Supporters of Norwich City and Sheffield United are in relaxation mode ahead of the summer after their sides earned promotion to the Premier League without the stress of the playoffs.
The two clubs were a cut above the rest of the teams in the Championship, edging their duel with Leeds United to secure the top two spots.
Norwich were the class of the division, earning the Championship crown, while the Blades notched second place – four points off the pace of their rivals.
They will be joined by one of Leeds, West Brom, Aston Villa and Derby in the top flight next term, although the two automatic teams have a headstart on their counterparts in their preparation.
However, both the Canaries and United face a huge challenge to compete at the highest level. Two of the three promoted sides from last season are dropping straight back down. The other – Wolverhampton Wanderers – have enjoyed one of the best campaigns by a newly-promoted club.
Fans of both clubs will be weighing backing their side to beat the drop, although the odds will be against them. However, there will be good value on betting on their survival. As the two teams strengthen their squads in the summer their odds will change drift.
Fans can, therefore, use their time on Oddschecker differently by lining the best offers on online casinos to kill the time before the start of the new football season in August. As with betting sites, Oddschecker provides some of the best offers for casinos with familiar names such as 888 and bet365. When the long summer is over fans will be refreshed and ready for action.
We’ll now break down whether Norwich or Sheffield United are better prepared for life in the Premier League and where they will need to strengthen.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 5, 2019
There were calls from Norwich fans for manager Daniel Farke to be sacked after his first season at Carrow Road. Farke had endured an underwhelming 2017/18 campaign, guiding his team to a 14th-place finish in the Championship. The Canaries were not deemed promotion contenders at the start of the current term as there were no notable moves. However, little did the Championship know that the signings of Teemu Pukki and Emiliano Buendia would be the foundation of their surge for promotion.
Pukki had been a journeyman forward around the leagues in Europe, playing for Schalke, Celtic and Brondby before his move to Norwich. He had found form in his last two seasons for Brondby, scoring 20 and 17 goals respectively. The 29-year-old would storm the Championship, scoring 29 goals in only 43 appearances. It was by far the best term of his career, but now the question is whether he can maintain his standard of performances in the Premier League. Seemingly unheralded players have played their part in the top flight in recent seasons. Rickie Lambert played a huge role in maintaining Southampton’s status in the Premier League on their return.
Glenn Murray has developed into more than a solid starter for Brighton, breaking into double figures for the Seagulls in their two campaigns in the top flight. Pukki can fill the same role, although he will need support and perhaps an able deputy with not a great deal behind him. Norwich’s midfield looks to be capable of operating at the highest level without a great deal of investment. Buendia was their key man, pulling the strings in the middle of the park.
The Argentine will carry the weight of expectations for Norwich supporters, having won the player of the year award last season. He hit the ground running in the Championship and has the potential to unlock Premier League defences to match his 12 assists from last term. Marco Stieperman, Onel Hernandez and Mario Vranjcic are all capable of rising to a higher level given their quality and experience.
Defensively Farke has developed a lot of young talent in the Norwich backline. Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Ben Godfrey are all exciting prospects that played crucial roles in the club’s title win. Whether the German will expose them to the rigours of the Premier League at the early stages of their careers will be interesting to see. Timm Klose and Christopher Zimmerman are also on the books and could provide the vital experience needed in the top flight. Norwich may have to invest in their defence and their forward line to compete in the Premier League.
Sheffield United: ‘We drunk every pub in Sheffield dry’ – Chris Wilder hails promoted Blades’ second-half efforts as they say goodbye to Championship with 2-2 draw at Stoke https://t.co/p3lkDQQzRP pic.twitter.com/bWj9J5svId
— The Star, Sport (@TheStarSport) May 5, 2019
Chris Wilder has performed heroics at Bramall Lane to get Blades initially out of League One before earning promotion to the Premier League. It has been 13 years since Sheffield United last competed in the top flight. Neil Warnock guided the club into the Premier League in the 2006/07 season where they were relegated on the final day of the campaign in a 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic.
West Ham’s controversial signings of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano played a role in the Blades’ downfall, although the Hammers were not relegated at their expense despite an appeal by the Yorkshire-based outfit, who were forced to settle for minimal compensation. United dwelled in the third tier for six seasons before Wilder lifted the team back into the Championship.
The quality of his managerial skills were evident again in the second tier. The Blades ran out of steam after a fast start last term, but he ensured they got over the line at the second time of asking. However, United will need Wilder to be even better next season to keep them in the top flight. On paper their squad is poor to say the least – in the mould of a team of Cardiff’s ilk.
There’s no true quality anywhere in the squad, while their key players have either failed to make the grade previously or are the wrong side of 30. Billy Sharp has been the club’s top scorer in three of the past four seasons. Again the Lambert/Murray logic could apply, although that could be a best case scenario for the Blades. They have been linked with a £15m move for Britt Assombalonga, although he is not a proven commodity at the highest level either.
John Fleck in the middle of the park has shown potential in the Championship and could take the next step at the highest level. Olly Norwood alongside him has bounced around the leagues, while Marc Duffy at the age of 33 is unlikely to be ready to play a significant role at the top level. Another loan move for Dean Henderson would plug the gap between the sticks for another year, while Jon Egan and Jack O’Connell have potential in the backline having impressed in the Championship. There are a lot of holes that need filling and unless there is significant investment it may only be a one-season stay for the Blades – similar to that of Cardiff this term. A plucky team, but one that is sorely lacking in quality.