With only the play-off final left to play, the next campaign will already be on the minds of many following a gruelling 46 game season which has seen Newcastle and Brighton promoted to the Premier League while Blackburn Rovers lost out in the relegation dogfight dropping down by virtue of goal difference, joining Wigan and Rotherham in League One next season. As ever there’s been clubs who have surpassed expectations and others that have simply failed to deliver. I give my verdict on each club in a four part piece. Links to each part can be found at the bottom of each article.
credit Ben Sutherland
Bristol City – 17th – Grade: B-
A 17th place finish on the face of it is a solid season for Bristol City in my opinion. At the start of the season you might have expected them to aim higher however the sale of Jonathan Kodjia was probably going to negatively effect those chances. 1 win in 14 heading into February meant the club were to live dangerously near the wrong side of the table. Despite this they were never in danger going into the final set of games which has to be a positive with all things considered. Bristol City are another side that showed on their day they can be a great side beating Fulham 4-0 at Craven Cottage among others. Tammy Abraham of course stole the headlines as they youngster netted 23 goals which showed the club had the answer to the sale of Kodjia.
Burton Albion – 20th – Grade: A+
The biggest underdogs in the division performed admirably and survived in their first season in the Championship. They were never deeply in trouble either which makes the feat even more impressive. Nigel Clough built a really tight unit which took some impressive scalps against the likes of Derby and Sheffield Wednesday. Wins that they had no right to take when you look at the resources both clubs possess. The consistency shown throughout the season again deserves great plaudits, the Brewers were always able to pick up points in spells and that meant they weren’t sweating on the last day of the season. An outstanding season from Burton.
credit Jon Candy
Cardiff City – 12th – B+
2 wins in the opening 11 games set the tone for Cardiff, that it would be a difficult season with limited resources, a fairly stale squad and an unknown manager at the helm. It wasn’t until the appointment of Neil Warnock that the Bluebirds began to fly away from the thought of relegation, under Warnock they have been superb and are not a side you will take points off easily. The overall picture has to be one of real positivity when you look at the mess the club were in at the start of the season, the squad is a solid if not unspectacular one so 12th place is definitely respectable and positives can be taken into next season.
Derby County – 9th – E
All the foundations were set for Derby to really go on and make the climb to the Premier League but they’ve failed massively and had an awful season. Nigel Pearson’s spell was a bit of a disaster in truth and with the resources he had it his disposal they were well short and very much against it with a fair portion of the season to go. There seemed a lack of direction and talented players weren’t performing while I think they continue to overpay the odds for players and that policy is not proving dividends. The squad needs a reshuffle. Steve McClaren once again came in and made an impact but it wasn’t enough to even get near the play-off places and a third manager appointed highlights the failings of Derby County’s season. To not get near the play-offs let alone be 27 points from the top is shocking. Gary Rowett though looks like he will be the best candidate to turn things around, a different approach is surely needed at Pride Park.
credit dom fellowes
Fulham – 6th – A-
A play-off spot and the joint most goals scored represents a very good campaign for Fulham particularly when they lost their dazzling strike partnership in Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack. I thought that would be a decisive blow despite having talented manager Slavisa Jokanovic in charge but he still managed to do a good job, making Fulham an attractive team to watch but also a side that often got results. There’s no doubting Fulham have some good players but they look a really strong unit and have a clear structure in place and while they still concede a fair share of goals they are heading in the right direction and this progress sets them up nicely. Losing in the play-offs was a big opportunity missed I felt but it shouldn’t tarnish a good season at Craven Cottage.
credit Neil Turner
Huddersfield Town – 5th – A+
What a season! Very few would have seen this coming and now a play-off final awaits David Wagner’s side with the club one step away from the Premier League. As talked about, they have the same budget as Rotherham United which really does illustrate the success they have had. Not only that but they play in such an expansive way that is fuelled by hard work and organisation, they’ve got to Wembley on merit and have introduced a new way of thinking to get there, bringing in several players from Germany who have clearly embraced the club. Nothing but positivity for the Terriers who themselves would have been disappointed with missing out on automatic promotion at one stage.
Do you agree with your clubs grade? Let us know in the comments below!
Part 1 Here
Part 3 Here
Part 4 Here