When Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League last May, people sniggered at the thought of such as small football club living with the big boys of the self proclaimed ‘best league in the world’.
They jeered at the thoughts of Watford staying in the division, while Norwich were seen as nothing but a yo-yo club. Well guess what? They have.
The three aforementioned sides have brought a flair and sense of belief to the party this season that has been greeted with open arms by all neutrals. Each individual team has brought something new to what was fast becoming somewhat of a repetitive and stale league.
Watford’s Igalo and Deeney have lit up the league with their synchronised reading of each other’s games, willing to show the world just how easy it is to get at teams. Teams, who at times, are far too complacent. Complacency without punishment has been a feature in all too many clashes in recent years. But it’s changed.
The glowing aura of their calm, cool and downright stylish manager, Quiche Sanchez Flores has passed down through his side and he continues to deploy his ‘Mike Bassett’- esque ‘4-4-fucking 2’ formation. One that has caused all sorts of problems to a lot of clubs this season, 3-0 against Liverpool springs to mind.
In recent memory, the Manchester City’s and Chelsea’s of this world would simply show up and that was that. Game over.
It wasn’t because they worked harder than the opposition team or because they had ability far greater, it was because the inferiority complex of their opposition was so much that they never gave themselves a chance. They didn’t believe. Now they do.
Not only do they now believe but they can play. Who’d of thought it? A team coming out of the Championship (one of the most competitive leagues in the world) can actually run as hard, pass as eloquently and penetrate as frequently as some of the ‘giants ‘of English football. Mind blowing, I know.
Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich have adapted excellently to life in the Premier League, and they’ve already surpassed expectations.
Bournemouth have already won at Stamford Bridge, defeated Manchester United at home and taken a point off league leaders Leicester at the King Power. All this achieved while implementing an exciting attacking game that has seen full their full backs get involved in the oppositions final third on regular occasions.
They are playing without fear. An adventurous side to their game that has been installed within them by the youngest manager in the history of the top flight.
Over in East-Anglia, Alex Neil, who only a couple of years ago was player manager for a Hamilton Academical side that managed to escape relegation out of the Scottish Premier League, is doing the same.
Not resting on his laurels, he wants his side to show a belief that Norwich sides have lacked in previous stints in the Premier League.
They might not be sitting as pretty in the league standings as Bournemouth or Watford, but they are a hell of a lot more entertaining to watch then the sides in and around them.
Aston Villa are a disaster, Sunderland have been teetering on the edge of the drop for a number of years now and Tony Pulis’ outdated style has West Brom hanging on for their Premier League lives.
Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis are renowned for their no nonsense style of football that almost guarantees survival, while Remi Garde has been handed a hand a pack of jokers in his game of premiership poker.
Villa are almost certainly gone, while I believe the other two established top tier clubs could also follow them. In my opinion all three could be resigned to Championship football next season.
It has been a breath of fresh air to watch sides such as the former perform, while the latter have been lethargic and all too familiar to watch. We are now entering a stage of the season were every game matters. Each point could mean one step closer to another year in this division (for Watford, one step closer to Europe).
One thing is for sure, no matter the outcome on the final day of the season. The bravery and courage shown, in not just trying to survive at this level, but to excel at this level, will give each club and their fans a sense of belonging at this level.