Predicting The Unpredictable – Championship 2015/16

  • By Joe Hill – Championship Correspondent & TFN Columnist @Joehillwolves

As the madness of the championship season nears closer I’m going to try the near impossible and predict it. From promotion contenders to the relegation fodder it’s all so hard to call.
There are 4 sections in which clubs can be in; promotion contenders, play offs, mid table and relegation candidates.

Birmingham City
Manager: Gary Rowett

Key Player: Demarai Gray

Prediction: Mid Table
After a disastrous start under Lee Clarke, Gary Rowett came in and stabilised the Blues to a mid table finish in 2014/15. But with the owners still under fraud trial in Thailand money is limited to Rowett so i doubt he can get City any higher up the table this time around.


Blackburn Rovers
Manager: Gary Bowyer

Key Player: Jordan Rhodes

Prediction: Mid Table/Relegation Candidates
This all depends on if Jordan Rhodes stays. If he forces his move to Middlesbrough I can see Blackburn struggling badly and may be struggling to avoid the trap door to League 1. Otherwise they can finish in a reasonably good place. The difference a 20+ goal scorer makes to a club is huge.


Bolton Wanderers
Manager: Neil Lennon

Key Player: Zach Clough

Prediction: Mid Table
With the club’s massive debts limiting who Wanderers can sign, Neil Lennon isn’t likely to be spending big in the transfer window so you can see it being a very boring season for the fans. Probably too good to go down but not enough to challenge the top six. A nothing season awaits.


Brentford
Manager: Marinus Dijkhuizen

Key Player: Ramallo Jota

Prediction: Mid Table
After a fairytale season last year reaching the playoff semi finals, I can see them struggling to reach the same heights again. With lots of foreign signings taking place this summer it may take time for them to settle so mid table might be realistic for the Bees.


Brighton & Hove Albion
Manager: Chris Hughton

Key Player: Jake Forster-Caskey

Prediction: Mid Table
Brighton had a poor season last year following successive top six finishes and with a lack of signings so far by Chris Hughton Brighton look like another side that might be in for a long season of mediocrity.


Bristol City celebrated promotion to the Championship last season.

Bristol City celebrated promotion to the Championship last season.

Bristol City
Manager: Steve Cotterill

Key Player: Aden Flint

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
With an amazing season for Bristol City last season, being the first team on most gamblers accumulator, they might struggle having not made a signing as of yet and with the step up between each league getting bigger, they might want to get the cheque book out if they wish to extend their stay in Championship beyond one season.


Burnley
Manager: Sean Dyche

Key Player: Tom Heaton

Prediction: Play offs contenders
After a heroic effort to stay up in the Premier League, they fell just short due the lack of financial power needed to compete in the Premier League. Couple this with them losing their top goal scorer Danny Ings and they may be left fighting in the play offs to get back into the Premier League.


Cardiff City
Manager: Russell Slade

Key Player: David Marshall

Prediction: Mid Table
Last season was a reality check for the Bluebirds finishing in 11th place and next season could be much of the same. I can see them being top half team but not have enough to make next step to play offs or promotion.


Charlton Athletic
Manager: Guy Luzon

Key Player: Igor Vetokele

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
With a host of signings joining the London club their season could go two ways. Either they’ll all click and push on from last season or, and what I think is more likely, they’ll struggle and will probably just stay up. What will happen remains unknown.


Derby County
Manager: Paul Clement

Key Player: Will Hughes

Prediction: Promotion
Derby are hot favourites for the title and it’s no wonder why. With quality additions all over the pitch and last seasons collapse from March spurring them on, they have to go up this season otherwise questions will have to asked of their finances.


Will Fulham make a Premier League return?

Will Fulham make a Premier League return?

Fulham
Manager: Kit Symons

Key Player: Ross McCormack

Prediction: Play off contenders
Fulham really struggled to get the grasp with the Championship last season. This summer, however, they have managed to ship a lot of the dead wood and bring in some quality additions. They might be a team to watch for the play off places come May.


Huddersfield Town
Manager: Chris Powell

Key Player: Nahki Wells

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
The terriers had a fairly average season last year and it may not be much better this year. Losing a quality player in Conor Coady has hit them hard and may make them an outside bet for relegation to the third tier.


Hull City
Manager: Steve Bruce

Key Player: Michael Dawson

Prediction: Promotion
This is dependent on how many players stay. As I’m writing this James Chester and Robbie Brady have headed for exit door. Nevertheless they still have a strong squad at the KC which in my opinion is only one quality striker away from a very solid team that could walk the championship next season.


Ipswich Town
Manager: Mick McCarthy

Key Player: Daryl Murphy

Prediction: Play off contenders
With only one notable absentee from first team last season I expect them to be in about same places as last season. If they want to push on again, they’ll have to keep Daryl Murphy scoring after being championship top goal scorer.


Leeds United
Manager: Uwe Rösler

Key Player: Sam Byram

Prediction: Mid Table
In this manic league Leeds are the perfect example of how mad it is. A lunatic owner who hires and fires staff like it’s going out of fashion makes it’s hard to predict what’s happening happening next week never mind over a whole season! But looking over the squad getting into an upper mid table place will be a good season for them.


MK Dons

Manager: Karl Robinson

Key Player: Simon Church

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
The Dons have been pushing for that promotion place for a number of seasons, finally achieving it on final day of last season. In Karl Robinson they may have one of the upcoming managers but he will have a job on his hands keeping MK Dons in the league.


Middlesbrough came so close to promotion last season.

Middlesbrough came so close to promotion last season.

Middlesbrough
Manager: Aitor Karanka

Key Player: Stewart Downing

Prediction: Promotion
Went so close last season having been pipped in the play off final, but instead of drowning in their sorrows they’ve really pushed on in the closed season with some quality signings on top of an already top squad they’ll easily be up the top end come May.


Nottingham Forest

Manager: Dougie Freeman

Key Player: Britt Assombalonga

Prediction: Promotion
Last season was really disappointing for Forest with a very low 14th place finish but this season I can see them being a force to be reckoned with, a strong throughout the squad means they should be a team not taken lightly.


Preston North End

Manager: Simon Grayson

Key Player: Joe Garner

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
Having finally broken their play off curse and making a return to the championship after a 4 seasons, the main challenge for north end will be to stabilise in the league and one or two new faces they could be okay.


Can QPR bounce back?

Can QPR bounce back?

QPR
Manager: Chris Ramsey

Key Player: Matt Phillips

Prediction: Play off contenders
The challenge for Chris Ramsey is to assemble a young, hungry and driven squad that care for the club, big ask for his first managerial job. However he started to do this last season in bleeding in Darrel Furlong and Reece Grego-Cox so it’s clear he’s heading in the right way.


Reading

Manager: Steve Clarke

Key Player: Gareth McCleary

Prediction: Mid Table
The FA cup semi final heroics covered up an underwhelming season, but with a couple of shrewd signings so far this summer it could be a lot better. There goalkeepers are particularly impressive with Jonathan bond and Ali Al-habsi would be good for any club at this level.


Rotherham

Manager: Steve Evans

Key Player: Matt Derbyshire

Prediction: Relegation Candidates
Rotherham survived relegation last season against all odds and there aim will be the same with them losing Ben Pringle in midfield it may be harder than before.


A long season ahead for Wednesday?

A long season ahead for Wednesday?

Sheffield Wednesday
Manager: Carlos Carvalhal

Key Player: Kieran Westwood

Prediction: Mid table
The Owls had a quite a steady season with a 13th place finish and with few stand out signings another mediocre season maybe in store at HillsboroUgh, a cup run may be a good thing to aim for to raise crowds for the Yorkshire club.


Wolverhampton Wanderers
Manager: Kenny Jackett

Key Player: Nouha Dicko

Prediction: Play off contenders
After double relegations, Kenny Jackett has made wolves a feared outfit with a good mix of young players and experience pros, I don’t think they’re good enough for automatic promotion but play offs shouldn’t be far from reach. They may struggle a little since losing Bakary Sako but with Nouha Dicko & Benik Afobe they should by far enough fire power.

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