side with bargain basement names, as, chances are, very few will yield the return you’ll be needing to battle in individual leagues, the cup and, if you’re really lucky, the overall rankings.
Promoted as champions, the Dorset side are likely to be the first port of call for eager managers. Even though it’s the Cherries’ maiden voyage into the Premier League, their attractive brand of football in the Championship last term has boosted expectations, with the example of Swansea back in 2011/12 proof that a change in playing style isn’t always needed.
Matt Ricthie is certainly the poster boy for Eddie Howe’s side, and his 15 goals and 17 assists from a wide midfield role last term bodes well. Although the quality of opposition will be sterner, the Scotland international looked a Premier League player stuck in the Championship last term, and the runs of Callum Wilson ahead will allow for slick counter attacks.
At £5.5m, the aforementioned forward offers a budget option for one of a front three. Twenty goals last term is encouraging to say the least, and he looks nailed-on to be Howe’s main striker with additions up front having been minimal on the South Coast so far this summer.
In defence, full-backs Simon Francis and Tyrone Mings come in at £4.5m apiece, and are set to be used In an attacking manner. Francis notched six assists last term under Howe, and Mings, brought in from Ipswich for a club record fee, appears to have the physicality to do the same job on the left flank.
Simon Francis – £4.5m
Tommy Elphick – £4.5m
While things have stayed settled at Bournemouth and Norwich, Watford are now on their fifth manager in 12 months. Quique Sanchez Flores arrives with a wealth of experience in the Spanish game – and a brief spell in the Middle East – but the difference in style associated with the Premier League is a hurdle, and with new signings to bed in it’s hard to predict what will happen at Vicarage Road.
Troy Deeney is the obvious standout name, with the striker a potential bargain at £5.5m. 21 goals – the joint second highest tally in the Championship last term – make the 27-year-old the most dangerous striker stepping up, and penalty-kick duties provide another possible points outlet.
Heurelho Gomes impressed in goal, too, but his previous time in the top tier was littered with errors, while Gabriele Angella is always a threat from set-pieces – although additions at the back may disrupt things. Steven Berghuis on the wing has the potential to be a worth, albeit relatively costly, buy at £6m. His 11 goals in Eredivisie last term make him an intriguing option.
Heurelho Gomes – £4.5m
Juan Manuel Jurado – £5.5m
With only three permanent additions, and Andre Wisdom on loan from Liverpool, Norwich have been the least active of the promoted sides this summer, and look instead likely to rely on the tactical tinkering of manager Alex Neil – who was a revelation following his January move to Carrow Road – and largely the same squad relegated in 2013/14.
Unusually for a promoted side the goalkeeper looks to be a wise addition. John Ruddy is a full England international and comes in at a modest £4.5m – not a bad fee considering he’ll play week in, week out and the Canaries conceded only 48 goals last term (bettered only by Middlesbrough).
Bradley Johnson’s 15 goals from midfield mean he could be a good ‘fifth’ man at £5.5m, although Nathan Redmond, at the same price, offers more attacking intent on the wing and topped the team’s assist charts with 13 last season.
Cameron Jerome up front could be a gamble, with his 20 goals – 2.6-shots-per-goal – a solid return, but his previous woes in the Premier League brings about the feeling that the second tier is his level – albeit at 28 he’s now in his peak and possesses experience.
Martin Olsson – £4.5m
Jonny Howson – £5.0m
Written by Football FanCast and commissioned by Fantasy Football Scout, the tips, news and views site for those who don’t just play Fantasy Football.