New boys lack Premier class

  • By: Chris Hammer
  • Last Updated: August 17 2013, 14:58 BST

Our relegation expert Chris Hammer has a profitable track record of tipping the misfortune of Premier League clubs so the supporters of Crystal Palace and Hull may like to look away now.

Ian Holloway: Won't be working miracles at Palace
Ian Holloway: Won't be working miracles at Palace

Back in the 2009/10 campaign he correctly nailed his relegation treble of Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley and two seasons later he struck yet again when predicting the demise of Bolton and Blackburn right from the off.

This year he feels two of the newly-promoted sides are just far too weak to mount a serious survival bid while he suggests one established Premier League club who might find themselves in danger.

Virtually every season the promoted trio are always among the hot favourites to suffer instant relegation from the Premier League and this year is no different with Crystal Palace, Hull and Cardiff all facing a tough test to stay up.

Palace, who triumphed in the play-offs, are favourites for the drop at no bigger than 4/7 with Coral, while Hull are also odds-on across the board ahead of a Cardiff side who can be backed at 7/4 in places.

However, somewhat interestingly the stats would appear to suggest that only one set of supporters for these three clubs is likely to be blubbering with sadness next May.

In 11 of the 20 applicable seasons (founding year irrelevant for this) since the Premier League began, exactly one of the new boys has been immediately relegated whereas only six campaigns have had two going down and just one has seen the demise of all three.

Therefore it would be naïve to write them all off. That said, having done my research, I am prepared to dismiss the survival chances of two.

Let's start with the Eagles, who will be doing quite the opposite from soaring in their first campaign back in the top flight since the 2005/06 season.

Despite winning the 'richest game in football' against Watford back in May, manager Ian Holloway has endured a frustrating summer trying to bring Premier League-class players to Selhurst Park which is obviously an essential task considering the weakness of their current squad.

The arrival of Marouane Chamakh on a one-year loan from Arsenal could be labelled their 'marquee' signing so far but having scored only 14 goals since his move from Bordeaux in 2010 and then failing to find the net in a short spell with West Ham last season, the Morocco international is unlikely to be prolific in a struggling side.

Chamakh is the third striker to join the club this summer following the captures of Kevin Phillips and Dwight Gayle and while the latter is tipped to have a bright future, I think it's more than fair to say the man who scored Palace's play-off final winner at the age of 39 is probably beyond even the twilight of his career.

Phillips, who was on loan from Blackpool last season before making his move permanent this summer on a free, will become just the third outfield player to have played in the Premier League at 40 - Teddy Sheringham and Gordon Strachan being the others - and if he's anything other than a periphery figure then that will further underline their problems.

The Sporting Gods were smiling down on Phillips in May as he struck home the winner from the penalty spot in extra time to not only end the Eagles' eight-year top-flight absence but to also seal his first ever play-off final victory having experienced the anguish of defeat on three previous occasions.

Usually the club who goes up via the play-offs are thought of as the team who ended the season with the most momentum and are now subsequently on the crest of the biggest wave in comparison to their fellow promoted outfits.

However, that's certainly not the case for Palace and I doubt whether deep down Holloway can head into this campaign with any genuine confidence.

Let's be frank - their promotion still owes a lot to the work of Dougie Freedman, even though his much-debated decision to leave south London for Bolton came back in mid-October.

At the time, the Eagles were flying high following a run of six wins and two draws in eight games but more importantly he'd also set in place a style of play and instilled a real sense of belief which Holloway was able to maintain for his opening three games, which they won to go top of the Championship.

Since then the wheels came off somewhat and they only managed a further eight victories until the end of the regular season - including a dour run of one win in their last 10 games as they just about sneaked into the play-offs.

In fact there was a time during the final day that Holloway's side dropped out of the top six as they trailed Peterborough 2-1 but two late goals, as well as results going their way elsewhere, meant they needn't have worried.

Palace were subsequently priced up as outsiders to go up but a virtuoso performance from star winger Wilfried Zaha, who had gone well off the boil after being loaned back to the Eagles following his £15million switch to Manchester United in January, helped them see off fierce rivals Brighton 2-0 at the Amex Stadium before they took advantage of a very poor performance from Watford to edge one of those most turgid finals in recent memory.

Crucially last season's top scorer Glenn Murray, who netted 30 times in the Championship, could be out until at least the New Year as he recovers from a knee injury so they've clearly lost a lot of attacking prowess which I doubt Chamakh, Gayle and Phillips will be able to make up for.

You can still get a generous 13/5 with Coral about Palace finishing bottom of the pile and I think that's well worth snapping up.

Although I'd expect them to finish a distant 20th - Derby's lowest points record haul of 11 might even be at risk - I do think there's only one team who can possibly scupper this bet.

As I mentioned in our team-by-team Premier League preview, Hull look prime cannon fodder and I'd be extremely surprised to see them avoid a return to the Championship.

Like Holloway, Steve Bruce is all too aware about the desperate need to bolster his squad and has recruited the likes Maynor Figueroa, Allan McGregor, Curtis Davies, Yannick Sagbo, Danny Graham and Steve Harper into his ranks this summer, as well as making permanent the loan deals of George Boyd and Ahmed Elmohamady.

I'm very sceptical whether they now have enough quality to bridge the gulf in class, especially up front which is a really worrying area for them.

"Crucially last season's top scorer Glenn Murray, who netted 30 times in the Championship, could be out until at least the new year as he recovers from a knee injury so they've clearly lost a lot of attacking prowess which I doubt Chamakh, Gayle and Phillips will be able to make up for."

Last season Hull ground out 18 victories by just a single goal - 16 of which were equally split 1-0 and 2-1 - so you could say their promotion, which was sealed on a quite incredible final day, owed much to their well-organised defence and resilience rather than a devastating strikeforce.

They conceded just 52 times in their 46 games - the fourth best defensive record in the division - but their tame 61 goals at the other end put them in the bottom half of the table in this department.

You could argue sharing the goals around the squad means it matters less when a striker endures a barren spell but considering no player managed to reach double figures in the Championship makes you wonder if they have anyone capable of troubling Premier League defences on a regular basis.

When linked with a move for Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, whose own stock has fallen somewhat having managed just nine goals in his side's shock relegation last season, Bruce was quoted as saying: "We have brought in Danny Graham (on loan from Sunderland) and then we brought in Yannick Sagbo from Evian last week so in that department we are OK at the moment."

Considering Sunderland boss Paolo di Canio saw no future for Graham on Wearside after the mis-firing striker failed to net for the Black Cats in 11 games following his £5million January switch from Swansea, where he had also fallen out of favour, and the fact Sagbo is very much an unknown quantity and may need time to settle in, then I'm inclined to disagree with Bruce's thoughts.

In addition to all this, the Tigers face an extremely tough start with games against Chelsea and Manchester City in their opening three fixtures so a couple of heavy defeats could well knock some early stuffing out of them ahead of what looks set to be a long hard struggle.

I'll back them in a relegation double with Palace at 6/4.

So what makes Crystal Palace and Hull different from Cardiff?

Well, I'm far from convinced the Bluebirds are going to enjoy a smooth transition to life in the Premier League but seem better equipped than the others to cope with to the demands and step up in class.

After all, Malky Mackay's men were clearly the best side in the Championship last season and never looked back once they hit top spot at the end of November. Despite a stuttering run of six draws in their last seven games, they still finished up eight points clear of Hull which emphasises just how comfortable their promotion was.

The Scotsman has bolstered his defence with the signings of Steven Caulker from Tottenham and Derby's John Brayford while he'll be hoping Andreas Cornelius is an instant hit having spent £8.5million on the young Danish striker.

All in all they have a fighting chance of survival and I don't feel they represent value at such short odds to go down.

As previously mentioned, only once have all three promoted sides gone straight back down so it's always worth looking at some of the more established clubs at bigger prices who could well find themselves in the dogfight.

Sunderland were forecast to finish in the bottom three in our team-by-team guide and at 5/1, the Black Cats are sure to tempt several punters.

The jury is still out on whether Di Canio has what it takes to become a first-class manager at the highest level as concerns linger over whether his fiery attitude will cloud his judgement and create problems in the dressing room.

You also have to wonder if the temperamental Italian is trying to do too much too soon in terms of his squad restructuring having already signed nine players this summer and allowed seven to depart the Stadium of Light.

Such an array of changes could mean the team take a while to gel and if they therefore get off to a rocky start, I wouldn't be surprised to see matters swiftly spiral out of control on Wearside.

Elsewhere, you can make credible relegation cases for the likes of Newcastle, Fulham, Stoke and West Brom - to name just four - but overall I'm pretty sure we've nailed down three of the sides most vulnerable this season.

Record of promoted teams - points and margins

(Bold = relegated)

10 West Ham (46pts - 10 clear of relegation) Play-offs
14 Southampton (41pts - five clear)
19 Reading (28pts - 11 short of 17th)

11 Swansea (47pts - 11 clear) Play-offs
12 Norwich (47pts - 11 clear)
17 QPR (37pts - one clear)

11 West Brom (47pts - eight clear)
12 Newcastle (46pts - seven clear)
19 Blackpool (38pts - one short)

9 Birmingham (50pts - 20 clear)
15 Wolves (38pts - eight clear)
18 Burnley (30pts - five short)

12 Stoke (45pts - 11 clear)
17 Hull (35pts - one clear)
20 West Brom (32pts - three short)

15 Sunderland (39pts - three clear)
19 Birmingham (35pts - one short)
20 Derby (11pts - 25 short)

8 Reading (55pts - 17 clear)
18 Sheff Utd (38pts - GD)
20 Watford (28pts - 10 short)

9 West Ham (55pts - 21 clear)
10 Wigan (51pts - 17 clear)
20 Sunderland (15pts - 23 short)

17 West Brom (34pts - one clear)
18 Crystal Palace (33pts - one short)
19 Norwich (33pts - one short)

13 Portsmouth (45pts - 12 clear)
18 Leicester (33pts - six short)
20 Wolves (33pts - six short)

9 Manchester City (51pts - 19 clear)
13 Birmingham (48pts - six clear)
19 West Brom (26pts - 18 short)

10 Blackburn (46pts - 10 clear)
13 Fulham (44pts - eight clear)
16 Bolton (40pts - four clear)

5 Ipswich (66pts - 32 clear)
9 Charlton (52pts - 18 clear)
18 Manchester City (34pts - eight short)

7 Sunderland (58pts - 25 clear)
17 Bradford (36pts - three clear)
20 Watford (24pts - 12 short)

9 Middlesbrough (51pts - 15 clear)
18 Charlton (36pts - five short)
20 Nottingham Forest (30pts - 11 short)

18 Bolton (40pts - GD)
19 Barnsley (35pts - five short)
20 Crystal Palace (33pts - seven short)

9 Leicester (47pts - seven clear)
12 Derby (46pts - six clear)
18 Sunderland (40pts - one short)

12 Middlesbrough (43pts - five clear)
20 Bolton (29pts - nine short)

3 Nottingham Forest (77pts - 32 clear)
19 Crystal Palace (45pts - three short)
21 Leicester (29pts - 19 short)

3 Newcastle (77pts - 35 clear)
13 West Ham (52pts - 10 clear)
22 Swindon (30pts - 13 short)


In 20 applicable seasons (founding year irrelevant for this), 26 of 59 promoted clubs have been relegated immediately at a ratio of 44%.

In 18 of those 20 seasons, at least one promoted club has been relegated (90%).

Only once in those 20 seasons have all promoted clubs been relegated.

The mode average is one, with 11 of 20 seasons having seen exactly one promoted side relegated (two = 6/20, zero = 2/20, three = 1/20).

  • Posted at 0910 BST on 13/08/2013.