Written by David Robinson
Here we are then, Football League is upon us and over 46 games, it’s sure to be another exciting, action packed campaign throughout. The second tier of English football always seems to deliver and usually it goes down to the wire at both ends of the table. One of the finer aspects of the Championship is its unpredictability, I’ve certainly found that to be the case when trying to compose my predictions for this season. There are a number of squads which I feel are of similar strength and with not much in it, every game will be crucial along the way. The League is in my opinion becoming more influenced by the financial powers meaning certain clubs will struggle to compete at the top which gives more of an air of predictability to a degree. With an awful lot of time left in the transfer window, I’m sure some crucial signings will be made which could make all the difference. This only makes predicting this league even harder however these are my Championship predictions, continuing with the sides languishing in the bottom half in 13th-18th position.
13th – QPR
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink takes charge of his first full season at Loftus Road and his side will have lower expectations than in previous years having not been tipped to pull up any trees this time round. The R’s have had to be a lot more conservative in the market these days and have lost their more mercurial and journeyman type squad for a more simplistic and resolute set of players. This I think could prove to be a more successful recipe. I’d expect QPR to be a robust side where visiting Loftus Road will be no easy task however their squad is just solid and not spectacular with no immediate match winners standing out. Their transfer business though for me looks spot on, bringing in Bidwell, Cousins and Lynch who are all proven players which is important. However last January they effectively replaced Charlie Austin with Conor Washington which wasn’t a move to take them forwards so it demonstrates the slow decline of the club. I envisage an inconsistent season for QPR and a lack of bite in the attacking third could be a major factor however following a successful spell with Burton Albion, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Hasslebaink guide QPR in contention for a possible play-off spot.
credit John Horton
14th – Wolves
For me this is arguably the hardest prediction to call with Wolves recently under new ownership, they now have the backing to go and make strides in the league. However with it being so close to the start of the season and left with a fairly poor squad, preparation is not ideal and it could be a challenge for the club. Making some good additions will of course provide the key before the window slams shut but as a base the club is blessed with promising young talent who could play their part this season. The return of Nouha Dicko could be a big boost as he will be a forgotten man to many. The appointment of Walter Zenga doesn’t appear to be an inspiring one on paper and this must be put into some consideration but with the right signings and management in the team, Wolves could provide to be a play-off contender however despite the influx in resources, it could prove to be too much early on. Realistically the club will be looking for at least a handful of great additions to make them a competitive side aiming for the play-offs, getting a lot of them right and it all clicking is no easy task however looking back to Watford’s Play-Off Final campaign a few seasons ago is very similar and should give encouragement to the supporters at Molineux.
15th – Ipswich Town
It very much feels like this prediction could be a foolish one. Writing off Ipswich Town seems to be a bad move and it would almost no longer be a surprise if Ipswich push higher up the table. On the other hand you have to ask how far can Mick McCarthy push the Tractor Boys on such a tight budget compared to their competitors. They have a robust squad that first of all is resolute at the back, something that keeps you in any game during the season and they have plenty of strikers who fulfil their given roles. They have however not added any players that look to be an improvement to what they have. Will they be able to continue to execute their same style? Ipswich are in a sense quite predictable with how they will set up and while they are incredibly effective at their simple and direct game, it could come to a point where teams work around it and prevent them to playing to their strengths. I believe this could be the season where it starts to decline for Ipswich and while I’d never expect them to flirt with relegation, I can’t see them being serious challengers in the top six.
credit Mark Hillary
16th – Reading
New boss Jaap Stam does not expect a top six finish for Reading this season which could be a sensible statement. The Royals started last season excellently but it fell apart in truth and now they will probably look to consolidate as a team that looks to build towards the play-offs. The acquaisiton of John Swift is a clever one but apart from that they have signed players from abroad. Moves that could be inspirational with a couple of players highly rated coming in. Another solid squad, the defence isn’t looking overly strong on paper however with a former defender in charge you would like to thing Stam could make Reading a tough unit to crack. I simply can’t see Reading being consistent over the whole season to cause problems towards the top half of the league.
17th – Fulham
Slavisa Jokanovic is a talented manager but his task at Craven Cottage will provide a much tougher test than his one at Vicarage Road where he got promoted with Watford. Fulham had plenty of talent in their squad last season despite a shocking term but having lost a brilliant strike force in both Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele, that only begins the list of decent players that have left the club. A rebuild is in order and with Kevin McDonald, Kalas and Button among the list of incoming’s, that is a great start but a lot of business still needs to be done in my opinion. If you lose your star players after a poor season without replacing with a similar quality then there isn’t much reason for optimism at the moment however this is again a case of who Fulham bring in within the next month. They leaked so many goals last season, being more solid would be a great start for building and I think Jokanovic can improve the Cottagers in this department. I can see Fulham again being too inconsistent and with having less goal threat, they will struggle to pick up points regularly.
credit Jon Candy
18th – Cardiff City
A narrow miss on the play-offs last season represented a terrific effort by the Bluebirds but matching that attempt would be deemed even greater. Paul Trollope is not an eye catching name for many but he’s achieved a promotion to League One which is part of the reason he should be taken seriously this season. The problem for me is his Cardiff City squad looks quite a stale one. The likes of Peter Whittingham are not as influential as they used to be and no player particularly stands out in that side. They will more likely rely on building from the back and being hard to beat. They have had problems finding the right combinations up front in recent times and have tried to rectify this signing Gounongbe from the Belgium division. I can’t see them scoring an awful lot of goals still and I think they may get punished by the more heavy spenders in the division. The obvious argument is that they nearly got into the play-offs last season with effectively the same set of players but I believe they overachieved last season and matching it could prove to be too big of a task.
Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image John Horton