Despite winning on Monday night, Queens Park Rangers still find themselves in the relegation zone along with fellow newly promoted side Burnley.
Leicester City are also teetering on the edge of the Premier League’s trap door and all of the Premier League newcomers are in real danger of starting next season back in the harsh environment of the Championship.
QPR are fortunate to be back in the Premier League altogether. Bobby Zamora’s late winner against Derby in the play-off final scraped the London club back into the top flight.
After this result, Harry Redknapp knew he’d have to indulge in his favourite activity of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market. However, there remains a real question mark over the personnel he has chosen to turn QPR into a convincing Premier League outfit.
Rio Ferdinand was viewed as the central purchase in Redknapp’s master plan to build a successful team, but there was a reason Manchester United didn’t offer the 36-year old a new contract. Yes, the ex-England skipper is blessed with a wealth of experience but this doesn’t avoid the fact that his pace has most certainly deserted him.
Redknapp bought Ferdinand as a signal of intent, signing a player of stature to attract the likes of Steven Caulker and others to the Loftus Road. It is this idea of buying players for their reputation and stature that may in fact be the route of QPR’s problems.
A concerning sign for QPR fans over the opening weeks of the season was the team’s evident lack of work rate. The QPR players seemingly felt their team, sprinkled with big names, would be enough to see them compete against the best in England’s top tier.
It can almost be viewed as an identity crisis. Redknapp’s side, who finished a mere fifth in the Championship last season, opened their Premier League campaign in a 5-3-2 formation attempting to recreate the success of the Dutch national team during the World Cup. This reinforces that a change in mentality is integral if QPR wish to remain in the division. Monday’s victory over Aston Villa displayed more encouraging glimpses of a team aware of their true status, willing to fight for points, but there’s a lot more character to be shown if the Hoops hope to maintain their top-flight status.
Burnley’s opening fifteen minutes in the Premier League couldn’t have been any sweeter. Scott Arfield’s impressive opener against the Premier League favourites, Chelsea, spread a sense of optimism around Turf Moor.
Unfortunately for the Clarets, it hasn’t improved much since then. Burnley’s consistency in the Championship saw them continually feature in the automatic promotion places but it was always clear the team needed a bit more quality.
Sean Dyche’s men prided themselves on their work rate and were blessed with a formidable strike partnership in Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, both of whom have since suffering disruptive long-term injuries.
Burnley have only spent around £7 million over the summer, which can either be interpreted as a signal of trust in the existing squad, or an attempt to keep the club financially secure for the foreseeable future, regardless of the division they find themselves in.
The neutral hopes that Burnley’s reliance on team work and effort will see them survive, in arguably the most competitive league in European football, but, recent history proves that money, and lots of it, is a central component to Premier League success. Burnley’s first win may still be far away.
Leicester City entered the Premier League as champions of the Championship, widely considered to be the best equipped of all the newly promoted sides. A promising opening day performance against Everton and an equally spirited display at home to Arsenal were the highlights of August for the Foxes, who gained their first win against Stoke in the first game of September.
Four goals in as many matches appeared to have satisfied the home fans and what was to follow would transform their satisfaction into hysteria. Leicester’s 5-3 win over Manchester United was viewed as a monumental triumph but the Manchester club’s self-inflicted capitulation may have accentuated the extent of Leicester’s actual achievement.
Since that game, Nigel Pearson's team have failed to register a win, largely playing against opponents who you would expect to finish towards the bottom end of the table.
Leicester’s inability to perform in these types of fixtures could prove detrimental to their Premier League safety. The goalscoring prowess that summer signing Leonardo Ulloa has shown in recent weeks will need to continue if Leicester hope to grind out results in this division.
Pearson will need to address a defence that has kept just one clean sheet all season and will perhaps be looking ahead to January as he looks to strengthen his side’s chances of staying in the league.
Never have three newly promoted teams been relegated but unless stark changes occur at all of the fore mentioned clubs we could be witnessing history in the making.Reuse content