Steady approach favours Norwich over fellow newboys

Football doesn’t often reward scouring the history books. After all, one of the reasons the game is so globally popular is because of its unpredictability season after season.

If the weekend’s Community Shield taught us something that we should already know, it’s that – as Arsene Wenger merrily rejoices finally breaking his 13-match duck over Jose Mourinho – records only exist to be broken.

Nonetheless, there are certain times when thumbing through the Rothmans (and clicking through its modern online equivalent) can prove worthwhile, such as trying to pick out longer-term patterns over the years that may help to strengthen an argument with a new season ahead.

So, in looking to choose the value pick from Ladbrokes’ Top Promoted Club market, analysing the respective performance of sides promoted to the Premier League might be one such occasion where the stats hold the key. With Bournemouth currently 11/8 favourites to finish higher than Norwich and Watford, one would expect that it would be the side promoted as champions who would fair the best over the years.

Going by a similar rationale, common sense would perhaps dictate that the side that scraped up via the lottery of the play-offs would be the least equipped to survive.

On first glance, the stats from the last ten years backs up that theory, with five sides relegated the year after promotion via their day at Wembley. But, in a juicy twist, the play-off winning sides have also finished higher than their two Championship bedfellows on more occasions in the last ten years – four times compared to three each for the champions and runners-up.

This means that in all but one of the last ten seasons, the side promoted via the play-offs have either been immediately relegated, or finished as the promotion top dog. True to the spirit of the play-offs, it’s either win or bust.

So enter Norwich City. While so often the heartache of finishing third in the Championship sees the nearly-rans fall at the hands of the resurgent team in sixth, Alex Neil’s side made a mockery of such sentiment when they dispatched local rivals Ipswich in the play-off semi-final, and then Middlesbrough in a comfortable final victory. Finishing only four points behind champions Bournemouth, few could argue that the Canaries didn’t deserve the final Premier League spot.

In signing Graham Dorrans, Youssouf Mulumbu, Robbie Brady and Andre Wisdom, Neil has implemented a clear policy of signing only proven Premier League players. Too often are newly-promoted sides so buoyed by their success that they overpopulate their squads with new faces, immediately splicing up a side that’s already proven to be successful. Not so for Neil, who knows that the likes of John Ruddy, Martin Olsson, Nathan Redmond, Cameron Jerome and Sebastian Bassong are already capable of performing in the Premier League.

Contrast that to Bournemouth’s dealings (six players signed, nine released) and Watford’s veritable spree (10 signings, not to mention a managerial change), and it’s clear which boss has the most confidence in his squad, not to mention which club exudes the most stability.

While Bournemouth will undoubtedly be this season’s feelgood “second team”, it’s worth noting this additional support has not done many favours for the likes of Blackpool or Burnley in the past. As Premier League debutants, the tag as top-flight tourists will be a hard one to shake off.

Watford may have a little more experience of the Premier League (two seasons), and their continual churning of staff may have resulted in an impressive promotion campaign, but it remains to be seen whether this model can really bring sustained success – they are 11/5 third favs to finish as top promoted club.

Instead it’s stable Norwich, set to take part in their eighth Premier League season, who represent the best punt to finish the highest of the lot, at 7/4.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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