Monday 4 August 2008

Championship Prediction 2008-09

Everyone else seems to be having a go at this, so I thought I'd offer my two penneth. Rather than try and be hopelessly accurate at this stage of the season, I've hedged my bets and gone for a Top, Middle and Bottom approach. Rationale as follows....

Reading - Minimal personnel changes and Stevie Coppell committed for another season. I expect Reading to be very strong at home and get the points they need on the road to wrap up the title.
Sheffield United - Finished last season strongly and have bought well with Halford, Sun Jihai and Henderson. Kevin Blackwell looks like he still has money to spend. Presumably the pockets of the Board at Bramall Lane are deeper than our own or they may be in for a hard time if they don't make it this year.
Birmingham City - Lee Carsley, Kevin Phillips and Marcus Bent should bolster an already capable enough squad. McLeish needs a quick start because expectations will be high and Brummies can moan like no-one else.
Derby County - Paul Jewell has refreshed his squad with Rob Hulse the cream of the crop. He will be determined to prove he is a better manager than the clubs he has had to manage of late.
Bristol City - Arguably over-performed last year in making the play-offs but Gary Johnson is a shrewdie and gets the best from his team, so no reason why they can't repeat last season's finish.
Coventry City - Having avoided the drop, Chris Coleman has been given money to spend and I am sure he will take City up the table. Having signed Wolves flop, Freddie Eastwood, he may be close to getting Clinton Morrison which would go some way towards the likely loss of Michael Mifsud.
Crystal Palace - I suspect the Palace dressing room has not been a happy place since they failed to get past Bristol City in the play-offs. Several of their better players have left or have signalled intentions to go, but Simon Jordan has supported Neil Warnock in getting replacements in and I think he has bought well.
Wolverhampton Wanderers - Mick McCarthy is building a young side at Molineux and with Sylvain Ebanks-Blake still there, they may get the best out of Chris Iwelumo.

Charlton Athletic - I have us at the top of the middle section on the basis that we sign at least two decent pros before the end of August; an experienced and capable midfielder (like Brian Howard) as well as a central defender (like Sam Sodje). If we don't, we risk sliding down the table...
Watford - Had a very similar season to us last year and have had a similar Summer. Fire sale with little incoming. However, they should still be capable of mid-table in this division.
Barnsley - Simon Davey has been active in the transfer market re-shaping his side. Iain Hume is one of the biggest transfers into the Championship at £1.2m and Darren Moore and Luke Steele will improve a Barnsley side who have been at home in the Championship.
Burnley - Not one of favourite clubs, but Owen Coyle has spent a couple of million during the Summer and Chris Eagles from Manchester United may be a player to watch on the wing this year.
QPR - "Evolution not revolution" said Iain Dowie in terms of the modest transfer dealings so far from the billionaires at Loftus Road. Bearing in mind his profligacy whilst at the Valley, either he has learnt a lesson or his paymasters are being parsimonious. I obviously don't follow the hype that Rangers will get promoted this year.
Nottingham Forest - Forest will relish the chnace to re-establish themselves in the Championship and Colin Calderwood is one of the brightest managers in the game. Robert Earnshaw and Andy Cole won't answer their prayers but they might get enough goals to propel them clear of the drop-zone.
Ipswich - In a similar boat to Watford and ourselves. Richard Wright was a good buy but I suspect they may rue spending £600,000 on Kevin Lisbie. Jim Magilton will need to ensure he doesn't fall any lower than mid-table or he might find himself out of work.
Swansea - Lots of hope and expectation down on the Gower peninsula. Roberto Martinez has brought in a load of cheap foreigners to compliment those he already had. You get what you pay for normally so I don't expect to see Swansea steaming towards promotion but they can expect to hold their own this year.

Norwich - Glenn Roeder has ben busy buying players but he was left with only 7 or 8 professionals at the end of the season so needed to. There isn't much money at Carrow Road these days and I think Norwich will do well to finish mid-table. They need a Boardroom takeover to bring in fresh money if they are to prosper again in this league.
Blackpool - Simon Grayson steered Blackpool through last year's dip in the Championship and they looked like they had fun doing it. He's keeping the blend of experienced journeymen pros and youth whilst encouraging his team to have a go. It will be hard to match last year's finish but they should avoid the drop.
Cardiff City - Dave Jones performed a minor miracle at Cardiff last year. In spite of the financial pressures and the poor start, he kept them up and somehow made the Cup Final. I don't think anything has improved on the financial front and they have lost a couple of their star youngsters without adequate replacements. Mark Kennedy and Jay Bothroyd won't fire you into the Premier League.
Sheffield Wednesday - Brian Laws struggled to get Wednesday out of the drop all last season and with no significant transfer activity it looks like he'll have to do it again.
Southampton - Their season mirrored Wednesday's last year and their financial is plight is probably worse than at Hillsborough. This is a club that Richard Murray and Co are fighting to avoid imitating. Jan Poortvliet will need to learn fast in the Championship or he risks taking Saints into a fatal relegation battle.
Doncaster - Sean O'Driscoll will be relishing a crack at the Championship but it's a big step for the side who scraped up in third and I think they will emulate Scunthorpe and Colchester by returning to Division 2 in 2009.
Plymouth Argyle - Argyle finished the season poorly and it was sad to learn that Paul Sturrock is suffering with Parkinson's. They are a selling club and struggle to attract players to the West Country. All-in-all, not a good place to be and I fear they may find it very hard this year.
Preston North End - Alan Irvine breathed a bit of life back into PNE when he arrived last year but the struggle continues and he's only managed to bring in Barry Nicholson from Aberdeen on a free so far.

I wish I could be a bit more optimistic but I am already wrestling with some dark demons and am trying to look on the bright side. A comfortable 2-0 win over Swansea on Saturday would help enormously :)


  1. For me, it's Reading and Birmingham for automatic promotion, and Derby, Bristol City, Palace and Burnley in the play-offs.

    Can't see Charlton finishing in the top half at this rate, and possibly much worse.

  2. NYA - I am trying to be positive. I was struck yesterday by how many clubs in our division are in no better financial state than we appear to be. It just goes to put last season's missed opportunities into perspective.

  3. I've said Birmingham and Reading for automatic promotion. With Palace, Forest, Derby and Bristol City for the playoffs. I agree it's difficult to classify beyond top, middle and bottom of the table, but it's only a bit of fun. I have us down in 16th.

  4. I agree that many other teams are also in a precarious financial state, but I fear that the morale at The Valley must be in a bad way.

    Other clubs like Ipswich or Wolves for example, have had much longer to adapt to their changed circumstances, and are no longer filled with deadwood that don't want to be there, or are not suited to the new circumstances.

  5. As a Villa fan, I hope Birmingham don't get close. It would also be nice if QPR don't make it up straight away.

    Wouldn't mind visiting the Valley again sometime soon - who knows.

    Best of luck.

  6. As a Charlton fan I can't stand Birmingham either - no class.I suspect we've more chance of playing you in the Championship than in the Premier League and more chance still of playing you next in the Cup! Best wishes for 2008-09.


Go on, you know you want to....