As an action-packed 2020/21 Premier League campaign drew to a close last month, it confirmed the three relegated clubs. Both Watford and Bournemouth saw their top-flight status taken away in a thrilling final game-week. However, Norwich City were Championship bound a long time before the final day. A dreadful resumption to football saw the Canaries relegated with three games to spare.
A draw proved to be enough for Aston Villa, who narrowly avoided the drop with a point at West Ham United. Watford battled to the death, but a 3-2 defeat ended their five-year stay in English football’s top-flight. For Bournemouth, a rare 3-1 away win at Everton meant that the Cherries like Watford were a point away from surviving.
The three relegated clubs now face the difficult task of keeping their squads together for the Championship campaign. Bournemouth and Norwich are facing particular difficulties, with speculation around key players increasing. The parachute payments that these clubs are set to receive means that the clubs facing the drop are not in desperate need to sell their top talent. However, that will not stop the offers coming in.
What to Expect From the Three Relegated Premier League Clubs Next Season
Vladimir Ivic became the fifth manager in a calendar year to take charge of Watford when he was appointed recently. The controversial sackings at the Hertfordshire-based club continued as Watford were relegated back to the Championship. After five years in the Premier League, the Hornets will prepare for a season in England’s second tier.
Back-to-back wins in July saw Watford move six points from the drop and start to feel a lot more comfortable. However, three straight defeats, coupled with Aston Villa hitting excellent form, meant that Villa leapfrogged above their relegation battling counterparts.
Although Watford seem in a better position than the other relegated clubs, rumours still surround some of Watford’s key players. Danny Welbeck and Abdoulaye Doucoure are central to most of the out-going transfer gossip. Welbeck has become a target for Southampton after news emerged of the Watford striker’s release clause. Meanwhile, Doucoure is being monitored by Everton, who are looking to strengthen their midfield in pursuit of a European push next season.
In terms of bringing players in, it is difficult to predict how Ivic will recruit this summer. Watford have a comparatively excellent squad for the Championship. They have a mix of experienced personalities that have been involved in the Premier League and gaining promotion to the Championship. The Hornets also have several younger individuals who are talented and have a desire to play first-team football.
2020/21 Prediction: Promoted as Champions
Even if Watford do lose several key players, they still have an excellent squad. The Hornets will be focused upon bouncing straight back to the Premier League and it would not be a surprise to see that happening. If Ivic can settle in quickly, his Watford side will certainly challenge for the title.
Surprising news emerged from Bournemouth in early August when Eddie Howe left after 25 years at the club. Despite a number of high-profile names being linked with the job, it was Howe’s assistant manager, Jason Tindall, who was given the job.
The Cherries have already lost Nathan Ake to Manchester City, and many are likely to follow. Wales international David Brooks has been subject to a move to Old Trafford. England U21 International Lloyd Kelly has caught the Liverpool’s eye as well. It will be difficult for Bournemouth to keep hold of these two given the profile and financial power of both clubs.
Unfortunately for the Cherries, the speculation does not stop there. Forwards Callum Wilson and Joshua King have also been linked with a move away from the Vitality. The deadly duo were directly involved in 10 goals each last season, more than any other Bournemouth player. Another player the Cherries will not have next season is Ryan Fraser. The Scotsman became a real talent under Eddie Howe but after his contract expiring in June, Fraser will be looking for a new club.
This transfer window will significantly alter what Bournemouth fans expect next season. If the club are raided of their talent, the Cherries will have to be smart in their recruitment next season. Bournemouth’s ability to scout from the lower leagues and develop players into Premier League regulars has been second to none over recent years. With a good structure in place at Bournemouth, it is expected that this notion will continue for many years.
A season in the Championship could also benefit the progression of the younger players that are breaking into the first-team. If certain players do leave, then players like Sam Surridge, Chris Mepham and Jack Stacey may be given more game-time.
2020/21 Prediction: Play-off finalists
It is not necessarily a new direction under Jason Tindall, but it is a new chapter in Bournemouth’s progression. It is expected to be a transitional season for the Cherries, but the talent in depth that Bournemouth possess means that fans should expect a promotion-pushing campaign.
The canaries looked destined for relegation when the season got back underway after the Covid-enforced break. Norwich lost all nine of their Premier League games since the season resumed and were rightfully relegated with three games to go.
Norwich were not pressured with the big-money signings going on around them as they returned to the Premier League. Daniel Farke’s plan for the Premier League was to play the way that got them there. However, the step-up in quality proved to be too much for the Norfolk-based club.
The competition levels in the Championship have risen since Norwich were last in the division. With confidence among the squad low after the club’s poor return to the season, the 2020/21 campaign will not be easy.
Despite a lack of financial power, Norwich have already managed to use the loan market effectively. Villareal’s Xavi Quintilla and Tottenham’s Oliver Skipp have been brought in to add quality to the squad ahead of the season commencing in September.
2020/21 Prediction: Mid-Table
Similar to Bournemouth, Norwich’s season will depend upon their out-going transfers. It will be difficult to keep certain players with the spending power of the bigger clubs. Norwich will be more focused upon building a foundation in the 2020/21 campaign. It may take a few years to get back to the top-flight, but by not blowing their budget, there is not too much pressure on the side.
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