Do the Prem's promoted teams stand a chance?

Posted by Ravi Ubha

West Ham, Southampton and Reading: Don't be afraid. You can stay up. Gone are the days when teams promoted to the Premier League last only a season in the top flight.

Look at last term. Swansea, Norwich and QPR all survived. And immediately preceding them, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion avoided a return to the second tier, with Blackpool -- and manager Ian Holloway -- giving us some memorable moments before, sadly, bidding adieu.

What to expect from this year's new trio? Here's a closer look.

West Ham
Championship finish: 3rd (promoted via playoffs)
Last appearance in Premier League: 2010-11
Manager: Sam Allardyce
Top Scorer: Carlton Cole
A goalkeeper is sometimes judged on how many points he can win by himself over a season. If managers were to be evaluated in similar fashion, Sam Allardyce would be near the top of the list in the Premier League.

Allardyce overachieved at Bolton, so much so that he was heavily linked with the England job. He consistently drew the best out of his players, made shrewd signings, and even added spice by acquiring Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo during his time at Bolton to add to the long-ball approach. Allardyce wasn't given enough time at Newcastle.

It wasn't a love-in at West Ham last season, however, as the Hammers faded down the stretch to miss out on automatic promotion. Their demanding fans vented on "Big Sam." But now he's in a spot he should relish -- as an underdog, like at Bolton. West Ham supporters, the realistic ones, know that staying up, and nothing more, would be a job well-done.

In one sense, West Ham is boosted because plenty of the players on its squad have Premier League experience: Only a year ago, after all, West Ham mixed with the elite. But some of those same players contributed to relegation and could only be described as scrappers. If Allardyce hadn't bought one of his former players at Bolton, Ricardo Vaz Te, he might be out of a job. Vaz Te was the needed spark that got West Ham over the hump.

West Ham, overall, lacks pace and creativity, and the back four won't inspire confidence. Goalkeeper Robert Green, who left in the offseason, made several high-profile errors, yet his replacement, Allardyce favorite Jussi Jaaskelainen, wasn't the first choice at Bolton last season.

Will that be a shrewd signing?

More encouraging for West Ham is that Kevin Nolan is always good for goals in midfield, Mark Noble is all energy and commitment, and holding midfielder Alou Diarra arrived from France. Vaz Te can't afford to be a one-season wonder.

Ultimately, Allardyce will do what he does best -- keep an unfashionable team in the Premier League.

Verdict: Survival

Southampton
Championship finish: 2nd
Last appearance in Premier League: 2004-05
Manager: Nigel Adkins
Top Scorer: Rickie Lambert
The fortunes of South Coast rivals Portsmouth and Southampton couldn't be more different.

Portsmouth, the FA Cup winner a mere four years ago, is again on the brink of liquidation, since former owner Balram Chainrai revealed he was withdrawing his bid to buy the beleaguered club. Southampton, struggling financially when Portsmouth lived the high life, has earned successive promotions to resurface in the Premier League. The threat of administration is gone.

How their fans would like another 27-year stay in England's highest division, a protracted spell that ended in 2005 when Harry Redknapp -- at the helm when Portsmouth won the FA Cup -- called the shots.

For a small club, Southampton routinely punched above its weight prior to relegation, earning a reputation for beating Manchester United at The Dell and boasting favorites such as creative genius Matt Le Tissier, diminutive Latvian Marian Pahars and safe hands Antti Niemi.

The current favorites include burly striker Rickie Lambert, the Championship's leading scorer last season, midfielder Adam Lallana (who, like Lambert, reached double digits in goals and assists) and a Brazilian, offensive midfielder Guly do Prado. Uruguayan winger Gaston Ramirez, set to join from Bologna for a club-record fee, could join them.

Indeed, manager Nigel Adkins, a former goalkeeper, possesses more skill on his squad than Allardyce. Apart from the quartet, Billy Sharp scored nine league goals after joining from Doncaster, and Adkins beat a flurry of Premier League teams to the punch by landing a pair of England under-21 internationals in the summer, forward Jay Rodriguez and right-back Nathaniel Clyne.

Producing in the Championship and producing in the Premier League are different, but Lambert, for one, will take positives from Grant Holt's performance in the top flight last season.

Southampton was also sound defensively, conceding the third-fewest goals, and 12 fewer than Norwich when the Canaries played in the Championship in 2010-11. This is keeper Kelvin Davis' opportunity for redemption after flopping with Sunderland in the Premier League in 2005-06.

Goals scored, not the defense, will be what keeps Southampton in the Premiership.

Verdict: Survival

Reading
Championship finish: 1st
Last appearance in Premier League: 2007/2008
Manager: Brian McDermott
Top Scorer: Adam Le Fondre

When a Russian buys a team, fans of said team start salivating. They must immediately think of Roman Abramovich, who has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into Chelsea and turned the Blues into league winners and, this May, kings of Europe.
Chelsea is a toy to Abramovich, but new Reading owner Anton Zingarevich, whose family has a net worth in the billions, is more cautious.

Sure, he wants to expand the Madejski Stadium, improve academy facilities (Reading's youth system, incidentally, is impressive) and turn Reading into the biggest club in southwest England -- but he won't be giving manager Brian McDermott blank checks.

"I come from a family that is passionate about business, and having a football club is a business," he told the BBC this week. "I look at it as a business that needs to be developed, and that is why I chose Reading."

No fun and games, then. At least Reading won't become another Portsmouth.
Reading hasn't exactly been quiet this summer, but its purchases -- with the exception of Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak -- have been low-key. Pogrebnyak might turn out to be a bargain at 4.5 million pounds, yet the six goals he scored for Fulham on loan in 12 games last season could be as good as it gets.

His supporting cast features Adam Le Fondre and veteran Jason Roberts. Roberts proved invaluable when switching from Blackburn in January, scoring six goals in 17 appearances. But, mirroring the likes of Michael Chopra and Robert Earnshaw, Roberts is one of those players who is too good for the Championship but probably not good enough to be a Premier League starter. He's 34.

Reading will need goals to stay afloat, the kind Kevin Doyle provided when Reading was promoted in 2006, since it's unlikely the defensive approach will be as solid in the Premier League as in the Championship.

Without more new faces, it’ll be a pit stop for Reading in the Premier League.

Verdict: Relegated

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