Cardiff City target a quick return to the Premier League

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauding after Blackburn tie.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became Cardiff City manager in January 2014.

There is only one question on the lips of Cardiff City fans ahead of their first home league game this season - can they get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking?

It's a frequent prediction at this time of the year that the relegated teams will go straight back up - but life is rarely that simple.

Summer changes

After the chaos that surrounded his appointment in the middle of the January transfer window, things are a lot calmer now for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after a full pre-season.

Relegation from the top flight brought the inevitable departure of big names who want to play at the top level. So Fraizer Campbell,Steven Caulker and Gary Medel all departed, with Adam Le Fondre and Tom Adeyemi coming in with Norwich's Anthony Pilkington and Reading's Sean Morrison also confirmed.

Cardiff City relegated
Cardiff City were relegated in May 2014 after one season in the Premier League.

"We did our business early on because you think these players are going to leave," said Solskjaer, adding: "It's not nice as a manager when there's nothing you can do, but sometimes it's the only deal [to have relegation release clauses] you can give them to get them to the club."

Cardiff have weakened several of their Championship rivals with the players they've recruited, on the face of it a shrewd strategy which appears to have put the Bluebirds in a strong position to challenge for a top flight return.

Cardiff's shrewd summer
Transfers inTransfers out
Guido Burgstaller (Rapid Wien)Andrew Taylor (Wigan)
Javi Guerra (Real Valladolid)Craig Bellamy (retired)
Adam Le Fondre (Reading)Don Cowie (Wigan)
Federico Macheda (Manchester United)Simon Lappin (released)
Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace)Tommy Smith (released)
Charlie Horton (Peterborough)Steven Caulker (QPR)
Tom Adeyemi (Birmingham)Fraizer Campbell (Crystal Palace)
Danny Johnson (Guisborough)Jordon Mutch (QPR)
Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City)Gary Medel (Inter Milan)
Sean Morisson (Reading)-

Financial advantage

In pure monetary terms, Cardiff start with an advantage over most Championship clubs.

In addition to the £20m Solskjaer's transfers have generated this summer, there is the substantial parachute payment given to relegated Premier League clubs.

In previous years that figure was £48m, but this year for Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich it is £60m.

And the Bluebirds collected over £60m in revenue just for finishing bottom of the table last season, more than Manchester United banked in 2012/13 for winning the title.

Some may argue this makes the playing uneven, but those are the rules, and it makes good reading for the club. Should they need new recruits in January or fund an emergency loan mid season, then the money is there.

TV revenue for Premier League clubs
ClubLive games broadcastBroadcast revenue (£m)
Cardiff City (2013/14)862.1
Manchester United (2012/13)2560.8

Key fixtures

He may have spent most of his playing career in the Premier League, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under no illusions about the challenge that awaits him.

"This league is tough and I've actually listened to radio and read the papers and there's five or six of us who can say we're candidates to go up," he said.

"Blackburn, Fulham, Norwich and we play them all in the first eight games."

Queens Park Rangers celebrate winning the Championship play-off in 2014
Queens Park Rangers won the play-off final in 2014 to secure promotion back to the Premier League a season after being relegated.

Cardiff drew 1-1 with Blackburn in their league opener, and next face Huddersfield at home on 16 August.

Key fixtures this season include their trip to Craven Cottage to face Fulham, a team who have spent £11m on former Cardiff striker Ross McCormack, and another stern test will be the away day at last season's beaten play-off finalists Derby County.

Solskjaer said: "We've got great characters [in the team] and we're going to need that character in the dressing room this season because there's going to be loads of games on a Tuesday, Saturday and Friday that are going to be really tough."

Teams that have won Premier League promotion immediately after relegation
Crystal Palace (1993/94)West Bromwich Albion (2003/04)
Nottingham Forest (1993/94)Birmingham City (2006/07)
Leicester City (1995/96)Sunderland (2006/07)
Bolton Wanderers (1996/97)Birmingham City (2008/09)
Middlesbrough (1997/98)Newcastle United (2009/10)
Nottingham Forest (1997/98)West Bromwich Albion (2009/10)
Charlton Athletic (1999/2000)West Ham United (2011/12)
Manchester City (2001/02)QPR (2013/14)
Leicester City (2002/03)-

Where will they finish?

Solskjaer has assembled a squad full of Championship experience.

The players who have stayed as well as the new arrivals have all had a taste of the big time and now have something to prove, as does the manager.

Solskjaer won the lot at Old Trafford and delivered trophies in charge of Molde, so failure is very much alien to him.

"We have looked forward to this ever since we got relegated," said Solskjaer.

"We want to show we're a good team that want to bounce back.

"When you don't reach your targets you dwell on them longer than if you've achieved."

The long nights of thinking may well pay off this season and at the time of writing they sit third favourites to win the division with the bookmakers.

I'd certainly back them to finish in the top six at least, but predictions in this league are easy - delivering results is not.

Straight back up? Only a quarter of clubs who've been relegated from the Premier League have done it.

Ask me again in May.

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