With what personally seems like an awfully long summer without football, it is a relief that the time is over and hopes and aspirations for a successful season re-ignite once more ahead of a gruelling 46 game campaign. With the likes of Huddersfield, Reading and Burton among others proving that the second tier can still produce the unexpected on a regular basis it can only encourage each side to aim high and go for automatic or play-off glory. That being said we are seeing a new Championship era, we are seeing sides fork out over £15m for one player alone and you feel what is normally a more balanced competition is getting the Premier League infection of inequality in terms of spending power. That can only be a consideration as I make my Championship predictions and offer my thoughts on each club going into the season.
The Canaries fell off their perch last season but will be hoping for a better outing under a new German approach. They've parted with Jacob Murphy to Newcastle and lost Jonny Howson to Middlesbrough which would very much suggest another season of struggle in chasing a play-0ff space but I think Norwich can re-group and perhaps go under the radar. This is very much possible if big talents like Alex Pritchard and Wes Hoolahan can step up to the plate. I believe fans are unhappy with the way the club go about their business but Daniel Farke will inherit a squad that should have done better last season and it's certainly a side that can be moulded into a play-off outfit. If they can make Carrow Road a fortress I see Norwich being a leading contender for pushing into the play-offs.
8th - Leeds United
Losing Garry Monk is a blow for me and Leeds will have to go on a search for the play-offs again. Thomas Christiansen doesn't inspire me with the same confidence although I believe they could well have added nicely to what was already a solid squad. Keeping hold of their key players is the best bit of business the club could have done. Chris Wood will have the pressure now to score the goals once again and that for me is actually a slight concern. It looks as if they've bought in some established attacking talents to assist Wood however these are from unproven leagues which always causes doubt. I think Leeds are now in a nice position to grow but I think they are likely to fall short of the play-offs again.
9th - Reading
Play-off final heartbreak is a tough one to take for the Royals so going against them again must be done with caution. They've largely kept the same core together and added three fresh faces. I do think they will be less successful this time round and this is partly because I can't see Yann Kermorgant replicating his 18 goal tally last term. They may need a few more bodies in to strengthen the depth of the squad and as a result I can see more inconsistency being a part of Reading's season.
10th - Brentford
Brentford finished 10th last season and I feel it may be a repeat again this time. The Bees always seem to have an unpredictable nature about them and I can these inconsistencies featuring again. On their day Brentford will out outplay anyone but these are too few and far between, of course now under Dean Smith they might start to iron out some of their off days and they might well have discovered another player from abroad that we haven't heard of. I would consider the side from Griffin Park unlikely contenders to reach the play-offs.
11th - Hull City
I believe the Tigers will struggle this season despite earning promotion the last time they were in the division. The loss of Davies, Huddlestone, Robertson and Maguire among others is going to be hard to contend and that is the main reason why Leonid Slutsky is going to have a tough job at the KC Stadium. Michael Hector is a good addition however they are simply not adding enough quality to what was already looking like a fairly poor squad that got relegated. You fear under their owners that they will not be provided with a good enough chance while Slutsky arrives with a point to prove, for this reason I cannot see it being an exciting season for the club, they will definitely manage to pick up points but as it stands I can't see them putting together a run of wins that is often needed to reach the top 6 or higher. Players like Abel Hernandez and Sam Clucas will have to drive them on and I don't see much talent in the ranks as it is.
12th - Cardiff City
Neil Warnock is almost a free pass to survival as he did a great job with the Bluebirds last term. Their squad was uninspiring but with the right man at the helm they have limited potential. In terms of taking the club forwards they have made steady progress and this is why I see a good season ahead for Cardiff with what they have got. Lee Tomlin is the big money signing and is very much a player I see thriving under Warnock, he could be pivotal to where they end up. The likes of Danny Ward from Rotherham and Callum Paterson from Hearts are not going to get you off your seat but they add more options and should provide Warnock with a hard working and solid set of players that he can work with. For that reason I see them being a tough side to beat and I think they will constantly put enough points on the board to stay clear of relegation without flirting with the play-offs.
Do you agree with these thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!