The English club football season 2017/2018 is now officially over across all the leagues’ divisions and European competitions. Unless you live in a cave, you must have learned by now the latest news:
- West Brom, Stoke and Swansea won’t entertain us in the Premier League next season
- Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff (both automatically) and now Fulham (through the Play-Off final win over Steve Bruce, John Terry and Jack Grealish-led Aston Villa) are promoted
- Just couple hours after, Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League final in rather dramatic fashion. Global idol and fantasy favorite Mo Salah felt all the physicality of Sergio Ramos and is now in a race against time to help Egypt during the upcoming World Cup.
Lucky enough, in this article we aren't talking about the Champions League. We will survey the three promoted units and introduce you to the new joiners. We will also highlight the early potential fantasy targets for the upcoming season. All three teams will be the active transfer market players, so the rosters will change, but there is a high chance that these key names will stay.
Championship 2017-18 winners, with the promotion secured back in April with couple league games to spare.
Colors: Famous orange top and black bottoms
Last year in Premier League: season 2011-12
Stadium: Molineux Stadium (29195 seats), on the northwest edge of the Birmingham metroplex in the West Midlands (replacing West Brom out there).
Coach: Nuno Espirito Santo. The Portuguese former goalkeeper is just 44 and started his coaching career in 2012. Since then, he has worked with Rio Ave, Valencia and Porto. He is famous for his emotional style, soe his teams show passionate and artistic football.
Season stats and goal-scorers: Best team of the season with both best home and away records. 2.04 goals per home game was a league-high. John Ruddy registered 24 clean sheet evenly-split between home and away matches. The team almost hit the 100 points mark (99) and registered the best goal difference (+43). Diogo Jota was the team’s top goalscorer with 17 strikes.
- John Ruddy — well-known to the Premier League, former Norwich goalie was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year. Ruddy registered most clean sheets, and his goal-saving skills are well known;
- Willy Boly – another nominee in the PFA Championship Team of the Year, the French defender impressed with 8 man-of-the-match nominations, 3 goals and 2 assists.
- Barry Douglas – the 28 year-old Scottish midfielder had a breakthrough season. He scored five times, while making 14 assists. Is he a Pascal Gross/Aaron Mooy in making?
- Diogo Jota – This Portuguese, still young (just 21) forward rewarded his coach’s trust with 17 goals and 5 assists. He registered 43 caps, which is a good indicator of his fitness potential.
- Ivan Cavaieiro – yet another Portuguese attacking midfielder, brought to Wolves by Nuno, had five MotM nominations, while scoring 9 and assisting 12 times.
- Leo Bonatini – The Brazilian had a solid season, while scoring 12 and assisting 5 times.
- Ruben Neves — Wolves’ midfield star was included in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and is an obvious talent on the ball. Reminds me of Kevin de Bruyne with his long distance shots and passes. Scored six and earned 3 MotM nominations.
Colors: As the nickname suggests, blue top and bottom
Last year in Premier League: 2013-14
Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium (26828 seats), 2nd biggest stadium in Wales, on the Welsh south coast about halfway from Bristol to Swansea.
Coach: Neil Warnock. This 69 year-old Englishman has just achieved his 8th career team promotion.
Season stats and goalscorers: Cardiff’s trademark style this season was based on solid defense, recording 19 clean sheets. Along with the League winners, they conceded only 39 goals. The team was happy to sit tight, absorb pressure, and counter-attack. Their average ball possession percentage was 45.4%. 21 goals were scored from the set pieces (again joint-high with Wolves), while leading in aerial duals won. However, Cardiff could do better in the attacking third, as their 69 goals was equal to relegation-threatened Hull. Only one player, Callum Paterson, netted double-digit goals (10).
- Sol Bamba — defender. The only Cardiff City player in the Championship team of the season. Despite being 33, the Ivory Coast international registered 43 caps, 4 goals, and 8 MotM nominations.
- Callum Paterson — a Scottish midfielder was the team’s top scorer with 10 goals and 4 assists.
- Kenneth Zohore — a 24 year old Danish forward scored 9 and assisted 5 times.
- Joe Ralls — another 24 year old, but qualified as a defensive midfielder. The Englishman could be a new Luka Milivojevic, as he scored an impressive 7 goals and 4 assists. However, he collected 8 yellow cards in the process.
- Junior Hoilett — our old friend from Blackburn Rovers is back. the Canadian winger registered 44 caps, scored 9 goals and assisted 11 times. He was named a MotM seven times.
Colors: White top, black bottom
Last year in Premier League: season 2013-14
Stadium: Craven Cottage (25700 seats) on the north bank of the Thames in West London, about a mile west of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.
Coach: Slavisa Jokanovic, a former Yugoslavian national team defensive midfielder, now a 49 year old Serbian manager known for his hot temper yet a flourishing style of the teams that he manages.
Season stats and goal-scorers: Fulham registered a memorable campaign, though a huge credit should be given to the players who joined on loan during the winter break and turned things around.
Due to a simply absurd transfer policy led by the statistics-obsessed American Craig Kline, the Cottagers were in a state of civil war during the early stages of campaign. Sending most of his signings to train with the youth squad almost led to direct confrontation between Jokanovic and Kline. The executive board couldn’t stand the chaos any longer, so the American was fired.
Fulham missed the 2nd automatic promotion spot in the last game week, but they got a lucky ticket in the end by beating Derby County and Aston Villa in the last-chance playoffs.
Despite Wolves being the obvious best team statistically, Fulham’s style was regarded by many fans as the most attractive. They registered the second best goal difference in the division. It’s hard picking someone out of this team, as the majority will most probably return to their parent clubs. Nevertheless, we may well see these playing somewhere in the Premier League next season, so here are the most prominent:
- Aleksandar Mitrovic – a forgotten Newcastle man who moved on loan to Fulham over the winter break. He registered 18 caps, scoring 12 goals since then. He expressed his desire to stay in Fulham and get a chance to continue working with his countryman Jokanovic, who is apparently able to get the best out of the talented striker. “I’m playing my best football in years”, said Mitrovic. Knowing Mike Ashley’s style, nobody knows if the big Serb will get a chance to stay.
- Matt Targett – Another loanee, this one from Southampton, Matt found himself an integral part of this team and registered 20 caps. He was the heart of Fulham’s backline, receiving four MotM nominations. If he surfaces in the EPL next season, the Englishman will be an attractive fantasy prospect.
- Tom Cairney — The Scottish midfielder had yet another impressive season and was named in the team of the season. He scored 6 goals and supplied 5 assists.
- Ryan Fredericks – An English full back who operated on the right and impressed this season, which didn’t go unnoticed. He was named in the Championship team of the season. Ryan stayed fit throughout the whole season, earning 43 caps out of the 46 available. He registered an impressive seven assists in the process and was solid with his primary defensive duty.
- Stefan Johansen — The Norwegian 27-year-old midfielder is my personal most surprising name, as I have never heard of him. It didn't prevent him from scoring 8 goals and adding 9 assists. Beware his yellow card threat — he was the team leader with 12 offenses.
- Ryan Sessegnon — Remember this name. The EFL Championship Player of the Season started the season at left back. Ryan (18 years old by the way) has transformed into an attacking left winger, scoring a phenomenal 16 goals, not to mention 8 assists. New Gareth Bale, anyone? If Fulham manage to keep this rising 18 year-old English talent, he will be in most fantasy teams next season. His impressive match-winning assist gave Fulham its narrow advantage in the final against Aston Villa.
Do you remember some of these sides from their earlier punts in the Premier League? Have you heard any potential transfer rumors? Who of the promoted managers will be shown the door first? Please tell us in the comments!
It’s hard to speculate now, and our minds will be elsewhere during the World Cup break. We will look again in more detail later this summer, when the league Fantasy game is about to go live again (and this year, unlike prior years, all transfers will have been completed before the season starts!)
Thank you for reading us :)