Are the Premier League new boys lambs to the slaughter, or can they thrive?

Who will thrive out of Brentford, Watford and Norwich and who will struggle in England’s top tier?

With a glorious European Championships committed to the history books, we can now turn our attention to the domestic season. 

It’s an exciting time for football fans as they juggle hope with expectation.

None more exciting than for clubs promoted to the Premier League; but how will they cope with the rarefied atmosphere and prospect of full houses.

More to the point, who will occupy the basement in the annual scrap for survival?

Norwich City and Watford were comfortably promoted in first and second place ahead of a chasing pack that included Barnsley and Swansea. 

With a sense of natural justice, Brentford occupied third place and eventually joined them via the play-offs. 

Norwich and Watford are emblematic of clubs who fall into a chasm between the Championship and Premier League. 

A yo-yo quality might satisfy some fans who happily tolerate promotion quickly followed by relegation. But there is a lack of consistency and momentum as promoted clubs often seem out of their depth. 

Norwich kept faith with coach Daniel Farke as they took the title by six clear points. However, the squad is largely unchanged from their last Premier League season in 2019/20, when the last 10 games were lost with only one goal scored. 

The team’s reliance on Finnish striker Teemu Pukki will be greater than ever. However, it seems highly likely they will struggle once again.

Watford were also relegated in 2019/20 but after a much longer stay in the Premier League. 

They lasted five seasons and secured 11th place as their highest finish. A remarkable achievement when they appointed five different managers over the same period. 

The present incumbent, Xisco will probably last until Christmas and then fall victim to the ejector seat at Vicarage Road. 

Watford have some useful players including England internationals Tom Cleverly and Nathan Chalobah; but will otherwise rely on an ageing squad of journeyman players. 

The board’s pathological impatience will be a handicap, but still have a marginally better chance of staying up than Norwich. 

A most pleasing result last season was Brentford’s promotion to the top flight after so many near misses. 

It’s always a breath of fresh air when a club joins the Premier League for the first time, and sticks two fingers up at the fat cats behind the despicable European Super League. 

The Bees will become everyone’s second favourite team as they navigate uncharted waters. 

Quite apart from never playing in the Premier League, they have not appeared in the upper echelons since 1947. They have a shrewd manager in Thomas Frank and a solid squad including the free scoring Ivan Tony, who has something to prove after his release by Newcastle. 

However, it may be a bruising experience for the Bees much like Blackpool encountered in 2010/11.

A role model for the newly promoted clubs would surely be Leeds United, who returned to the Premier League after a 16 year absence. 

The most impressive feature of United’s campaign was the complete lack of fear whoever the opposition happened to be. 

They never looked in trouble, unlike Fulham and West Brom who seemed constantly overawed. 

Leeds are fortunate to have a brilliant coach in Marco Bielsa who steered them to 9th place with a well drilled team. Leeds now have that tricky second season to negotiate and prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. 

Much depends on striker Patrick Bamford, but I expect Leeds to consolidate their position without too much fuss.

Received wisdom now assumes the Premier League splits into three mini-leagues. 

The top six who are going for the Champions League; the middle eight who are fighting for the Europa League and the bottom six battling it out to avoid relegation. 

The battle for Premier League survival is often the most compelling purely because of what’s at stake. 

The three promoted clubs will probably be there; none of whom look capable of emulating Leeds’ achievement last season. 

Brighton, Burnley and possibly Southampton may also be involved. We can only hope our beloved Hammers will avoid this third mini-league. 

But the distraction of a European campaign will invariably have a knock on effect, especially as the ‘mid-table obscurity’ option is no longer available?

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