League Championship Season Preview

The most boring time of the year is almost over. Championship starts tomorrow, League One and Two at Saturday, Premier next week. I am copying great Championship analyze wrote by Thomas Dobby.

Amazingly, it’s almost time to kick off the new season in England’s lower leagues. It seems just weeks ago (about 9 actually) that Swansea closed the 2010-11 season by beating Reading at Wembley and booking their place in the Premier League. But here we are, on the eve of a new year in one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world. Predictions are futile (I’ll still make them of course). After seeing my beloved Sheff United sink to League One (I still can’t believe it), there is no more bias involved! Hull v Blackpool kicks it off on Friday. As always, I’d love to read your thoughts below.

Who’s Coming:
-West Ham, Blackpool, Birmingham (relegated from PL)
-Brighton + Hove Albion, Southampton, Peterborough (promoted from League One)

Who’s Going:
-QPR, Norwich, Swansea (promoted to PL)
-Scunthorpe, Sheffield United, Preston (relegated to League One)

Manager Merry-go round:
Talk about big-name managers…The Championship starts the season with bosses with some serious CV’s. Allardyce (West Ham), McClaren (Nottingham Forest), and Sven (Leicester) have all been on the biggest stage, while names like Holloway (Blackpool), Hughton (Birmingham), and Poyet (Brighton + Hove) add even more spice on the touchline.

There’s still a lot of activity to come on the transfer market, but the season waits for no one. Listed odds are their current price to win the league (actual odds).
My predictions are at the bottom of this post.

LEICESTER (4/1)-Sven-Goran Eriksson’s charges shoulder huge expectations after a flurry of quality signings at this level. David Nugent, Matt Mills, Paul Konchesky, John Pantsil and Kasper Schmeichel headline the newcomers. Their experience and pedigree are what make the Foxes joint favourites to win the division. But remember, ‘Boro and Bristol City were favourites last seaosn and were closer to relegation tham promotion. Were very good at home, but poor away last season. Must improve away from home to get where they want to be.

WEST HAM (4/1)- Like Newcastle before them, pundits thought West Ham were “too good to go down”. Whatever that means. Newcastle were able to bounce right back up after holding on to a lot of their Premier-League calibre players. West Ham are tipped to do the same. Kevin Nolan, Championship player of the year with Newcastle 2 seasons ago, comes in and will be immense for them. Scott Parker is still a Hammer…for now, but will likely be gone soon. Demba Ba and Carlton Cole are gone back to the Premier League, but Matty Taylor and Abdoulaye Faye join Nolan as solid new recruits.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (12/1)-Back in England after stops in Holland and Germany, Steve McClaren inherits a Forest side who have been throttled in the play-offs 2 seasons running. First is was Blackpool, and then Swansea utlimately leading to Billy Davies’ sacking. McClaren has yet to make any huge signings, inking only Andy Reid, George Boateng and Jonathan Greening. Forest likely need more to get over the hump.

BIRMINGHAM (16/1)- A prototypical yo-yo team, Birmingham find themselves again looking to climb the ladder after a heartbreaking drop on the final day. New boss Chris Hughton did an outstanding job getting Newcastle right back in to the top flight 2 years ago… but this is a different beast. The Blues have lost key performers in Roger Johnson, Lee Bowyer, Craig Gardner, Barry Ferguson and Ben Foster so far this summer, with Cameron Jerome and Scott Dann still possibly on the move as well. Those are gut-wrenching losses. Boaz Myhill comes in as the #1 keeper, as well as free transfers Jonatahan Spector, Chris Burke and Marlon King. Still, tons of work to do…


MIDDLESBROUGH (16/1)- Very disappointing last season under Tony Mowbray. Maybe less expectation will lead to better results on Teesside?

SOUTHAMPTON (16/1) - Can they earn back-to-back promotions? Norwich just did it!

IPSWICH (18/1)- Some big-name signings in Michael Chopra and Lee Bowyer give them hope.

CARDIFF (18/1)-Big changes after a disappointing play-off exit to Reading. Dave Jones is out as boss, and in comes sexy choice Malky Mackay. Gone are Bothroyd, and Chopra while Craig Bellamy’s future is uncertain. In come signings Robert Earnshaw, Jon Parkin and Kenny Miller, all proven goal- scorers, as well as the promising Aron Gunnarson from Coventry.

LEEDS (18/1)- Stumbled at the business end of the season last year, just missing out on the
play-offs. Will hope for better this time around.

BRIGHTON & HOVE (18/1)- Gus Poyet’s League One winners are full of confidence coming up a division. Major coup winning the signature of striker Craig Mackail-Smith.

READING (20/1)- Beaten in the play-off final, Reading have lost some key performers, with Shane Long likely the next to go. Will be hard-pressed to repeat last season’s run.

BLACKPOOL (20/1)- Ian Holloway’s lovable Tangerines will try and scratch and claw their way back to the top flight. But will have to do so without Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan, who have all signed with Premier League clubs. Vets Kevin Phillips and Barry Ferguson come in.

BURNLEY (25/1)- Strong second-half last year bodes well heading in to the new campaign. Have a lot of crafty veterans, sprinkled in nicely with young blood.


Going up (automatic): West Ham, Cardiff
Playoffs: Leicester, Ipswich, Leeds*, Burnley
Going Down: Crystal Palace, Peterborough, Barnsley

Enjoy the season!
Thomas Dobby
Footy Show producer

Support the blog and open a betting account using the banners from the left. You'll get some free bets as well.
Make e-mail subscription and get my picks directly in the mail box.