Returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking after relegation is a tough task for any team, but it’s not impossible. Just last year Norwich City and Watford immediately rebounded from Premier League relegation by securing the two automatic promotion slots at the top of the table – this campaign, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United will attempt to replicate that feat.
Partly owing to that historical precedent and parachute payments, bookmakers believe all three sides have a viable shot of an immediate return. Fulham and West Brom sit joint-favourites at 13/8 in the latest football betting odds to secure promotion, after both sides showed flashes of brilliance in ultimately doomed campaigns in the Premier League.
For Scott Parker’s Fulham, a win at Anfield against Liverpool was the highlight of a tough season. Level on points at one stage with 17th-placed Newcastle, bookies believed Parker’s side would be able to escape the looming threat of relegation. However, they failed to win any of their final ten games. Losing eight and drawing two, as their return to the Championship was confirmed with several games to spare.
Fulham under Parker were roundly lauded for their commitment to a style of play, but if that will translate to the Championship next season is up for debate. Several stars of Fulham’s Premier League season were loanees, among them Joachim Andersen, Alphonse Areola, Ademola Lookman and Josh Maja. With Aleksandar Mitrović scoring 25 goals in the Championship the season prior but only three in the Premier League, questions remain over a cloudy attacking identity. Only Sheffield United scored fewer goals last season than Fulham.
The Albion had a rough 2020/21 season in which they were relegated with the worst defence in the division. Between spells under the sacked Slaven Bilić and Sam Allardyce, they conceded 76 goals in total. Winning only five times all season to spell disaster for their hopes of staying up.
Aside from a freak 5-2 win over Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, West Brom’s season was devoid of goal-scoring and devoid of inspiration. With questions looming over the future of star contributors Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira, West Brom could see their odds drift over the summer.
The Chasing Pack
Elsewhere in the Championship, punters may look at the likes of beaten play-off finalists Swansea at 9/2. Or Bournemouth, the only relegated side not to bounce back up, third-favourites at 3/1 for promotion. Last season’s surprise package Barnsley made the playoffs only one year removed from a desperate final-day escape from relegation and join a crowded group of playoff hopefuls on 6/1. That group also includes Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City with 20-goal striker Kieffer Moore.
For the promoted teams, League One champions Hull City are seen as the best shot to make a Premier League return at 8/1. While fellow promoted sides Peterborough and Blackpool bring up the rear at 16/1. For them, the focus will be on staying in the Championship for another season, before aiming to make a run up the table in 2022/23.