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The secret of staying up: how Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield defied the odds

In what has been a fascinating season in the Premier League, we have seen all three promoted teams from the Championship survive for the first time since 2010/11, when Norwich, QPR and Swansea all beat the drop – but why has this happened in the 2017/18 campaign?

In this article I will look at what each team brought to the Premier League this year, and look forward to next season in the form of the hopes of Wolves and Cardiff fans for 2018/19.

Newcastle United

In my opinion, the main reason Newcastle United stayed up this year is Rafa Benitez. Newcastle’s net spend on players was extremely low this year, but his tactical knowhow and experience from his time at Liverpool brought a calm head to many players when they were on a bad run. Rafa has the backing of the fans and board, but still he has not signed any big money players. The arrival of Joselu, who couldn’t get a game at Stoke City, proves my point. The form of Ayoze Perez towards the end of the season will please Toon army fans, but why are Newcastle not signing top quality strikers or midfielders? Shelvey has played well this year along with Richie in midfield and Lascelles at the back. This year Newcastle will need to invest further in their squad and stop Rafa looking at lucrative vacancies like Arsenal.

Brighton & Hove Albion

The main reason Brighton have managed to stay up is a calm headed chairman and their impressive home form. In recent weeks Brighton have proved they can compete against the top six with credible results, especially at home. But when Chris Hughton sought funds, his wish was granted. Gross has been superb this year behind the old fashioned striker Glenn Murray, who will also reflect on a great season. Brighton have been less impressive away from home but consistently picking up points at home has led to them staying away from the relegation zone all season. Over the summer they need to invest in their defence and possibly a defensive midfielder to resist attacks away from home.

Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town must still be pinching themselves. I remember watching the League two play-off final in Cardiff many years ago where they won promotion and now they have secured Premier League security. Many thought with their tough run of fixtures they were doomed but the two main reasons they stayed up is Wagner and the community. The football club has a special feel about it in the way it connects the team with all aspects of the town. Always the underdog, they have been well supported away from home and fans have refused to critics their players or staff, even after a heavy defeat. Wagner has brought something special to the team and the Premier League, and his likeable but level headed approach to season targets has not allowed his team to be star struck, but instead given unknown players a chance to perform and prove themselves at the highest level. They also got early wins on the board which proved crucial at the end of the season.

Both Wolves and Cardiff will need to learn lessons from these three teams and focus on keeping faith with their manager, making realistic but effective signings, focusing on home form and getting those first wins early to boost player’s confidence. Good luck to them both for next season, and either Fulham or Aston Villa from the play-off final on May 26th.

Written by Terry Wilks. (@FPLCadet)

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