Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Will AFCB be any better placed than Burnley or Boro next season?

It is hard to believe that only a year ago AFCB were sitting in the position that Burnley now have after winning the Championship. The prospect of Premier League football though for the Lancashire side is not such a earth shattering step as it was for AFCB though as they have been there before as recently as 2013-14. Middlesbrough are another team that are not exactly new to the exposure of the top league and you wonder whether AFCB are in any better position than the clubs about to come up.

While the thought of 38 games in a new season is perhaps a long way from the players' thoughts at the moment it will be very much in the mind of Eddie Howe. He will have to assess not only the transfers of players for his own team and the established clubs that his side played last year, but he'll also be keeping watch over the new boys of Burnley, Middlesbrough and one other - the Championship play-off winners - Hull City or Sheffield Wednesday. These sides all have larger grounds than AFCB and they have a history of taking on the best sides. While Sean Dyche has had a season in the Premier League it will be new for Aitor Karanka and if he thought the Championship was pressurised with his need to escape for a few games, he'll find it full on next season.
AFCB taking on Boro at the end of their successful 2014-15 Championship winning season.
I see both Burnley and Boro as better sides than Aston Villa and Newcastle and probably Norwich as well, so I don't expect any easy points against them. Burnley have players with the experience of playing at Old Trafford, Anfield, White Hart Lane etc, and they will be looking to get off to a better start than last time. Boro too will know that they have to pick up points early to get the confidence going and the fixture list will be keenly scrutinised by Eddie Howe when it comes out. 

None of the sides going down did particularly well early season and keeping out of the bottom three I believe is going to be harder. Burnley's problem will be to find another striker who can do well if Andre Gray gets injured or can't score many goals. Boro are perhaps defensively stronger but will they also get enough goals? AFCB have shown that you need to net at least 40 goals to survive - only just over one a game - if any of these sides can get up to 1-3-1.5 goals a game though they will have a comfortable season.

I do believe that AFCB can compete with Burnley and Middlesbrough more easily than some of the other teams, and having them in the league gives new reassurance that Championship sides can do well when they get promoted. If AFCB can survive again and two or more of the promoted sides also stay up, then the Premier League will have a look about it that is perhaps more dynamic than we will have seen in a long time, especially if Newcastle and Aston Villa don't get straight back up.

Players released by AFCB include: Sylvain Distin, Stephane Zubar, Josh Carmichael, Josh Wakefield, Mason Walsh and Jon Muleba.

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