Written by David Robinson
The second tier of English football looks poised to be another exciting competition this season with once again a whole group of teams aiming to reach the play-offs as a minimum. We are already seeing clubs make their mark with expensive deals already being completed. The Championship is always a tricky league to predict with a whole host of clubs eyeing a play-off place at least, before a ball is even kicked. With plenty of business still left to be done it would be foolish to have firm predictions for which clubs will end up making the top six however I’ve identified 3 clubs that I think will be heading in the right direction this season and who will be the ones to watch this campaign.
credit Gareth Williams
1.Brighton and Hove Albion
What a season for Brighton last time round. I personally felt for them tremendously as they had numerous set backs towards the end in their quest for promotion. This time round, they will be expected to be up there again so it could potentially be harder for the Seagulls. Also we will have to see how they can bounce back from their previous heartbreak so it won’t be easy but I believe Chris Hughton has created some excellent foundations. I think they can certainly make the top 6. My main reasons are we will see the likes of Knockaert and Skalak have their first full season at the Amex and bringing in Glenn Murray on loan is a smart signing. With Albion continually making clever additions you would suspect them to have a talented squad ready to compete. They also have a manager who has been there and done it. The quality of football shown will be hard to replicate but I believe Brighton can manage it while they also have enough resilient qualities to collect vital clean sheets along the way. They won’t be favourites by any means so I believe they can again go about their business quietly with the attention likely to be on Aston Villa and Newcastle throughout.
credit Neil Turner
2. Huddersfield Town
A club going in the right direction I believe. I’m sure a fair few clubs won’t fear the Terriers too much and that can work to Huddersfield’s advantage this season. Head Coach David Wagner brings an element of the unknown to the John Smith’s stadium and while his new recruits potentially could struggle to adjust to Championship life, it could prove to be a masterstroke and take the club forwards challenging for an unlikely play-off spot. In terms of the current squad, Wagner has a decent setup in which to build upon. I do feel if Huddersfield are to hit the heights they could demand an even better season from Nahki Wells who still managed an impressive 17 league goals last season. He showed at Bradford how much potential he has, if he takes his game up another level it could prove instrumental for the Yorkshire club. While the new signings are likely to have a big say on how Huddersfield will do, I believe they have recruited very well signing Jack Payne from Southend and with Van la Parra signing permanently this is another sign that Huddersfield look to be a club on the up. I reckon they could be a dark horse to reach the play-offs if a few factors go in their favour.
3. Derby County
The Rams will always be considered a favourite for promotion but they have developed a reputation as the club that always chokes towards the end. It must feel like it’s destined for the club not to be promoted. Aspects of the squad must change and with Nigel Pearson now appointed as manager, you would only suspect that he could be the man to change these fortunes around and get Derby over the line at last. With what has happened over the last few seasons, there might be less expectancy on Derby to go up particularly with the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle in the league. During recent years, the club have gone big and built a squad that is ready made to get promoted. They have plenty of experience, quality and depth in the squad now. Having the likes of Will Hughes back from injury ahead of a full season can be important but two factors should heavily influence Derby’s season. Key players such as Bradley Johnson must now step up and perform and replicate the fee paid for them with important players full of experience losing their influence during key parts of the term. Finally if Nigel Pearson can install the belief and create an environment at the Ipro Stadium where the players are not afraid of letting their position slip then this could finally be the year where the Rams seal the promotion they have been anticipating. Not an easy feat by any means but a very real possibility.
Do you agree Championship fans? Which team will be the ones to watch out for this season? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by DncnH