The Barclays Premier League starts this weekend and many fans will carry high hopes and fresh optimism going into the new campaign.
Unfortunately for some fans, those great expectations will be met with a harsh dose of reality when their new record signing turns out to be a stinker and the manager jumps ship in November. Well, crazier things have happened.
As usual many clubs will be looking to avoid the drop, but here are seven clubs that could be dragged into the relegation scrap.
West Bromwich Albion
The Baggies accumulated 44 points last season and secured a 13th place finish under Tony Pulis. Whilst it’s fair to say West Bromwich Albion aren’t the favourites for the drop, stranger things have happened.
It appears talent Saido Berahino is willing to stay at the Midlands club a little bit longer, which will only boost their goal tally, and if he does go the fee is sure to be a generous one.
Tony Pulis can still boast that he’s never been relegated, but will he keep that feat?
Verdict: No immediate danger
The Villains have never been relegated from the Premier League, however in the last few season the Birmingham club have flirted with drop and finished 17th last season, only three points off relegation.
Without a doubt Villa have lost their two best players in goal scorer Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph, but they’ve been quick to replace them with Blackburn’s Rudy Gestede and Nantes’s Jordan Veretout.
This campaign will be manager Tim Sherwood’s first full season in charge and he’ll be keen to impress and bring the stability that is much needed at Villa Park.
Verdict: A rocky season, but they will survive (eventually)
The Midlands club were dead and buried at the foot of the table last year, before a run of eight wins out of nine saw them rise from the ashes to finish in 14th place.
However, over the summer more controversy seemed to follow Nigel Pearson like a bad smell and the club sacked him. Leicester replaced him with familiar face Claudio Ranieri, although the Italian’s appointment hasn’t gone down well with fans, and been questioned by many pundits including Leicester City fan Gary Lineker.
The former Chelsea man will want to prove those critics wrong and show he’s the man to take The Foxes forward.
Verdict: Managerial changes will disrupt their season (relegation)
The Black Cats won seven games last season, the same amount as Burnley, but 17 draws ensured they survived finished the year in 16th.
The experience of manager Dick Advocaat helped steer them towards safety at the back end of last season and it appeared he was going to retire. However, he couldn’t resist staying on at The Stadium of Light. Additions such as Jeremain Lens, Younes Kaboul and Adam Matthews should see the club moving in the right direction and away from the drop.
Verdict: Not plain sailing, but hold their own
Who you say? AFC Bournemouth that’s who, the smallest club to ever participate in the Premier League, but this shouldn’t be a repeat story of Blackpool.
AFC Bournemouth got the top flight on merit with a very talented young squad and manager in Eddie Howe. They will be the underdogs in every match they play, but underestimate them at your peril.
Unsurprisingly they’ve been busy recruiting over the summer adding Sylvain Distin, Tyrone Mings, Lee Tomlin, Max Gradel and Artur Boruc.
They’ll need all the experience and help they can get if they’re going to survive in the big time. Eddie Howe is one of England’s brightest manager’s and will have a clear vision of how The Cherries are going to adapt to life in Premier League.
Verdict: Fight till the end, still not enough (relegation)
Bournemouth weren’t the only surprise package in last season’s Championship and dark horses Watford finished second to gain promotion to the Premier League for the third time.
Strangely Watford parted ways with manager Slavisa Jokanovic over a dispute about wages and acquired ex Valencia and Atletico manager Quique Flores.
Watford scored goals for fun in the Championship and they’ll be hoping Troy Deeney, Odion Ighalo and Matej Vydra can replicate that in the top flight.
The Hornets have been promoted to the top division twice before but both times they were relegated the following season, but a new training facility and stadium stand are signs of a club building for the future and they’ll hope that future is the Premier League.
Verdict: Lack of depth (relegation)
Play-off winners Norwich City bounced back at the first time of asking, after Alex Neil ensured they hit form just at the right time.
The Scotsman is a young, promising manager keen to prove himself amongst the big boys, but he’s admitted making signings this summer has proved difficult with Norwich only bringing in Youssuf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans and Robbie Brady.
A lot has been spoken about The Canaries team spirit, togetherness, experience and they have Premier League quality from their last stint including Sebastian Bassong, Russell Martin, Bradley Johnson and Wes Hoolahan. Before being relegated in 2013/14, Norwich finished 11th and 12th previously.
Verdict: Get over the line (just)