Wolverhamton Wanderes, Birmingham City and Burnley have all been promoted to the English Premiership this year and it’s time to meet these teams and the key players in their promotion season.
Position In Championship: 1st, Won the division title.
Last stint in the top flight: 2003-2004, lasted one season.
Manager: Mick McCarthy, 3 seasons with the club, 72 wins, 38 draws and 42 losses.
The winners of The Championship division in England, the second division, returning to the Premier League after 5 seasons in the Championship, hoping to make it a longer stay at the Premiership this time.
Wolves have the most seasons in the Top Division out of the three that were promoted this year, and even have 3 top flight titles, but those are from way back in the 50′s and the last time Wolves lasted more than a season in the top division was way back in the late 70′s going into the early 80′s.
Who are the men that have brought the team back up? We’ll start with the top goalscorer, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. Blake, 23, scored 25 goals from Wolves this season, his first full one for the club. He scored 12 in 20 games after his mid season move from Plymouth last year, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can produce goals in the Premiership. Just a reminder, the lad started out his pro career at Manchester United but never got to play for the Red Devils in the League.
Behind Blake on the teams scoring charts is Chris Iwelumo, the Scottish-Nigerian veteran striker who has seen his career go on track only in the last 4 years or so. In his first year with Wolves Iwelumo scored 14 goals, forming a great partnership with Blake. Iwelumo hopes with Premiership time he can get more caps for the Scottish National side and erase the memories of his horrible miss from the Norway game in the qualifiers for South Africa 2010.
There’s also the man who provided these two, Michael Kightly, who finished the season with 19 assists. The 23 year old winger who grew up in Tottenham’s youth ranksand a few years ago was reported to be touted by Alex Ferguson who called Kightly “the Ryan Giggs of Non-League Football” has been the driving force in Wolverhampton’s midfield, scoring 8 goals as well.
Birmingham City F.C.
Position in Championship: 2nd, earned promotion.
Last stint in top flight: 2007-2008, spent one season there. Spent 4 straight seasons in the Premiership between 2002-2006.
Manager: Alex McLeish, 2 seasons with the club, 29 wins, 23 draws, 22 losses.
Birmingham have spent 5 of the last 7 seasons in the Premier League and are no strangers to it. Maybe out of all three clubs promoted have the best chances of staying up due to their experience in the top flight and having a lot of ex-premiership players among the ranks.
Manager Alex McLeish stayed with the club after he was relegated with them last year and brought them back up on his first attempt. Unlike Wolves, Birmingham have never won a top flight title and their best top division finishing is 6th, back in the 1955-1956 season. They have notched up 55 top division seasons to their belt.
Birmingham scored only 54 goals last season, way way lower than Wolves’ 80 but enjoyed the best defence in the Championship, conceding only 37 goals. Maik Taylor, the Northern Ireland goalkeeper anchored the team from goal, like he has since 2004.
Lee Carsley, the club captain although it was his first season with the club, is the team’s leader. The vetern defensive midfielder scored a couple of goals this season and returns to the league he has spent most of his career in with Derby, Blackburn and Everton.
The Club’s top scorer is Kevin Phillips, 35, who has already won the English Premier League scoring title, back 1999-2000 with Sunderland, scoring 30 league goals. He’s 35 but the goals still come from his legs, netting 14 times for the Blues this season. He has spent the past 3 seasons in the Championship, two with W.B.A and has scored 55 goals in the last three. There’s a good chance he’ll prefer staying in the Championship, where his skill is still enough to score some goals.
Burnley Football Club
Position in Championship: 5th, won promotion through playoffs.
Last stint in top flight: 1975-1976 season, relegated after 3 seasons there.
Manager: Owen Coyle, 2nd season with the club, 33 wins, 21 draws, 26 losses.
An amazing season, an amazing and historic return. Burnley finished 5th, their highest season finish in 33 years, ever since being relegated from England’s top flight, than called Division 1. In the Playoffs they beat Reading 3-0 after two legs and reached the final in Wembley facing Sheffield United, winning 1-0 thanks to Wade Elliot putting them through.
Burnley were among the teams that started the Football League back in 1888 and the team also has a league title from the 1959-1960 season. After Burnley’s last spell in the Premiership the club fell to the 4th division or division 2 as it’s called today, the lowest of all pro soccer leagues in England but have turned a slow yet impressive climb up the leagues since the turn of the millennium, very much like Stoke City. They hope their final position in May 2010 will be similar to Stoke’s finish this season.
Martin Paterson was Burnley’s best scorer this past season, netting 13 goals. The 22 year old Northern Irish International was able to achieve promotion with the team on his first season with the club, including a huge long distance goal against Reading in the Playoffs Semi Finals.
Graham Alexander also scored in double figures for the team, scoring 10 goals for on his second season for Burnley despite playing usually on the back four. Alexander reaches the Premiership for the first time in his career at age 37, if he’ll stay with the club during the off-season, as Burnley probably need to change and add-on the most out of all three promoted clubs.
The Best player for the team this season was Robbie Blake. The 33 year old player can play all round the midfield and attack if needed scored 8 goals and has 12 assists this past season, making his return to the Premier League after his days there with Birmingham City, where he didn’t get much playing time.