Championship Preview: Mid-Table Bores

Championship Preview: Mid-Table Bores

Today we’re back to have a look at the teams that will be finishing mid-table this season.

Some of these teams might have a brief fling with the top eight, others might nervously look down towards the bottom of the table but some of them will definitely just be “Mid-Table Bores.”

These are the teams that I’m tipping to finish between ninth and sixteenth.

 

 

Preston North End

Manager: Alex Neil

Last Season: 11th

Top Scorer: Jordan Hugill (12)

 

We start off our mid-table teams with our opponents for the first league fixture on Saturday, Preston.

Fresh off the back of an excellent season in the Championship where they finished 11th, they lost their manager Simon Grayson to Sunderland.

Preston had a great season last time out and deserved to beat us at Deepdale when we were pretty poor, they should have got the victory but a last-minute Adam Reach equaliser stole a point for us.

This season Preston have Alex Neil at the helm and he will be wanting to prove the doubters wrong after the Norwich fans turned against him.

There are certainly question marks about his appointment after he definitely underachieved with his Norwich squad and Preston arguably overachieved. If Preston finish in the top half this season then I think that’s a success, best of luck to them after this Saturday.

 

Sunderland

Manager: Simon Grayson

Last Season: 20th (Premier League)

Top Scorer: Jermain Defoe (15)

 

One of the recently relegated teams, Sunderland come into the Championship with lots of differing opinions about how they’ll cope.

I’m looking forward to being in the same division as Sunderland as both my fiancée and her dad are season ticket holders at the Stadium of Light.

The first clash at Hillsborough was originally scheduled to be on my birthday but unfortunately, thanks to the cup fixtures, it’s now been rearranged to the day after, on Wednesday 16th August.

Sunderland have seen a few of their “bigger name” players leave such as Defoe and Pickford, but perhaps not as many outgoings as would have been expected.

Their recruitment has been a little odd and their strike-force of James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban isn’t one that makes me nervous.

Although a few have tipped Sunderland to really struggle in the Championship, I think they should be alright but equally I can’t see them competing for the play-offs.

 

Brentford

Manager: Dean Smith

Last Season: 10th

Top Scorer: Lasse Vibe (15)

 

Brentford had a good season last year, finishing in 10th place.

They’re a great club and I’d love to see them finish in a higher position but I think it’ll be tough for them.

I do think they’ll be comfortably mid-table though and will probably surprise a few people and manage some “shock results” as they beat a few of the bookies favourites over the course of the season.

Brentford scored plenty of goals last season – 75 in the league – with Vibe, Hogan and Jota all getting into double figures and they’ve done well to keep hold of Jota so far.

They’ve looked abroad with their recruitment over the summer and I’m intrigued to see if they’ve managed to find a few more diamonds; one thing is for sure, they’ll have cost a lot less than if they’d shopped for English players (Adam Reach).

I’m sure all Wednesdayites will join me in wishing Brentford the very best of luck in their first league game of the season on Saturday.

 

 

Birmingham City

Manager: Harry Redknapp

Last Season: 19th

Top Scorer: Lukas Jutkiewicz (10)

 

Last season turned into a disaster for Birmingham, with them only avoiding relegation on the final day of the season.

After sacking Gary Rowett with the club overachieving and sitting 7th in the league, many football fans were hoping to see Birmingham condemned to League One.

Harry Redknapp was brought in and Birmingham avoided the drop, although somewhat surprisingly he has signed up for another season.

Most people have been expecting to see Birmingham start splashing the cash – after all, that’s what Redknapp would be expecting – but despite trying to compete with Villa for the signing of Terry, there haven’t been any big signings so far.

In ‘Arry’s recent interview a few days ago he seemed to be a little frustrated and almost issue a plee to the owners to provide him with funds if they want to see an improvement on last season, with him claiming, “I’m not frustrated. I’m just desperate to do well, but I need the tools to be able to do that. If I get the tools I’ll do well, if I don’t then it’s going to be difficult.”

They should improve on last season and not be looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone but I can’t see them pushing for the play-offs whilst players like Jacques Maghoma are still making their team.

 

Reading

Manager: Jaap Stam

Last Season: 3rd

Top Scorer: Yann Kermorgant (18)

 

Reading were one of the surprises last season, as they managed to finish third in the league playing very dull possession football and making themselves hard to beat.

With Jaap Stam as their manager it’s unsurprising that they were able to out-battle teams to force themselves over the line and get the required victories, however it is a little strange that their defensive record wasn’t better.

Stam took Reading to the play-off final but I think most fans will admit that they missed a huge opportunity when they lost to Huddersfield, as this season is sure to be tougher.

I can’t see Reading making the play-offs this time round but think they should have enough about them to sneak into the top ten.

They’ve lost Al-Habsi to Saudi Arabia (Wednesday fans breath a sigh of relief) and Kermorgant looks likely to miss quite a lot of the start of the season.

Stam has openly said that there isn’t the money or resources available for them to compete with lots of the other clubs in the Championship and so they’re going to have to be cute with their additions.

 

Ipswich Town

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Last Season: 16th

Top Scorer: Tom Lawrence (9)

 

I admit I could have this one badly wrong, especially after their 6-1 hammering in their final pre-season friendly away at Charlton.

A section of the Ipswich fans turned against Big Mick last season and that number will only grow if they don’t get off to a good start to the season.

However, I think that if anybody can turn the club around then it’s Mick McCarthy, he’s been around and proved himself numerous times.

If they were going to sack him and look for a replacement they should have done it at the end of last season or over the summer, now they need to stick together and give him time.

If McCarthy is given the support and his new signings – Adeyemi, Huws, Celina and Iorfa – hit the ground running then I’m sure he can keep them clear of the relegation zone.

I do think they’re in for another season that will be a bit of a struggle though and will find themselves around mid-table but in the bottom half. I’m not tipping them for relegation like I’ve seen some talk about on social media!

 

Derby County

Manager: Gary Rowett

Last Season: 9th

Top Scorer: Tom Ince (14)

It was a disappointing campaign for Derby as they finished 13 points short of the play-offs last season.

The fans will be hoping that Rowett can work some of the wonders that he managed at Birmingham, especially as they continue to look to trim their squad and spending because of Financial Fair Play.

Derby are now trying to make up for their last few years of “going for it” and throwing money at their squad as they aimed for the promised land of the Premier League.

The result of this means they are now short of some of their key players such as Will Hughes and Tom Ince.

With the money that Derby have recuperated from player sales they have brought in a quality addition in  Tom Huddlestone and they’ve now got their sights set on Tom Lawrence at Leicester, who did great whilst on loan at Ipswich last season.

With Darren Bent out until around Christmas, Gary Rowett is certainly going to have to work his magic to get them anywhere near the play-offs, which apparently is their minimum target. I reckon they’ll sneak into tenth.

 

Sheffield United

Manager: Chris Wilder

Last Season: 1st (League One)

Top Scorer: Billy Sharp (30)

 

Finally we move on to our neighbours.

It’s been a long time since we competed in the same division and like all Wednesdayites I’m hoping that it is just for the temporary stint of one season as we target the top flight.

To the sadness of many Owls, I don’t see United getting relegated. Chris Wilder is a good manager and he’s got enough about him to make sure his side pick up points when needed.

I think their fans will have a big impact this season, if they stay on side and create a great atmosphere at Bramall Lane as they did last season, they could pick up a good amount of victories at home.

However, Blades are often quick to start complaining and if they get off to a slow start they could make playing at home difficult for their team.

United will be hoping that the camaraderie and team-spirit from promotion will be strength enough to allow them to compete with some of the bigger names and more talented players in the Championship, as their signings certainly haven’t been inspiring.

I see United finishing comfortably mid-table this season, I’m happy to be proved wrong and see them struggle down at the bottom of the league, especially if we help put pressure on them by doing the double.

 

 

There are the eight teams destined to finish as mid-table bores.

Tomorrow I’ll conclude my Championship Ppreview with the final third, The Top Eight. If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll be able to work out the 8 teams that I’m tipping to be up there but I’ll also be doing a run-down of who I’m tipping for the automatic spots, who will make the play-offs and who will be close but not quite close enough.

Come back tomorrow to see where I think Wednesday will finish.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you agree and disagree with.

 

 

 

Charlie
Owls Alive
EMAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @THEsharpey


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