It’s that time of year again where I preview the Championship and predict the upcoming seasons eventual league table but I am not going to fall in to the same trap as I did 12 months ago by naming the club I support as the champions elect, instead opting for the proven old tactic of head ruling the heart and rightly slapping my boys back down to where I should have positioned them last season which is well and truly amidst the insignificance amongst the middle of the Championship table.
Those that know me will understand I always like to have a pop on the predictions tables at this time of year and to see how horribly wrong I got it last season (although I did get the relegated clubs correct) you can click here for my 2018/19 preview.
This season, like last will be almost impossible to predict as the world’s toughest and most competitive professional football division is once again as hard to call as ever before.
Bookies favourites Leeds United fell at the final hurdle last season when it looked for long periods that they would finish in the top two and break their top division exile of 15 years outside the Premier League. This coming season they have added Helder Costa from Wolves but lost Pontus Jansson to Brentford whilst youngster Jack Clarke has moved for big money to Tottenham Hotspur, he has been loaned back to the club so Manager Marcelo Bielsa will still feel confident his side can improve on their 3rd place finish and playoff semi-final exit to go a little better and secure promotion this time around.
Pushing Leeds for the Championship should be West Bromwich Albion who under Slaven Bilic have a top class coach and some positive inward transfer movements too. Out go Jay Rodriguez and Craig Dawson who’ll both be missed but in come Kenneth Zohore, Romaine Sawyers, Darnell Furlong, Semi Ajayi and Filip Krovinovic as the Baggies look to improve on last season’s efforts in reaching the play-off semi-finals.
I like Stoke City who have done good business this summer with Championship ready players in Tommy Smith, Stephen Ward, Nick Powell and Liam Gregory amongst others. Former Luton Manager Nathan Jones has had over six months in charge now and with a first full pre-season at the Britannia will no doubt be able to put his stamp on things for a promotion push.
Of the relegated clubs I fancy Cardiff City to do best under the experienced Neil Warnock who knows this division inside and out. The Bluebirds have kept many of the players from a competitive Premier League campaign with the addition of Aden Flint and Will Vaulks the Welsh Capital will be a tough place to visit for opponents this term.
Making up the Playoffs I have a sneaky feeling for Brentford this year whilst their London rivals Fulham should also be in with a shout with a Premier League return under Scott Parker who I would love to do well. I can see a gallant but unsuccessful attempt for the Cottagers who may grow stronger throughout the season, Brentford meanwhile have spent well under Thomas Frank by bringing in the likes of Pontus Jansson from Leeds and Christian Norgaard from Fiorentina and in spending over £20m they could be a dark horse to watch?
Just missing out on a top six spot I have Bristol City who I’m sure will again do well under Lee Johnson especially having signed the likes of Thomas Kalas and Jay Dasilva on permanent deals from Chelsea. Swansea under Steve Cooper should play attractive stuff but whilst flirting with the playoffs they shouldn’t be serious challengers? Derby County who did so well under Frank Lampard last season will have to rebuild under new Coach Phillipe Cocu who’s first experience managing in England could be a daunting task?
Away from trouble in the middle of the table should include Blackburn Rovers who under Tony Mowbray proved a tough outfit in the Championship following promotion last season. Blackburn have signed Sam Gallagher, Stewart Downing and Bradley Johnson which should add quality and experience to what they already have. Although keeping Bradley Dack will be key to their success.
Behind Blackburn and just sneaking into the top half I’m opting for Charlton Athletic who under Lee Bowyer look like a side riding on the crest of a wave following promotion from League One in the playoffs.
In 12th I have my team Nottingham Forest who’s intolerance with persisting with Managers leave me with little faith that the current number will even be in his job come January. Another club with Managerial issues is Sheffield Wednesday who have decent enough players within their squad to finish comfortably away from danger, should they find an adequate replacement for Steve Bruce who recently departed to Manager Premier League Newcastle.
Towards the top end of the bottom half and in 14th I think Middlesbrough will sit, having rid of Tony Pulis they now put their trust in one of their own in the untried Jonathan Woodgate. A move that will get the fans on board but one that largely ends in failure in similar circumstances. If he’s still in charge come 2020 i’ll be very surprised.
Just below Boro will be Preston North End who might slip one place on their previous year whilst QPR under Mark Warburton will certainly play the right way having made a large number of changes this summer. Wigan Athletic under Paul Cook should also be well safe from the drop as should Hull City under Grant McCann who could surprise a few including myself?
Of the strugglers promoted Luton Town may find things difficult with a new Manager in charge but should have enough firepower to stay up. Huddersfield Town free falling from the Premier League will flirt dangerously with the drop but could get out of it simply down to those below them being worse.
I have Barnsley to stay up on the last day whilst Millwall go down with a gallant fight lacking the firepower needed to survive. Below them Reading with Portuguese Manager Jose Gomes not sticking around for long above Birmingham City who in losing important goals from Che Adams will also see Pep Clotet as one of the runners for first Coach to lose his managerial post.
- Leeds United
- West Bromwich Albion
- Stoke City
- Cardiff City
- Bristol City
- Swansea City
- Derby County
- Blackburn Rovers
- Charlton Athletic
- Nottingham Forest
- Sheffield Wednesday
- Preston North End
- Queens Park Rangers
- Wigan Athletic
- Hull City
- Luton Town
- Huddersfield Town
- Birmingham City
Odds with Betfair: 4/1 Leeds United, 6/1 Stoke City, 9/1 Fulham, 10/1 Cardiff City, Stoke City, 12/1 Brentford, 14/1 Huddersfield Town, 16/1 Bristol City, Middlesbrough, 17/1 Derby County, 22/1 Nottingham Forest, 25/1 Preston North End, 30/1 Swansea City, 35/1 Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday, 55/1 Luton Town, 60/1 Birmingham City, Hull City, Millwall, Wigan Athletic, 66/1 Queens Park Rangers, Reading, 100/1 Barnsley, 125/1 Charlton Athletic.