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How will the Premier League's new boys fare?

How will the Premier League's new boys fare?

Norwich City celebrate promotion back to the Premier League as champions of the Championship on May 5, 2019© Reuters
For Norwich City, Sheffield United and Aston Villa, the promotion parties are now over and the scale of the survival task ahead is firmly in view. But which of the trio of top flight newcomers can emulate Wolves and take the league by storm and which is more likely to follow Fulham and Cardiff and make a swift return to the Championship?

Aston Villa
They may have been promoted via the playoffs, but bookies actually believe Aston Villa are the most likely to survive the 2019-20 campaign. William Hill, for example, has Sheffield United, Burnley and Brighton all on shorter odds for relegation.

Lifelong Villa fan Dean Smith led his team back to the Premier League promised land after a spectacular late surge of form inspired by team talisman Jack Grealish – another boyhood Villan. It won't be easy to keep that momentum going in the top flight though – especially given the core of loan rangers who helped them over the line – but Smith has earned his stripes by coaxing Walsall and Brentford to play some of the most stylish football enjoyed in the lower leagues in recent years.

Villa have certainly wasted no time in building for their return to the top flight – with Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi making permanent moves after successful loan spells with the club and Jota and Wesley joining from second city rivals Birmingham City and Club Brugge respectively. Brazilian forward Wesley is actually the club's record capture – with his fee overtaking the £18 million paid for Darren Bent eight years ago.

More will need to come through the door – and Smith will need to persuade Grealish to stay at the club he loves – but there are certainly reasons for optimism after years of doom and gloom.

Sheffield United
The work Dean Smith did to revive the fortunes of Aston Villa was certainly impressive but no-one in the football league has quite matched the monumental achievement of Chris Wilder.

Another case of 'fan turned boss', Wilder picked up the reins at Bramall Lane after an impressive stint in charge at Northampton and rightfully followed in the footsteps of Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola in picking up the LMA Manager of the Year crown.

Wilder is central to the Blades' planning – his alchemy has made his side into something greater than the sum of its parts and he'll need to carry on the miracle in the top flight. Signings will need to supplement the strong team ethic while adding a touch of class and quality needed to win games at the highest level.

So far, the club have been subject of one of the more bizarre links of this transfer window – with Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery said to be on the club's radar. While that might turn out to be silly season gossip, you feel this window will be tough to get right if Wilder is to get the resources he needs. Still, provided they maintain the spirit and tactical flexibility they've shown so far, Wilder's men do still have a chance of following the 'Burnley and Brighton blueprint' and causing a fair few surprises.

Norwich City
A year ago, few thought Norwich City would be preparing for their return to the promised land of the Premier League. The Canaries stuttered to a mid-table finish under Daniel Farke – a man for whom the jury was still out. There had been flashes of good performances, and flashes of mediocrity too. The Canaries also lost star man James Maddison to Leicester City and didn't exactly splash the cash on household names to fill the void he left.

Three defeats in the first five games didn't augur well – but Farke's revolution kicked into gear after this and his charges then lost just three more times over the course of the rest of the season. Teemu Pukki turned out to be an inspired signing, bagging 29 goals as the free-scoring team powered their way to a deserved Championship title.

The Canaries earned a reputation as comeback kings, winning 24 points from losing positions (bettered only by Aston Villa's 29) – but it won't be easy to maintain this resolve and 'bouncebackability' against the classier defences of the Premier League. Recruitment wise, the addition of Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts on loan marks a strong start but defensive additions will need to follow. More gems of the likes of Pukki, Moritz Leitner and Emiliano Buendia will need to be unearthed but, after last summer, you wouldn't bet against the canny Canaries coming up trumps.

Managers are key
There's a clear thread running through all three promoted sides – the quality of the manager. While the Premier League might be a cut-throat world in which the men in the dugout get little time, all three clubs owe a lot to their current boss. There are going to be times when the owners and chairmen of the respective clubs have their resolve tested but it'll be important to hold their nerve and back their man. All three need money – in both transfer windows – time and faith. With that - and a bit of luck along the way – they all stand a chance of planning a second successive Premier League campaign next summer.

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