Part two in our series of EFL Previews covers the EFL Championship. Charlie Highbury, our football correspondent runs the rule over the teams at the top, the underdogs who just might make a splash and those who simply wont cut it.
The EFL Championship Preview 2018-19:
Stoke head into the new season with a fairly decent squad. With Englands Jack Butland in goal, who for me is far too good for the championship, they will surely go well. Also with Gary Rowetts taking the managerial role, a man who knows the league and has had managerial success with Birmingham and recently Derby taking them to a play off spot, they are in good hands. I believe that he will surely take Stoke to a playoff spot but this side for me is a massive contender to win the league. With a squad like this they should win it, although without Shaqiri who they have relied on for many seasons they will have to entrust other players to come out and help the team. Hey maybe Berahino might do something this season!
Top 3 players: Butland, Choupo Moting, Joe Allen
Bet 365 Odds to Win the League: 5/1 – Back them 2 units E/W
Oh how a club has fallen from greatness so quickly. Tony Pulis was so brilliantly boring at West Brom and had an exceptional record of keeping mediocre teams in the top flight as he had done with West Brom, but after being sacked last season by the Baggies owner, things went from bad to worse (PARDEW!!!) and so here they are in the championship. However things aren’t all bad for West Brom as they find themselves with Darren Moore at the helm, a man who seems to actually know how to win with this side and it showed last year when he won PFA Manager of the Month so early in his tenure. With a decent squad, even without Ben Foster’s inclusion after he was carted off to Watford, I’m sure the Baggies will do well in this championship season and can definitely challenge for the title. It could be a new exciting era for the club indeed.
Top 3 players: Rondon, Livermore, Rodriguez
Bet 365 Odds to Win the League: 15/2 – 2 units e/w
Middlesbrough come into the new season in the championship after narrowly avoiding promotion after a loss to Aston Villa over two legs in the playoffs. With Tony Pulis at the reigns Middlesbrough look to be a team to beat in this years championship and with adding players such as Flint and already having quality players such as Adama and c the clubs top scorer last season with 15 goals Assombalonga leading the line Borough look a dangerous side and one that really could win the league.
Top 3 Players: Flint, Adama and Assombalonga
Bet 365 Odds to Win the League: 8/1 2 units e/w
The Underdogs – They just might create some problems!
Leeds have been on a rocky road in the championship and their form has pretty much remained unchanged for the whole time they have been in the league – mid table, mid table, mid table. However with the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as Manager, a man who has enjoyed success with Athletic Bilbao taking them to a Europa League and Copa del Final in the 2011/12 season they just might have the steel necessary to break the mould. With Leeds beginning a new era I just feel its about time they came good and finish in a playoff position. They have brought in some young exciting players like Jack Harrison and Lewis Baker so I really can see Leeds finally pushing for a playoff spot. Hooray!!
Top 3 Players: Jansson, Roofe and Saiz
Bet365 Odds for Playoff Spot: 3/1 – 2 units win
Nottingham Forest come into the new season with signings coming out of their ears, Quite seriously! With the strengthening of the squad that they needed they have signed young and upcoming players, Joao Carvalho and a loan deal for Diogo Gonclaves. They have also added experience by signing Michael Dawson from Hull and they have just added some squad depth in other areas to cover inevitable injuries this year. There is as well the emerging talent of Ben Brereton in the forward line which will help and Nottingham Forest seems to be set for exciting times.
Top 3 players: Dias, Murphy and Dawson
Bet365 Odds for Playoff Spot: 11/4 – 2 units win
The Relegation Battle
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season Bolton are on the chopping block again this time as they find themselves doubted to stay up this time around. Even though they have signed 10 players this window and could sign more, I don’t believe the players have the quality to survive in the league which is growing in competitiveness day by day as clubs increasingly get richer. Again Bolton just don’t have the money lying around and for me this season isn’t going to be a pleasant one for Bolton fans.
Top 3 Players: Ameobi, Le fondre and Olkowski
Bet365 Odds for Relegation 6/5 3 units win
When I ask people about this side, they have no doubt in their mind that Rotherham are going straight back down so if they do stay up it will be one of the great escape acts of the modern footballing times. Even though they have made five signings this window they are nowhere near the quality that I feel Rotherham needed to add to the squad and essentially, they are going down in every single pundit’s eyes. Prove us wrong Rotherham!
Top Three Players: Frecklington, Jones and Palmer
Bet365 Odds for Relegation: 11/10 4 units win