With ever new season, a flurry of freshness spreads through football. It is a time for optimism, enthusiasm, the reawakening of passions which have laid dormant for months for hundreds of thousands of people. There is also a newness to each league, with new teams having been sent up (and in most cases down) to fill the slots on the league table left vacant by those teams who have departed – be they promoted or relegated into pastures new.
With that said, this season’s Premier League will see the return of two former participating clubs, as Crystal Palace and Hull City return to the English top flight. There is also a new card in the pack as well, with Welsh outfit Cardiff set to do battle in the Premier League’s first all-Welsh fixture at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in November. But what euphoria (or horrors) await the new boys?
Traditionally at least one – and often two – of the teams promoted to the Premier League struggle to the point of eventual relegation back to the second tier. There is however often a surprise package awaiting the Premier League veterans in the form of one of the newly promoted sides, but the identity of the impressively dangerous squad often remains subtly hidden until a few games into the campaign.
So what can we expect from this season’s influx of new talent? Crystal Palace are undoubtedly the most experienced at Premier League level, having been a founding member of the league in 1992 and now going in to their fifth stint in the top flight following relegations in 1993, 1995, 1998 and 2005.
They had experienced veteran Kevin Phillips in their ranks for their promotion push last season from fellow Championship outfit Blackpool, and the former Golden Boot winner was instrumental in helping them return to the apex level of English football, though he has since returned to his parent club.
Hull, meanwhile, have spent a single two year spell as Premier League members, being promoted in 2008 until their eventual demotion back to the Championship in May 2010. Their first season in the league was spent very much as the aforementioned surprise package, playing some exciting football and grinding out some great results.
Despite some famous early results including two wins in north London at the homes of Arsenal and Tottenham, they struggled towards the end of the season and avoided relegation on the final day when Newcastle and Middlesbrough dropped out of the Premier League. They would be unable to repeat the feat the following year, however, when a 2-2 draw with Wigan sealed their fate.
Cardiff, meanwhile, appear as something of an unknown entity within this level of football. Their promotion as Championship winners last season makes them the second Welsh club to feature in the Premier League after Swansea reached the top-flight two years ago. They have undergone some turbulent times off the pitch, including a rebranding under Malaysian owner Vincent Tan. This rebranding included changing the club’s home shirts from their famous and beloved blue to red, much to the chagrin of the supporters.
Their arrival in the Premier League for the first time has managed to restore a sense of optimism and enthusiasm despite the Bluebirds now playing in red, and it appears likely that the club will work hard to strengthen their squad and strive to solidify their position as a Premier League regular.