Championship Preview: The Bottom Eight

Championship Preview: The Bottom Eight

Only a fool would try to make predictions about the Championship – especially after what happened last season – so here I am, back again as your fool.

My predictions last season were somewhat hit and miss. I correctly called: Newcastle to win the league, Wednesday to finish fourth and Rotherham to get relegated. I also tipped Huddersfield to get relegated, so it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.

For what it’s worth, I’m tipping Huddersfield to get relegated again this season so lump on that.

Last summer we had Euro 2016 to keep us occupied but this time round it’s been a relatively quiet summer, particularly in terms of news coming out of Hillsborough – we’ll not get onto that topic.

After a dull few months without football I can’t wait for the EFL season to kickoff again this weekend, I’m thoroughly looking forward to another trip to Deepdale.

This first part of my three-piece Championship Preview will discuss the teams I’m tipping to be down at the wrong-end of the league table…

 

 

 

 Bristol City

 Manager: Lee Johnson

 Last Season: 17th 

 Top Scorer: Tammy Abraham (23)

 

I’m starting this off with Bristol City as they’re a tough team to predict.

I don’t expect them to be in any danger at all and they could easily finish in mid-table. However, the Championship is an extremely competitive division and you can even use the cliche that it is “stronger than ever” this season.

Bristol City are a team certainly not short on cash and they’ve spent a fair amount again this summer. They’ve got a decent manager in Lee Johnson and for that reason I don’t expect to see them battling against the drop.

On the other hand, they only finished 3 points above the bottom three last season and without the goals of Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham they would almost certainly have gone down. I’d tip them for another 17th placed finish.

 

 Burton Albion

 Manager: Nigel Clough

 Last Season: 20th

 Top scorer: Jackson Irvine (10)

 

I was absolutely delighted to see Burton stay up last season, especially after tipping them for the drop like most people.

Although they only finished a point above the bottom three, I never really thought they’d go down.

Full credit to Nigel Clough who got them organised and achieved the remarkable feat of keeping them in the Championship, not only staying up but also taking points off some big teams – they managed to take four points off us last season.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say that I can’t see Burton surviving for the second season in a row.

They really are competing above their level and that’s not meant with any disrespect, I like them as a club and would love them to prove me wrong again.

This division is becoming ridiculously money-driven, just like the Premier League and some of the transfer fees being paid are ludicrous. How can a team like Burton be expected to compete?

I hope they “do a Huddersfield.”

 

 Nottingham Forest

 Manager: Mark Warburton

 Last Season: 21st

 Top Scorer: Brit Assombalonga (14)

 

Last season was an absolute nightmare for Forest, with them only staying in the Championship on goal difference.

Forest are a huge club and their fans have had a pretty poor few years, I’m glad they didn’t see their club slide into the third tier like we had to witness.

Forest fans will be delighted that the Fawaz era is now over and surely their new owners can only be an improvement.

They did well to appoint a cracking manager in Warburton but I think this coming season will be a little bit of a struggle as he tries to get rid of some of the bad atmosphere from the last couple of years, not to mention they’ve now lost the brilliant Assombalonga who has continued to be their top scorer despite his injury problems.

If they stick with Warburton I’m sure that they’ll gradually make their way back up the table over the next few seasons.

 

Cardiff City

Manager: Neil Warnock

Last Season: 12th

Top Scorer: Kenneth Zohore (12)

 

Our old friend, Mr Warnock.

Whenever Warnock joins a club you tend to see an upturn in form for them, particularly if they’re a team that’s been struggling down near the bottom of the league.

He gets players fired up and knows how to get results without having to play particularly good football – some might argue without playing any football.

After the honeymoon period though, you do start to see things go wrong, he likes to have a scapegoat to blame bad results on when things go wrong and it is never his fault.

He did amazing to get Cardiff to finish 12th last season but I see them finishing in the bottom half this season.

Warnock has already had one up on us before the season has begun by managing to get Sean Morrison to sign a new deal, let’s hope that’s the only time he can get anything over us this season.

With signings such as Danny Ward and Peter Whittingham leaving, I can see a Warnock tantrum coming up with him resigning midway through the season.

 

 Millwall

 Manager: Neil Harris

 Last Season: 6th (League One Play-Off Winners)

 Top Scorer: Lee Gregory (17)

 

Following promotion through the play-offs, Millwall are back in the Championship, something that many football fans will be unhappy about given the (wanted/unwanted?) image of the club and their fans.

Millwall might not have the same level of money or as many “big-names” as a lot of other teams in the league but I can’t see many teams looking forward to their trip to The Den.

I reckon Millwall are in for a tough season and will be around the bottom for most of the season, their home form will be key as to whether they can stay in the division or not.

They’ll be hoping Ryan Tunnicliffe can come in and make an impact for them in the middle of the park.

 

 Barnsley

 Manager: Paul Heckingbottom

 Last Season: 14th 

 Top Scorer: Sam Winnall (11)

 

Barnsley did exceptionally well last season and the performances of their players didn’t go unnoticed, as top-scorer Sammy “The Snake” Winnall moved to “That Club” and Conor Hourihane left for Villa Park.

I was really impressed with Barnsley when they came to Hillsborough before Christmas and we were fortunate to get the win; after January they were slightly less impressive but it was still a brilliant season for them as they returned to the Championship.

This season will surely be a lot tougher for Barnsley as their better players continue to look for moves away, they have done well with their recruitment via loans from the Premier League this season though and they’ll be hoping that these youngsters can have a big impact.

 

 QPR

 Manager: Ian Holloway

 Last Season: 18th

 Top Scorer: Idrissa Sylla (10)

 

A very disappointing season for QPR last season and I couldn’t believe how poor they looked when we travelled to Loftus Road in April, they seem to have been on the decline for a few years now.

Some people love him, some people hate him, I personally think that he should stick to working on the TV but Ian Holloway is faced with the thankless task of his first full-season in charge.

Unless Holloway gets the club into the top eight there’s never really going to be any praise coming his way and they’d need a miracle for that to happen – they only stayed up by 2 points last season.

They’ll struggle in the bottom half of the league again and Holloway will be back on your screens before the season is done.

 

 Bolton Wanderers

 Manager: Phil Parkinson

 Last Season: 2nd (League One)

 Top Scorer: Zach Clough (9)

 

Bolton did very well to make it back to the Championship at the first time of asking and they’ve made a few good loan signings in Adam Armstrong, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke.

I quite like Bolton and hope they have enough about them to stay up this season, I think they should with Phil Parkinson steering the ship.

I can’t wait for our routine winter trip to the Macron stadium where we’ll undoubtedly be treated to seeing us struggle to score as usual!

If Bolton can defend as well as they always seem to do against us at home then they should be able to avoid the Championship trapdoor.

 

 

That completes the first third of my Championship Preview – The Bottom Eight.

I know many people will be upset to see United not amongst that list but I think they should be able to avoid that area of the table.

I’ve found the bottom eight of the division the hardest to call so I’m glad to get it out of the way to start with – I look forward to seeing how the league table takes shape over the course of the season, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of surprises to add to the unpredictability.

For what it’s worth, here’s my bottom three: 

Burton, Barnsley, Millwall.

Come back tomorrow for the second part of my Championship preview – ‘The Midtable Bores’.

 

 

 

Charlie
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @THEsharpey


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