The pools of Blue WKD on West Street aren't even dry yet, and already the speculation has begun as to how we will fare in the big time. But what is the absolute best that Albion fans can expect next year? Here’s a rundown of the 7 teams this century that have reached at least 50 points in the Premier League directly following promotion from the second tier…
7. Birmingham City 09/10: 50 Points (finished 9th)
The definitive Alex McLeish team, this Birmingham side were extremely sturdy at the back and painfully dull to watch.
Joe Hart, on a season long loan from City, was in phenomenal form and emerging as England’s No.1. In true Big ‘Eck style, the bulk of transfer spending was focused on the defence with Roger Johnson and Scott Dann arriving to complete a truly quality back four with Liam Ridgewell and Stephen Carr. Barry Ferguson and Lee Bowyer offered serious bite in midfield. The less said about Cameron Jerome the better.
They won the league cup the following year.
6. Wigan 05/06: 51 points (finished 10th)
Paul Jewell made excellent use of free transfers in the summer, bringing in Stephane Henchoz, Adrian de Zeeuw and Pascal Chimbonda – all of whom played over 35 games. Their biggest financial outlay was £5m for Henri Camara who eventually ran out the team’s top scorer. Graham Kavanagh pulled the strings in midfield and Jimmy Bullard ran around a lot.
Wigan capped off their best ever league finish with a trip to (the fake) Wembley where they were duly annihilated by United.
5. Man City 02/03: 51 points (finished 9th)
2002 seems like a different age to be honest. In their final season at Maine Road, City celebrated promotion by breaking their transfer record by jizzing £13m on Anelka, and offering Peter Schmeichel a final hurrah to a stellar career by beating their city rivals for the first time in forever. Other notable additions included Marc-Vivien Foe and Robbie Fowler.
4. Charlton 00/01: 52 points (finished 9th)
And 2000 seems like an age before even that. Having romped the first division Alan Curbishley (why is he not still managing?) added Fish, Johansson, Jensen and Albion fan favourite Kish to an already very well balanced team. They were hard to beat and possessed goal threats right across the front line.
3. West Ham 05/06: 55 points (finished 9th)
When Alan Pardew looks in the mirror what does he see? Success, obviously. A great dancer, naturally. And of course he sees the rugged countenance of a man who other men want to be, and who women want to be with, definitely. But I suspect that when he looks in the mirror he sees himself as he was in 05/06.
For here was Pards at his Pardiest. Following a playoff victory (from a 6th placed finish) Pards was backed and backed well by the West Ham board. In came Dean Ashton for £7m, plus Benayoun and Konchesky on megawages. The attack was spearheaded by Marlon Harewood and Sir Bob. Reo-Coker (back when he was good) and Matthew Etherington provided more-than-able support. Pards even had 40 year old Teddy Sheringham as an option.
The squad quality showed through and they supplemented their 9th place finish with a trip to Cardiff when it took a performance by Steven Gerrard of such vintage to beat them that he had the final named after him. Unlucky, Pards.
2. Reading 06/07: 55 points (finished 8th)
Unsurprisingly for a team which amassed 106(!) points the previous year, Steve Coppell chose to rely very much on the core group of players who had performed so well. Those that did come in (Duberry, Sodje) didn’t really trouble the first team.
One surprising fact though – Reading’s record signing this season was spending over £3m on GREG HALFORD, who went on to play 3 games.
Steve Sidwell played so well this season that Coppell had no choice but to let him go to Chelsea.
1. Ipswich 00/01: 66 points (finished 5th)
Lightning in a bottle - this won’t happen. Most of the first team were the players who had finished 3rd in the second tier the year before; Wright, Wilnis, Bramble, Holland, Magilton, Scowcroft and of course the inexplicably majestic Marcus Stewart who banged in 19 in the league.
The most notable addition was Hermann Hreidarsson.
Sixty-six points? I suspect that in Ipswich they’re still rubbing their eyes at this one,