Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Promoted Clubs Familiar Faces and Echoes of the Past

 Joining the Premier League for this upcoming season are two familiar faces and a club returning to the league after more than a 20-year absence. Fulham and Bournemouth return to the league after brief stops in the Championship while Nottingham Forest returns to the league for the first time since the 1998/99 season.

Fulham swept to the Championship title on the strength of 106 goals last season, a staggering 32 goals more than any other club in the division. Manager Marco Silva was the architect of Fulham’s success and returns to the top division where the Portuguese native previously spent undistinguished stints at Hull City, Watford and Everton. Silva did, however, win as many matches as he lost during his time at Everton, a record Everton fans would be much more accepting of today. Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has thrived in Silva’s system at Fulham and the Serbian national feasted on Championship defenses for 43 goals in 44 matches. Silva’s attacking philosophy and Mitrovic’s production stood in stark contrast to Fulham’s dreadful last appearance in the Premier League. Only one league club scored fewer goals during Fulham’s last Premier League season in 2020/21. Mitrovic played only a bit part under then Fulham Manager Scott Parker, scoring only 3 goals in 27 appearances. Proving his ability to deliver in the top tier will have extra meaning for Mitrovic who is experiencing his third promotion to the Premier League in six years with Fulham. Disappointment and relegation followed the last two promotions for striker and club.

Ironically, former Fulham Manager Parker is also moving up in his capacity as Bournemouth manager. The Cherries return to the league after a two-year absence. The south coast club experienced a five-year run in the league before their 2019/20 relegation. Bournemouth returns after earning automatic promotion with a second-place finish in the second-tier last season. Spearheading the attack was yet another individual with Premier League connections. Former Chelsea and Liverpool forward Dominic Solanke played for the Cherries during their last Premier League season when he managed just 3 goals in 32 appearances during that doomed season. Solanke experienced a breakout season for Manager Scott Parker last season as he led Bournemouth to promotion with 29 goals in 46 league appearances for the club. Solanke will need to be nearly as proficient in his return to the Premier. Parker’s defense is so short of experienced players that striker Kieffer Moore is a candidate to see time as a center back.

Nottingham Forest achieved promotion by courtesy of an own goal in the Championship playoff final with Huddersfield. While long absent from the Premier League, Forest is a legendary club in England from their salad days during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Manager Brian Clough led the club to domestic and European success during his time with the club that spanned 1975-1993. An English First Division title, two European Cups and one European Super Cup were among the accomplishments under Clough. Current Nottingham Forest Manager Steve Cooper will be satisfied with survival in his first Premier League season. Those prospects improved with the recent signing of former Manchester United and England national team member Jesse Lingard. Lingard’s goal scoring capability and Premier League experience will be welcome. Another former Manchester United player, goalkeeper Dean Henderson, has been signed to stop shots on the other end of the pitch for Forest. 

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