The Championship is a great and competitive league with some of the most passionate fans, best stadiums, and most dramatic games in the world. At the end of the day, all that matters is what’s on the badge. With the new season fast approaching, it is time to put all the clubs under the microscope. We asked all of our writers at Read Championship to make the league table, 1st to 24th, of how they think the table will play out come the end of the season. Following that, we found out the average position that all of us think the teams will finish.
In this article, we look at the predicted top half of the table for Read Championship, starting from 12th place.
Since the takeover of Massimo Cellino, nothing but controversy has surrounded the club. The sale of top goalscorer Ross McCormack to a fellow Championship club angered fans last season and, without him, they finished a poor 15th place. However, this was partly due to their inexperience of the youthful squad playing together and it could be different this time around. However, our writers have put them at the exact middle in 12th place.
After a rough start to last season the doom and gloom was lifted from St. Andrews when a new manager with fresh ideas came in and revitalised the underachieving squad, guiding them to a 10th place finish, our writers think this season won’t be any better. They’ve put Birmingham in a midtable finish of 11th place.
Fans will be wondering how the squad will react after last season’s heart-breaking finale. Many are optimistic that they can go one step further this season, but a small minority of them are worried that they make life difficult for themselves, and the one thing Mick McCarthy will not want is his squad suffering from a Play Off hangover. After getting so close last time around the last thing he needs is a slow start to the season from his players, otherwise he may find that the impatient fans could start to get on his case. Many of our writers suspect this will happen, and they’ll finish in a disappointing 10th place.
After an, albeit, boring season at Hillsborough last term, things can only get more exciting. An encouraging defensive performance throughout the season is something to build upon. Where Wednesday can improve to reach the top half is signing a goal scorer. Although Atdhe Nuhiu was the Owls top goal scorer last term, he only scored a dismal eight league goals, that’s not enough to carry a team up the league. With the addition of former loanee Lewis McGugan on a permanent basis, chances will be created, however, the problem comes with finishing them. Wednesday have been active in the transfer market this summer with 11 signings, and maybe more to come. Our group of writers have agreed to the fact that Sheffield Wednesday will have an improved season, finishing 9th.
It is not always the case, that a team bounces straight back to the top flight at the first time of asking. Quite often, teams struggle to adapt straight away as Wigan and Bolton fans will testify. Star players leave and morale is low, in Burnley’s case Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier have departed for Liverpool and Tottenham respectively. The loss of Trippier, and in particular Danny Ings, will leave a massive void in the side, one not easily filled. Without Ings, Burnley’s talisman last season, the likes of Vokes and Jutkiewicz will have to step up their game significantly. Our voters and writers suspect that they aren’t good enough to surpass the likes of Derby County and Middlesbrough, and will finish outside the playoff positions, in 8th.
Every club who drops out of the Premier League want an immediate return and it is no different at Fulham. Although last season ultimately ended in huge disappointment there is no doubt that both the owners and fans will be expecting a lot better this time around. With manager Symons having his first Pre Season in charge, this is the ideal chance for him to get his ideas across to the squad. The foundations are already set out for him, and with a few quality additions in the coming weeks there will be optimism around the club that this season could be the year they climb back out of the 2nd Tier. However, another slow start could cost them dearly though, and losing matches to the teams around them early on in the season is not something they want to be doing. Last season was a learning curve for a lot of these players and the fans will be hoping for an improvement this campaign, although time will tell whether they have learnt from last season’s errors. Despite the fact they finished 17th last season, our writers predict that they’ll jump 10 positions up the table, but will fall short of playoffs, in 7th.
Forest started the season for a long time unbeaten but never failed to kick on from that after many thought they were favourites for promotion. They’ve always been touching distance to the Premier League, finishing most years either in the play-offs or just outside them. With the quality of players they have, they should definitely be reaching the play-offs. They had a very up and down season with results and change in manager, so consistency is vital to reach the play-offs let alone go any further. This target is very achievable for Forest, and our writers predict they’ll finish in 6th, reaching play-offs. If they make the playoffs this season, it will be the first time since the 2010-11 season, when Norwich City, Swansea City, and QPR were promoted to the Premier League.
Following their spending sprees of the past few years the R’s have been left with quite a few players of Premier League ability. However, the challenge comes in fending off interest from Premier League suitors and convincing them to buy into the Championship promotion challenge. The likes of Leroy Fer and Steven Caulker will be vital in any promotion push however, both have been linked away on a regular basis to Premier League sides.
Furthermore, QPR’s squad does have some Championship experience. Having being loyal to much of the squad which won promotion two seasons ago, the likes of Matt Phillips, Karl Henry and Clint Hill have played in the Championship before and will have a key role to play. These have all been involved in Championship promotion winning sides and therefore they know what needs to be done to ensure a successful season. Thus, our voters predict that QPR will make it into the playoffs, finishing 5th.
Wolves were excellent last season, but unfortunately just missed out on the play-offs. Their attacking force is terrific, with the likes of Nouha Dicko, Bakery Sako and Benik Afobe all playing at their best for the majority of the season. After being so close, our writers are sure the target for Wolves this season is to make the play-offs and getting promoted. They are certainly capable of reaching that target, and could go further. A good start from Wolves is vital, as being consistent from the good start can be an extra advantage as to where they finish. Even being predicted to finish 4th, our writers think they’ll reach the top flight once again via playoffs.
After their promotion-winning form for most of the season came to an abrupt halt in March, a new manager and several new faces were ordered in by chairman Sam Rush in the post-season mourning for what could have been. The Rams’ fans could do without the play-off drama and last-day nightmares of the previous two seasons so automatic promotion will be the goal for them. Although, our writers could see the board accepting a play-off spot with this season’s Championship one of the most competitive yet, and that’s where they think they’ll finish, in third. A third place finish is very acceptable considering the situation at Derby, but promotion is their main goal, and our writers think Wolves will outclass them in the playoffs for top-flight status.
A pre-season to regroup could be just what Boro need after their first serious promotion challenge since their relegation from the Premier League in 2009. For many it has been too long since they went toe to toe with the teams in the top division, Boro fans wouldn’t care if it’s first or second as long as they get over the line. Manager Aitor Karanka will be hoping to keep key players who built up the spine of the team last season, which included central midfielders Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton who played ahead of centre backs Daniel Ayala and Ben Gibson. Boro will need to add some extra fire power up front; as that was what ultimately cost them last time around, if they do you can expect them to have another strong season competing at the top. Our writers predict them to finish in the automatic promotion spot of second place.
After the disappointment of last season, everyone at the club will be motivated to bounce back and earn promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking. The squad has a wealth of experience at this level with manager, Steve Bruce, remaining loyal to many of the 2012/13 promotion winning team. The likes of James Chester, Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler will be more than familiar of what is required to achieve promotion. A lot depends on whether the club can keep their star men fit. Robert Snodgrass, Mo Diame and Nikica Jelavic were all dogged with injuries last season, Snodgrass only playing 30 minutes of football all season. However, if these players can come back successfully from injury and avoid further setbacks, they have the ability to really take the Championship by the scruff of the neck, and finish where our writers think they’ll finish, in a strong first place.
That concludes the rest of the table, predicted by our writers. Did you miss the bottom half of the table which was predicted by our writers? If so, click here. Did we miss anybody from the bottom half of the table? Or maybe you think one of the clubs on this list should be in the bottom half? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on our prediction, and be sure to stay tuned as we start covering the matches for the opening weekend of the season, today.