Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy

What do promoted teams need to do to survive?

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With Huddersfield having made an impressive start to their first ever Premier League campaign, we wanted to find out exactly what makes the difference between success and failure in Europe’s top divisions. We’ve analysed the performance of all the promoted teams in the last decade to determine the perfect recipe for survival.

Survival isn’t that difficult to achieve

First of all, let’s dispel any notion that relegation is the most likely outcome for a newly-promoted team. Across Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues in the last decade, only around a third (36.1%) of them go straight back down while one in six actually finish their debut campaign in the top half of the table.

There hasn’t been a single season among the 50 we looked at in which all three promoted teams made an immediate return to the second tier: in over half of them (60%), only one team did so and under a quarter (22%) saw two of the three fail to survive at the first attempt.

So how can this year’s crop ensure that they keep their heads above water?

Hit the ground running

The good news for Huddersfield fans is that a fast start pays off: no newcomer in the last decade has ever been relegated after taking more than six of the first nine points available.

Even those winning between three and six points from their first three games have a roughly two in three chance of survival, but the prospects of those on fewer at this stage are 50-50.

Bring in plenty of new players

While there are managers who have been rewarded for keeping faith with the players who got promoted, they are in the minority. Across Europe, teams who add more first-team players – defined as those who go on to start at least half of their new club’s league matches – tend to finish higher in the table overall.

The difference between recruiting one and three new regulars alone is a whole league place on average, which could make all the difference when the margins at the bottom of the table are so fine.

Brighton and Huddersfield look to have followed this advice so far, having given a meaningful number of starts to five and four players respectively, but Newcastle’s disappointing transfer window could spell trouble. Javier Manquillo has started every game but Joselu only one while Jacob Murphy has only featured from the bench.

Outspend your rivals

Those new arrivals should ideally be of a high quality too, as when we compared how much the three promoted teams spent in their first top-flight campaign there was a clear pattern.

The club which spent the most of the three survived in almost three quarters of the 50 campaigns we looked at, with the second highest and lowest spenders performing worse in turn.

Don’t be afraid to think big

Outside of the Premier League, it’s possible to think beyond mere survival if the budget is available to bring in a star player to lift the squad. The three promoted teams on the continent which spent over £10m on a single signing all finished not only in the top half but the Champions League places in their first season. Of the six English clubs to have done likewise, though, not one made it into the top half and three were relegated.

The trick in England appears to be to strengthen the entire spine of the team. The only two newly-promoted teams who made it into the top half in their debut season – Birmingham in 2009/10 and West Ham in 2012/13 – each made at least one signing in every area of the pitch. These don’t have to be expensive signings – in fact both added goalkeepers and strikers on either loans or free transfers and spent relatively modestly overall – but there’s clearly an advantage to adding depth in every position if you want to thrive.

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