Championship Grades (Part 1)

Written by David Robinson

With just one game until the half way mark of the season, it reaches an important landmark for each of the twenty four sides where they have laid the foundations for the second half of the campaign. Of course nothing is won or lost at this point, and Championship fans probably know this more than anyone. A ten point gap can be overturned within a matter of just a couple of weeks in what is always a rollercoaster of a season. Despite it all really being about what now happens in the new calendar year, I look at each side’s performance so far and grade how I think they have fared.

credit Danny Molyneux

Aston Villa – 13th – D

Simply not good enough with the Villian’s sitting 6 points off the play-offs and staggeringly 17 points off the automatic places. I think it was always going to be a hard task rebuilding and it has to be remembered just how bad Villa’s fortunes were last season. To simply switch that form into constant wins was never going to be plane sailing. However there was certainly a fresh feel and the investment has been incredibly heavy so results under Di Matteo put the club in an awful position. Steve Bruce is certainly helping matters and that means it’s not a disaster by any means yet but not being in contention for an automatic place means they’ve undelivered so far.

credit Ben Sutherland

Barnsley – 12th – A-

Sitting 11 points outside the relegation zone is a great gap to have built over 22 games. They endured a terrific start and have since had a poor set of results but bounced back in recent weeks meaning the Tykes look set to have a positive season back in the Championship. I think avoiding potential danger has to be considered a good season and they are on course for exactly that.

Birmingham City – 8th – A-

The Blues continued to ‘overachieve’ in my opinion under Gary Rowatt which made his dismissal a bit of a mystery. You have to consider the financial prowess of the club in comparison to their rivals and with that in mind they have again out muscled some heavy spenders so far. A play-off position was where Birmingham had flirted with for most of the season and that in itself was a great start. Now with 1 win in 4, Gianfranco Zola has the task of getting them into that top 6. He’s certainly been given a decent platform and in my opinion the squad that he has inherited had performed to a good level which has seen the club rise higher than maybe their ability suggests.

Blackburn Rovers – 22nd – C-

It was never going to be easy for Blackburn this season, they’ve been put in a mess by the Venky’s and their position shows that. They’ve had to bring in quite a few players and assemble a squad without an awful lot of investment so it is no surprise to see them down there. A positive to take is that they recovered to some degree after being win less in the opening seven games which made for grim reading. They’ve managed to pick up points sparingly over the season which means a string of results could pull them out of trouble. I do think though they’ve got a squad capable of escaping but it’s a mix of an under-performing side and a club that was likely to be put in the relegation fold.

Brentford – 14th – C+

The Bees have been very inconsistent so unsurprisingly find themselves mid-table in 14th. Being nine points of the play-offs is a little disappointing due to the potential ability Dean Smith has at his disposal. When looking above there should be no reason why Brentford can’t push on and fancy their chances but not putting a string of results together has made it a harder task. They’ve been able to pull off some great results but equally have fell to a few upsets which have halted their progression. Room for improvement is there but it’s neither a particularly positive nor negative first half of the campaign.

Brighton & Hove Albion – 2nd – A+

Chris Hughton has got his team in a really strong position. To be 8 clear of third means there will be a degree of pressure now but the Seagulls have earned the right to be up there. The club seems to have the ability to go on a run of games without losing. A run now which has seen them go 15 unbeaten. That is the type of ability which puts them in good stead for the remainder. However they will know unbeaten runs can still be caught and wins will be needed to get over the line. Clearly the recruitment and another years experience has strengthened them further and they and Newcastle are the teams to catch in the division. A great start again from Brighton.

Do you agree with these grades? Let us know in the comments below!

Part 2  Part 3 Part 4