According to all the major bookies QPR will survive and both Norwich and Swansea will both be relegated. Come the end of next season the bookies may prove to be correct – but how much thought has really gone in to this decision?
I certainly do understand why QPR are considered to have a bigger chance given the more extensive resources and the fact that they were deserved winners of the Championship last season. But has a proper analysis been done on Norwich and Swansea or have they just decided that one of the newly promoted sides will survive and the other two will go down. Well if they reach a similar conclusion at the beginning of last season then they would have been wrong – because only Blackpool of the newly promoted teams went down.
Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert are two of the most highly rated young managers around at the moment. Rodgers learned his trade at Chelsea and was in charge of both youth and reserve teams during his time there. Rodgers was at Chelsea in the same period that Jose Mourinho was – and it appears some of those special qualities rubbed off on him. Rodgers found first job in management with Watford and began to make a name for himself. His spell at Watford was fairly short lived and he moved on to Reading – but this didn’t prove to be the best move and left Reading by mutual consent after a disappointing run of results. The next opportunity arrived at Swansea and this is where Rodgers has really started to prove himself and fulfil that potential. At the end of last season Rodgers gained the ultimate reward of testing himself in the Premier League – after winning the Championship play-off final. At present Rodgers has a win percentage of 54% as Swansea manager.
Paul Lambert started off his managerial career at Livingston after gaining his coaching badges by studying in Germany. The job proved to be a tough early lesson for Lambert and proved to be unsuccessful with Lambert resigning after a poor run of results. Lambert’s next job came at Wycombe and he fared better and showed some evidence of his obvious managerial talent by guiding Wycombe to the semi-finals in the League Cup and the League Two play-offs but he resigned when the club were eliminated from the competition. Lambert’s third managerial gig saw him move up a division and takeover League One club Colchester United. In his first season in Essex the club flirted with the play-offs but in the end finished in mid-table. His second season in charge started superbly with a 7-1 win over Norwich City – but shortly after the game he left Colchester to join Norwich.
Since joining Norwich Lambert has been superb and has won back to back promotions to give him a shot at the Premier League; after managing in League Two, League One, the Championship and a spell in Scotland, he has earned his chance. Since being at Norwich Paul Lambert has had a 56% win percentage.
However, despite their obvious strengths the managers are not the only things that these two clubs have going for them. Both Swansea and Norwich have very good facilities and good quality stadiums fit for the Premier League. Both sides enjoying playing football in the right way and will look to do the same in the Premier League next season. It would probably be fair to say that both teams lack the household names – but they do have fantastic team spirit and players that are hungry to show what they can do in the Premier League.
Despite perhaps not being household names as yet both sides have players that are attacking and will cause Premier League defences problems. Scott Sinclair was highly rated as a youngster at Chelsea – but various loan spells followed and he wasn’t that impressive. But he has seemed to have found his home at Swansea – after signing permanently from the London side. Last season Sinclair struck 27 goals in all competitions.
Swansea also has a tricky winger with pace to burn in the shape of Nathan Dyer and has recently acquired Danny Graham from Watford in a £3.5m deal from Watford. Graham like Sinclair also hit 27 goals in all competitions – despite the fact that Watford failed to reach the play-offs. However, Graham is a Premier League player now and could prove to be a real hit next season.
Norwich has attacking threats of their own in the shape of Wes Hoolahan, Elliott Bennett and Grant Holt. Hoolahan has proved to be an important part of the Norwich City attack for the last few seasons and the role he plays on the tip of the Norwich diamond 4-4-2 formation – will make him difficult for Premier League defences to pick up. Hoolahan is likely to offer goals and assists for Norwich next season. Elliott Bennett is a new season at Carrow Road and has pace and tricky to burn that could cause Premier League defences all kinds of problems. Bennett may have been playing in League One last season – but the sheer amount of assists he provided suggests he can hold his own in the Premier League. Grant Holt deserves a shot in the Premier League and after scoring 23 goals in all competitions last season – he may fancy himself to score a few in the Premier League next season.
The bookies are of course entitled to their opinion – but I think Swansea and Norwich could well surprise some people next season. Yes, they may well both get relegated – but let’s at least see what they can do before writing them off completely. After all I feel both squads a far bit better than Blackpool’s.