There is plenty of press covering the giants of the Premier League with Paul Pogba and Frank Lampard particularly hogging headlines over the summer.
Whilst there will be a fiercely contested race to secure Champions League football in the season ahead, we’re going to turn our attention to three teams who fought their way to promotion last year.
How well equipped they are to keep their heads above water in what will be an almighty scrap to survive?
After a pretty rank average year in the 2017/18 season under then-new manager Daniel Farke, the Canaries started to become a little disillusioned when they following season got off to a slow start with only five points from the opening six games.
In some quarters, there were even calls for change but the yellow and green board remained loyal to their man convinced his methods would yield results. How right they were. Norwich went on to win the league title with relative comfort.
Even if Teemu Pukki won most of the plaudits for his 30 goals it was the team’s ability to never give up that impressed us most. That mentality is a show of spirit and togetherness – qualities that cannot be underrated in a relegation battle, which is what Norwich will undoubtedly find themselves in back in the big-time.
Their summer business has been low key to say the least with under £4m having been spent – most of which was on a loan fee for German keeper Ralf Fahrmann. The signing of Sam Byram from West Ham looks like a shrewd acquisition though and at £750k could prove a steal given today’s markets.
It will be intriguing to see how Manchester City youngster Patrick Roberts gets on with his first real taste of top-flight football. Farke has added Josip Drmic to his squad on a free but his numbers are hardly prolific and a lot of pressure will fall to Pukki and Jordan Rhodes to handle the step up; if that doesn’t happen the Canaries could be struggling to fly.
Given how many players fail to have the same impact on moving up a division as well as the fact there will be fewer chances created and more pressure on their backline. It doesn’t look great for Norwich but their team spirit, which will have been maintained given their low player churn, will see them battling until the final matches.
The Blades joined Norwich in the automatic promotion spots after overcoming Leeds United to clinch second place. Chris Wilder has done a fantastic job since becoming a manager in 2016 and has taken his men from League One to the top tier in just three seasons.
Last year their strength was two goal scorers in the shape of Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick, who arrived on a free transfer 12 months ago. That pairing contributed a combined 39 goals with Oliver Norwood, an ex-Manchester United youngster, and John Fleck providing the ammunition from midfield.
Wilder has refused to get carried away with the Blades promotion and the recruitment strategy would seem to be one that gives them a great chance of bouncing straight back if they were to be relegated as they’ve avoided enormous fees and an influx of players.
Instead, they’ve looked to bring players in that have excelled in the Championship and who could well cut it a level higher; players such as Callum Robinson and Luke Freeman, from Preston and QPR respectively, fit this mold.
Phil Jagielka, a Sheffield boy who came through the ranks many moons ago, has returned as an experienced head and Ravel Morrison, who is a forgotten talent, will be given another opportunity to shine – it will likely be his last chance.
Perhaps the strangest investment made is that of the £10m Lys Mousset from Bournemouth. Mousset was highly rated at Le Havre and had a decent record for the France U21s but he’s done nothing at Bournemouth. It’s fair to say Wilder knows his team will find goals hard to come by in the season ahead with striker Oliver McBurnie, who has been a long term target, seemingly close to signing in a record-breaking £20m deal.
The Blades will find keeping hold of their new-found status a big ask but Wilder is building a platform that will protect the club in the long term regardless of the season outcome and the club is lucky to have him at the helm.
Villa had a whirlwind season last time out with things not going to plan for them early doors with their form ultimately costing Steve Bruce, who is now in charge at a probable relegation rival in Newcastle United, his job.
Dean Smith arrived from Brentford as his replacement and brought John Terry with him as his assistant and gradually they turned the season around and after finishing the season in fifth they overcame their local rivals, West Brom, in the play-off semi-finals before beating Lampard’s Derby in the Wembley showpiece.
The biggest loss to Villa is that of last seasons top scorer, Tammy Abraham, who has returned to parent club Chelsea following his loan spell. He contributed 26 goals and three assists meaning he was involved in a third of the team’s offensive output.
Smith has taken a leaf out of Fulham’s book from last summer and plenty of cash has been thrown around with 10 players arriving already. Bjorn Engels, Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings have signed for a combined £53m to strengthen the backline, although the latter spent the second half of the season on loan at Villa Park anyway.
The additions of Egyptian winger Trezeguet, Man City midfielder Douglas Luiz and Jota, who arrived from Birmingham, should assist homegrown star Jack Grealish in providing some creative sparks for £22m record signing Wesley to gobble up in front of goal.
Villa’s spending does give them the greatest chance of survival out of the three new boys (on paper at least) but it’s been proven time and time again that money alone won’t bring you success; it will be a long campaign for the Villans but we think they’ll just manage to cling on to their Premier League status.
There you have it, our insight into the three promoted teams. All of them face an uphill battle to remain in the Premier League and they’ve all taken a different approach to achieve their target.
We believe Aston Villa will give it the best shot with Norwich and Sheffield United falling slightly too short of the level needed. Don’t expect any of them to get cut adrift at the bottom.