Leicester City warned over 'big surprise' but told how they can survive in the Premier League

Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Leicester City are in for a “big surprise” when they return to the Premier League, relegated Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has warned.

City are heading back to the top flight this coming season, and although they have only been away for a year, they could be shocked by the rise in the quality. That’s according to Wilder, whose Blades side earned just 16 points as they were relegated with a whimper.

All three promoted clubs came straight back down last season, meaning aside from City, Ipswich, and Southampton, all of the other Premier League sides will have had at least two years to acclimatise. In the battle to avoid the drop, City need to find a niche, because they can’t compete financially.

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Wilder told SportsBoom: “The Prem has got even tougher. Every season it moves on and so do most of the other teams in it. It wasn’t that long back, for the clubs coming up, that you could look at teams outside of the top six or so and think: ‘We’ve got a real chance there.’ That’s changing, the gap is getting wider, and you have to find other ways of competing which unfortunately we weren’t able to do.

“We take ownership of what happened to us (at Sheffield United). But what I would say to everyone coming up is: ‘Well done, but you’re going to be in for a bigger surprise than maybe you realise.’

“That’s just the way it is. I reckon, even from a few years ago now, it’s even more difficult to come up and then stay up. Most of the teams who come up, unless they’ve got a really rich history there, are going to struggle to compete financially so you’ve got to find other ways of doing that. You’ve got to try and be a bit clever. Find a niche.”

Wilder’s theory is that Premier League money allows mid-table clubs to sign players that once would have only been available to the very richest. That pushes promoted clubs further adrift.

He added: “Money-wise, the differences are obvious. Especially for those of us who haven’t been up there for 10 years or so before coming back. But the standard of player, right the way throughout, just keeps on rising and rising as well. That, for me, is one of the biggest differences.

“As more and more money comes in, clubs who are regarded as in the second rung of the Premier League are bringing in players who not so long ago would have been beyond their reach.”

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