At the end of the 2019-20 Premier League campaign, three sides – Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich City – were relegated from the English top-flight, while Leeds United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham earned promotion from the Championship to fill the void.
Now, as Premier League fans around the world brace themselves for the new season, which will start from 12th September, they will be in for a treat as it will be the first time Marcelo Bielsa will be seen on the sidelines in the league.
The new season will also see the return of Slaven Bilic to the Premier League, following his departure from West Ham back in 2017, with the Croatian guiding West Brom back to the top-flight.
Fulham, managed by their former player, Scott Parker, also managed to bounce back in the Premier League after just one season in the Championship.
So, what is going to be in store for the three managers as they prepare their respective teams for a gruelling season in arguably the world’s toughest league.
The Whites returned to the Premier League after 16 long years and will have a point to prove when they actually take to the pitch. The prospect of resuming their old rivalries with clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea will excite the Leeds United fans.
Marcelo Bielsa is one of the most respected managers in the sport, and it would be exciting to see if the Argentine manages to make his mark in the Premier League.
The biggest strength of Marcelo Bielsa’s side is going to be their defence. In the 2019-20 Championship season, the Whites conceded just 35 goals – best in the division.
Moreover, the club’s drawn-out attempts to secure a permanent move for Liam Cooper’s defensive partner, Ben White shows how desperate Leeds are to retain that distinction.
The club’s managing director, Angus Kinnear cleared the air about the possible transfer, insisting that Leeds will be respectful towards Brighton with regards to the future of the player. He said,
“The reality is, he did a wonderful job for us, but he’s a Brighton player. They rate him very highly, I’m sure they see us as a rival. The conversations are continuing but we have to be respectful of Brighton’s position, that he is their player.”
Leeds United’s biggest weakness over the entire course of last season was their frailty against counter-attacks. Most teams playing against the Whites last season sat back and defended while hitting them on the counter as Marcelo Bielsa forced too many bodies forward.
Following a league match on 30th June, Luton Town striker Harry Cornick said that Leeds often commit too many players offensively, which leaves spaces in defence, allowing other teams to come in and score. Cornick told his club’s official website:
“Sometimes Leeds commit a few too many bodies forward and leave spaces open.”
Predicted finish: 12th
West Bromwich Albion
For the most part of last season, the Baggies appeared to give Leeds United a run for their money.
However, following the unscheduled break, West Brom found it hard to regain their momentum and had it not been for some late jitters on part of Brentford, they might as well have been forced to take part in the play-offs.
They are now back in the Premier League for the first time since their relegation back in 2018, and the players will do everything they can to make the occasion extra special.
Last season, West Brom time and again came back from losing positions to win matches. They are also very strong in finishing scoring chances, a quality which will be useful as they prepare to battle out teams that will be much stronger than them on the pitch.
In Slaven Bilic, they also have someone, who can make good use of his experience in the Premier League to bring the best out of his team.
West Brom’s inability to handle pressure will give Bilic sleepless nights ahead of the new season. When proceedings were brought to a halt due to the pandemic in early March, the Baggies were just one point behind Marcelo Bielsa’s men with nine games left to be played.
However, by the time the season concluded, there was a 10-point gap between the two teams. If Brentford didn’t drop points in the end, West Brom’s hopes of earning a direct promotion to the Premier League would have been shattered.
Slaven Bilic, therefore, needs to make sure that he prepares his team well so that they don’t panic in the Premier League. They also need to address their frailties from long-range shots.
Predicted finish – 16th
Fulham took the hard way to secure a place in the Premier League. They beat Brentford 2-1 in extra-time in the Championship play-off final at Wembley to give manager Scott Parker reasons to celebrate wildly as it was his first full season in charge of the Cottagers.
But the Premier League is a different cup of tea and the Fulham players, as well as their manager, will need to show enough maturity to make sure they do not end up as just a one-season wonder like Norwich City.
In Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham have a prolific striker, who ended up with 26 goals – the joint highest scorer in the Championship along with Brentford star Ollie Watkins last season.
On the other hand, Marek Rodak has been a brick at the back, boasting the best clean-sheet percentage among 20 primary goalkeepers. He allowed just 33 balls to sneak past him in 33 appearances and can raise his market value with similar kinds of performances in the Premier League next season.
The Cottagers last played in the Premier League during the 2018-19 season, when they finished with just 26 points from 38 games and were relegated.
In spite of their quick return to the top-flight, the lack of experience both at the management level as well as in the dressing room is going to be their weakest link next season.
Although Scott Parker made a name for himself by taking his side back to the Premier League after just one full season in charge, he still lacks the experience needed to tackle the pressure of playing in the English top-flight week in, week out.
Predicted finish: 20th