Championship 2018/19 Predictions: Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my Championship predictions for the 2018/19 season, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

Reading

Jaap Stam’s second season at the Royals was as disastrous as his first one was successful, leading to his sacking in the spring with the club hovering dangerously above the relegation zone. Paul Clement did enough to keep them up and, now he has the job full-time his aim will be to get the club moving in the right direction again. Reading’s owners have spent big in the last two seasons but have reined things in somewhat. Mark McNulty has signed from Coventry, with David Meyler, John O’Shea, Andy Yiadom and Sam Walker arriving on a free. Clement’s biggest challenge will be imposing his own style on a group of players that have been drilled into playing Stam’s possession-based style.

Prediction: 20th

Rotherham United

Paul Warne did well to get Rotherham back into the Championship at the first attempt, but they start this season as favourites to suffer an immediate return to League One. The league is noticeably stronger than two seasons ago, and their budget is quite possibly the smallest in the league. The main focus has been on strengthening the defence – Billy Jones and Blackpool’s Clark Robertson have joined on a permanent deal, along with loanees Sean Raggett and Zak Vyner from Norwich and Bristol City respectively. Expectations are unsurprisingly low at the New York Stadium – finishing in 21st would be a great achievement.

Prediction: 24th

Sheffield United

Chris Wilder’s men rode the crest of the wave for the first few months of last season, initially challenging for the top two before slipping down the table, eventually finishing tenth. They will be disappointed to have lost starlet David Brooks to Bournemouth, though the £10m fee should help them add more depth to their squad. The talented but injury-prone David McGoldrick has joined on a free, with John Egan moving from Brentford and highly-rated keeper Dean Henderson signing on loan. The fans will hope for a top-six finish but I feel this might be beyond them – another top-half finish wouldn’t be a disaster as they re-establish themselves in the second tier.

Prediction: 11th

Sheffield Wednesday

The Owls have become accustomed to challenging for promotion over recent years, so last season will have been a shock to the system. Carlos Carvalhal unsurprisingly lost his job, leaving Jos Luhukay to see an injury-ravaged squad through to the end of the season. They are the only club to not add to their squad so far this summer but they still have many excellent players at this level – the return of Fernando Forestieri to full fitness will be a major boost. It appears that Financial Fair Play is starting to bite after seasons of big spending though there haven’t been any major sales. Jordan Rhodes has joined Norwich on loan while Jack Hunt has signed from Bristol City. I wouldn’t rule out a top-six finish if they can keep their key players fit.

Prediction: 9th

14947922_1338421932834999_2105783441659939011_n

Stoke City

The Potters have returned to the second tier after a ten-year spell in the Premier League, and on the face of it they are in better shape than many teams that have dropped down in recent years. Gary Rowett will be under pressure to guide them to promotion this season, particularly given the backing he’s been given in the transfer market. While the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ramadan Sobhi, Marc Muniesa and Kevin Wimmer have unsurprisingly departed, over £30m has been spent on Benik Afobe, Tom Ince, James McClean and Oghenekaro Etebo. The Ince signing in particular is a statement of intent and shows the power that parachute payment-supported clubs have in the transfer market. Anything short of an immediate return to the Premier League will be a failure.

Prediction: 1st

Swansea City

Swansea have also returned to the Championship after a lengthy top-flight spell, but the situation in South Wales is a little more uncertain. The club have taken a punt on Ostersunds manager Graham Potter but not given him much backing in the transfer market, despite the sales of a number of players. Out go Lukasz Fabianski, Roque Mesa, Kyle Bartley and Andre Ayew, with Alfie Mawson likely to join a Premier League club shortly. Young striker Joel Asoro has arrived from Sunderland in the only major permanent signing, although a deal for Bersant Celina is close. There is still decent quality in the squad, but if they start poorly they could easily find themselves stuck at the wrong end of the table.

Prediction: 15th

West Bromwich Albion

The last of the newly-relegated sides, the Baggies’ owners only have themselves to blame for the club’s relegation but look well-placed to challenge for promotion. Their squad was one of the oldest in the league and is in need of freshening up, so a number of older players were released while Ben Foster and Jonny Evans are staying in the Premier League. Darren Moore has freshened up his defence with the signings of Sam Johnstone, Jonathan Bond, Kyle Bartley and Conor Townsend, with more comings and goings expected before the transfer window closes. It was clear at the end of last season that the squad enjoy playing under Moore and I expect them to at least make the play-offs.

Prediction: 4th

Wigan Athletic

Wigan have become something of a yo-yo club in recent years, bouncing between the Championship and League One, and the strength of the league this year means this pattern could continue. Paul Cook’s impressed in the FA Cup as well as League One last season and will look to carry over that momentum. Christian Walton has re-joined on loan, wingers Kai Naismith and Callum McManaman will strengthen the attack and teenager Leonardo da Silva Lopes has signed from Peterborough. A number of fringe players have left which gives Paul Cook the chance to replenish the squad ahead of what is likely to be a season-long battle against relegation.

Prediction: 22nd

So here is my final predicted league table:

  1. Stoke City
  2. Middlesbrough
  3. Aston Villa
  4. West Bromwich Albion
  5. Derby County
  6. Nottingham Forest
  7. Leeds United
  8. Bristol City
  9. Sheffield Wednesday
  10. Brentford
  11. Sheffield United
  12. Preston North End
  13. Ipswich Town
  14. Norwich City
  15. Swansea City
  16. Hull City
  17. Millwall
  18. Birmingham City
  19. Blackburn Rovers
  20. Reading
  21. Queens Park Rangers
  22. Wigan Athletic
  23. Bolton Wanderers
  24. Rotherham United

Do you agree, politely disagree or think I’m a complete moron? Let me know!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s