Monday, 15 June 2015

Who can teach AFCB to do Premier League survival best?

The scale of the task ahead of AFCB is only now starting to settle on the reality banks of many fans and it will become even more clearer when the fixture list is printed and we can all see it in black and white. Some teams on the list have the budgets and personnel that should see them comfortably sitting in the top six places but they are not the teams that AFCB will be modelling themselves on. It is the survivors in the Premier League and the teams that have shown that you can get promoted and stay in the top division that deserve a closer look.

When you see how Swansea or Southampton have performed this season it is hard to imagine that these clubs have not been Premier League teams for that long. Swansea only came up after the 2010-11 season and that was through the play-offs. At the same time AFCB were just taking the first steps in their rise with promotion to League One. 

Meanwhile, the Saints have enjoyed their current Premier League status since 2012-13 but have show that with progression each season teams can change and bring in new players having had a core group at first though which to establish themselves in the top flight. The playing styles of both these teams is to get the ball down on the floor and it is their strikers that have really added that final touch of quality.

Tommy will look to lead the Cherries to more glory.
It is arguable though that is it's getting tougher to survive with Burnely and QPR heading straight back down last season, but even teams that have not dazzled the pundits like WBA and Stoke City have moved away from yo-yoing. I've been particularly impressed with Stoke City as they can't be called a long ball team anymore and under Mark Hughes that have scored some spectacular goals this season. Crystal Palace are also establishing themselves in the division now. 

The main formula that I can see with Swansea and the Saints is that when they have seen quality players go they have replaced them with equally talented players. That is what it is all about now. The transfer market has to be played exceptionally well to compete at this level and while much of AFCB's has been together for more than a season or two in some cases, the turnover of players in the Premier League looks higher with strikers moving for huge sums if they can net 20 goals a season.

AFCB hopefully already have that man in Callum Wilson, and just maybe the Cherries could hold on to him for a season more yet. I say that as it is rare that players like Jay Rodriguez has managed to stay at Southampton having signed in 2012 for them and has just extended his contract. Injury certainly played its part. But  look at Wilfried Bony who only lasted two seasons at Swansea and was soon snapped up by Man City. Do too well and you'll get noticed, and Wilson is now in the shop window not only for Premier League clubs, but also the worldwide market. Both the Saints and Swansea have bought well though bringing in Graziano Pelle and Bafetimbi Gomis and this summer Swansea have also picked up Ghanaian international striker Andre Ayew who I'm sure we'll hear much more about.

Lastly, you have to look at Leicester City. Perhaps Leonardo Ulloa was a very good buy for them after all popping in 12 goals for the Foxes - that's one more than Danny Ings got. They are the latest to to have gone up and stayed up some might say despite their manager. What they do have though is that club spirit - the inner belief to succeed together. That kind of reminds me of another team called AFCB, who have a carefully spoken manager - perhaps AFCB will do even better than just survive.

AFCB have to be on top of their scouting now more than ever for when they need to replace players with quality. Still I believe this situation is easier than what will be the position of teams like Derby County and the three teams who missed out on promotion through the play-offs to the Premier League this season - Brentford, Middlesbrough and Ipswich. Those teams will find it extremely difficult to start next season with the same squads and some have already have a new manager. 

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