Five of the Best Newly Promoted Sides in Premier League History

There has been plenty of class from the 35 sides who didn't go down straight away. Some even surprised everyone and punched well above their weight when back (or debuting) in the big time. Here are five of the best.

Of the three sides promoted from the Championship last season it is undoubtedly Leicester City who are catching the eye most, especially after their stunning comeback against Manchester United. From a tricky five opening fixtures, they've earned draws against top four challengers Everton and Arsenal as well as victories away at Stoke and the aforementioned humbling of Manchester United.

The gap between the Championship and Premier League can be a big step up (just ask any Derby County fan about their 2007-8 season) but the way things are going at the moment it looks a breeze for Leicester. The stats are on their side too, as of the 62 sides promoted into the Premier League only 27 were relegated in their first season.

Last season Cardiff suffered that fate but there has been plenty of class from the 35 sides who didn't go down straight away. Some even surprised everyone and punched well above their weight when back (or debuting) in the big time. Here are five of the best.

5. Sunderland (1999-2000)

Sunderland's second stint in the Premier League was far more successful than their first back in 1996-7 when they finished 18th with Craig Russell and Paul Stewart their joint top-scorers with four goals each.

Under the helm of Peter Reid, and with the last English player to win the Premier League's golden boot in Kevin Philips, rather than staving off relegation the Wearsiders spent most of the campaign fighting for a European place. They missed out and finished seventh, but it was three points above rivals Newcastle (who they also beat away and drew with at home).

Niall Quinn and Kevin Philips had a fantastic partnership, bagging league 44 goals between them. It was a good job too, as the defence was less solid, letting in 56 goals in 38 games. That meant they missed out on a sixth place finish due to goal difference but it was still a great achievement.

4. Blackburn Rovers (1992-3)

Promoted from the old Division Two for the Premier League's inaugural season thanks to a 1-0 victory over Leicester City in the playoff final, this was the start of something special for Blackburn Rovers that would eventually result in a Premier League crown in 1995. It was also their return to the top division after 26 years outside it.

Managed by Kenny Dalglish and backed by millionaire chairman Jack Walker, they snapped up a young Alan Shearer for a then British record of around £3.5 million. Injury cut his season short but his 16 league goals in 21 appearances helped them to a fourth place finish, missing out on a UEFA Cup spot by just one point.

Captain Tim Sherwood and the likes of Henning Berg, Colin Hendry and Graeme Le Saux also aided Rovers to two good cup runs, reaching the quarter-finals and semi finals in the FA and League Cups respectively.

3. Nottingham Forest (1994-5)

The third newly promoted team in the Premier League's first three years to finish in the top four; Nottingham Forest proved they could succeed post-Brian Clough. Having been relegated in the Premier League's debut season they bounced back extremely well, going undefeated in their first 11 games before coming up against soon-to-be champions Blackburn Rovers.

Current Forest manager Stuart Pearce was captain and Stan Collymore's 22 league goals certainly helped their cause. He was further rewarded by being sold to Liverpool at the end of the season for a then national record of £8.4million.

Nine wins and four draws in their final 13 games meant they finished three points above Collymore's future club Liverpool and that European football would be coming back to the City Ground next season.

2. Ipswich Town (2000-2001)

After winning promotion by beating Barnsley in an exciting play-off final, many had Ipswich Town down as relegation certainties. How they shocked everyone.

Drawing with Manchester United at home (when that was seen as a great achievement, unlike today) was the first indicator that they would be no pushovers. They had a mixed start, but with enough victories they looked like a team that could easily finish mid-table and avoid relegation.

Marcus Stewart was beaten by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for the golden boot but his 19 league goals, and Town's impressive finish with just two defeats in their last 12 games, meant they secured a fifth place finish above Chelsea. They would look also forward to entertaining Inter Milan next season in the UEFA Cup.

Maybe it was that distraction that led to their relegation the next season, further highlighting how great a success this one was.

1. Newcastle United (1993-4)

The return of local hero Peter Beardsley partnered with a young Andy Cole created one of the deadliest striking duos in Premier League history. The 55 league goals scored between the pair (34 for Cole) propelled Newcastle to a third place finish and their first European dates since the 1970s.

Managed by Kevin Keegan the Toon deservedly earned the nickname 'The Entertainers' as they notched up the highest amount of goals that season with 82, playing an exciting brand of football. After a slow start, only two defeats and two draws in their final 14 matches saw them secure a deserved third place finish behind champions Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers.

It's a far cry from the current state of affairs on Tyneside.

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