The Championship in England kicks off this weekend and the 2018/19 season looks set to be one of the most unpredictable to date. Here we run through some of the things to look out for in the new season.
Tightest promotion race for years?
It’s often said that Championship is one of the hardest leagues to predict. Whilst it may sound like a bit of a cliché, the reality is that gaining promotion from this league is not easy. The 2018/19 Championship season looks set to be the toughest to call in recent memory.
Immediately you think of the relegated Premier League teams. Out of the three, Stoke City look best set to bounce straight back. With Gary Rowett at the helm and astute signings like Tom Ince and James McClean, the Potters should make a good push.
West Brom will also fancy themselves, especially if they sign Dwight Gayle from Newcastle, who scored 23 goals in 32 league appearances for the Toon in the 2016/17 Championship season.
Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Derby are likely to be around the promotion places, whilst Nottingham Forest are rejuvenated with new funds. We also make Brentford 9th favourites for promotion at 9.00. A possible money earner?
New manager bounce
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new Championship season is the new talent that we will see in the dugouts. Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has taken the reins at Derby County, a club desperate to return to the topflight since 2008.
Over at Elland Road, things are even more interesting for Leeds United, a club who never seems to be far away from the drama. They have appointed Marceloa Bielsa, just the type of character you need to calm things down a bit. In all seriousness, the former Argentina and Lille boss was described as “the best coach in the world” by Pep Guardiola and he could be the man to really connect with the Leeds faithful and return them to the Premier League.
Other teams such as Swansea and Ipswich will have new men leading their teams this season as well.
Tough year ahead
The relegation battle in the Championship looks set to be as interesting as the promotion push. Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham came up from League One and will not be looking much further than survival. The Millers are favourites on our website for the drop at 2.10, whilst we are also predicting Bolton and Ipswich to struggle.
There could be value in Reading and QPR to drop to League One though. The Royals have had a horrible pre-season, which included no victories and convincing defeats to teams like AFC Wimbledon and Crystal Palace. Paul Clement was sacked by Swansea last season and may struggle at the Madejski.
McClaren has been in charge of QPR since May and guided the west London side to safety. They ended in 16th but this year looks to be more difficult. Their goalkeeper, Alex Smithies, has gone to Premier League side Cardiff and there have been more departures than incomings at Loftus Road this summer. At 5.25 for the drop, it could be worth a punt.