With the start of the new Premier League season only around the corner, there’s an element of excitement surrounding the club.
With a few more signings to add before the end of the window, David Moyes is addressing last season’s issue of a lack of strength in depth.
We’re in Europe again and being spoken about as credible contenders for a top-six finish by the media, pundits and rival fans alike.
It’s the type of build-up to a new season that we’re still not really used to. Normally we’re wondering whether it’s going to be another relegation battle or not.
That’s no longer the case, but there are three teams in particular who will be approaching this campaign with a mixture of excitement, apprehension and dread.
Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth are all back in the big time, but what can we expect from them this season? Let’s take a look.
Marco Silva’s Fulham were absolutely ruthless in the Championship last season, winning the title with 90 points and 106 goals scored.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic broke the record for most goals scored in a single Championship season with 43 as the Cottagers wiped the floor with almost everyone who stood in their way – they scored four or more goals in a game on 11 different occasions.
But while all of that was impressive in its own right, Fulham have developed a reputation for being a yo-yo club.
They may have only been relegated three times from the Premier League, but two of those relegations came in their last two seasons in the top flight – 18/19 and 20/21.
And unfortunately, they just don’t look prepared enough for a comfortable campaign away from a relegation battle.
Much of their current squad is still the same that got relegated in 20/21.
With the likes of Mitrovic, Harrison Reed, Josh Onomah, Ivan Cavaleiro, Neeskens Cabano, Tom Cairney, Tim Ream and Joe Bryan all still at the club, Fulham are almost an identical side that finished with just 28 points the last time they were in the top-flight.
The addition of Andreas Periera on loan from Man United gives Marco Silva’s attacking style of play an interesting and more threatening dimension, but this is a squad that just doesn’t look prepared for anything other than another relegation battle.
We should be confident of picking up points against them both home and away – we’ve won three and drawn one of our last four meetings with them, losing just twice since 2010.
Scott Parker’s Bournemouth side ran Fulham very close in the Championship title race last season, finishing just two points off the Cottagers.
But they appear to be in a very similar boat as their promotion counterparts heading into this new season.
They’ve only signed two players this summer, taking Ryan Fredericks on a free after we released him and also Joe Rothwell from Blackburn, who was also a freebie.
We all know about Fredericks, he’s a decent Premier League player, but other than that, there’s not a lot in Parker’s squad that screams ‘mid-table.’
Of course, it would be unfair to completely write them off from the start, but aside from the likes of Lloyd Kelly, Jordan Zemura, Philip Billing and Lewis Cook, there’s not a great deal of Premier League quality or experience there.
That said, while Bournemouth should expect to be competing in the lower end of the Premier League table, they should have enough about them to stay up if they can pick up some big results throughout the campaign.
It’s a huge season for both Bournemouth and Parker alike. Parker needs to have a good season to prove he is a Premier League level manager and Bournemouth need it to ensure they’re not sucked into yo-yo status with the likes of Fulham, Watford and Norwich, who all appear to take turns in the top-flight each season.
After a two-year absence, it’ll be good to get back down to the Vitality Stadium but at the same time, it’s not exactly been the best of hunting grounds for West Ham.
We’ve won there just once in five Premier League visits, while we only have two wins from five home meetings with them in the top-flight.
After 23-years out of the Premier League, Nottingham Forest are back and ready to rub shoulders with the big boys once again.
There is so much excitement at the City Ground at the moment, which is unsurprising, and that’s what might keep them clear of a relegation battle in their first season back.
There is a very similar aura around the club as the one we saw at Brentford last season and at Sheffield United a few years earlier.
Aside from that, there’s a real lack of Premier League quality at Steve Cooper’s disposal.
However, he’s proved he can get the best out of an average bunch, evident in the way he guided them to promotion last season despite taking over when they were in the relegation zone.
They’ve signed Dean Henderson on loan from Man United, which means they’re well covered between the sticks, but the rest of the squad is severely lacking in any kick of experience at this level.
Whatsmore, there’s been a huge turnover of players this summer – at the time of writing, nine incomings and 20 outgoings. That’s a lot to deal with when preparing a squad capable of competing at the highest level.
They’re an unknown quantity though, and we’re bound to be entertained – if you can call it that – by Cooper’s very weird Jurgen Klopp impression after every win, when he pumps his chest to the fans. Each to their own, I suppose.
The last time we met Forest, we were smashed 5-0 in the FA Cup. I don’t see that happening again, but they’re going to be a difficult side to tackle this season.
If they stay, which I think they will do, they’ll have a big job on their hands when it comes to avoiding second-season syndrome.