Wolves go to Crystal Palace this weekend in the Premier League with the hope of keeping up their electric early season form.
They are clearly benefiting from heavy investment which allowed them to break the strong shackles of the Championship last season. However you cannot deny their quality confidence and ambition. For a new side in the Premier League they look as though they could go on to become the most successful promoted club in the league’s history.
Other promoted sides have come up and defied the odds in the past with varying degrees of success. The step up is huge with many being brutally torn a new one by the big and wealthy names of the English game. Here is a look at the top five promoted sides, who Wolves will look to measure themselves against this season and beyond.
Arguably the club’s greatest and most enjoyable season, how Sunderland fan’s will crave those glory days right now. Their 1999/2000 season saw them make a top flight return after their relegation in 1997.
This time though they had a shiny new stadium and one of the most memorable strike partnerships in Premier League history in Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn. The likeable duo would score forty-four times between them that season as Sunderland raced up to a seventh place finish.
Phillips won the European Golden Shoe, a remarkable achievement for a player with a promoted side. Peter Reid also became everyone’s favourite backside kicking scouse motivator that year. Wins over Chelsea and Newcastle will live long in the memory for all Black Cat fans.
Then club owner, Mohamed Al Fayed inspired Fulham’s incredible rise back to the bright lights of the top flight in 2001. Many groaned at yet another London Club joining the elite. However, despite smaller gates and the pulling power of their city neighbours, Fulham managed to survive and thrive in the Premier League.
Jean Tigana’s men played some good stuff and had some genuinely excellent talent such as Louis Saha, Steve Finnan, Edwin Van de Sar and Steed Malbranque. Their survival that year gave them a foothold and they would go on to achieve thirteen successive seasons in the big time. Michael Jackson also visited once and had a statue placed in this honour outside Craven Cottage, weird.
Ipswich Town 2000-01
There must have been something in the water of Championship clubs around this era. The Tractor Boys became yet another promoted side to come up out of the second tier and surprise us all. The club made famous by Sir Alf Ramsay and Sir Bobby Robson, was sat third in the table at Christmas and eventually finished in a lofty fifth place with Europe secured for the following season.
There have been technically better sides than Ipswich, which have been relegated, however under Manager of the year, George Burley, they knew how to get results. Like Sunderland, they could rely on a superb striker in the form of Marcus Stewart. The veteran lower league forward chipped in with nineteen Premier League goals, with many calling for him to be included in the England squad. Their relegation the following season suggests they were just a flash in the pan, but what a season for their supporters!
Leicester City 2014-15
The year of the Ostrich! Leicester City returned to the Premier League after a decade’s absence in 2014. The Foxes intitially endured a torrid time and for a significant chunk of the season were in the bottom three. They looked doomed for the drop, but somehow, Nigel Pearson orchestrated an unlikely turn around.
A ridiculous end of season run, saw them climb to the safety of fourteenth and forty-one points. However, it was what followed this escape that made this team so famous. Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez et al, would go on to carry that crazy form into 2015-16 under new manager, Claudio Ranieri.
With the Roman, they would go on to become the most unlikely Premier League champions of all time, using the spine of the side that got them out of the Championship. As a footnote; Gary Lineker also did Match of the Day in his boxer shorts to celebrate.
Blackburn Rovers 1992-93
Way back when football was invented in 1992, Blackburn Rovers wrote the blueprint for what Wolves are now trying to do twenty-five years later.
Under steel magnate and local custodian, Jack Walker, the Lancashire Club would not only return to the newly formed Premier League, they would thrive there. A 4th place finish in 1992-93 saw a swaggering side built by Walker’s millions and Dalglish’s prowess, sweep aside many of the traditional bigger clubs.
That side was oozing with quality, with then British record signing, Alan Shearer, the jewel in the crown. However, other stalwarts of the day graced Ewood Park, with the likes of Le Saux, Sherwood, May, Wilcox and Ripley plying their trade in Lancashire. That talented core which had won promotion in ’92 would eventually win the league in 1995, the club’s finest hour by far. Like Sunderland, their fans will be yearning for a return to even a fraction of that wonderful success.