In Focus: Newly-promoted trio face battle for Premier League survival
Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest are the latest newly-promoted sides who are preparing for the challenge of the Premier League.
With England’s top flight the wealthiest and therefore one of the most competitive leagues in Europe, adjusting to the step up from the Championship can prove a tough task.
As the trio prepare to kick off their campaigns this weekend, we look at how the new boys are shaping up.
Fulham have a point to prove
A familiar name to Premier League fans, Fulham will be desperate to avoid the same result of their previous two top-flight campaigns — with both the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons ending in relegation.
But having booked their place by storming the Championship with 90 points last term, rather than via the play-offs the two times before, there is hope that things could be different this time under Marco Silva.
The Portuguese boss will be determined to redeem his reputation in the Premier League after underwhelming spells in charge of Watford and Everton previously.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic returns off the back of a record-breaking 43-goal season in the Championship and chief creator Harry Wilson will hope to prove he is top-flight quality after an impressive 19 assists last term.
The Cottagers have strengthened their midfield with the signings of Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira, while Manor Solomon adds to their options out wide and Kevin Mbabu has come in at right-back.
Despite the pivotal role they played in their promotion, much of the side that suffered the drop in 2020-21 remains and reports indicate Silva is still looking to improve key areas of his squad.
The potential arrival of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno looks to be a promising step, with doubts over current No1 Marek Rodak's suitability to the top flight.
Players of a similar ilk are needed to avoid falling into the same traps of previous relegation seasons with a flurry of stop-gap signings late in the window.
Bournemouth need bodies
A 1-0 victory over promotion rivals Forest in May sealed Bournemouth’s return to the Premier League after two years away but that now already seems a long time ago.
An unconvincing transfer window and a host of last season’s loanees not returning has left them short in a number of areas — particularly in defence.
Manager Scott Parker recently said: "We’re short at the moment, that’s very, very clear. We are six days out from the start of the Premier League season and we’re way short of where we need to be.
"We need to work out whether we want to give ourselves a chance of being competitive this year. At the moment, that is not the case."
That said, they have a striker who returns to the Premier League full of confidence in Dominic Solanke after 29 goals in the second tier.
Goalkeeper Mark Travers, defender Lloyd Kelly and midfielder Philip Billing all had excellent 2021-22 campaigns, meaning there is a strong core to build around.
Ryan Fredericks and Joe Rothwell have arrived but both are set to miss the start of the campaign with injury.
The Cherries have also added the timely coup of impressive winger Marcus Tavernier from Middlesbrough but it is clear more bodies are needed if they are to make a fist of things this season.
All change at Forest
Victory over Huddersfield in the play-off final last term meant Nottingham Forest had the least time out of the three to get their squad to a level capable of challenging in the top tier.
But they have wasted no time in doing so, having splashed the cash on 13 signings at the City Ground.
With four loanees who started at Wembley in May no longer there and a host of other players released, their busy summer was unavoidable — though gelling those new arrivals will prove a challenge.
Jesse Lingard is undoubtedly their marquee capture and will look to forge a chemistry with new No9 Taiwo Awoniyi alongside last season’s star man Brennan Johnson in attack.
Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson is an updgrade on Brice Samba between the sticks while Neco Williams and Harry Toffolo are solid choices at wing-back.
Former Mainz ace Moussa Niakhate will boost their defence alongside Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna, with Lewis O’Brien and Orel Mangala softening the loss of James Garner in midfield.
Highly-rated manager Steve Cooper will back himself to quickly get his new-look team firing as soon as possible.
After masterminding promotion from bottom of the table when he took over last season, there is little reason for Forest fans to doubt his ability to do just that.