Tales from not-the Top Flight

The Championship season is almost upon us friends so its time to preview the most exciting league in the world – well arguably. Of course the best way to preview an entire season is to try and predict the table come May. This is an unenviable task given the general unpredictability of the league but I’m going to give it a crack anyway. If you want to know who will finish in the top half have a look at Friday’s article but in the meantime lets see who will finish 24th-13th in my humble opinion.

24th – Millwall

It will be a tough season for newly promoted Millwall, there is no getting around that fact. They defeated Bradford in the play off final and spent the past few seasons bouncing between the second and third tier. The club have made a few signings but have not brought anyone in of real quality and I just cannot foresee them staying up as it currently stands. As usual the atmosphere inside the New Den is Millwall’s biggest advantage.

23rd – Burton Albion

It was a great story to see Burton stay up last season – especially coming off the back of consecutive promotions. However, the club is just so small it simply cannot compete with other clubs in the Championship for much longer, its a similar case to Rotherham really. I think Burton will be back in the third tier next season.

22nd – Bristol City 

Perhaps my only controversial pick of the relegation places is Bristol City. They finished 17th last season but tailed off badly on the second half of the campaign. Tammy Abraham’s goals will not be easily replaced and star defender Aden Flint is leaving the club as well. Lee Johnson seems like the kind of manager that cannot arrest a slide and I think City will be heading down this season.

21st – Bolton Wanderers 

Bolton have a lot of potential as a club and I hope to see them back at football’s top table one day but financial issues are really plaguing them at the moment. The squad is a bit thin on the ground and definitely needs beefing up but I think the experience of David Wheater and co will keep the newly promoted side just above the dreaded dotted line.

20th – Barnsley

Had Barnsley not spent the last 12 months selling virtually all their good players a play off push would be on the cards. They have brought in a fair few replacements but its clear these are players just not of the same quality. The Tykes finished 14th last season after a disappointing second half of the campaign and I can only see them slipping further this season.

19th – QPR

Ian Holloway is a canny operator but there has been barely any investment in a pretty stale team that has never really recovered from relegation a few seasons ago. Its certainly a pretty dull period in QPR’s history at the moment and after lasts seasons 18th placed finish I’m predicting more of the same for Holloway’s boys.

18th – Ipswich Town

Speaking of stale clubs Ipswich have to be one of the stalest in England. They have been in the Championship since 2002, the longest of any club, and have never really come close to automatic promotion. Mick McCarthy has been manager for 5 years and with no real investment its hard to see them finishing anywhere other than lower mid-table.

17th – Sheffield United 

Of all the newly promoted teams, League One Champions Sheffield United should have the most exciting season. Chis Wilder is a manager to keep your eye on and after storming to the league last season United should stay in the division without too many problems. Expect the Sheffield derby to be one of the best matches of the season.

16th – Sunderland

Sunderland are a complete shambles. There is clearly discontent among the players and fans and the performance against Celtic at the weekend was very worrying. Simon Grayson is a good manager but the signings have been average at best and the likes of Jason Steele and James Vaughn are actively poor ones for me. Will be a tough adjustment for the Black Cats.

15th – Preston North End 

Losing manager Simon Grayson will have definitely thrown a spanner in the works for PNE’s pre-season preparations but Alex Neil is a solid replacement. I don’t expect them to get as close to the play offs as they have been in the past couple of season but mid-table solidity is the best they can hope for.

14th – Hull City

Hull have lost a bunch of players in pre-season and its not like they had loads to start with. The owners of the club clearly don’t wanna be there and while they have made some decent signings its pretty clear the squad is wafer thin. It’ll take time for new manager Slutsky to adapt too so I think a mid-table finish is on the cards.

13th – Nottingham Forest

I like Mark Warburton a lot as a manager and think Forest will make progress this year away from the relegation zone. Selling top scorer Assombalonga is a big blow however and I think that will prevent them from breaking into the top half.

Right that’s the bottom half of the table all done and dusted and you can see who I reckon will be in the top half on Friday.