With the Championship fixtures being released today, it seems like the perfect opportunity to fire off my table prediction for the coming season.
1st - West Brom
The baggies faithful will feel apprehensive but should head into the season feeling confident. Out of all the relegated teams, the way Darren Moore had them playing towards the end of the season shows they won't need to do too much to 'boing boing' back up! However, I do feel they will need to find decent replacements for McAuley and Yacob.
2nd - Leeds United
Although Leeds haven't shown their hand in the transfer market just yet, the names being thrown around this window are a much higher caliber than previous off seasons. With Bielsa taking the reins at Elland Road, it looks like the board will be backing their man this time round and I'm expecting fireworks!
3rd - Boro
With Tony Pulis having a full pre-season behind him, I feel Boro are in a much better position as they prepare for another race for promotion. This time they look to have more of an idea on what type of player they need to improve a very healthy squad, compared to last season where they let Monk throw money around for fun.
4th - Stoke
It looks like Stoke are doing everything right following their relegation from the top flight...Solid championship manager and solid championship signings. However it does remind me of the way Boro did their business this time last year and I feel the Stoke fans will be dissapointed with anything but an automatic spot. A play off place is a good season with the way the Championship goes.
5th - Forest
I'm really looking forward to seeing how it pans out for Forest this season. Already they are making ambitious signings and I rate Karanka highly. Time will only tell how they get on but I predict a massive leap from their 17th place finish last season.
6th - Brentford
Always in and around the play-off mix, I think Dean Smith's lot will finally grab that last spot. Brentford have never had the biggest transfer kitty but always seem do do their business well picking up gems, such as keeper Daniel Bentley and recently picking up Enzri Konsa who enjoyed a cracking season at Charlton.
7th - Derby
This is the banker. The biggest headline of the close season (outside the Premiership) could be that Franky Lampard has taken his 1st managerial role. It's a big gamble for both parties and if it was any other club a 7th place finish wouldn't be too shabby for his first season at the helm. But for County fans I can imagine it's getting a bit too predictable.
8th - Wigan
The top dogs in League One last season. They will come up full of confidence and can see Will Grigg having a positive impact on the Championship at the 2nd time of asking. Add to that a spine of Walton (should they aquire him from Brighton) Burn and Powell, they could be a surprise package after grabbing League One by the scruff of the neck.
9th - Norwich
I really fancied them to kick on this season. However with the sale of prize assets such as James Maddison and Josh Murphy, reinvesting a big chunk of the 35 million combined fee is going to be vital for them to be anywhere near the play-off mix up. A reshuffle of the cards could go either way.
10th - Swansea
Can see this as another team rebuilding and that's what Potter has been brought in to do. I can't see them pushing for promotion this time round. A club with good foundations and don't need to go for broke. A steady mid table finish is on the cards.
11th - Sheffield Utd
Wilder's men really surprised the majority last season, however prior to the season starting they were many people's 'dark horse'. They lived up to that with a healthy 10th place finish and at one point were a real shout to make the play-offs. I think it'll be more of the same this coming season, with the likes of Leon Clarke still cutting it at this level, they will establish themselves as a solid Championship outfit.
12th - Preston
With Alex Neil embarking on his second year in control of the Lillywhites, we know they're not going to be in any sort of trouble. Saying that I can't see them doing as well as they did in his first year. A middle of the road season in store as it stands.
13th - QPR
McClaren / Holloway, I don't know which comedian I prefer. McClaren with his Dutch accent or Holloway with his out of the box analogies. What I do believe is that McClaren is a slightly better manager, therefore reckon they will fare slightly better this season.
14th - Reading
The bookies think The Royals will be in a relegation dog fight from looking at the latest odds. With the appointment of Clement I don't think that'll be the case. Although the transfers done so far look to be a bit underwhelming I would be surprised to see them being pulled into any sort of trouble.
15th - Millwall
Expectations were out of the window last season! Millwall finished an impressive 7th in the table, playing a combative style of football very effectively. Neil Harris will be looking for the same again. I'm not confident it will have the same result, with teams wising up and there not being much of a budget to dip into. Still, they have enough to avoid any scares.
16th - Bristol City
It's squeeky bum time when you're in this position. Constantly looking over your shoulder as a fan. With it looking like they may lose big players such as Flint and Reid, I still think that's as far as it goes with the Robins. They're safe.
17th - Blackburn
Bounced back from League One with ease in the end. Rovers supporters should be happy with staying up this season and I think they'll do enough to do just that with no drama's. I'm looking forward to seeing how Dack steps up a level after having a few decent seasons in League One.
18th - Birmingham
Monk and Clotet did a really good job keeping Brum afloat and they'll do it again this season in my opinion. I can see them being the team to hit the ground running to then fade away.
19th - Villa
We've all heard about the troubles Villa find themselves in. Another club run into the ground and again it's the supporters that will suffer. It looks like they'll be flogging players with any value and I would fear the worst. However from the outside looking in, I think they will be left with enough to avoid the drop.
20th - Ipswich
Over the years Big Mick over achieved at Portman Road. Now they begin life without him and I think they're in for a shock. I know the football played in previous campaigns wasn't the prettiest, but as the saying goes "be careful what you wish for". In for a tough one.
21st - Sheffield Wednesday
Last season seemed to be a real eye opener for the Wednesday fans and I can't see it getting any better. The team looked completely disorientated and I can't see Jos Luhukay seeing the season out.
22nd - Hull
Although Hull boast a squad capable of competing at this level, it's still not clear on who they will keep hold of. At times last season they looked in serious danger and I can't see them improving the squad or improving their position, especially with Adkins in charge.
23rd - Rotherham
To be fair to the Millers, I didn't think they'd come straight back up and they proved me wrong. Unfortunately I just don't think they are strong enough to stay up. Looking at the fixtures, they could start well... But another that will fade away drastically for me.
24th - Bolton
Bottom of the pack. They just don't score enough to win games. They're lucky to still be in the Championship in my opinion. A long hard season to look forward to I'm afraid, Parkinson to be the first managerial casualty would be my bet and that's after seeing the first 6 games Leeds have been handed.
Obviously a lot can happen between now and when the season kicks off. As it stands, this is how I see it. I'll be keeping a keen eye on the transfer market and may do a revised piece in August.
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