There are two general tactics for promoted clubs within whose bounds all tactics fall. The left wing tactic, or ‘The Reading Tactic’, is to spend little money in the summer transfer window, and rely on the players you already have in the squad – the players who got you promoted. The far right wing tactic, or ‘The QPR Tactic’, is spend, spend spend. The notion being that the players who promoted you are good enough for the Championship, but a whole new crop will be needed for survival in the Premier League.
These are two ‘extremist’ tactics. Both clubs advocating the respective tactics were relegated soon after promotion, QPR just about lasting 2 seasons, Reading struggling their way through just a solitary campaign. Clearly, both systems fail.
To provide some substance to my allegations, Reading only spent money on 3 players when they got promoted. 2 were from mid-table Championship clubs; 1 was from Bray Wanderers, whom I have never heard of (feel free to enlighten me in the comments section). Clever money management and low levels of risk, would be the proclaimed argument. Yet indeed, the club struggled to find any sort of oomph or creative sparkle on the pitch, and they were swiftly relegated with little more than a whimper. QPR acquired players from Blackburn, Manchester United (x2), West Ham, Tottenham, Fulham, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Portsmouth. Big clubs – big transfers – big chances of survival? Apparently not. The squad failed to gel and they were relegated in their second season with a few weeks of the season still outstanding.
Linking this to the newly-promoted clubs now. Looking at their squads now, do they have enough to stay in the Premier League on their current crop of players alone? Surely not. Especially, Palace, who were so reliant on Wilfried Zaha. But equally, the foundations are there. Cardiff have David Marshall, Heidar Helguson, Peter Whittingham. Hull have Jack Hobbs, Tom Cairney, Matty Fryatt. Palace have Julian Speroni, Glenn Murray, Yannick Bolasie. Strong spines. There is no need for panic buys or exaggerated spending.
Premier League experience is vital. There have been numerous players released by top league clubs just this summer who are clearly capable of doing a job. William Gallas. David Bentley. Dean Whitehead. Florent Malouda. The quality is there. Canny exploitation of the loan system is also required. They should be looking at the loan availability of Nick Powell, Wilfried Zaha, Tom Carroll, and other such young starlets at top clubs. All future stars who could be moulded into great players for their respective clubs, but who are also well capable of doing a job right now.
Staying up directly after promotion is not impossible, but equally, it requires a cool head and an intelligent manager. Use the resources available, and selectively purchase new resources. Don’t do a Reading, and don’t do a QPR. I would say do a West Ham – who stayed up comfortably in the most recent reason - but I’m a Spurs fan, so no way.