GETTING BACK TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

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David Wagner after winning the Championship Playoff Final at The Wembley.

At the start of the year, Ian Holloway, then working as a football pundit for Sky Sports wrote, ‘David Wagner is pretty inexperienced and if results turn, then they may struggle to turn things around’. The same David Wagner is now looking forward to leading his Huddersfield Town team into the Premier League next season after beating Reading on penalties in the Championship Playoff Final while Ian Holloway is the manager at Queens Park Rangers who finished 18th in the Championship. The Premier League brings with itself bags of riches as David Wagner will soon discover. Huddersfield Town will gain a massive £170 million as winners of the playoff final. So what does it take for a Championship club to discover these bags of riches and get promoted to the promised land that is the Premier League. Many traditional English clubs like Leeds United, Nottingham Forest who were relegated from the Premier League a long time back have found themselves stuck in the second and third tier of English Football and have found it difficult to get back to the top flight. These clubs prove that although getting relegated may be easy but getting back there is not as easy as one may feel. The Championship brings with it problems of another kind and one in the higher echelons of a relegated club needs to decide quickly the correct course of action. We, at Sport-O-Hooked take a look at some of the ways by which a Championship club can be well on its way to being back at the Premier League.

The most important choice which the owner or the CEO of a relegated club has to make is the manager. The manager is of foremost importance for a relegated club. The manager of a Championship club looking to get back to the Premier League must be an experienced one, one who is experienced at the ways of the Championship, a manager who has prior experience of promoting clubs back to the top flight. This is why managers like Steve Bruce and Chris Hughton are quite sought after. Bruce has won promotion to the Premier League four times with clubs like Birmingham City and Hull City. No wonder Aston Villa snapped him up last season after being relegated with Bruce being available. Chris Hughton won his second promotion to the top flight with Brighton & Hove Albion FC. Even if a manager is not experienced with the English second division, he should have a clear vision and a perfect methodology which is tried and tested.

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Steve Bruce, the current manager of Aston Villa have won promotion four times during his managerial career.

After a manager is appointed, the assembling of the squad is of utmost importance. One of the problems for clubs which have just been relegated from the Premier League is the budgetary constraints that Championship clubs have to face. This is one of the reasons why relegated clubs find it tough to keep hold of majority of their star players. So retaining most of the core group of players who played in the Premier League for the relegated club is of utmost importance. This is one of the things Hull City did well in their 2015-16 campaign. They kept hold of the majority of their Premier League players. Important players like Robert Snodgrass, Michael Dawson, Abel Hernandez all remained at the club and thus they were back in the Premier League after one season in the Championship.

Because of the strict budgetary regulations of the Championship, loaning of the correct players is another important task at hand for a Championship manager. Loaning players with a good skill set and ability helps to improve the squad depth which is very much required with matches sometimes being played at an interval of two days. Huddersfield did a good job in this regard. Manager David Wagner had loaned in five players all of whom were on the Wembley pitch at the Playoff Final. Loanee Elias Kachunga brought from FC Ingolstadt 04 even finished as the top scorer for the club in all competitions.

Finally, buying the correct players and thus having a healthy squad depth is an important requirement for a Championship club. By correct players, one means players with adequate Championship experience, players who have played in the Championship before and know what it takes to win league matches in the competition. Newcastle United who were promoted to the Premier League this season bought the likes of Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Grant Hanley, Mohamed Diame and Daryl Murphy to strengthen their squad before the Championship winning season. All of these players have played more than a couple of seasons in the second tier of English football. Gayle, Ritchie and Diame have even won promotion to the Premier League with Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Hull City respectively. They played 31 players throughout the season which speaks volumes about the depth in their squad.

The season is all but over and the relegated clubs like Sunderland AFC, Hull City and Middlesbrough FC have massive planning ahead of them. All of them are in search of a new manager to lead them forward. But on the other hand, the promoted clubs have an exciting season to look forward to and a new division to conquer.

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