Promoted teams will struggle to stay up
This week we'll preview all the teams in the English Premier League as we prepare to head into the new season. Today we examine the three teams that were promoted from the Championship.
Can the modest Tangerines survive after returning to the top flight for the first time since 1971? Heck no, unless a miracle of Moses parting the Red Sea proportions occurs. But at least with quote machine/manager Ian Holloway around, there won't be a dull moment on the northeast coast.
Blackpool resembles last year's Cinderella, Burnley, in a few ways. The teams play attractive football and advanced to the Premier League via the playoffs, with eerily similar stats in goals scored and conceded.
Unfortunately for Holloway, he has a thin squad that got even thinner when forwards Billy Clarke and Louis Almond went down injured in July. Three key members of last season's side, striker D.J. Campbell, highly rated defender Seamus Coleman and forward Ben Burgess, either returned to parent clubs or signed elsewhere.
To have any chance of staying up, former Rangers midfielder Charlie Adam needs to have another fabulous campaign. We'll all be rooting for them.
West Bromwich Albion
Imagine the fun in the west Midlands this season -- all four major clubs are in the top division for the first time since 1984. But odds are it won't be so enjoyable for West Brom, as the club's campaign will probably end in another Premier League cameo before heading back to the Championship.
Generally grumpy manager Roberto di Matteo hasn't brought many players this summer, and he was unsuccessful in his quest to lure Liverpool flop David N'Gog away from Anfield. Classy midfielder Robert Koren, who was a standout for Slovenia at the World Cup, was released after clashing with the Italian.
Options up front, at this point, are restricted to the familiar, and unflattering, trio of Roman Bednar, Ishmael Miller and Luke Moore. Miller, a hulking figure, has said that he's fully fit following a serious knee injury.
The good news for West Brom is that its two brightest stars, winger Chris Brunt and midfielder Graham Dorrans, signed new contracts in recent weeks, ending speculation about their futures. And since they haven't splashed the cash on many players, the Baggies won't be in a financial mess when they get demoted.
Welcome back to the big time, Newcastle (and Newcastle fans). You were missed.
Two seasons ago, even with the club struggling, an average of nearly 50,000 showed up for home games, trailing only Manchester United and Arsenal. Sinking to the Championship didn't change things much, either, with an average attendance still above 43,000.
Under Chris Hughton, Newcastle didn't wallow in being demoted last season. Instead, any sense of doom and gloom faded, as the club cruised to the Championship title.
Unlike Blackpool and West Brom, Newcastle possesses proven Premier League quality in the likes of two-way midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. Steve Harper, who will finally be given a chance to shine in the Premier League, is reliable between the sticks. Signing youngster Dan Gosling from Everton was a coup, while the arrival of Sol Campbell provides cover in the center of defense until Steven Taylor returns from injury.
However, question marks abound. Hot shot striker Andy Carroll (with a temper to match Barton's) must prove himself in the Premier League, along with Peter Lovenkrands. Shola Ameobi, meanwhile, has never cut it at the highest level. Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini, in the center of defense, struggled in the Premier League in 2008-2009.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.