Over a quarter of the way into the season, the Championship has once again has produced the goods. Back in August I had a go at making my predictions and have already been left red faced by the most unpredictable and competitive division in English football. Despite this there are so many games left to be played and anything can happen from now until May. However with the foundations set for the season ahead I assess each club’s start to the campaign. Links to the other parts can be found at the bottom of this article.
Aston Villa – 7th – Grade: C-
Another dismal start to the season would have had Villa fans desperately worried that another tedious season was ahead of them. However an unbeaten September and 4 wins in their last 5 means Steve Bruce’s men are just outside the play-offs but importantly are in the pack for promotion. They are not as convincing as they should be on the whole, Bruce has all the ingredients at his disposal for a title winning side and I’m not sure he is necessarily the man to mastermind breaking down opponents. Even with the likes of Kodjia having spells on the sidelines there can be no excuses I feel from a side that have been provided with all of the resources to go up, plenty of improvement still needed however the foundations are there.
Barnsley – 19th – B+
I don’t think anyone can be shocked by Barnsley’s start, the Tykes are a club with fight and despite looking up against it going into the campaign they have collected some very good results despite the odd off day. I’d fully expect Barnsley to continue to chip away at their points tally and if they can stay in the position they are currently in they would deserve some credit.
Birmingham City – 21st – D
Birmingham have got themselves in a real mess. Up to this point I’d be more concerned about the way the club continue to operate under their current ownership. I did predict that Redknapp wasn’t the right appointment going into these 46 games and still believe that’s the case even after he managed to secure the services of top players like Jota late on. Poor management aside the Blues had always overachieved under Gary Rowett so returning to those heights is probably going to be a distant memory in the short term you feel, particularly if the people at the top continue to be the way they are. Now though with a much more capable group Steve Cotterill will want to build on a positive win against Cardiff in his opening match. A very demoralising start.
Bolton Wanderers – 24th – F
The Trotters are in deep trouble, just one win in 12 makes for horrific reading although that came in their last game and gives them some degree of hope. Competitive would have been the word going into the season to desribe what to expect from Phil Parkinson’s team but they’ve been too far off the pace and just six goals so far isn’t good enough either. The club may have been dealt a tough hand when they were restricted to just signing free transfers and loans but they have enough experience and quality to be making a better mark on the league than they have.
Brentford – 18th – C-
It’s been a very productive last five games for the Bees which is why it’s even more frustrating that a capable side haven’t really fulfilled their potential on the whole. A really slow start has put them on the back foot and even though they’ve been consistent in two six game spells they’ve shown completely different form which shows the inconsistency is likely to halt Brentford’s progression.
Bristol City – 4th – A
A very impressive start, Bristol City look like they have a real determination about them to upset the odds this season and have consistently picked up results. With Bobby Reid and Famara Diedhiou scoring 12 goals between them it has been a really exciting opening 12 games. If they can continue to make Ashton Gate a difficult place to get 3 points then they are in for a good season. One of the surprise packages so far.
Do you agree with your clubs grade? Let us know in the comments below!
Part 2 Here