This article looks at teams in the Championship that will likely see their season go downhill
The season is still young, but there has been some surprising things that have occurred in the league so far. This article is a return to making predictions – but this time based what has happened so far in the Championship. There will be several articles like this coming up from me, so hopefully, you will enjoy the style and the content.
This first one focuses on six teams that currently find themselves in the top half of the league – but will likely go downhill as the season progresses. Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that all of these clubs will finish in the bottom half of the league. Instead, it’s merely a suggestion that they won’t retain their current placement in the league.
I often like to use data to rank a lot of my articles, but this content and the ones to come are more based on opinion. There will certainly be factual information and data to come, but that will be more a case of backing up my viewpoint. The Championship tends to be difficult to predict, so I don’t expect to get all of this right – but hopefully it will be a fun read nonetheless.
So, now we have that out of the way – let’s get stuck into it…
1. Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town have certainly started the season on fire and will be looking to keep things going – but there is an argument that their squad is simply not strong enough to sustain it. Looking back to before the season began, I had Ipswich down as a big club that are going to struggle and I’m sticking with that prediction.
The Tractor Boys are now the top scorers in the Championship – but that’s not likely to be a position they will keep for much longer. You may be surprised to hear that the club are taking just 8.5 shots per game, this is the second worst record in the league. Fans will claim that they have been clinical – but it’s obvious that a large slice of luck has been involved as well.
It’s also worth mentioning that games against the likes of Birmingham, Barnsley, Millwalland Brentford won’t offer the club the sternest tests. The team arealso not faring well defensively as they give away 20.8 shots per game to opposing teams, this is the worst record in the league. Therefore, Ipswich’s good start is not likely to continue for much longer – and a return to mid-table mediocrity will be back on the cards shortly.
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2. Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest are another one of those clubs that have started the season on fire. The stats would suggest that Forest may be able to keep things together in terms of their attacking play, but the defence is likely to be a problem. In terms of that, the 18 shots that they are giving away per game is the fourth worst record in the league.
Although, the attacking side of their game should be better – finding someone to regular score goals for them could be a problem. Let’s be honest, the loss of Britt Assombalonga is a big one – and there is no point denying that. To put a positive spin on things, the club have moved to replace Assombalonga by signing former Newcastle and Ipswich striker Daryl Murphy. Murphy has gone on to make a good start to the season.
However, he is now 34 years old – and relying on him is a very dangerous game. Even though he has a good record at this level, injuries, form, and fitness are all likely to be issues for him this season. Although, Forest may have a better season than a lot of people expected, a top six finish this season is more than likely going to be beyond them.
3. Leeds United
Leeds United are certainly a big club that have won three top-flight titles in their illustrious history. In many ways, the positive season that they had last year shouldn’t have come as a major surprise. However, the Whites had been a club in the decline for several seasons. Therefore, Garry Monk did an outstanding job with the team.
Changes have been made all over the place this summer including a new head coach and various new signings. Things were all looking good for the club – and they have made a positive start to the new season as well. However, disaster has now struck as star striker Chris Wood has agreed to join Burnley in the Premier League.
Of course, the club will move to find a replacement – but time is running out in the transfer window. Wood was the best forward in the Championship last season by a distance – and without him, there is only a very slim chance that Leeds will be in the top six. Furthermore, Thomas Christiansen’s only previous managerial experience is from football in Cyrus – and he remains my tip be sacked before Christmas.
QPR are another one of those clubs that were expected to struggle this season, but they have made a positive start and are now in play-off contention. However, there is very little evidence that they will be able to sustain their current position in the league. I have made various comments on the club before – and I think Ian Holloway being manager speaks volumes. The other key issue that the club have is a lack of transfer funds, which means they must rely on young talent.
There are still a lot of problems at the West London club following their time in the Premier League. This is one of the bigger squads in the Championship and they will certainly want to trim their numbers if they can. However, they have also done a good job at developing young players as mentioned – and their squad has one of the lowest average ages in the league.
The player stats on QPR this season suggest that the club are not going to have a leading player in either defensive or attacking areas. Conor Washington would be considered the club’s best bet to get goals and be their top scorer. However, he lacks the quality compared with the best strikers in the league. On a more general point, the club lack talent and that’s why a top six place is likely to be beyond them.
Preston had a decent season in the Championship last year under Simon Grayson – and eventually finished 11th in the league. Of course, there is a school of thought that suggests they should be able to improve on that. However, there has been plenty of change this summer and Alex Neil has gone in as their new manager, following Grayson’s exit to Sunderland.
Neil is looking to rebuild his managerial reputation after getting sacked by Norwich City. Norwich fans felt he made plenty of mistakes last season – and it will be interesting to see how much he has learned. To offer a bit realism here though, the Lilywhites don’t have a big budget and their principal aim is to sustain their place in the Championship.
The club certainly do have some solid Championship players and can be hard to beat. However, they lack the attacking talent needed for a team in the top six. Therefore, a season similar to what they had last year appears to be the best they can hope for. Preston’s current position in play-off contention appears to be a false one then.
6. Bristol City
Bristol City are now in the top half of the Championship table – but they aren’t likely to be able to sustain that position. Of course, the club had a good first half of the season last year – but only just stayed in the league after a very poor second half of the campaign. It may well be that history will repeat itself and they will have a similar season.
My personal feeling is that they will stay in the league – but will finish in the lower half of the table. Bristol City went on one of the worst runs of form during the second half of last season, including going nine games without winning. It was certainly a surprise that Lee Johnson managed to keep his job when other managers were losing theirs.
However, the former Barnsley manager found a bit of form late in the season – and succeeded in keeping the club in the Championship. This season was always going to be important for him personally – and a positive start to this campaign has kept him safe for now. Nevertheless, the issues from last season could be back soon – and that will put him and his club in danger.
This completes the end of the content section for this article as we looked at some of those Championship teams that will decline this season. So, did we get it right? Or is there more to the teams mentioned here than we have given them credit for.
If you enjoy Championship content like this – then keep an eye on my profile page for more of the same. Next, I will be covering the opposite of this content by looking at Championship teams that will improve their current circumstances.