Since today is the day of the start of the new Premier League season, and the opening game involves a promoted club, I thought it’d be a good idea to look at some of the best newly-promoted sides of the Premier League era.
Newly-promoted clubs are often written off in the top flight before a ball has even been kicked, despite the fact that many go on to keep their heads above the water. Sheffield United, Norwich City and Aston Villa are the three newly-promoted teams coming into the Premier League this season, and Sheffield United and Norwich are the bookies two favourites for relegation.
Fans of all three would be delighted with a 17th placed finish and consolidation this season, but why not shoot for the stars and be a bit of a dreamer. Isn’t that what football’s all about anyway? As such, today we look at 7 of the best newly-promoted teams in English football’s top flight since 1992. Rankings are based on league finishes, and then decided by points earnt and GD if required in the case of ties.
Here are the 7 best newly-promoted Premier League teams:
7. Reading – 2006-07
Reading arrived in the Premier League under Steve Coppell full of confidence for the 2006-07 season, having set numerous all time records as they romped to the Championship title the previous season. They continued in a similar vein in the top flight, with impressive results like doing the double over Tottenham and winning 6-0 against West Ham. They finished the season in 8th place with 55 points to their name, a mightily impressive achievement in their first ever top flight campaign, but they were relegated the following season, bringing prominence to the phrase ‘second season syndrome’.
6. Wolves – 2018-19
Fresh in everyone’s minds, I’m sure, Wolves looked very well-equipped for life in the Premier League last summer, but they performed beyond even their most optimistic fans expectations. With a plethora of Portuguese talent from Rui Patricio to Ruben Neves, mixed in with a solid back four and Mexican international Raul Jimenez up top, the West Midlanders won the race for that 7th placed spot as the so-called ‘best of the rest’. They won 57 points in total, and I’d be willing to bet they don’t go the same way as Reading in their follow-up season.
5. Sunderland – 1999-00
Sunderland also finished 7th in their first season back among the big time in the 1999-2000 season, but they come in one place ahead of Wolves in our seven, since they won one point more than the team from Molineux. Sunderland had a decent side coming into the Premier League, but their success was really built upon their strike partnership, and the masterful Kevin Philipps in particular. He had the best season of his career, bagging 30 goals in 36 outings, becoming the first and still the only English player to have won the European Golden Boot that season.
4. Ipswich Town – 2000-01
The season after Sunderland had earned rave reviews for their instant top flight success, Ipswich Town went one better – or two better in fact – finishing the campaign in 5th place with 66 points to their name. They had their own star striker – Marcus Stewart – who had the season of his career, as the Tractor Boys beat Liverpool at Anfield and did the double over Everton under the stewardship of George Burley. Burley won that season’s Manager of the Year award, but like Reading half a decade later, they went down the following season.
3. Blackburn Rovers – 1992-93
Having won promotion in his first full season as outright owner of Blackburn Rovers, local millionaire Jack Walker was harbouring much loftier ambitions ahead of life in the Premier League. Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish guided Blackburn to a 4th place finish in their first season back at that level, ahead of his former employers no less. They climbed to second the following season, buoyed by the arrival of Alan Shearer, before recording an incredible title win in the 1994-95 campaign.
2. Nottingham Forest – 1994-95
The joint highest placed newly-promoted side of the Premier League era, Nottingham Forest miss out on top spot in this seven by virtue only of goal difference. In the 1994-95 campaign just referenced, only Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United finished above Frank Clark’s men in the Premier League, who didn’t lose a game after February and won an incredible 9 of their last 11 games. Stan Collymore was the main man up top at the City Ground, and as he departed for Liverpool the following summer, the Trees dropped to 9th place in the 95-96 campaign.
1. Newcastle United – 1993-94
It’s no surprise that the majority of the entries in this seven came from newly-promoted teams in the first half of the Premier League era, when the division was less rigidly divided by finances and more of an open shop. It’s also noticeable that almost all of them had a real star centre-forward, and there were none finer than Newcastle United’s, who had the best season of the lot. The Magpies finished third under Kevin Keegan back in the big time, on the same 77 points tally Forest had, but with a far superior +41 goal difference. Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole were the star men at St James’ Park, and the latter scored 34 goals in 40 games, beating Alan Shearer to the Premier League Golden Boot.