Only once in Premier League have all three promoted teams gone straight back down and that was all the way back in the 1997/98 season when Barnsley, Bolton and Crystal Palace suffered the indignity of an immediate return to the Championship. History is on course to repeat itself this season, though.
The three promoted teams – Burnley, Luton Town and Sheffield United – currently occupy the bottom three places in the Premier League table. The trio only have a point apiece to show for their first five or six fixtures of the season with a gap already starting to open up between 18th and the rest of the division.
Last weekend was a damaging one for all three promoted teams. Burnley were at least competitive in their match against Manchester United, but were unable to hurt an opposition team lacking confidence and many key players. Luton Town claimed their first point of the campaign home to Wolves while Sheffield United were thumped 8-0 at home by Newcastle United.
Paul Heckingbottom is already under pressure with the Blades seemingly out of their depth in the Premier League. Even if a managerial change is made at Bramall Lane, though, Sheffield United seemingly lack the quality to climb up the Premier League table. Their squad is largely made up of Championship-level players.
Similar could be said of Luton Town who provided one of the storylines of the 2022/23 season by earning promotion through the play-offs. However, the Hatters are currently the Premier League’s lowest scorers – three goals in five games – and have struggled to impose their game on opponents so far this term.
Burnley’s struggles have been particularly disappointing given their success in the Championship last season. Under Vincent Kompany, the Clarets set a new record for the most points in a second tier season while playing a brand of exciting, attack-minded football. This season, though, there has been little sign of the swagger that made Burnley champions.
“These guys know, we got the fixture list,” said Kompany. “I opened the fixture list at the very beginning and I have a rational mind, so I thought ‘okay, we’ve got 14 new players and you see fixtures against City, United, Villa, Newcastle, Chelsea, Tottenham all within the first 10 games. You know this might be a difficult start, especially with a newly promoted team. But when you look at the performance today, our moment will come. Our moment will come.”
The longer Burnley and the other promoted teams wait to build some momentum, though, the longer the odds will drift of them avoiding relegation. The Premier League is an unforgiving division and so if Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United can do something to improve their chances of staying up, they should do it now.
Last season, Nottingham Forest spent big to make sure they stayed in the Premier League after a long exile from the top division of English football. While it took some time for Steve Cooper to get to grips with the sheer number of new players delivered to his front door, Forest were ultimately stronger for this investment.
Bournemouth might have got lucky with Gary O’Neill and the impact he made as interim manager, but the Cherries have shown a willingness to improve again with the bold appointment of Andoni Ireola for this season. Fulham have also demonstrated ambition with a number of their signings over the last 12 months.
To date, Burnley, Luton and Sheffield United have fallen short of this standard. They have not improved the overall level of the Premier League and have a lot of work ahead of them to prove they deserve to stay in the division. There’s still time for them to turn things around, but their introduction to life in the top flight has been a negative one.