Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughPromoted trio find their feet - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Promoted trio find their feet - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Promoted trio find their feet

Since the formation of the modern phenomenon that is the English Premier League in 1992, the trio of Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City have just eight seasons of top-flight experience between them, prior to this season. Of those nine, four belong to QPR and four to Norwich, with Swansea flying the Welsh flag for the first time during the current campaign.

With the trio’s relatively limited experience of the ever evolving Premier League and with two of those sides (Norwich and Swansea) boasting up and coming bosses enjoying their own first taste of top flight management, you may be forgiven for assuming that the new season has been a terrible struggle for these three clubs.

However at the time of writing, QPR have just defied expectation by scrapping to a hearty 1-0 victory over title contenders and West London rivals Chelsea, Norwich have secured a well-earned point at Anfield courtesy of a Grant Holt header and only a spirited Wolves comeback at the death prevented a dominant Swansea taking all three points at Molineux.

These strong results and performances have certainly not been a rarity for these three teams, and as we approach November, Norwich and QPR both sit comfortably in the top half of the table, occupying 8th and 10th respectively, with Swansea nestled slightly lower in 15th position, but still impressing and largely confounding pre-season expectations.

Terrific individual performances coupled with a committed team ethic seem to have been the recipe for success for each of the trio, Norwich and QPR particularly.

For the Canaries of Norwich City, continued inspired management from Scotsman Paul Lambert coupled with a total absence of fear when meeting the division’s more established sides seems to have been the real winning combination.

Add to this the consistently high performances of ‘keeper John Ruddy along with new signings and Premier League debutants such as Anthony Pilkington and Steve Morison and it is no surprise that Norwich are currently knocking on the door of the top six.

At Loftus Road, the experience and know-how of wily old heads such as Shaun Derry and Heidar Helguson, coupled with the sheer tenacity of Joey Barton and the injection of considerable pace and quality in the form of Shaun Wright-Phillips have served QPR tremendously.

Recent weeks will have provided a much needed tonic for followers of the West Londoners, with off-field politics providing much cause for concern early on. Following the opening day 4-0 mauling at the hands of Bolton Wanderers, fans were crying out for additional signings that would at least give the club a fighting chance of survival but funding was seemingly being withheld from the manager under the previous regime.

Supporters would have been presumably delighted with the takeover of the club by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, who immediately supplied Warnock with considerable financial muscle to bring in the likes of Barton, Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand. Fernandes also appears to enjoy a mutually respectful relationship with the experienced Rangers boss, who himself admitted that his position would have been rendered untenable if the club had not changed hands.

Swansea have arguably displayed the purest footballing qualities of the promoted trio, yet find themselves slightly worse off than their promoted rivals, chiefly because of inconsistent defending and a struggle to convert their frequent chances into goals.

The likes of widemen Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair have continued to pose real problems for full backs, but despite the best efforts of centre back Ashley Williams and new Dutch ‘keeper Micheal Vorm the Swans have struggled somewhat in a defensive capacity away from home.

However Brendan Rodgers and Swansea do appear to be remedying certain issues, last year’s top Championship marksman Danny Graham appears to be finally settling into his stride with goals in consecutive appearances and Rodgers will be immensely encouraged with the dominance his side exerted over Wolves, but the manner in which they conceded two late goals will remain a cause for concern.

Many will dismiss the encouraging performances of the newly promoted sides as simply them still riding on that euphoric wave of promotion and would be adamant that normal service will soon be resumed.

One particular example that may justify such cynicism with regards to promoted clubs can be found in the case of Hull City. The Tigers, who up until their promotion in the 2007/08 season were bestowed with the unwanted tag of being the largest city in Europe never to have had a top-flight football team, were made overwhelming favourites for relegation before a ball had even been kicked prior to their inaugural Premier League season.

However Hull astonished supporters and pundits alike with their confident performances in the early throws of the 2008/09 campaign. Phil Brown’s charges suffered just one defeat in their opening nine league fixtures, a sequence of results that included two famous away victories in North London at Arsenal and Spurs respectively.

A start that dreams were made of for their long suffering supporters and Hull found themselves in the remarkable position of being third in the Premier league on goal difference, certainly a stark contrast to their position almost exactly a decade earlier, when the Tigers were rock bottom of the League’s basement division.

Unfortunately for Hull and Phil Brown, the storming start to the season simply did not last, and the club would only win twice more during the course of the season following such a prosperous autumn.

This disastrous run left Hull hovering just one place above the dreaded relegation zone going into the last game of the season against Manchester United, a fixture they subsequently lost, survival only eventually ensured by results elsewhere.

While it is unlikely that all three promoted teams will keep up their strong starts to the season, I for one hope they each can continue to attack the established order of the Premier League. While I am sure that each club will be merely content with keeping their heads above water by the time May arrives, they have all displayed early signs that they have the potential to upset the applecart and long may that continue.

George Flood

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