It promises to be one of the greatest and most entertaining seasons we have ever seen in the Sky Bet Championship. Just 4 teams Millwall, Preston, Bristol City and Rotherham out of the 24 teams have not played in the Premier League, showing how competitive this season will be.
These are my predictions club by club in what promises to be the best season we have ever seen in the second tier.
Manager: Steve Bruce: Appointed in 2016
Stadium: Villa Park (42,660)
2017/18: 4th -lost Play-Off Final 1-0 to Fulham
Players In: Andre Moreira (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Players Out: Jordan Amavi – Marseille (£9m), James Finnerty – Rochdale (Free), Pierluigi Golini – Atlanta (£3.75m), John Terry (Released)
The price for not winning promotion is all to clear for Aston Villa and their fans, this season has been billed as one of rebuilding for Villa as they need to trim the squad and lower their wage bill. There was a statement released last week which stated the club will have significant backing but exactly how much remains unclear.
Villa were not far off last season, making the play-off final is a very good achievement, so far they have not lost much which hasn’t helped with their wage budget but keeps them as a team who have the quality to be one of those teams battling for a play-off place. However, a bad start like they had last season could see questions raised at Villa Park over the future of Steve Bruce.
Will Bruce last the season? He has to hit the ground running, if they have the start they had last season then no. However, because of the restrictions he has had this summer in terms of being able to bring players in he may be given a bit more time.
Prediction: Play-off contenders
Manager: Garry Monk: Appointed in 2018
Stadium: St Andrews (29,409)
Players In: Kristian Pederson (Undisclosed)
Players Out: Ronan Hale – Derry City (Loan), Cheick Keita – Eupen (Loan), Luke Maxwell – Solihull Moors (Loan), Dominic Barnard – Aldershot (Loan), Leo Brown, Jack Concannon, Kieron Dawes – Sutton Coldfield Town (Loan)
Last season was a tough season for Birmingham, they had to rely on a last day escape for the second successive season. The players brought in by Harry Redknapp last summer had many in Birmingham believing that a return to the Premier League was on the cards. However, since the departure of Gary Rowett it has been a downhill cycle. The players in the Birmingham squad have what it takes to be part of the play-off picture but I’m not so sure if they have what it takes to reach that level just yet. The club needs stability and that could be given by Garry Monk if he is given the time to build at St Andrews.
Will Monk last the season? Again this is very similar to Bruce at Villa, Birmingham need to have a good start. Last season we saw with Harry Redknapp he paid the price for a bad start and Monk could follow the same way if he doesn’t hit the ground running early on. The fixture list has not been kind to The Blues who have Norwich, Middlesbrough and Swansea all to play in the first month meaning they could well still be looking for their first point heading into September putting early pressure on Monk.
Prediction: Lower to Mid table
Manager: Tony Mowbray: Appointed in 2016
Stadium: Ewood Park (31,367)
2017/18: 2nd in League One
Players In: Joe Rothwell – Oxford (Undisclosed), Jacob Davenport – Manchester City (Undisclosed)
Players Out: Scott Wharton – Lincoln (Loan), Elliot Ward, Liam Feeney, Aaron Dillion – Released.
Blackburn returned to the Championship at the first time of asking by finishing second in League One and gaining automatic promotion under experienced boss Tony Mowbray. Blackburn stated their intentions quickly after relegation keeping hold of the likes of Danny Graham, Charlie Mulgrew and adding Bradley Back to their squad. However, the gap between the Championship and League One is growing each year. With no real additions to their squad so far I feel like it will be a hard season for Rovers unless they bring in some quality to assist Graham up top who is not as young as he used to be will find the step up a challenge but I don’t think they will be involved in a relegation battle.
Will Mowbray last the season: Tony has a done a good job at Ewood Park, he nearly kept them up when he first went in there and guided them back to the Championship at the first attempt. The Venkys have been known to sack a manager out of the blew remember Sam Allardyce when it all seemed to be going well? Anything can happen in football but I think he will last season.
Prediction: Lower Mid-table.
Manager: Phil Parkinson: Appointed in 2016
Stadium: Macron Stadium
Players In: Clayton Donaldson – Sheffield United (free), Stephen Duke- McKenna – Everton (free), Chiori Johnson – Arsenal (free), Jason Lowe – Birmingham (free), Erhun Oztumer – Walsall (free), Joe Pritchard – Tottenham (free), Pawel Olkoswki – Koln (free), Marc Wilson – Sunderland (free), Yanic Wildshut – Norwich (loan)
Players Out: Dorian Dervite, Karl Henry, Mark Howard, Jem Karacan, Jeff King, Jan Kirchoff, Fillipe Morais, Chinedu Obasi, Derik Osede, Darren Pratley, Ryan White, Aaron Wilbraham – (all released), Ben Amos -Millwall (loan)
It was dramatic at Bolton on the last day wasn’t it? They survived by the skin of their teeth with Aaron Wilbraham coming up with the goal to keep the club in the league. It was a season of hard graft and for long periods it looked as if they would be dropping back to League One for long periods of last season. As you saw from the incomings, Phil Parkinson has once again had to rely on free transfers and the loan market as the finances at the club are very stretched. Pre-Season has not been plain-sailing as friendlies have been cancelled as the players went on strike after not being paid. It will be another tough season for Bolton and sadly I think they will be heading back down to League One.
Will Parkinson last the season? I would like to think so, he has done a god job on a very tight budget at Bolton he has been under a transfer embargo for most of his time at the club and they would find it hard to find another manager that could do that, he would also be the man to bring them back up should they go down.
Manager: Dean Smith: Appointed in 2015
Stadium: Griffin Park (12,763)
Players In: Kolbeinn Finnsson – FC Groningen (Free), Patrik Gunnarsson – Breioablik (Undisclosed), Ezri Konsa – Charlton (Undisclosed), Jonny Mitchell – Falkirk (Undisclosed), Luka Racic – FC Copenhagen (Undisclosed), Said Benrahma – Nice (Undisclosed), Julian Jeanvier – Remis (Undisclosed), Nikolaj Kirk – FC Midtjylland (Loan)
Players Out: Konstaintin Kerschbaumer – FC Ingolsdadt 04 (Undisclosed), John Egan – Sheffield United (Undisclosed), Florian Jozefzoon – Derby (Undisclosed), Ilias Chatzitheodoridis – Panathinaikos (Undisclosed), Theo Archibald – Forest Green (Loan), Reece Cole – Yeovil (Loan)
Brentford are the nearly team every season, the way the club is run is fantastic, just look at last season the amount of players that they lost but we are able to bring in and what a season they put together. They put a good run together after a slow start and narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs. However, the loss of John Egan is a big one for them and could cost them dearly. The way that Brentford have kicked on each season gives me no reason not to believe they can do the same this time around.
Will Smith last the season? Unless Brentford are in a relegation battle then Dean Smith will stay at the club. He is the second longest serving manager in the division and has done a fabulous job at Griffin Park.
Prediction: Dark horses and Play-Off challengers.
Manager: Lee Johnson: Appointed in 2016
Stadium: Ashton Gate (27,000)
Players In: Marley Watkins – Norwich (£1m), Adam Webster – Ipswich (Undisclosed), Hakeeb Adelakun – Scunthorpe (Free), Andreas Weimann – Derby (Undisclosed), Jack Hunt – Sheffield Wednesday (Undisclosed), Mohammed Eisa – Cheltenham (£1.5m)
Players Out: Gustav Engvall – KV Mechelen (Undisclosed), Aden Flint – Middlesbrough (£7m), Horour Magnusson – CSKA Moscow (Undisclosed), Bobby Reid – Cardiff (£10m), Luke Steele, Gary O’Neil, Scott Golbourne, Paul Garita (All Released)
Bristol City looked certain for a place in the Championship play-offs last season until their collapse in the second half of the campaign. They spent a lot of money last season hence the reason to sell Aden Flint and Bobby Reid for a joint fee of £17m. The loses of these two could prove decisive for the Robins this season. They have brought in Mohammed Eisa to fill the void left by Reid but it is a big step up from League Two to the Championship, the capture of Weimann could ease the pressure on him.
Will Johnson last the season? Tough call. The fans and the board at Bristol City will be expecting them to be challenging at the top of the table and I don’t think they will be this time around. They have let players go and not replaced them with the same quality and this could cost Johnson his job if the Robins are not in the play-off picture around Christmas.
New Manager: Frank Lampard
Stadium: Pride Park (33,597)
Players In: George Evans – Reading (£1m), Florian Jozefzoon – Brentford (£2.75m), Jack Marriott – Peterborough (£3m), Mason Mount – Chelsea (Loan), Harry Wilson – Liverpool (Loan)
Players Out: Andreas Weimann – Bristol City (£2m), Chris Baird, Alex Cover, Darren Bent, Jason Shackell, Matthew Taylor (All Released)
It’s been quite the summer at Pride Park. Roll back to May when Derby lost in the play-offs to Fulham and Gary Rowett was the man in charge. It’s all change now. Rowett up’d sticks and left to join Stoke and Frank Lampard came in to replace him. A clear out followed with the likes of Darren Bent and Jason Shackell leaving after years with the club. Vydra has been tipped leave all summer but at the time of writing it looks as if he will stay meaning that Martyn Waghorn will not sign for the club as the owner wishes to balance the books. Derby finally made the grade and made it into the top six last season after so many years of falling short. Unfortunately, they were beaten in the semi-finals by Fulham. They have made some good additions and should they keep hold of Vydra then they will be challenging up at the top again this time around.
Will Lampard last the season? This is another one that is tough to answer. It could go either of two ways really well or really bad. From what we have seen so far Lampard looks to have taken to management well but he has no prior experience. If he can command the respect of the dressing room then there is potential for something special to happen at Derby. There is a high turnover of coaches at Derby and that is something you have to take into account if the Rams don’t start well.
Prediction: Promotion challengers
Manager: Nigel Adkins: Appointed in 2017
Stadium: KCOM Stadium (25,450)
Players In: Reece Burke – West Ham (Undisclosed), Eric Lichaj – Nottingham Forest (Undisclosed), Callum Smith – Newcastle (Free), David Milinkovic – Genoa (Undisclosed), Jordy de Wijs – PSV (Undisclosed), George Long – Sheffield United (Undisclosed)
Players Out: Max Clark – Vitesse Arnhem (Compensation), Michael Dawson – Nottingham Forest (Free), Seb Larsson – AIK (Free), Allan McGregor – Rangers (Free), David Meyler – Reading (Free), Moses Odubajo, Abel Hernandez (Both Released)
It was a turbulent season at Hull last season and the uncertainty has continued into this, still there is doubts over the clubs ownership and whether or not he will or not. There were some big exits from the KCOM in the summer and none bigger than Abel Hernandez, we saw the impact he had when came back from injury at the end of last season and powered them to safety he will be a big miss and there has not been any significant incomings that will get the fans thinking that a good season could be on the cards, they look very short up front and that will be a big problem. The loss of Dawson is a big blow as well.
Will Adkins last the season? I can’t see it. But it will be a shame for him because it is not his fault. The owners have let him down badly and there are rumours coming from Hull that he is not overly impressed with the summer recruitment so there could already be tension between board and manager. A bad start could spell the end of the Adkins era at Hull.
Prediction: Relegation battle
New Manager: Paul Hurst
Stadium: Portman Road (30,311)
Players In: Jordan Roberts – Crawley (Free), Gwion Edwards – Peterborough (Free), Ellis Harrison – Bristol Rovers (Free)
Players Out: Ben Knight – Manchester City (£700,000), Adam Webster – Bristol City (Undisclosed), Kevin Bru, Mustapha Carayol, Stephen Glesson, Luke Hyam, David McGoldrick (All Released)
It’s all change at Portman Road this summer, the 5 year tenure of Mick McCarthy came to end with both parties deciding that it was time to move in a different direction. McCarthy did well at a club that does not have the biggest budget and that has once again been evident this summer. There have been no key singings come in and with the amount of players that left the club desperately needs to bring in new faces. David McGoldrick will be a big loss there is also doubts over the future of Martyn Waghorn, should he leave then they will be in big trouble.
Will Hust last the season? Yes, Ipswich tend to give managers a decent period of time. McCarthy was there for 5 years and it took him time to get his ideas across but in the end it worked out. This is a season of rebuilding for Ipswich so there is not a lot of expectation coming into this season for Tractor boys.
Prediction: Relegation Battle
New Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
Stadium: Elland Road (37,890)
Players In: Daniel Martin – Fulham (Undisclosed), Joshveer Shergill – Walsall (£25,000), Lief Davis – Morecambe (Undisclosed), Barry Douglas – Wolves (£3m), Patrick Bamford – Middlesbrough (£10m), Jamal Blackman – Chelsea (Loan)
Players Out: Felix Wiedwald – Frankfurt (Undisclosed), Marcus Antonsson – Malmo (Undisclosed), Moses Abioye, Romero Viera, Andy Lonergan (All Released)
Well, we though the appointment of Frank Lampard was interesting the appointment of Bielsa is even more interesting. Like Lampard at Derby it will go either way it will be great or it will be a disaster. Leeds have been a side who over the last few years have been there but shot themselves in the foot. Many believe the defeat at Millwall last season is where it all went wrong for the Whites. I for one can’t wait to see how he gets on at Elland Road and how he adapts to the english game. There has not been many additions to the squad so far other than Patrick Bamford who joined earlier this week. Matej Vydra was set to join but couldn’t agree personal terms that is a big blow.
Will Bielsa last the season? It all depends on the start. He has to hit the ground running because if he fails then there will be huge problems at Leeds. They do not give managers much time to get the results they need so a quick start is needed for Leeds. Failure to be in the top six at christmas could see the end of his reign.
Manager: Tony Pulis: Appointed in 2017
Stadium: Riverside Stadium (34,742)
Players In: Aden Flint – Bristol City (£7m), Paddy McNair – Sunderland (£5m),
Players Out: Patrick Bamford – Leeds (£10m), Antiono Barragan – Real Beits (Undisclosed), Tomas Mejias – Omonia (Free), Mikeal Sosisalo – Waregem (Undisclosed), Fabio – Nantes (Undisclosed),
Boro had a good season last time around, a slow start that saw Garry Monk harshly perhaps lose his job with the club sitting 8th in the table. Tony Pulis walked in and made Boro more defensively sound. A good run towards the end of the season saw them see off competition for the play-offs and eventually beating Millwall 2-0 in April sealed their place in the top six although, they fell short in the play-offs.
Will Pulis last the season? Yes I think he will. Pulis will lead the Boro to at least the top six. I think they have made some good additions. It will be interesting to see how the loss of Patrick Bamford will impact them but with the likes of Britt Assombolonga they are in good shape and have more than enough to shape a promotion bid. Tony Pulis has the know how at getting the results to get a team promoted.
Manager: Neil Harris: Appointed in 2015
Stadium: The Den (20,146)
Players In: Murray Wallace – Scunthorpe (Undisclosed), Ben Amos – Bolton (Loan)
Players Out: Jimmy Abdou, Tim Cahill, Kristian Bymora, Noah Chemain, Jamie Philpott, Harry Smith, Harry Tofflor (All Released), Tom King – AFC Wimbledon (Loan)
It was an incredible season for everyone associated with Millwall last season. They nearly achieved the amazing double promotion but they just missed out on the play-offs. Neil Harris did an incredible job to get Millwall as close to the play-offs as he did. The Den is a huge advantage for Millwall the atmosphere that they create at home is brilliant. Just 4 defeats at home last season made The Den one of the toughest places to go in the division. Millwall had a strong defence which was the joint third best defence in the league. A lack of incomings this summer however, could cause problems for Harris’s side especially at the top end of the team.
Will Harris last the season? Most definitely, he singed a new long term contract this summer and is a huge favourite with the fans. He is a club legend and is now also moving to the legendary status as a manager. He is now the longest serving manager in the Championship and he has stated that he wants to add quality to the squad and is hoping to do so in the next few days.
Prediction: Play-Off battle