Written by David Robinson
Here we are then, the 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 just outside the play-offs in 7th-12th position.
7th – Leeds United
I would definitely say things are looking to improve at Elland Road, another talented manager has found himself at the club and Garry Monk is building a very capable squad going into the season. One thing Leeds have is an identity. They already had a talented, technical side which had potential and Monk now has quite an interesting job in maximising this potential while adding further quality that can realistically push Leeds up the table. They will share similar characteristics to his Swansea side and look to dictate the game. They have the right personal to do this which is important. The Whites have added quality with the likes of Roofe a key signing. I believe with wingers such as Dallas and Roofe being supported by the likes of Mowatt, Leeds have a very strong midfield at this level. Defensively they possess one if not the best left back in the league combined with some solid defenders which if well managed can make them hard to beat. The recipe is there to have a successful season. Two problems stand in their way I think, firstly will Cellino get involved when they aren’t having the best time, as every club will suffer at one stage and secondly do they have a killer instinct up front to win matches when they are on top? If Antonsson or Wood can perform I think Leeds can be deemed a threat this season, if not I can see them playing well but possibly not getting the all important points as a result. That cutting edge could make the difference for Leeds and I think those factors will decide whether they are a play-off contender or possibly sat in the bottom half of the table.
credit Jonathan Willier
8th – Aston Villa
Many will be expecting big things of Aston Villa this season with a takeover now in place, the club can start to look up again with the resources to carry them along the way. The recent signing of Ross McCormack is a huge statement and a great addition however the reason I believe they will not be a serious threat this season is because it’s been an underwhelming window for them overall. Lets not forget what a horrendous campaign it was for them last season. They really needed an overhaul, getting rid of quite a few players who lacked fight and heart in the process. Tommy Elphick was a great start and Tshibola looks a talent but overall I think that is not enough changes for the side that were abysmal last season. Elphick will not be able to patch up the defence by himself and while there is some talent, you’d have to question the mental state of the players once more. If they didn’t have the fight in the Premier League, what chance have they got battling it out playing 3 times a week sometimes in the Championship? Di Matteo looks a great appointment so you would suspect he can give the club a lift but he’s not got an easy job on his hands. I believe Villa are more than capable of reaching the heights in the league but that is more likely to depend on what happens before the start of September. I have my doubts as to whether it can all come together.
credit Neil Turner
9th – Huddersfield Town
I selected Huddersfield Town as one of three teams to watch out for this season so I’m going to stick to my word. Every season there are always shocks and teams either exceed or fall short on expectations and I believe Huddersfield could be an outsider for the play-offs. One thing the Terriers do have is a goalscorer, if Nahki Wells lifts his game further this time round they will have a capable player finding the net regularly. That will be a key factor along the way but I feel David Wagner is building nicely at the John Smith’s Stadium. A lot of their new additions are unknown quantities which has the potential to be either a great transfer strategy or one that slows the clubs ambitions down. While we will have to wait and see if they are the catalyst for success at Huddersfield, the current set of players are a solid group. There is a determined bunch which also has quality in the likes of Harry Bunn, Sean Scannell and Nakhi Wells. The club simply have conceded too many goals in the recent past to be aiming higher and with most additions coming in at the back, if Wagner can continue the progress he has made with some capable recruits it could be a cause for optimism for Huddersfield Town this season.
credit Eamon Curry
10th – Brentford
A very slick footballing side, Brentford had a tough time last season. Losing important players has clearly had it’s effect in a negative fashion but they continue to find talent and look to build in their own way. They’ve been clever in the market bringing in the highly rated Bentley in goal while Romaine Saywers on a free looks a great purchase. The leg break for Alan Judge will probably prove significant for the Bees. If he can recover with plenty of time to spare and get his hot form back then that would be a huge lift but plans will have to be made without him in the side for the time being. A talented and technical squad, I would expect Griffin Park to see plenty of high quality performances at times but I’m not sure if they have enough in the tank to grind out wins and fire in the goals during important spells. I can see improvements being made from last season however I can’t see it being enough to carry them into the play-off places. A full season for Scott Hogan up front will be an interesting one, bagging 7 in 7 since his return from injury towards the end of last season. If he could provide some of that goal scoring touch then Brentford should be in the mix again.
11th – Bristol City
The Robins will be looking to improve on an 18th place finish last season and I believe they are more than capable of doing so. For a start Kodjia and Tomlin are a good set of attacking talents which means Ashton Gate should witness plenty of creativity and goal threat. Lee Johnson has added depth to his squad particularly in midfield and I believe this could be important for Bristol City over the whole season. Gaining that consistency in their game would of course take them up a level and with a years Championship experience under their belt, they should well be able to win enough games over the season. I think they might struggle to really take on the heavy spenders of the division but Bristol City on their day will cause problems of their own. If they can make Ashton Gate a tricky place to come then I think Lee Johnson’s side could also be ones to watch as serious contenders for the play-offs.
credit The Stadium Guide
12th – Birmingham City
Another challenging season ahead for the Blues but you would never like to write them off. They aren’t blessed with the resources of many who will be expected to be up there but they do have one of the most talented managers. Gary Rowett continues to make Birmingham competitive and has built a side that he can trust. His 4-2-3-1 formation is very effective mainly involving plenty of protection for his back four. This system that he executes is ideal for a side that looks to grind out points and makes it very difficult for the opposition. This is why I think Birmingham can look to succeed as they have enough about them in different departments. This season though you can only question how far he can really take them. The departure of Jon Toral from his loan spell is a blow and with no fresh faces around St Andrews, progress could provide to be difficult. That being said they will have that stability and with more time under Rowatt they can execute his plans perfectly over the campaign. As it stands you would have to hope the likes of Diego Fabbrini and Clayton Donaldson can really step up as if not Birmingham could well be looking downwards. With Rowatt in charge you would suspect they are in safe hands which is why I’ve predicted a mid-table finish but the rest of the transfer window could be important in changing perspectives.
Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
Here is Part 1 of the predictions.
featured image by Jonathan Willier