Back in the Premier League
Newcastle confirmed their return to the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Preston on Monday night. When they were relegated last season few would argue that they didn’t deserve to go down. The Magpies had been flirting with relegation for a few seasons and the club had declined from the days of European football.
But when Rafa Benitez announced he was committed to Newcastle the fans were optimistic and bought a record number of season tickets for a Championship club. Newcastle rarely showed signs they weren’t promotion contenders, never dropping lower than 4th since September.
Newcastle are a big club and they deserve to be in the Premier League, but it’s not as easy as Rafa made it look. Aston Villa are another big club that went down with Newcastle, and they’ve been stuck in mid-table, even as low as 20th at one stage in the season. They’re now 12th and 27 points behind Newcastle, which shows how difficult it can be in the Championship.
It will be interesting to see how Newcastle adjust back to Premier League football next season. Rafa is a great manager but will need investment to compete with the ever increasing quality.
Brighton’s promotion to the top tier was a little more surprising, but they thoroughly deserved it after becoming the league’s team to beat this season. Chris Hughton is another great manager and maybe he was underestimated. They have some good players like Anthony Knockaert who won the Championship’s player of the season after scoring 15 goals and 8 assists from midfield.
20 years ago Brighton were nearly relegated from to the 5th tier, saving themselves on the final day of the season. It’s great for the fans who stuck with them through it all, to see Premier League football next season.
The race for the final promotion spot is well and truly on now. The playoffs are always tense as so much rests on it, so they are a bit of a lottery.
Huddersfield have been consistently knocking on the door of automatic promotion all season and David Wagner looks like a top manager. Their form has dipped a little bit lately but they just need one win from their final three games to confirm a playoff spot. Reading have also been a strong team under Jaap Stam and it wasn’t too long ago when the Royals last tasted top flight football so they know what they need to do.
Sheffield Wednesday have won 5 on the bounce and are just coming into form at the right time and Fulham have been the league’s best team going forward scoring 82 goals in their 44 games so far. Leeds slipped up at the weekend and now have an uphill battle to claim the last playoff place. They need to win their final two games and hope somebody else goes winless.
The games are played frequently over the season to squeeze all 46 fixtures in. That’s why for the ones who think this league is easy should think twice because there aren’t many leagues that are as physically challenging.