Revisiting 5 instances in the recent past where promoted Premier League sides have recruited heavily
It is not very often that we see a promoted side in the Premier League splash the cash as extravagantly as Fulham did last summer.
The Cottagers apparently had little trust in the squad that got them promoted to the top-flight and owner Shahid Khan didn’t hesitate to loosen his purse strings to bring in radical reinforcements through the door at Craven Cottage.
As a matter of fact, Fulham signed anybody and everybody as a part of their summer spending spree, with as many as 15 new players arriving at the club prior to the start of the 2018-19 season.
The Cottagers made the headlines multiple times during the transfer window, with deals for Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jean Michael-Seri, Alfie Mawson, Joe Bryan and Maxime Le Marchand, while several others like Andre Schurrle, Luciano Vietto, Callum Chambers, Sergio Rico and Timothy Fosu-Mensah came through the door on loan.
Well, the result was there for everybody to see, as Fulham went straight back down to the Championship following a dreadful run in the Premier League this past season which saw the Cottagers finish 19th on the table.
Despite boasting of one of the strongest squads outside the top-six in the entire division, Fulham managed only 7 victories over the course of the campaign and finished with a humiliating defensive record.
The sidelining of several of those who had played a key role in the promotion-winning campaign and the subsequent unplanned recruitment of stars from the foreign leagues proved to be the major reason behind Fulham’s decapitulation in the Premier League.
Slavisa Jokanovic, Claudio Ranieri and Scott Parker tried their level best to bring all the new signings together and assemble a functioning unit but they failed miserably.
Fulham hardly learnt from their mistakes in the summer and brought in a few more players during the January window, with the likes of Havard Nordveit, Ryan Babel and Lazar Markovic joining the crew of a ship that was more than half-sunk by that time.
Things hardly changed for them and Fulham’s 2018-19 debacle in the Premier League proved to be a classic example of what sort of an approach any promoted team should avoid in the transfer window.
Interestingly, it has been seen in the recent past that mass recruitment can actually pay the dividends if things are planned correctly.
It is true that there is no guaranteed recipe for success as far as the promoted teams are concerned, with some opting to show confidence in the bunch that get them promoted, while others choose to bring in radical reinforcements in order to enhance their chances of survival.
As unforgiving as the Premier League can be for the newcomers sometimes, it is important for all teams to establish the right kind of balance between investing in fresh faces and getting the best out of the existing ones, something that Fulham failed to do.
Let us take a look back at some of the instances in the recent past when promoted teams chose to splash the cash heavily and their corresponding consequences.
1. Huddersfield Town (2017-18)
David Wagner guided Huddersfield Town to the Premier League via the playoffs at the end of the 2016-17 season and the Terriers brought in as many as 13 new players in the summer prior to the start of the 2017-18 Premier League campaign.
The spending spree included deals for the likes of Aaron Mooy from Man City and Steve Mounie from Montpellier, while Laurent Depoitre, Elias Kachunga, Mathias Jorgensen, Tom Ince, Scott Malone and Abdelhamid Sabiri arrived too.
Florent Hadergjonaj, Jonas Lossl and Kasey Palmer arrived on loan deals to add extra depth and quality to the squad.
Huddersfield’s ploy of mass recruitment paid immediate dividends in their quest for survival as the Terriers racked up back-to-back victories against Newcastle United and Crystal Palace in their first two games.
Despite suffering a dip in form towards the end of the year, the Terriers strung together victories against West Brom and Brighton, whilst also completing a giant-killing feat against Manchester United.
In January, they once again dipped into the transfer window to bring in Alex Pritchard and Terrence Kongolo, as three wins since the turn of the year proved enough to steer the club to safety.
Truth be told, manager David Wagner played a key role in preserving the club’s top-flight status and the German-American’s feat of rare charisma and brilliance earned him plaudits.
2. Watford (2015-16)
Watford’s impatience with managers is well-known and it was once again evident from the way they went about things in the Championship in the 2014-15 season.
A combined effort from four different managers Beppe Sannino, Oscar Garcia, Billy McKinlay and Slavisa Jokanovic, coupled with Odion Ighalo’s heroics in front of goal propelled the Hornets to automatic promotion.
Owner Gino Pozzo and the hierarchy showed little confidence in the existing players and the club opted for a massive overhaul of the squad, although most of the players came either came in on free transfers or for thrifty figures.
Watford’s summer business included the acquisition of Juanfran from Real Betis, Jose Holebas from Roma, Etienne Capoue from Spurs, Steven Berghuis from AZ Alkmaar, Valon Behrami, Adlene Guedioura, Adalberto Penaranda, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan Nyom, while others like Miguel Britos and Sebastien Prodl arrived for free.
Nathan Ake and Victor Ibarbo, as well as Italian international Alessandro Diamanti, came through the door at Vicarage Road on season-long loan deals. Quique Flores was entrusted with the job of assembling a rather new-looking Watford side and he didn’t disappoint.
Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney’s strong performances ensured that Watford didn’t face a relegation scare, with the Hornets racking up as many as 8 wins and 5 draws before the end of the year to virtually guarantee survival.
Despite a late slump in form, Watford cruised to a mid-table 13th-place finish and proved that mass recruitment with a measured approach can actually produce positive returns.
3. Bournemouth (2015-16)
Bournemouth’s blistering run of form in the 2014-15 season of the Championship saw them finish as the undisputed winners and the Cherries secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history, thus marking the beginning of an unprecedented rise in English football.
Callum Wilson’s 20-goal season was one of the main reasons behind their success but Eddie Howe chose to bring in reinforcements in a bid to preserve the club’s newly-acquired top-flight status.
A summer of heavy spending that marked the arrival of signings like Tyrone Mings and Max-Alain Gradel, while others like Joshua King, Lee Tomlin and Glen Murray came in for thrifty amounts.
Artur Boruc and Sylvain Distin were brought in on free transfers to add experience to the ranks, while the likes of Christian Atsu, Filippo Costa, Joe Bennett and Tomas Andrade made their way to the Vitality Stadium on loan deals.
The decision to bring in too many new players seemed to backfire as the Cherries only managed two victories until the end of November.
However, a remarkable upturn of form in December inspired the team to victories against Man United, Chelsea and West Brom before they spent big once again in January to bring in the likes of Benik Afobe and Lewis Grabban from Wolves and Norwich respectively.
In the end, Bournemouth huffed and puffed to a 16th-place finish as Howe somehow managed to steer the club to safety and in the process, laying down a solid platform from where they could carve out a reputation for themselves in the Premier League.
4. Middlesbrough (2016-17)
Middlesbrough secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time since their relegation back in 2008-09 but their stay in the top-flight proved to be nothing more than a passing shower, as their transfer policy of signing established and successful players failed to pay the dividends.
The likes of Gaston Ramirez, Victor Valdes, Brad Guzan and Bernardo Espinosa were brought in on free transfers to add experience to the ranks, while Marten de Roon and Adama Traore were regarded as exciting additions to the squad.
Others like Alvaro Negredo and Calum Chambers arrived at Teesside as loanees, with the former going on to top the scoring charts with 10 goals in the Premier League.
Manager Aitor Karanka further invested heavily in January to bring in Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede in a bid to bolster his misfiring forward line but that didn’t yield positive results either and Boro finished 19th in the standings with just 5 wins over the course of the campaign.
In the end, Boro bowed out of the Premier League after scoring just 27 goals, leaving many to wonder as to why the club spent so much money to bring in so many attackers.
5. Queens Park Rangers (2012-13)
QPR’s approach in the transfer window upon securing promotion to the Premier League evoked plenty of criticism from the pundits, as the club simply appeared to recruit ageing stars solely based on their past reputation and records.
They signed as many as 18 new players over the course of the campaign, with several high-profile players like Julio Cesar, Andy Johnson, Park Ji-Sung, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Loic Remy, Stephane Mbia, Christopher Samba, Jermaine Jenas, Andros Townsend and Robert Green coming through the doors at Loftus Road.
Such a policy was always going to be risky given that most of the players were simply past their prime, while others lacked the quality to make a significant impact.
Harry Redknapp and then Mark Hughes tried to pull the group of ageing legs to safety but they were never going to get anywhere close to ensuring survival as QPR went straight back to the second-tier after finishing at the bottom of the standings.
It was an eye-opener for the other promoted teams and a reminder that bringing in experienced players solely based on reputation can never guarantee success.
5 Promising PL starlets to keep an eye on this season including Arsenal and Chelsea duos
2019-20 Premier League: 5 starlets to keep an eye on
The 2019-20 season of the Premier League might still be in its early stages but the fans have already been lucky enough to witness some end-to-end thrillers, mesmerizing individual performances and of course, the emergence of a few quality young talents who have adapted seamlessly to the immensely competitive nature of the English top flight.
It was James Maddison and David Brooks who made most of the headlines as two of the most successful breakout stars in the Premier League last season and several youngsters have already laid down an early marker this term as well.
Considering the high level of competition and the intense style of play, the Premier League is often known to be an unforgiving platform for bright young talents but the tough ones have managed to achieve big.
With that in mind, here are 5 young starlets to keep an eye on in 2019-20 Premier League season:
1. Reiss Nelson (Arsenal)
The 19-year-old made as many as 16 appearances in all competitions for the Gunners in the 2017-18 season under Arsene Wenger.
Although he was deemed surplus to the first-team requirements by Unai Emery last summer, the talented academy graduate was always going to be in contention for a role this term following a fruitful spell at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga last season.
Having scored 7 goals in 23 Bundesliga outings last term, Nelson started against Newcastle and Burnley this season, showing what a menace he can be with his pace and trickery.
With Alex Iwobi no longer in the picture, Nelson is likely to get his fair share of opportunities in the first-team this season.
2. Joe Willock (Arsenal)
The tenacious central midfielder has found himself on the fringes of the first-team ever since he burst onto the scene a couple of years back but Unai Emery seems to have the 20-year-old in his plans for the Premier League this season.
Willock, who regularly featured for the Gunners in their Europa League run last season, started each of Arsenal’s first three fixtures in the Premier League this term and caught the eye with his energetic displays in the middle of the park.
Given his versatility to play in multiple positions, Emery’s love for tough players and the club’s lack of depth in the midfield, the door remains ajar for Willock to go on and establish himself as a first-team regular.
3. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Having enjoyed an incredible loan spell under Frank Lampard at Derby County in the Championship last season, Mason Mount has grabbed his opportunities at Chelsea with both hands this term and going by whatever we have seen from him so far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 20-year-old evolve into a future star at Stamford Bridge.
The England U-21 international has started each of Chelsea’s first four games in the Premier League this season and has impressed with his energy, stamina, technical abilities and superb all-around displays in a central attacking midfield role, also bagging a couple of goals in the process.
With the fountain of youth beginning to flow at Stamford Bridge following the arrival of Lampard, Mount is likely to get abundant opportunities to establish himself at his boyhood club.
4. Harry Wilson (Bournemouth)
Bournemouth successfully beat off competition from a number of Premier League clubs to sign Harry Wilson on loan from Liverpool in the summer and Eddie Howe’s masterstroke has already shown signs of paying rich dividends, with the Welsh international scoring a couple of absolute stunners in August, including an unbelievable free-kick goal against Man City.
Wilson, who was instrumental in propelling Derby County to the playoff finals last season, is still unsure about his future at Anfield but a promising loan spell at Bournemouth might pave the way for a move to a bigger club next summer.
5. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
The towering centre-forward was tipped to make a big impact at Stamford Bridge since his early days in the club’s academy and a couple of successful loan stints in the Championship coupled with Lampard’s arrival at the club have finally provided him with an opportunity to showcase his talent at the highest level.
Abraham already finds himself amongst the top-scorers in the Premier League with his 4 goals coming as back-to-back braces against Norwich City and Sheffield United.
There are tougher tests in the top-flight awaiting him but the talented striker could prove to be a handful for defences later on in the season if he continues to fire on all cylinders.
Leicester City 3-1 Bournemouth: 3 Talking points from the Foxes’ brilliant rout of the Cherries
Leicester City 3-1 Bournemouth: 3 Talking points
Leicester City underlined their credentials as serious contenders to break the top-six lock this season, as a man-of-the-match performance from Jamie Vardy propelled the Foxes to a rather straightforward 3-1 victory over Bournemouth at home in the Premier League on Saturday.
Having opened his account for the season in the 2-1 victory over Sheffield United last week, Vardy continued his fine run of form and opened the scoring for the Foxes just 12 minutes into the game.
Ryan Fraser set up Callum Wilson for a neat finish to draw Bournemouth level after just three minutes but Vardy was once again in the thick of things towards the end of the half, turning provider for Youri Tielemans’ goal.
Brendan Rodgers’ side went into the interval with their noses in front and they continued to dictate most of the play in the second half, as the Cherries struggled to make any real inroads.
Vardy capped off a brilliant all-round display with his second goal of the day to put the game beyond Bournemouth’s reach, with Tielemans grabbing the assist.
The result meant that the Foxes went into the international break placed third in the standings, behind just Liverpool and Man City. Let us take a look at 3 talking points from the game:
1. Another VAR controversy
The VAR system has already come under the spotlight numerous times early in the season.
Indeed, Leicester won’t be arguing about it too much after a positive result but Youri Tielemans is likely to know that he was lucky to stay on the pitch for a horrible studs-up challenge on Callum Wilson.
On-field referee Peter Bankes wasn’t in a position to assess the incident. VAR, of course, came into play and a check was always going to be on the cards for that kind of a tackle.
However, much to the anger and disappointment of the Bournemouth fans, the technology didn’t reveal any clear and obvious error made by the referee.
Ironically, Tielemans was spared without a booking, given the ruling which states clearly that VAR can only check for red cards. Well, it is such a shame that such refereeing blunders in the Premier League cannot be overturned even after the introduction of technology.
2. Eddie Howe might regret the sale of Tyrone Mings
Vulnerability at the back was one of the main reasons behind Bournemouth’s undoing last season and Eddie Howe was expected to adopt significant measures to improve his backline this summer after the Cherries finished the previous campaign with one of the worst defensive records in the division.
In reply to that, the manager sold Tyrone Mings to Aston Villa and the result is there for everyone to see. Just four games into the season, Mings has done enough at Villa Park to earn a spot in the England national team, whilst Bournemouth have continued to pay the price for some mediocre defending.
After putting up decent displays at the back in their first three games, Bournemouth’s backline collapsed like a pack of cards against the pace and guile of Jamie Vardy.
Looking back at the opening goal, Chris Mepham and Steve Cook failed to read the trajectory of Ben Chilwell’s long pass and execute what should have been a rather simple headed clearance, thus allowing Vardy to go clear through on goal.
Apart from that, Vardy shrugged off a rather weak challenge from Cook to thread the ball across the face of the goal and Tielemans ran past a couple of sleepy faces inside the box to make it 2-1.
Such ineptitude from the defenders is bound to have infuriated Howe on the sidelines. Maybe, the decision to sell Mings this summer wasn’t the right one, after all.
3. Vardy was awesome but a solid all-around team performance promises big things for the Foxes
Leicester’s talismanic No.9 stole the limelight with a man-of-the-match display but Rodgers should be happy with how the entire team performed well as a unit, with all almost all the players putting in impressive shifts in their respective roles.
The centre-back pairing of Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans did pretty well, as did full-backs Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell.
Youngster Hamza Choudhury and Wilfred Ndidi seem to be growing in confidence with each passing game, while James Maddison has already shown that he has the makings to develop into a world-class No.10 in the future.
Tielemans was under a bit of pressure after failing to live up to the expectations in the first three games but the Belgian, though lucky to have escaped a red card, played a part in two of Leicester’s goals against Bournemouth.
Marcus Albrighton, who was brought into the side in place of Ayoze Perez, impressed with the quality of his balls into the box, while academy graduate Harvey Barnes looked lively and exciting as ever in his first start of the season.
All in all, Leicester are yet to hit top gear but they have taken significant strides towards performing at the level which they are capable of.
5 British starlets who dominated gameweek 3 of the PL including Chelsea and Leicester prodigies
5 British starlets who dominated gameweek 3 of the Premier League
Round 3 of the Premier League witnessed some high-class drama this weekend, with some enthralling games, evenly-matched end-to-end encounters and a few major upsets providing plenty of material for the fans and the media to dissect.
Looking back at some of the standout individual performances, the Premier League followers have every reason to be pleased with the displays of some of the homegrown British starlets, who took Round 3 by storm and made a massive impact.
It was a particularly happy weekend for some sections of the fans outside the top-six clubs as club-record signings Joelinton, Wesley Moraes and Sebastien Haller hit the ground running in the Premier League and were instrumental in the victories of their respective teams.
However, it was the young homegrown talents who grabbed most of the headlines in the tabloids this week, with some of the individual performances epitomising the fact that the future of British football is in safe hands.
With that in mind, let us take a look back at some of the scintillating performances from the homegrown starlets, albeit a few of them, unfortunately, ended up on the losing side.
1. Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
The towering 21-year-old was reinstated in the Blues starting eleven by Frank Lampard, as Olivier Giroud dropped down to the bench after starting in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City in the previous game.
Having failed to make much of an impression against Man United in the season-opener, Abraham was under pressure to answer his critics.
And the Blues academy graduate finally repaid Lampard’s faith in him, starring with a brace in Chelsea’s 3-2 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road.
One of the key driving forces behind Lampard’s first win as a manager in the Premier League, Abraham was a constant threat up front and both his goals were a clear reflection of his natural poaching instincts and finishing skills, attributes which are likely to help him excel in the top-flight should he be provided with regular opportunities.
2. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Alongside Abraham, Mason Mount was also one of the cornerstones of Chelsea’s 3-2 victory over the Canaries, as the 21-year-old attacking midfielder continued the fine start to his Blues career with yet another eye-catching display on Saturday.
Having found the net in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, Mount was the key architect of Abraham’s opener at Carrow Road, finding Christian Pulisic with a perfectly-weighted lobbed pass, who set up Azpilicueta for the assist.
That wasn’t his only contribution, though, as the youngster powered the Blues into a 2-1 lead after Abraham’s goal had been cancelled out by Todd Cantwell, showing good composure and technique to find the net.
Overall, he was a bagful of energy in the middle of the park and the final third, and his relentless pressing didn’t allow Norwich’s defence a moment’s peace, not to mention his vision and creativity that caused plenty of problems.
3. Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)
Harvey Barnes’ stunning half-volley in Leicester’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield United had pure class and raw power written all over it and Dean Henderson was probably lucky to not have gotten his finger in the way.
Looking for their first victory of the season following draws against Wolves and Chelsea, Jamie Vardy fired the Foxes into the lead before Oliver McBurnie equalised for the Blades with a fine header.
That prompted Brendan Rodgers to introduce Barnes in place of Dennis Praet and didn’t the Burnley-born English U-21 international grab his opportunity with both hands!
Barnes’ absolute screamer ended Sheffield’s unbeaten start to the campaign and Rodgers might think about handing him a start or two in the next few games.
4. Daniel James (Manchester United)
Welshman Daniel James shockingly ended up on the losing side but he once again proved himself to be an incredible signing for the Red Devils.
After scoring as a substitute in the 4-0 drubbing of Chelsea on the opening day, James found himself in Ole Gunnar Solsjaer’s starting eleven against Wolves and the Welsh prodigy retained his spot in the team against Crystal Palace. However, United’s shock 2-1 defeat didn’t do justice to his individual performance.
The 21-year-old’s exquisite curling finish in the 89th minute cancelled out Jordan Ayew’s first-half goal but a stoppage-time winner from Patrick van Aanholt handed Palace their first-ever Premier League victory over Man United, albeit with a bit of help from David de Gea.
5. Harry Wilson (Bournemouth)
Another Welshman who ended up on the losing side despite putting up a promising display, Harry Wilson came on as a substitute for Charlie Daniels in the first-half and got the crowd on its feet with a moment of pure magic from a free-kick just outside the box.
Having scored in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa in the previous game, Wilson showed his expertise from direct free-kicks, this time against the reigning Premier League champions.
The Liverpool loanee curled one into the top-right corner of Ederson’s goal to pull one back for the Cherries just before the interval. It was a sensational effort, and even Pep Guardiola would probably have applauded that from the sidelines.
Bournemouth went on to lose the game 3-1 but Wilson’s stonker of a free-kick should definitely go down as one of the highlights of round 3 of the Premier League.
Arsenal3 weeks ago
Focussing on Emery’s tactical change against Tottenham – what does it mean for Arsenal moving forward?
Bristol City3 weeks ago
EFL Championship round 6: Winners and Losers of the weekend including high-flying Swansea and struggling Huddersfield
Arsenal2 weeks ago
Premier League gameweek 4: Winners and Losers from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s rise
Arsenal2 weeks ago
Premier League gameweek 6: 5 Talking points from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s surge