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/r/Championship's Championship season review and run-in preview - Part 3 (Brentford, Swansea, Stoke, QPR, Birmingham, Reading, Wigan, Millwall, Bolton, Ipswich)

Part 1 here - Part 2 here

13. Brentford by Johnsitton (plus thoughts from s0ngsforthedeaf)

Manager: Dean Smith until October then replaced by Thomas Frank
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?:
I’ll be honest I had us as favourites to make playoffs and dark horses to go up automatically. Of course, it was difficult to predict as I didn’t know how the three relegated sides would do.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: In short: Good – Very Bad – Good – Okay
First 7 games were good with great performances. We were around the top 2 for most of that time and betting favourites to win the league at one point. Slowly started to lose steam and were winless in our last 6 when Dean Smith left us for Aston Villa in October.
Thomas Frank, Dean Smith’s assistant, took over and basically continued with the exact same system that was already in place. He had an unfortunate start, with the death of our very young technical director Robert Rowan clearly affecting the whole club from the staff down to most of the players, who had a good relationship with him. A few key injuries on top of that as well didn’t do him any favours.
He was dangerously close to getting sacked when we picked up only 4 out of 30 possible points in his first 10 matches in charge, which saw us drop down to 19th (3 points above the relegation zone). He then made some big tactical and personal changes and turned it around in late December with a hugely needed home win against Bolton that kickstarted a 10-match unbeaten run with mostly great performances.
With Derby and Bristol City dropping points we started to catch up to the playoff places which seemed impossible in December but still were never really able to gain the full momentum necessary for a playoff charge due to away defeats to teams we would easily have beaten at home (Nott. Forest, Sheff. Wed.) and consecutive losses to Sheffield United (A.) and West Brom (H.) in March.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
Started the season with Dean Smith’s 4-1-2-3 (Transfermarkt has it as a 4-1-4-1 but I don’t like the sound of that) with McEachran as holding midfielder behind Sawyers and MacLeod. This worked well initially but with our fullbacks usually pushing up high and McEachran’s defensive weakness (he is not a natural holding midfielder and struggled off the ball) we were starting to get exposed on the counter attack with our centre backs left isolated too often. We were still moving the ball well and dominated possession though.
We continued playing with this system and only minor personal changes. On top of that we really (and this can’t be understated) struggled at clearing the ball out of our box. There would be at least 5-10 minutes in every match with just calamitous defending against set pieces or crosses from open play which cost us at least one goal every game even if we dominated for the rest of the match.
Once we hit rock bottom in December and Thomas Frank was close to getting the sack, he switched to 3 at the back in a decisive match at home against Bolton. We barely won and kept the new formation since then. It’s a 3-4-3 with 3 centre halves and two central midfielders in Sawyers and Mokotjo.
This allows our wingbacks a lot more freedom to go forward with the double pivot creating from deep and dictating play while at the same time maintaining defensive solidity. The line-up shows our best 11. Unfortunately, Henry is out injured and has been replaced by Odubajo, who is alright but sometimes seems to slow our attack down a little bit by losing possession too often. We also have Sergi Canos who really shouldn’t be sitting on the bench in the Championship as he is absolute quality on both wings and started to fill in for Dalsgaard as right wingback and did a fantastic job there.
u/s0ngsforthedeaf: yeah, the switch to 343 was really crucial and basically the tactical story of the season. Despite previously being considered a 'possession' or 'progressive' team (true), the 4123 began to falter under Frank (Smith wouldve encountered problems had he stayed Im sure). The problem was the midfield 3 simply not doing enough, with McCaechran, as nice technique as he has, not really being an expansive enough playmaker, and having zero physical presence. Teams were soaking up pressure and countering effectively. So while 343 is nominally more 'defensive' soon as it was on the pitch it made sense. The star front 3 can to attack. The fullbacks can roam upfield freely. Sawyers is just better in a midfield 2, he has space to play with and there is less focus on the possession game. The one weakness is depth and experience at centreback, which isnt helped by squad turnover. But the new players will be up for it next season.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
This is a difficult one as we had many absolute top performances this season and some horrendous ones as well.
Personally, I’d say the best moment was either coming back an early 0-2 against Blackburn to win 5-2 or Maupay scoring a deserved late winner against Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in February. Honourable mentions go to our opening match against Rotherham (5-2 win) which was probably the most optimistic I’ve ever seen Griffin Park and beating Middlesbrough away (which we haven’t done since 1938).
Worst moment was definitely the 2-0 defeat away to Hull in December which was Thomas Frank’s 10th game in charge and his 8th defeat. Horrendous defensive performance conceding an early goal which allowed them to sit back and watch us do nothing for 90 minutes.
u/s0ngsforthedeaf: Beating Hull 5-1 was very satisfying, because the front 3 showed what they could do with some accuracy!
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?:
Wigan (A), Swansea (A), Derby (H), Ipswich (H), Reading (A), Millwall (A), Leeds (H), Bolton (A), Preston (H)
Not nervous at all because there’s not really anything to lose here. We are 8 points off playoffs with a game in hand. All but one of our remaining away matches are against teams fighting relegation and with our away record I don’t necessarily see us beating all of them (even though we have the quality to do so).
At home we can beat anyone so ideally, we will pick up maybe 20 points out of our last 9 matches. It will probably be closer to 15 or fewer in reality but if we play at 100% of what we’re capable of then who knows. Thing is we have a lot of teams ahead of us which makes it difficult for us to overtake them all.
Give us about a 10% chance max. of making playoffs. (*Edit - we lost to Swansea midweek...yeah, its over)
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]:
If we somehow make playoffs, we’d be on such a terrific run that I’d actually give us a chance of winning especially if we play Sheffield United who have a similarly bad record at playoffs. About 1% chance of us going up this season.
Finishing position prediction: League prediction is almost impossible with how close it is from 6th to 15th. Reckon in the top half of the table around 10th.
Rival watch and league prediction:
Our two games against QPR sum up both of our seasons perfectly. In November they beat us because we were shit and they were good and in February we beat them because they were shit and we were good. Funny to see how they somehow managed to go on an even worse run of form than we did and are now below us in the table.

14. Swansea City by Lerkot

Manager: Graham Potter
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: People sort of expected the club to give new manager Graham Potter a bit of money to rebuild the team last summer. However, the summer went by and not much happened, and when the transfer window closed most of us agreed that a mid-table finish would be fine as long as we developed our squad and our young players.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: A lot of up and downs. We are mid-table as expected but we have played some very nice football and a lot of our youngsters have proven to be better than we could hope for, while other players have shown that maybe they should have gotten more opportunities in the Premier League. The team seems very harmonic, we have one of the youngest squads in the English league system and seem very humble and hungy and we have one of the best coaches in England.
Outside of the pitch the club is in chaos. We have a very strained relationship to the owners.
While most of us love the current set of players, it is obvious that we are very thin in some positions and the disappointing January transfer window was not worthy of a reasonably big club like Swansea. Kicking the chairman, almost giving away one of our best players to Leeds, letting all of our staff know that they might be fired in the summer, an economical loss of £65m... we have a lot of issues. Any other manager choice, and we could very well have been the new Sunderland. So far it has been a season showing us that the future is both bright and worrying. Players like Connor Roberts, Joe Rodon and Daniel James have gone from being absolutely nothing to playing international football.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: MuldeNordfeldt - Roberts, Rodon, Van der Hoorn, Naughton - Grimes, Fer - James, Celina, Routledge - McBurnie We have played different tactics and used a lot of players but this is probably our strongest lineup not counting Martin Olsson who got injured in December and will miss the rest of the season.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: No, our season is more or less dead. We are very unlikely to reach the playoffs and wont get relegated. I expect good football and hopefully we could climb a few positions and that our players keep developing.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]: The harsh reality is that we will stay in the Championship and since our owners won't invest in the club, we need to sell our best players and invest very litry little. Our very young and very talented team will likely be torn into pieces. It will be a summer of fear rather than hope.
Rival watch and league prediction: We are looking forward to the derby.

15. Stoke City by SekZBoiAlex1986

Manager: Gary Rowett was sacked in December, after that Nathan Jones
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Automatic promotion. With our Premier League team in tact (minus Shaqiri and Ndiaye), the biggest wage bill in the league and over £40m spent in the summer on transfers I don’t think it’s arrogant to say that we had high expectations. We were bookies favourites for a reason.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Well we’re not going to get relegated, so it’s not a total disaster, but this season has been incredibly disappointing. We’ve not clicked at any point. Even during a ten game unbeaten run under Gary Rowett we only won four games.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: I’m not sure where to start here. Our starting line up has been changing all season. Only Jack Butland and Joe Allen have played in every league game.
Neither manager has wanted to play with two strikers, but with so little pace (of passing or movement) in midfield we’ve never been able to dominate games even with an extra man in the middle.
We are totally risk averse and will pass sideways or backwards for eternity rather than attempt a dangerous ball forward (with the exception of Charlie Adam). However we looked different in our last game at home to Sheffield Wednesday. So maybe it’s a sign of things to come.
Best/worst/memorable moments: Best - Beating Derby 2-1 after going down to ten men in the first half
Worst - 0-3 down at home to Wigan in August with Nick Powell looking like Maradona. Absolutely embarrassing. Even this early into the season we started to realise that things weren’t going to plan.
Memorable - 0-2 at home to Bristol City on New Year’s Day. Very toxic atmosphere as Rowett lost the majority of the Stoke fans.
Key stat: We have the fourth best defence and third worst attack in terms of goals scored / conceded. This sums up our problem this season, especially under Rowett. We’ve had very attacking intent resulting in few goals.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Blackburn (A), Swansea (A), Rotherham (H), Middlesbrough (A), Norwich (H), Millwall (A) and Sheff Utd (H)
Considering that we’ve drawn our last four games 0-0 we might as well draw the last seven 0-0 and set a world record.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will:..Not much to stay here with a boring mid-table finish. I can’t wait for the season to end.
Rival watch and league prediction: West Brom are our only historic rival in the league. Whilst I disagree with them sacking Darren Moore I do kind of understand the logic if they had a great replacement in mind... which they don’t. So no promotion for them.
Finishing position prediction: 12th
I think we may squeeze into the top half. Fingers crossed we can rebuild the squad in the summer.

16. Blackburn Rovers no review submitted

17. Queens Park Rangers by Tiggy10

Team, Manager: Queens Park Rangers, John Eustace (Caretaker manager, took over from Steve McClaren April 1st)
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Staying up I suppose? Probably our famed mid-table mediocrity.Anything higher than 16th would have been a bonus. Main focus of the season was to stabilize and develop youth.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far? Well. At the time of writing Shteve is the latest manager to pass through the revolving doors at Loftus Road and I think that just about sums up the season. We've broken some "hoo-doos" which have been a highlight of the season so far but on the whole we've lost a LOT of games and badly, whether that was through bad luck, poor officiation or (and mainly) poor play.
After a dreadful start we hit a purple patch and got carried away with perhaps being a surprise dark horse for a playoff push along with an FA cup run. AN ACTUAL CUP RUN! But being QPR, all hopes were squashed and reality came tumbling down. But here we are with a handful of games to go, looking nervously over our shoulders once again.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: With big losses to our defense in the form of Nedum Onuoha and Jack Robinson we shouldn't have been surprised to see a slight downfall in the quality of our defense. Boy were we wrong. The first few games we were torn apart. Trialling a 4231 for the dismal start and then changing to a standard 442 to achieve our first win of the season. It's difficult to say if the change in form was due to the big signings we had bought in or the new formation, but it worked.
Also a change of keeper from Matt Ingram to Joe Lumley has proved to be instrumental. Gotta feel bad for Ingram, but if you are riddled with mistakes, you aren't going to play much.
It is difficult to pinpoint what the focus of the team is. Wells is a tricky striker who can beat a man, Freeman is the creative outlet and Eze was/is likewise. When big Matt Smith is on, the game plan is simple. Our best starting XI? Bright Osayi-Sammuel misses out here only due to lack of game time, otherwise he can seem like one of the only players giving it his all. Rangel and Cameron have been revelations, we have sorely missed them through injury and as such our performances have suffered without them. Grant Hall has had a torrid time with injury over the last two years and quite frankly has fewer mistakes in him than Joel Lynch. Eze started well but has not achieved the level of expectation the fans had hoped for, who knows why he's tailed off towards the end of the season? He's still very young though, and has a lot to learn.
Best/worst/memorable moments: No prizes for anyone who guessed the shambles at the Hawthorns was the worst moment of the season. Losing 7-1 is quite frankly embarrassing, Enough said.
Highlights would include our cup run. Beating Brentford 3-2 at home. And finally. FINALLY winning at the City Ground 1-0.
Key stat: On average we commit the most fouls per game (14.7) and coincidentally, we've conceded the most penalties this season (7). Poor Timing.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Norwich (A), Millwall (A), Swansea (H), Blackburn (H), Derby (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Sheff Wednesday (A)
Boy I would love to say we can get another point this season but I am skeptical. We couldn't beat Rotherham or Bolton at home. We need a couple of wins to ease the nerves, but at this point in time we may be sweating and looking at results elsewhere to decide our fate.
Despite this though I would not entirely be surprised to nick a point away at Norwich, because we just do stupid things like that when we are in dismal form. I'd much rather go down this season than next. I can't keep doing this skin of your teeth stuff.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you don't you will..if QPR don't get relegated I wouldn't be surprised, we've thankfully got a bit of a cushion. If we do get relegated, quite frankly we deserve it based on 2019 alone with 1 league win, apologies, Leeds.
Predicted League Position: 18th
Rival watch and league prediction: Local rivals Brentford will be here next season, with or without us, I think they've left it a little too late to chase the play-offs, and even if they did make it in I can't see them beating others around them to go to Wembley. It's the teams below us we need to focus on. I think all the teams above us will be fine. The bottom three (Rotherham, Bolton, Ipswich) look set to go down in my opinion.
Going up has got to be Norwich, and fully deserved, stuck with Farke and it has paid off. Good luck in the Prem as champions. Leeds will get second. and Sheff Utd will win play-offs (I cannot believe Washington will be playing for a premiership team).

18. Birmingham City by 2ej

Manager: Garry Monk
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Mid table stability was my hope after two straight season of chaos, both with last day relegation fights. Monk had gotten the players playing at the end of last season and we looked a genuinely good team so just to take that through to this season and not be constantly looking over our shoulders. Then news of a transfer embargo came out which resigned me to another poor season, but why worry about embargo's when you have owners who just sign players anyway?
Mini season review - Calling this season a roller coaster ride is putting it mildly. 0 wins in the first 8 league games was frustrating because we genuinely battered teams in this period. 2-2 opening day of the season against Norwich where Hernandez scored a last second equaliser, goalless draws against Swansea (H) & Sheff Utd (A), 2-0 up away at Forest with 10 minutes to go and only drawing, missing a penalty straight after going 1-0 against WBA. All these made me feel like the season was cursed. Then in our 9th game we beat then league leaders Leeds away 2-1, funny league isn't it? Shortly after this we steamroll teams in October and everything's looking rosy.
Get to November and the wheels fall off ever so slightly. Plagued with injuries and a small squad we lose to Derby, surrender a 2-0 half time lead to Hull ending 3-3 and then lost to the Villa 4-2 where any complaints I had about the officiating were rendered moot after we let Hutton run from what felt like two different postcodes to score the 4th. As has been typical with this season for the most part we bounced back straight away taking 13 of the next 18 points on offer, taking us through Christmas and a real belief that we could sneak in to the top 6.
Then January happened. 2 points from 12, including an absolute lesson in football by Norwich and a last minute equaliser by Swansea in a 3-3 classic which underlined the spirit in the team (1-1 at half time and down to 10 men). Moving in to February we then bounced back again with victories over Forest & QPR, the latter being a 4-3 classic in which Lee Camp saved a last minute penalty. Again we were on the fringes of the top 6 and looking optimistic at an outside shot at the top 6.
Then March happened! (seeing a trend here?) 0 points from 12, more opposition players assaulted than goals scored and the cherry on the delightful sundae is a 9 point deduction for breaching P&S rules, ensuring what was looking like a boring mid table finish is now our annual relegation fight.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Monk has predominantly used a flat 4-4-2 system in which we're happy for other teams to have the ball in their half, but as soon as they start to venture forward they're swarmed by us. Very effective against teams who like to pass it round. When we have the ball the main tactic is to chuck it up to Juke up front and have him hold it up to allow Adams & the wingers to be brought in to play. Monk has experimented with a diamond formation where Jota plays the number 10 in behind the two strikers which was used for the first time against QPR away and caused us to be 4-1 up at half time. This has since been shelved however as we were leaking goals using it. Adams has been getting all the plaudits, and they're fully deserved but Jutkiewicz is my player of the season. The man runs his bollocks off every game for the team and has 10 goals and 10 assists so far, great return from the big man.
Most used team -
Best/worst/memorable moments: Best I've seen us play is easily the first 45 away to QPR, which is also the most memorable moment when Camp saved the penalty in the last minute -
The worst has to be the 0-1 home loss to the Villa, not for the loss itself as you get used to losing to them lot but for what happened on the day.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: WBA (A), Leeds (H), Sheff Utd (H), Ipswich (A), Derby (H), Rotherham (A), Wigan (H), Reading (A)
Horrible next 3 fixtures against 3 of the top 6, and two of the top 3. After that we only have to play 1 team in the top half and even then Derby are in a horrible run of form and it's at home. Not nervous right now as we're good enough to get the bare minimum of 5 points that would pretty much guarantee safety.
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..and if you dont you will.. Promotion is 100% off the table, surviving relegation should be a formality. We will sell Adams in the summer for a fee which should be over 20 million, allowing us to get the P&S monkey off our back and hopefully have a little bet left over for Monk to play with.
Rival watch and league prediction: Villa are storming up the league now Grealish is back, looking at their fixtures I'd expect them to finish top 6 now. Although it may come back to the last 2 games against Leeds & Norwich which won't be easy, they best hope they go up as the P&S boogeyman will be coming. West Brom are stuck in that no mans land where they're guaranteed playoffs but they don't have enough to reach the top 2. I think Norwich & Sheff Utd will get the automatic spots, with Leeds going up through the playoffs.

19. Reading by therealadamaust

Manager: Reading FC - Jose Gomes, who took over from Paul Clement just before Christmas.
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: I was thinking mid table, probably lower mid table. Our signings made me cautiously optimistic, and we started with a good performance against Derby County, despite conceding a last minute winner. Looking back, I realise this was a poor prediction, in that we didn't win a single pre-season game and our signings were actually all pretty poor, with the exception of Andy Yiadom.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far? One word - horrifically, at least until the appointment of Gomes. The rot from last season had truly set in as the club became more and more of a toxic place to be, with a rift developing between not just the club and the fans, but separate groups within the supporter base too. On the pitch, we were playing dire football, and off the pitch our CEO Ron Gourlay proceeded to alienate everyone, tried to grab power, and buddied up with his Chelsea mate Paul Clement before they were both rightfully binned off in December, with the club needing a complete overhaul in the January window.
Since then, it's been the complete opposite with Gomes in charge and Nigel Howe returning as CEO. The support is back, the deadwood is gone, people are happy, and there's even the semblance of an atmosphere at the Madejski. The players want to play, the manager wants to manage, and the supporters want to support, which is something we didn't have with Clement. Combined with much better football and an uptick in form, and everything's all starting to look quite good.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: Under Jose Gomes, we've not really been able to play the players he wants to pick due to being pretty nailed by injuries. As such, I've put this team which seems to be the eleven that Gomes wants to put out. Due to what I shall call an 'unfortunate incident' with Tyrone Mings against Aston Villa followed by a hamstring injury, Oliveira has only featured in six games since joining on loan, and despite results we've definitely missed this focal point in the team, with Meite now usually playing up top and Ovie Ejaria coming in as the wide replacement. We're now characterised as generally good passers of the ball, who like possession but without passing the ball for passing's sake, as we were under previous managers. Instead we try to draw opponents onto us in order to break using the pace of our wide players, supported by a switch to more of a three at the back system with our full backs pushing forwards as we attack, and one of our central midfielders dropping between the two centre backs to provide cover. All in all, we've become a lot harder to beat.
Best/worst/memorable moments: I've picked four moments here, all of which are from the last six weeks or so, with three key victories being followed by a (mostly) dominant performance this weekend against Preston. First of all out of the three was Nelson Oliveira arriving back from surgery like a masked saviour to score a late winner against Blackburn Rovers. We then built on this at the beginning of the month with two crucial games against relegation rivals, with vital late goals from Mo Barrow scoring a 90th minute winner away at Ipswich in a 2-1 victory as well as an 89th minute equaliser the following week, before Yakou Meite netted in the 97th minute to beat Wigan 3-2.
Key stat: We're the best form team in the Championship that isn't part of the top 6, which is rather impressive considering we're in 19th.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?: Hull City (A), Norwich City (A), Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), West Bromwich Albion (H), Middlesbrough (A), Birmingham City (H).
I think that this is one of the hardest run ins that any team in the Championship has to face this season. I'm surprisingly confident about it though - although that's worked out poorly before. We're riding a high and could probably beat anyone on our day.
If you survive relegation you will... Need to carry on with the squad overhaul. Sign some of the loanees on permanent deals, and get rid of the older, unusable players.
If you go down you will... Need to do everything we can to get back up, although I'm not sure how soon that would be. We'd either languish for a while due to not being as good physically as the other teams, or we'd come straight back due to the fact we have some very technically competent players.
Finishing position: 18th or 19th, but comfortably safe from relegation.
Rival watch and league prediction: Ipswich are dead and buried at this point, with Bolton not too far behind, as these court situations will not be helping. Birmingham are in free fall and now in a bit of a relegation scrap with 5 or 6 losses on the spin, but a much better goal difference than the rest of us. I think the final relegation spot will be occupied by Rotherham, though.

20. Wigan by franktortuga

Team, Manager: Wigan Athletic, Paul Cook
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: Our last two season in the Championship (16/17 & 14/15) Wigan were relegated from the Championship. Both times after going down we came back up as League One Champs. The majority of the fans just want us to maintain our Championship status. Due to our takeover in the middle of the season and lack of transfers last summer because of this, staying up this season is so crucial for our clubs future.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?
Oof. Well, 10 games into the season the Latics were in 8th place, with 5 wins, including a 3-0 win over Stoke. Flash forward to now, Latics are in 19th, just 3 points out of relegation and no away wins since Stoke! The winter period saw the Latics lose crucial attacking players in Gavin Massey, Michael Jacobs and more importantly Nick Powell. Who were all instrumental in our 17/18 League One Championship season. The selling of Will Grigg on deadline day is something that most of us don't want to talk about, given our lack of goals all season. Many fans called for Cook's head before the impressive 3-0 win over Villa. Then again after defeats against Reading and Blackburn, things were looking bad before a 5-2 win over Bolton last matchday.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
4-2-3-1, although we have had a few players rotate. Reece James, most notably, has been playing CDM the last few games, with Nathan Byrne on the right. Also, Danny Fox will most likely start taking either Kipre or Chey out, or could slide in LB. We have gone 3 CB's with two wingbacks a few times this season as well.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
Worst moments, the matches against Preston, Blackburn and Brentford, last minute pk winner at Norwich, last minute PK against Forrest. Best moments, 3-0 win at Stoke, 3-0 win over Villa and 5-2 win over Bolton.
Remaining fixtures and expectations - nervous?:
Nervous is an understatement. I believe two wins of the last 8 would keep us safe, around 8 points.
Brentford (H), Bristol City (A), Hull City (A), Norwich (H), Leeds (A), Preston (H), Birmingham (A), Millwall (H)
If you get promoted/survive relegation you will..[and if you don't you will]
If the Latics get relegated I will have to unsubscribe from this subreddit for the 3rd time in 5 years and won't be very happy.
Rival watch and league prediction:
Bolton... not much needs to be said. I think I speak for most football fans when I say I don't want them to go bust. It's a shame to see the state of that club right now our derbys are something we all look forward to.
At this point I think Leeds is going to blow the auto push. I think Norwich and Shef U go up and WBA win playoffs. Rotherham, Bolton and Ipswich to go down.

21. Millwall by Shitta_Than_Shittu

Manager: Neil Harris
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?: After massively overachieving in our first season back in the league, with a late playoff push towards the end of the season, a season of building to consolidate our status as a championship side was the goal. Any expectation of another playoff push was pure fantasy, but a mid table finish seemed like a reasonable aim.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?: Despite an exciting cup run this season has turned out to be a struggle for us, and we've found ourselves deservedly in a relegation battle. An inability to see out games and lack of tactical flexibility for the majority of the season has left us deservedly in a relegation battle, perhaps expectedly when looking at the cost of our team compared to others in the division. Spending most of the season languishing just above the relegation places, a recent downturn in form leaves us just a point above relegation placed Rotherham.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics: We started the season with the 442 that brought us great success last season. However, after selling midfielder George Saville and striker Steve Morison getting on a bit, other teams started to figure us out, and a 442 based on soaking up pressure and quick long ball counters quickly descended into painful and drab hoofball, with a clear lack of a plan b. The return of loaned out midfielder Ben Thompson, from a successful spell at Portsmouth, alongside the return of winger Ben Marshall, on loan from Norwich, allowed us to switch to the 433 which we use now. While we've enjoyed a little more success with it at times, usually playing a pressing game built on quick counters and transitions against the bigger sides. Against smaller sides a lack of identity is evident and games usually quickly turn into a bit of a slog.
Best/worst/memorable moments: In the league, it's difficult to pick a best moment, because there are next to none, we've come short in all of our big games in the league this season, even if it's well hidden by memorable moments such as our cup win against Everton. We've been on the wrong side of a thrilling 4-3 loss to Norwich. The low of this season for sure has to be our 2-1 loss away to Bolton, the moment when relegation started to become a genuine prospect.
Key Stat: Over 25% of our goals conceded this season have come after the 75th minute. This sums our season up perfectly sadly. If games were 75 mins long, we'd be comfortably mid table if not more. Unfortunately an inability to hold onto leads, caused in part by tactical decisions to sit back and absorb pressure late in the game, combined with ineffectual (or lack of) substitutions have cost us dearly this season.
Remaining fixtures and expectations: WBA (H), QPR (H), Sheff Utd (A), Brentford (H), Villa (A), Stoke (H), Bristol City(H), Wigan (A). Not the easiest run in by any means, but we tend to perform better against top half teams, so that may work in our favour. Having won only three games away from home all season, having most of our remaining games is definitely an advantage. The two London derbies against QPR and Brentford, as well as Stoke are games where we need to pick up points if we are to stay in this division. Away games against Sheff Utd and Villa will be a tough ask, so home form will be crucial.
If we get relegated I will...: be fuming. While I can have no complaints if we go down, we won't have deserved to stay up whatsoever, the way in which we go down will be unacceptable. Having thrown away too many late leads, and failed to pick up points in games where we have been the better team, it'll be tough to take and serious questions will need to be asked of the management, even if Harris is a club legend, things could turn bitter should we go down.
Finishing position prediction: 21st
Rival watch and league prediction: Sadly our main division rivals Leeds look like they're on their way to promotion alongside Norwich, the less said about that the better. London rivals QPR and Brentford are both heading towards mid table finishes, QPR in much worse shape than the latter. Norwich and Leeds will most likely finish in the top two, I fancy either Sheff Utd or Bristol City (if they make it) to win the playoffs. We'll probably just have enough to get over the line and survive, which means Rotherham bounce straight back down to League One with Bolton and Ipswich

22. Rotherham no review submitted

23. Bolton Wanderers by rexkwando52

Manager: Phil Parkinson
Hopes/predictions at the beginning of the season?:
After miraculously staying up with 2 goals in the last 2 minutes of the final game of the season, fans were hoping to build on the 21st place finish. There were no hopes of anything higher than mid table, a comfortable season would have been a success if we could avoid looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone. And those hopes were granted.... For the first couple of weeks. This was despite players refusing to play a pre season game at St. Mirren due to unpaid wages and bonuses from the previous year. Something that was to cast a dark shadow over the club in the months to come.
Mini season review - how has it gone so far?
Terrible. A bright start to the campaign fell away fast and the team plummeted through the standings. Some of the absolute worst football we've ever watched came. Averaging around 35% possession most games, negative long ball tactics and goal shy strikers. It really hasn't been good viewing. 3 wins and a draw from the first 4 games saw us high up the table. Then a 3-0 dismantling by Sheffield United saw the wheels fall off. 1 win and 4 draws from the next 18 games with only 9 goals scored before a 2-1 victory over Rotherham on boxing day saw us sink to the bottom. After that, not much else changed and at the time of writing, we sit 8 points adrift with 8 to play.
Best/most used starting 11 and tactics:
I can't really give a best or most used 11 because there hasn't been one. I think Parkinson uses a bingo machine to pick his team as it changes so much every game. Our 'best' player Ameobi has been sub par. Bright players have been polish right back Olkowski and youth midfielder Luca Connell but besides this the team has lacked quality throughout.
Best/worst/memorable moments:
Best moments have been the bright start, beating relegated West Brom 2-1 on opening day, and a 5 goal fa cup win over Walsall where the team looked like they could actually play football. By far the worst moment came in our last outing though, getting thumped 5-2 away at rivals Wigan. It was really the last chance to mount a challenge to stay up and the performance was pathetic.

.... rest of the Bolton and Ipswich (p)reviews in the comments below!

submitted by s0ngsforthedeaf to soccer [link] [comments]

Predicting Promoted Club Survival Rates in the Premier League, based on Championship Performance [OC]


The introduction of the Playoffs has brought added spice to the end of season drama, but some argue that it dilutes the strength of the PL by having potentially weaker teams secure promotion via this method.
I will have a look at this in the post below and discuss how worthy this argument is, amongst some other bits and bobs including taking a look at already Promoted Championship sides from 2016/17 (Newcastle and Brighton). I had a vested interest in this as a Fulham fan, but we are no longer a part of this party, so I am instead looking at the remaining two contenders, in addition to Champions: Newcastle, and Runners Up: Brighton.
Next week's Championship Playoff final will be the 22nd (since the PL became 20 teams), and will be contested between Premier League virgins Huddersfield, and old faeces (that’s right you pieces of shit), Reading who have had the fortune of being promoted as champions in 2005-06 and 2011-12.
I will consider historic promotion data, look to add some weight to old arguments, and hopefully uncover some new stuff along the way. This post will go through some of the stats from this years Championship, and see how they perform when predicting the likelihood of a promoted team becoming established in the Premier League. For the purposes of this piece, I am using the term 'established' to mean a team that achieves 5+ consecutive years in the PL.
So... Here is the full history of promotions:
Season Team Championship Status
2016–17 Newcastle United Winner
2016–17 Brighton Runner-up
2016–17 Reading Playoffs
2016–17 Huddersfield Playoffs
2015–16 Burnley* Winner
2015–16 Middlesbrough Runner-up
2015–16 Hull City Playoffs
2014–15 AFC Bournemouth* Winner
2014–15 Watford* Runner-up
2014–15 Norwich City Playoffs
2013–14 Leicester City* Winner
2013–14 Burnley Runner-up
2013–14 Queens Park Rangers Playoffs
2012–13 Cardiff City Winner
2012–13 Hull City Runner-up
2012–13 Crystal Palace* Playoffs
2011–12 Reading Winner
2011–12 Southampton* Runner-up
2011–12 West Ham United* Playoffs
2010–11 Queens Park Rangers Winner
2010–11 Norwich City Runner-up
2010–11 Swansea City* Playoffs
2009–10 Newcastle United Winner
2009–10 West Bromwich Albion* Runner-up
2009–10 Blackpool Playoffs
2008–09 Wolverhampton Wanderers Winner
2008–09 Birmingham City Runner-up
2008–09 Burnley Playoffs
2007–08 West Bromwich Albion Winner
2007–08 Stoke City* Runner-up
2007–08 Hull City Playoffs
2006–07 Sunderland Winner
2006–07 Birmingham City Runner-up
2006–07 Derby County Playoffs
2005–06 Reading Winner
2005–06 Sheffield United Runner-up
2005–06 Watford Playoffs
2004–05 Sunderland Winner
2004–05 Wigan Athletic Runner-up
2004–05 West Ham United Playoffs
2003-04 Norwich City Winner
2003-04 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up
2003-04 Crystal Palace Playoffs
2002-03 Portsmouth Winner
2002-03 Leicester City Runner-up
2002-03 Wolverhampton Wanderers Playoffs
2001-02 Manchester City* Winner
2001-02 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up
2001-02 Birmingham City Playoffs
2000-01 Fulham Winner
2000-01 Blackburn Rovers Runner-up
2000-01 Bolton Wanderers Playoffs
1999-00 Charlton Athletic Winner
1999-00 Manchester City Runner-up
1999-00 Ipswich Town Playoffs
1998-99 Sunderland Winner
1998-99 Bradford City Runner-up
1998-99 Watford Playoffs
1997-98 Nottingham Forest Winner
1997-98 Middlesbrough Runner-up
1997-98 Charlton Athletic Playoffs
1996-97 Bolton Wanderers Winner
1996-97 Barnsley Runner-up
1996-97 Crystal Palace Playoffs
1995-96 Sunderland Winner
1995-96 Derby County Runner-up
1995-96 Leicester City Playoffs
Anything with a star denotes a team that has been promoted to the Premier League and who have not yet been relegated.

Who are the promotion kings?

Winners Total
Sunderland 4
Newcastle United 2
Reading 2
Sunderland have won the league 4 times since the inception of the playoffs. Watch out next year lol. Newcastle have just secured their second Championship Title. Last time they hung around in the PL for a while... Reading also have 2 titles, including the win in 05-06 which saw them collect the MOST amount of points in a Championship Season (During the Playoff Age) with 106. They hold secured the greatest Goal Difference in a single season with +67.
Runners Up Total
West Bromwich Albion 3
Birmingham City 2
Middlesbrough 2
Boing Boing, the Baggies have been promoted FOUR times, but three of them are as best of the rest.
This year, Brighton have secured the highest Runner-up pts total in Playoff History with 93, matching Burnley's tally as runners up in 2013/14. Incidentally this was also Burnley’s Title winning season haul in 15/16.
Playoff Wins Total
Crystal Palace 3
Hull City 2
Watford 2
West Ham United 2
Palace are the kings of the Playoffs, and have won promotion 3 times via this route. Other sides who favour the Playoffs are Hull (15/16), and West Ham (11/12), who both arrived in the PL via this route for a second time... More on this in a bit..
Team Total Promotions
Sunderland 4
West Bromwich Albion 4
Birmingham City 3
Burnley 3
Crystal Palace 3
Hull City 3
Leicester City 3
Norwich City 3
Watford 3
So in total, there are some common names that have enjoyed plenty of promotion joy since the playoffs were introduced. Palace obviously have benefitted more than anyone, but there are collections of teams who have yo-yo'd between the top 2 divisions.

On Average, how long do promoted teams stay for?

So in the 21 Years of Playoff history that's 63 promotions (21 Winners, 21 Runners up and 21 Playoff Champions), how long do promoted teams last with the big dogs? Let's have a look at the spread..
Length of Stay Total Clubs as %
1 Season 29 47
2 Seasons 8 13
3 Seasons 3 5
4 Seasons 1 2
5+ Seasons 12 18
Not Yet Relegated (NYR) 10 16
Total Promotions 63 -
So yeah you may have guessed it..

What difference does it make where you finish?

Well some would argue that promoted teams are weaker as they finish below the automatic promotion sides. How does this stack up? Well, I looked at the average length of stay for each promotion method, and there is indeed a significant difference...
Postion Average Length of Stay
Winners 3.95
Runner-up 3.67
Playoffs 2.71
So now that we know Championship Winners generally last longer than Playoff winners, let’s take a look and try to understand why?
Some of the metrics that suggest a good side are Goals Scored, Overall Goal Difference, Points, and Goals Conceded. All these metrics give an overall impression of how strong a side is...
I am aware that teams and tactics change, but in the short term i.e. first 1 or 2 seasons following a promotion, these metrics provide an indicator regarding a teams playing style, strengths and weaknesses. Again these do change from one season to the next, but fuck it, let’s have a look anyway cos I already crunched the numbers.


Teams who storm the division usually take a lot of points. But are points an accurate predictor of if a team is likely to avoid the PL trapdoor after promotion?
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2005–06 Reading Winner 106 99 32 67 2
1998-99 Sunderland Winner 105 91 28 63 4
2013–14 Leicester City* Winner 102 83 43 40 4
2009–10 Newcastle United Winner 102 90 35 55 6
2000-01 Fulham Winner 101 90 32 58 13
2001-02 Manchester City Winner 99 108 52 56 15
2002-03 Portsmouth Winner 98 97 45 52 7
1996-97 Bolton Wanderers Winner 98 100 53 47 1
63% success is significantly higher than the 35% average, so pick up lots of points on the way to promotion and you stand a good chance of staying up in the medium to long term. None of this year’s teams have chalked up that many points so we will have to look elsewhere..

Goal Difference

Points are sometimes harder to come by if the division is more competitive. So let’s look at Goal Difference as this can also give an indication of a teams quality. Below are the Top 10 previous GD scores.
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2005–06 Reading Winner 106 99 32 67 2
1998-99 Sunderland Winner 105 91 28 63 4
2000-01 Fulham Winner 101 90 32 58 13
2001-02 Manchester City Winner 99 108 52 56 15
2009–10 Newcastle United Winner 102 90 35 55 6
2014–15 AFC Bournemouth Winner 90 98 45 53 3
2002-03 Portsmouth Winner 98 97 45 52 5+
1996-97 Bolton Wanderers Winner 98 100 53 47 1
2016–17 Newcastle United Winner 94 85 40 45 TBC
2004–05 Wigan Athletic Runner-up 87 79 35 44 8
2009–10 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up 91 89 48 41 7
This years Newcastle side are actually of the GD vintage having achieved the 9th best GD in Championship history (+45) since the inception of the playoffs.. As a result, they make a strong case for avoiding the drop in 2017/18 and also for going on to secure long term top flight status.
Now let’s look at the 10 worst GD scores for sides who have been promoted...
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2009–10 Blackpool Playoffs 70 74 58 16 1
2006–07 Derby County Playoffs 84 62 46 16 1
2007–08 Stoke City Runner-up 79 69 55 14 NYR
2008–09 Burnley Playoffs 76 72 60 12 1
2012–13 Crystal Palace Playoffs 72 73 62 11 NYR
2003-04 Crystal Palace Playoffs 73 72 61 11 1
2004–05 West Ham United Playoffs 73 66 56 10 5+
2012–13 Hull City Runner-up 79 61 52 9 2
1998-99 Watford Playoffs 77 65 56 9 1
1995-96 Leicester City Playoffs 71 66 60 6 5+
2016–17 Reading Playoffs 85 68 64 4 TBC
2016–17 Huddersfield Playoffs 81 56 58 -2 TBC
Basically though, if you can’t do the business at both ends of the pitch, there is a good chance you will be relegated.
You will hopefully notice that at the bottom of the pile are this years Reading and Huddersfield sides.
Whoever wins this game will be promoted with the lowest Goal Difference since the inception of the playoffs. Worrying.
Rather than just looking at GD holistically, let's consider the specifics.

Are you more likely to stay up if you can score bags of goals?

Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2001-02 Manchester City Winner 99 108 52 56 15
1996-97 Bolton Wanderers Winner 98 100 53 47 1
2005–06 Reading Winner 106 99 32 67 2
2014–15 AFC Bournemouth Winner 90 98 45 53 3
2002-03 Portsmouth Winner 98 97 45 52 7
1998-99 Sunderland Winner 105 91 28 63 4
2014–15 Watford Runner-up 89 91 50 41 2
2000-01 Fulham Winner 101 90 32 58 13
2009–10 Newcastle United Winner 102 90 35 55 6
2009–10 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up 91 89 48 41 7
To confirm this, lets look at teams who were promoted with less than impressive scoring records.. If we look at the sides who have been promoted, who averaged less than 1.5 goals per game (69 Total)...
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2010–11 Swansea City Playoffs 80 69 42 27 6
2007–08 Stoke City Runner-up 79 69 55 14 10
2015–16 Hull City Playoffs 83 69 35 34 1
2011–12 Reading Winner 89 69 41 28 1
2016–17 Reading Playoffs 85 68 64 4 TBC
2006–07 Birmingham City Runner-up 86 67 42 25 1
2004–05 West Ham United Playoffs 73 66 56 10 6
1995-96 Leicester City Playoffs 71 66 60 6 6
2007–08 Hull City Playoffs 75 65 47 18 2
1998-99 Watford Playoffs 77 65 56 9 1
2003-04 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up 86 64 42 22 2
2015–16 Middlesbrough Runner-up 89 63 31 32 1
2006–07 Derby County Playoffs 84 62 46 16 1
2012–13 Hull City Runner-up 79 61 52 9 2
2001-02 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up 89 61 29 32 1
2013–14 Queens Park Rangers Playoffs 80 60 44 16 1
1995-96 Sunderland Winner 83 59 33 26 1
2016–17 Huddersfield Playoffs 81 56 58 -2 TBC
2008–09 Birmingham City Runner-up 83 54 37 17 2
This does not read well for these teams..
You will notice this years Playoff sides Reading and Huddersfield, are both in this category...
Huddersfield if promoted, will have the second worst goals scored total in playoff history. It's worth noting there are some REALLY crappy teams on this list.
So OK, I hear some of you say, 'it's not all about scoring goals, defending is the key to staying up'..

"Don't concede, you won't get beat"

Looking at the sides who have been promoted having conceded the most amount of goals, we can see how long they tend to stick around..
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2016–17 Reading Playoffs 85 68 64 4 TBC
2012–13 Crystal Palace Playoffs 72 73 62 11 4
2003-04 Crystal Palace Playoffs 73 72 61 11 1
2008–09 Burnley Playoffs 76 72 60 12 1
1995-96 Leicester City Playoffs 71 66 60 6 6
2009–10 Blackpool Playoffs 70 74 58 16 1
2016–17 Huddersfield Playoffs 81 56 58 -2 TBC
2010–11 Norwich City Runner-up 84 83 58 25 3
1998-99 Watford Playoffs 77 65 56 9 1
If Reading are promoted they will hold the worst defence in promotion history, conceding a whopping 64 goals. Among them for company are the Palace 03-04, and Watford 98-99 teams who both haemorrhaged goals in the PL.
If Huddersfield are promoted they will hold the worst Goal Difference in promotion history since the inception of the playoffs, and will in fact be the only team to ever secure promotion to the Premier League with a NEGATIVE goal difference. They also have T6 worst defence in history of playoffs. Other sides who have been promoted with less than double digit goal differences have all met the same grim fate in the Premier League (barring Leicester’s 95-96 team).

What about teams that are not so porous?

Looking at the very best defences, and teams who concede less than a goal every 1.4 games or '0.7 goals per game':
Season Team Championship Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
1998-99 Sunderland Winner 105 91 28 63 4
2001-02 West Bromwich Albion Runner-up 89 61 29 32 1
2015–16 Middlesbrough Runner-up 89 63 31 32 1
2000-01 Fulham Winner 101 90 32 58 13
2005–06 Reading Winner 106 99 32 67 2
2010–11 Queens Park Rangers Winner 88 71 32 39 2
1995-96 Sunderland Winner 83 59 33 26 1
This is very interesting, as it suggests defensive teams are able to fight off the drop in their first year, but are often found lacking in the second. As a tactic, it appears that 'Keeping it tight' alone is not enough to secure long term PL status.
It is therefore worth noting that although some of these sides had excellent defensive records, they were often lacking going forward. In fact the three sides with the lowest 'Goals For' in this table were all relegated in their first season.
So what does this mean? Well Its fair to say you can’t draw conclusions just from this, however it’s clear that if you concede a lot of goals in the Championship, you will be relegated early on in your Premier League escapade. Likewise, if you can’t score goals, you will struggle to survive. That is why goal scorers are so highly prized... So now let’s take a look at top goal scorers for all the teams who were promoted, and see what role they have played in promotion and how that might predict survival rates..

Top Scorers

Season Status Team Top Scorer Total Team Goals Scored As a % Length of stay
01-02 Winner Manchester City Shaun Goater 32 108 30 5+
03-04 Playoff Crystal Palace Andy Johnson 32 64 50 1
12–13 Playoff Crystal Palace Glenn Murray 30 61 49 5+
97-98 Winner Nottingham Forest Pierre van Hooijdonk 29 82 35 1
99-00 Runner-up Manchester City Shaun Goater 29 78 37 1
00-01 Winner Fulham Louis Saha 27 90 30 5+
11–12 Runner-up Southampton Rickie Lambert 27 81 33 5+
02-03 Winner Portsmouth Svetoslav Todorov 26 97 27 5+
04–05 Runner-up Wigan Athletic Nathan Ellington 25 76 33 5+
08–09 Winner Wolverhampton Wanderers Sylvan Ebanks Blake 25 80 31 3
15–16 Winner Burnley Andre Gray 25 72 35 2
96-97 Winner Bolton Wanderers John McGinley 24 100 24 1
98-99 Runner-up Bradford City Lee Mills 24 82 29 1
99-00 Winner Charlton Athletic Andy Hunt 24 79 30 5+
00-01 Playoff Bolton Wanderers Michael Ricketts 24 76 32 5+
02-03 Playoff Wolverhampton Wanderers Kenny Miller 24 73 33 1
97-98 Playoff Charlton Athletic Clive Mendonca 23 77 30 1
98-99 Winner Sunderland Kevin Phillips 23 91 25 4
00-01 Runner-up Blackburn Rovers Matt Jansen 23 76 30 5+
16–17 Winner Newcastle United Dwight Gayle 23 85 27 TBC
16–17 Runner-up Brighton Glenn Murray 23 74 31 TBC
99-00 Playoff Ipswich Town David Johnson 22 71 31 2
11–12 Playoff West Ham United Ricardo Vaz Te 22 69 32 5+
10–11 Runner-up Norwich City Grant Holt 21 71 30 3
95-96 Runner-up Derby County Dean Sturridge 20 66 30 5+
95-96 Playoff Leicester City Iwan Roberts 20 59 34 5+
02-03 Runner-up Leicester City Paul Dickov 20 81 25 1
13–14 Winner Leicester City David Nugent 20 83 24 4
13–14 Runner-up Burnley Sam Vokes 20 72 28 1
14–15 Winner AFC Bournemouth Callum Wilson 20 98 20 3
14–15 Runner-up Watford Odion Ighalo 20 91 22 2
15–16 Playoff Hull City Abel Hernandez 20 63 32 1
07–08 Winner West Bromwich Albion Kevin Phillips 19 88 22 1
10–11 Winner Queens Park Rangers Adel Taarabt 19 83 23 2
13–14 Playoff Queens Park Rangers Charlie Austin 19 60 32 1
96-97 Playoff Crystal Palace Bruce Dyer 18 76 24 1
04–05 Playoff West Ham United Teddy Sheringham 18 66 27 5+
05–06 Winner Reading Kevin Doyle 18 99 18 2
10–11 Playoff Swansea City Scott Sinclair 18 69 26 5+
14–15 Playoff Norwich City Cameron Jerome 18 88 20 1
16–17 Playoff Reading Yann Kermorgant 18 68 26 TBC
96-97 Runner-up Barnsley Neil Redfearn 17 78 22 1
09–10 Winner Newcastle United Andy Carroll 17 90 19 5+
04–05 Winner Sunderland Marcus Stewart 16 79 20 1
09–10 Playoff Blackpool Charlie Adam 16 74 22 1
15–16 Runner-up Middlesbrough David Nugent 8 63 12 1
97-98 Runner-up Middlesbrough Mikkel Beck 15 80 19 5+
01-02 Playoff Birmingham City Tommy Mooney 15 61 25 3
05–06 Runner-up Sheffield United Ade Akinbiyi 15 77 19 1
07–08 Playoff Hull City Frazier Campbell 15 65 23 2
03-04 Winner Norwich City Darren Huckerby 14 79 18 1
05–06 Playoff Watford Darius Henderson 14 76 18 1
06–07 Runner-up Birmingham City Gary McSheffrey 14 67 21 1
07–08 Runner-up Stoke City Ricardo Fuller 14 69 20 5+
95-96 Winner Sunderland Craig Russell 13 71 18 1
09–10 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Chris Brunt 13 89 15 5+
06–07 Winner Sunderland David Connolly 12 76 16 5+
16–17 Playoff Huddersfield Elias Kachunga 12 56 21 TBC
03-04 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Lee Hughes 11 72 15 2
08–09 Runner-up Birmingham City Kevin Phillips 11 72 15 2
98-99 Playoff Watford Gifton Noel-Williams 10 65 15 1
01-02 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Scott Dobie 10 70 14 1
08–09 Playoff Burnley Martin Paterson 10 54 19 1
12–13 Runner-up Hull City George Boyd 10 72 14 2
11–12 Winner Reading Noel Hunt 8 85 9 1
12–13 Winner Cardiff City Aron Gunnarsson 8 73 11 1
06–07 Playoff Derby County Arturo Lupoli 7 62 11 1
Quite obviously at the top of the table you can see a lot of teams have a length of stay of 5+ years and you would be right to assume that this means, if you have a goal scorer, you will score more goals and your chances of survival will be greatly improved.
We covered this from a team aspect in 'goals for' but this doesn't always tell the full story. Some teams are heavily reliant on one player for their goals and some spread them amongst the side.
In the above table, there is a column "% of goals". This represents the percentage of the teams goals scored by the top scorer. A higher percentage means the team were more reliant on the striker, a lower percentage means the team were not so reliant on the player.

Sides that are heavily reliant on a single goal scorer

Season Status Team Top Scorer Total Team Goals Scored As a % Length of stay
03-04 Playoff winner Crystal Palace Andy Johnson 32 64 50 1
12–13 Playoff winner Crystal Palace Glenn Murray 30 61 49 5+
99-00 Runner-up Manchester City Shaun Goater 29 78 37 1
97-98 Winner Nottingham Forest Pierre van Hooijdonk 29 82 35 1
15–16 Winner Burnley Andre Gray 25 72 35 2
95-96 Playoff winner Leicester City Iwan Roberts 20 59 34 5+
Those with a keen eye will notice Palace have appeared in there twice with quite a difference in outcomes.. We can take a look at their two promotion seasons..
Season Team Status Champ Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2012–13 Crystal Palace Playoffs 72 73 62 11 NYR
2003-04 Crystal Palace Playoffs 73 72 61 11 1
Their performance was REMARKABLY similar.. Amassing almost exactly the same number of points, GF, GA, GD and Top scorer total and % of team goals. Maybe their PL performance will shed some light..
Season Team PL Status Pts GF GA GD Length of Stay
2004-05 Crystal Palace Relegated 33 41 62 -21 1
2013-14 Crystal Palace Survived 45 33 48 -15 NYR
Palace picked up 12 more points by conceding 14 fewer goals… So yes, as above, shut up shop in your first season and you really do improve your chances.

What about teams who have a 'goal scorer' but are not reliant on just that 1 player for Goals?

When you look at teams who have a goal scorer who nets at least 25, but where these goals amount to no more than 1/3 of the teams goals:
Season Status Team Top Scorer Total Team Goals Scored As a % Length of stay
11-12 Runner-up Southampton Rickie Lambert 27 81 33 5+
04–05 Runner-up Wigan Athletic Nathan Ellington 25 76 33 5+
08–09 Winner Wolverhampton Wanderers Sylvan Ebanks Blake 25 80 31 3
01-02 Winner Manchester City Shaun Goater 32 108 30 5+
00-01 Winner Fulham Louis Saha 27 90 30 5+
02-03 Winner Portsmouth Svetoslav Todorov 26 97 27 5+
Both Brighton and Newcastle have strikers who should have hit that mark this year (Glenn Murray and Dwight Gayle, both 23 Goals, 30% and 27% respectively), so maybe we should expect both these sides to mount a strong challenge when it comes to survival, and actually going on beyond the 1st season. Brighton will however, no doubt be handicapped by the fact Glenn Murray will turn 34 next year.

What about when teams spread the goals around?

When you consider teams who have a top scorer who contributes less than 1/4 of the teams goals, you can identify those teams who 'share goals around'.

How many goals does a teams top scorer need in order to have a realistic impact on survival?

Season Status Team Top Scorer Total Team Goals Scored As a % Length of stay
09–10 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Chris Brunt 13 89 15 5+
11–12 Winner Reading Noel Hunt 8 85 9 1
97-98 Runner-up Middlesbrough Mikkel Beck 15 80 19 5+
03-04 Winner Norwich City Darren Huckerby 14 79 18 1
05–06 Runner-up Sheffield United Ade Akinbiyi 15 77 19 1
06–07 Winner Sunderland David Connolly 12 76 16 5+
05–06 Playoffs Watford Darius Henderson 14 76 18 1
12–13 Winner Cardiff City Aron Gunnarsson 8 73 11 1
08–09 Runner-up Birmingham City Kevin Phillips 11 72 15 2
03-04 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Lee Hughes 11 72 15 2
12–13 Runner-up Hull City George Boyd 10 72 14 2
95-96 Winner Sunderland Craig Russell 13 71 18 1
01-02 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion Scott Dobie 10 70 14 1
07–08 Runner-up Stoke City Ricardo Fuller 14 69 20 5+
15–16 Runner-up Middlesbrough David Nugent 8 69 12 1
06–07 Runner-up Birmingham City Gary McSheffrey 14 67 21 1
07–08 Playoffs Hull City Frazier Campbell 15 65 23 2
98-99 Playoffs Watford Gifton Noel-Williams 10 65 15 1
06–07 Playoffs Derby County Arturo Lupoli 7 62 11 1
01-02 Playoffs Birmingham City Tommy Mooney 15 61 25 3
16–17 Playoffs Huddersfield Elias Kachunga 12 56 21 TBC
08–09 Playoffs Burnley Martin Paterson 10 54 19 1
This doesn't bode well for Huddersfield, as their top scorer has only 12 Goals this year.
Reading are better off with Kermorgant who has netted 18 times, but this is some way off an outstanding return.
*Basically, if you share the goals around too much, you nulify your threat. If you rely too heavily on one player, you risk becoming sterile. If you rely too heavily on one player and they do not score enough, you are proper fucked.

What about the argument that "first timers are Naive to the Premier League"?

Let’s look at teams who were promoted for the first time. In doing this, I have excluded teams that were in Premier League prior to achieving their first promotion.. So teams like Newcastle, Palace & Blackburn who were all in the PL but were promoted after being relegated are not included as they are not true 'first timers'.
So looking at 'True First Timers', there is a rather interesting split.
Season Status Team Length of stay
2016–17 Runner-up Brighton TBC
2016–17 Playoff winner Huddersfield TBC
2014–15 Winner AFC Bournemouth NYR
2012–13 Winner Cardiff City 1
2010–11 Playoff winner Swansea City NYR
2009–10 Playoff winner Blackpool 1
2008–09 Playoff winner Burnley 1
2007–08 Runner-up Stoke City NYR
2005-06 Winner Reading 2
2004–05 Runner-up Wigan Athletic 5+
2002-03 Winner Portsmouth 5+
2002-03 Playoff winner Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
2001-02 Runner-up West Bromwich Albion 1
2000-01 Winner Fulham 5+
1998-99 Runner-up Bradford City 1
1998-99 Playoff winner Watford 1
1997-98 Playoff winner Charlton Athletic 1
1996-97 Winner Bolton Wanderers 1
1996-97 Runner-up Barnsley 1
1995-96 Runner-up Derby County 5+
1995-96 Winner Sunderland 1
There have been a total of 19 'First Timers' since the inception of the playoffs... 20 if you include Brighton this year, and it will climb to 21 if Huddersfield can secure promotion..
It is true then, that First Timers are at a higher risk of being relegated straight away. First Timers are however, no less likely to go on and become an established PL side, so there is cause for optimism amongst next years virgins..
Brighton Fans can look to Stoke City as the model for 'True First-Timers' establishing themselves in the PL after being runners up in the Championship.
Huddersfield Fans can only really turn to Swansea City for inspiration when looking at noob teams who have established themselves in the PL via the playoffs.
Huddersfield fans may also be alarmed when they look at other first timers who have been promoted via the playoffs.. Every other team besides Swansea have been relegated at the first attempt. Amongst them are the horrid Watford side who were relegated from the PL in 1999-00 with a then record low pts tally.

How well does this model perform on 2015/16 promoted teams?

Burnley - 15/16 Champions: Andre Gray Top Scored with 23 (31.9%) of Burnley's total goals (72), but he actually got 25 for the season as he scored 2 for Brentford. Whilst they did not score sackfulls of goals, Burnley had a healthy Goal Difference (+37), so under the model above you would expect them to make a case for survival. They did in fact manage to stay up.
Middlesbrough - 15/16 Runners Up: David Nugent Top scored for Boro with a lowly 8 (12%) of Boro's total Goals (69). Whilst they had a very strong defensive record, they did not score enough goals in the Championship, and that was ultimately their undoing in the PL this year. The model would have predicted that Boro would be relegated, and again it would have been correct.
Hull - 15/16 Playoffs: Were always in danger as the Playoff team, and had a reasonable GD ratio. Again, Hull did not rip up the record books with their goal scoring (Only managed 69) but were not overly reliant on Abel Hernandez who scored 20 (28%) of their total. As Hull simply did not score enough, and were coming up through the playoffs, this would have been a marginal call. Given the data behind playoff teams success rates, the lack of Goals Scored and with an 'Average' Top scorer, it probably would have plumped for Hull to be relegated.
At the risk of Over simplifying this, there is a strong case for 'Scoring Goals' as the number 1 predictor of if a team is likely to stay up, and become an established PL side

What does this mean for the 2016/17 promoted clubs?

Newcastle are in a strong position, and history/form suggests that they will go on and gain a foothold in the PL. There is only a small chance they will be relegated based on their league finish, Total Goal scored, % of team goals scored by top scorer, and given their history as a PL side. Make no mistake, this is a very good Newcastle side, who should go on and become a fully fledged PL outfit over the next few years.
Brighton are well positioned to make a really good go at staying in the PL beyond 1 year. Yes they are a first time visitor, but first timers can go on to establish in the PL. Generally Runners up perform similarly to Champions, so given that this Brighton side matched the previous best tally achieved by a Runner Up, and were only a point behind Newcastle, the signs are there that this is a decent team. They were reliant on Glenn Murray more than Newcastle relied on Gayle, but not enough to make them one dimensional. Glenn Murray's age is a concern, but he done the business for Palace when landed in the PL in 13/14.
Reading and Huddersfield are both in for a whole lot of pain, whoever goes up. Neither side have a strong Goal Difference which suggests that they will struggle to pick up many points next year. History does not favour teams from the playoffs either, and with Reading holding the worst defence in the history of promoted teams, I would not bet against them going straight back down. Alarmingly Huddersfield have not scored anywhere near enough goals to make them look anything like staying longer than 1 year in the PL. Neither side have scored enough goals, and this is a big worry. It is possible if Huddersfield win promotion, they could go down with a record low points total. Whoever goes up, I would say, make an almost irrefutable case for coming straight back down.
So in summary, the Playoffs, although exciting, more often than not provide the Premier League with fodder. Good luck to the Playoff finalists next week. You both are sure as fuck gonna need it.
1. Points are not the only indicator of how successful promoted teams are/will be in the PL.
2. Teams who score lots of goals, but are not overly reliant on 1 striker tend to do very well in the PL.
3. Teams who concede a lot of goals in the Championship do badly in the PL.
4. Teams with strong Championship defences are able to survive in the PL in the Short Term but do not stay for long if they cannot score.
5. Teams that win the Championship are more likely to not only survive in the PL, but also to go on and prosper.
6. Playoff Teams are more likely to be relegated at the first attempt and are much less likely to go on and have a prolonged stay in the PL.
7. Newcastle have a VERY strong chance of staying up. They are well positoned to go on and become an established PL side.
8. Brighton have a good chance of staying up next year and are also in with a good chance of becoming an established PL side.
9. Reading and Huddersfield are both well and truly fucked.
Disclaimer: I might have just made this entire post to make myself and other Fulham fans feel better about not achieving promotion this year. There were some alarm bells that I should have heard ringing (lack of a top quality goal scorer in particular) that I perhaps underestimated as a fan.
All in all, it will look as though this is the most amount of effort anyone has ever made to rub salt in a winners face, and yeah you'd probably be right. What you gonna do?
EDIT: Please also allow me to draw attention to my Previous post "An Analysis of English Football League Managers based on Previous Pedigree as a Professional" which predicted that Newcastle and Brighton would be promoted... although this was after half a season...I also plumped for spurs in that post... so don't believe everything you read on the Internet kids.
EDIT 2: Thanks to anon who gilded this within 10 minutes of it being posted.
EDIT 3: Holy shit double gold! Thanks Anon!
EDIT 4: WTF?! Guys it's already been gilded! STOP! .. I dont want a snoovatar!!
EDIT 5: 5x Gold. I have officially peaked.
EDIT 6: Guys What the hell seriously. Went out to walk the dog and this got gilded 4 more times!! 9 Golds? I'm like Usain Bolt or something
EDIT 7: Well .. I am lost for words. This post has been gilded 10 times, making it (I think) the second highest gilded post of all time in soccer, only 1 behind Leicester City are Premier League Champions which got 11. I don't know what else to say..
Thanks to everyone for the gold, the karma and for all the comments and support!
Choose Love.
submitted by Cheapo_Sam to soccer [link] [comments]

/r/Championship's Championship club by club season preview - part 1!

Part 2 here - Part 3 here - Part 4 here

On Friday at 8pm UK time, Reading and Derby County will kick off the 127th season of the English second division - also known as the Championship! 24 clubs will compete for 3 promotion spots to the Premier league (2 via automatic promotion and 1 via playoffs) and to avoid the 3 relegation spots to the third tier a.k.a League One.

Its looking like a really tight and competitive season. The league is absolutely full of ambitious player and managerial talent - the more time goes by the more it looks like a Premier League 2. If you want a competitive league with proper English football, that also has the spice of skilful players and forward thinking managers, it really is the place to go.

This is guide written by the fans who have come together on /Championship - an absolutely huge thanks to them. Do check out the sub, we try to keep it a good place to discuss the EFL, away from the rancid gloryhunting shithole that is /soccer (just kidding - I like this place). Lots going on, including a score predictor thread which is running all season.

This guide is in table order with the PL demoted sides first. Only 5 clubs today (because the Swansea one is a fucking novel and I can't fit any more in), the rest will be submitted tomorrow and Friday. Do bare in mind that not all the transfer news will be up to date as these guides were largely written a week ago. Point out to me if there are any clear errors with formatting or spelling.

Championship info, links and media

/Championship's 17/18 player of the season review

Season previews: The Guardian | Sky Sports | The Mirror
EFL focused podcasts: Not the Top 20 | The Totally Football League Show
The 17/18 table - Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham went up. Barnsley, Burton and Sunderland went down. This season West Brom, Swansea and Stoke join from the PL and Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham join from League 1.
These are the bookies' favourites for promotion (via Oddschecker):
Club Odds
Stoke 2.75
Middlesbrough 4
West Brom 4
Nottingham Forest 4.5
Leeds 4.75
Swansea 5
And relegation:
Club Odds
Rotherham 2.2
Bolton 2.25
Ipswich 4.5
Reading 5
Hull 6
How to watch in the UK: Live rights are owned by Sky Sports. They are upping the number of televised matches this season. Reading v Derby on Friday is televised. The weekly highlights show previously on Channel 5 is moving to Quest TV, which apparently is on Freeview.
How to watch abroad: Depends, but in most territories, the iFollow Service is available, which is £110 to watch all a single club's matches. Bargain. I think the clubs that aren't on iFollow have their own similar streaming services.
Check out club Youtube channels - quite a few of them post extended highlights now with their own commentary, including Derby, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford and more. (You may need VPN to watch if you're abroad.)

Swansea City by RafiakaMacakaDirk and my_knob_is_gr8

Location: Swansea, Wales
Nickname: Swans, The Jacks
Major honours: Football League Cup (2013), Championship Play-off Winner (2011), League One Winners (1925, 1949, 2008)
17/18 finishing postion: 18th (Premier League)
Transfermarkt squad value: €115.5 mil NOTE: This number is as of July 22nd, when we still have Mawson (€15 mil), A. Ayew (€15 mil), Bony (€10 mil), Clucas (€8 mil) and Fernandez (€8 mil), who are all pretty much expected to be sold, or loaned out, before the season starts. Without all of these players except Bony (who's injured for a while so it makes it unlikely he'll be sold soon), the squad value would be around €70 mil.
Manager: Graham Potter joined the Swans on 11th June 2018. In 2010, he became head coach of Östersund, who were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. 5 years later, he got the club promoted into the Swedish top flight and in 2017, they won Svenska Cupen which qualified them for the Europa League where they managed to get through the group stage. He’s been applauded for what he did at Östersund and the way he managed to build the club up from nothing. The year after his success in the Europa league he signed a 3 year contract with Swansea.
Potter is well respected by The Swans and after a few years of poor managerial and financial decisions his appointment is seen as a step in the right direction to bringing us back to our old ways of being a well-run club. Potter has been recognised for his "progressive" and "unconventional" coaching methods. At Östersund, he encouraged his players and staff to engage in community activities, such as performing in theatre and music productions which was designed to take them out of their comfort zone. Potter describes his style of football on the pitch as "tactically flexible, attacking, and possession-based". At Östersund, he deployed a flexible 3–5–2 formation centred on ball possession.
Best player(s)/ talisman:With many of our best players being rumoured with a move away what good players that remain at the start of the season is yet to be seen.
Alfie Mawson is probably our standout player. He’s been amazing for us since we got him and was a bargain at about £3m. He’s great in the air and is just an all round tank. Keeping him will be a huge boost for us and should be solid in the championship.
Federico "El Pajaro" Fernandez has also been strong at the back with Alfie. The pair played with each other for the majority of last season and together became a solid unit. We will most likely sell him to reduce wages though.
Jordan Ayew put in a great shift last season and was our top goal scorer. His work rate was immense and was able to drop back and defend when needed. He’s fast, able to beat a man and a decent finisher. Sadly all these players are transfer targets for other clubs and might not even be here at the start of the season. If we can keep a lot of our players we should have a decent season but who knows who'll be left by the end of the window…
Rising star: Swansea’s U23 had a great season last year and with Potter wanting a young and fresh squad, a handful have moved up into the first team.
Our standout youngster, Oliver McBurnie, joined Barnsley on loan in January last season where he went on to win a Championship player of the month award after 6 goals in 8 games and went on to win Barnsley’s Player of the year award. While only 22, he’s struggled to break into our first team but will most likely be our main striker for the coming season. Be on the lookout for his long legs, miniature shinpads and ridiculous sock length! LEGS LEGS LEGS!!!
Connor Roberts performed well at RB last season and adapted quickly to the premier league where he battled Kyle Naughton to be in the starting line up and did great when given the chance. Decent at going forward and professional at the back. Hopefully potter puts him ahead of Naughton.
What happened last season?: What Happened last season?: After our great escape the season before and with Paul Clement at the helm there was optimism that the 17/18 season could be our turning point where we start rebuilding 'The Swansea Way". How wrong we were.
After a disastrous transfer window where we sold Sigurdsson and never replaced him and started panic buying the week before the transfer window closed we were left an obvious hole in our team. We had no creativity in midfield and no one could kick the ball into the box to save their life. And just to rub it in further Renato Sanches turned out to be more disappointing than Bob Bradley. With the team sitting bottom of the table Clement was sacked in late December.
Then along came the wise talking Carlos Carvalhal who managed to rebuild the confidence the team had lost. Our results took a turn for the good, beating Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham consecutively at home. He pulled us out of the relegation zone and things were looking good. However, the good times were quickly followed by the bad times. Our form turned and we didn’t win a single one of our last 9 matches. We were quickly relegated after pitifully losing to both Southampton and Stoke in our last 2 games of the season.
Highlights (Or lowlights):
The pass by Renato Sanches that summed up his and our season
Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal
Summer transfer business (so far): At the end of last season, it was clear we needed several transfers, both in and out. However, this would all depend on the manager we got.
Yan Dhanda (Free, Liverpool): A 19 year-old Midfielder, Yan Dhanda left Liverpool this summer and joined the Swans in a free, before we even hired Graham Potter. At one time one of the most promosing youngsters in Liverpool's Academy, injuries slowed down his progress, and ultimately made him fall behind other players. Citing lack of first-team playing time, Dhanda decided to join us this summer in hopes of getting regular playing time in the senior squad. Through 3 pre-season games, Dhanda has been one of the brighest and most impressive players in the squad, even scoring a game-winning goal and smashing a penalty in a shootout against Genoa. With our current injuries and shenanigans involved in our midfield, Dhanda has a good chance of becoming a starter and hopefully guide our midfield during the season.
Jordi Govea (Free, Real Madrid): Another 19 year-old from Ecuador, Jordi was the first signing under Potter. Not much can be said about the lad, but this is what Real Madrid had as his bio:
Jordi is an Ecuadorian defender who possess three key qualities for a player in his position: he's skilful, is able to go past a player and has a good shot on him. He's left footed and is able to send in good crosses on the run.
With Martin Olsson currently as our starting LB, and Kyle Naughton as the backup, the hope is that Jordi can develop on our U-23 squad and hopefully move up to the senior squad in coming years. Also the only man I've seen do a medical while wearing jeans (
Joel Asoro (€2 mil., Sunderland): Yet another 19 year-old, a Swedish winger who has represented his country in the younger levels, he was Potter's first senior signing. With world-class speed, and some impressive skills, Asoro was able to score 3 goals and get 2 assists last season in 26 apperances for Sunderland. While these numbers may seem a bit disappointing, many of these games were sub appearances on a very dysfunctional team. Along with Dhanda, Asoro has been one of the most impressive players during preseason, constantly beating his man with either speed or skills, and whipping in good balls to Legs. At the current rate, Asoro appears to have a good chance of starting on the right wing spot, with Nathan Dyer and Luciano Narsingh backing him up.
Predicted starting XI: NOTE: This is gonna be assuming Mawson, A. Ayew, Clucas, and Fernandez are all sold by the start of the season. If by some reason they end up staying, they are pretty much guaranteed to start. Based on the pre-season games so far, a lineup looking like this would be plausible, with Rodon most likely to be replaced by a CB (possibly Scott McKenna) when we buy one. Our second unit is looking something like this.
Best case scenario: Graham Potter is able to motivate and make sure our senior players (Fer, Carroll, etc.) stay fit, along with our youngsters being able to make an impact as expected, and also we retain Mawson, Fernandez, and Clucas, we can finish in the top 2 and get promoted automatically.
Worst case scenario: Our worst case scenario, and something many of us fear of happening, consists of primarily 3 things. 1. Graham Potter isn't given enough time to build an identity with our squad and is sacked by the midway point of the season by the greedy, dumb American owners. . 2. We end up not replacing the players we sold properly like last summer, therefore having a squad with holes everywhere and no chemistry. 3. Our youngsters such as Asoro, McBurnie, Dhanda and company don't pan out and progress at all, thefore becoming mediocre players. This would all culminate in us looking like Sunderland, and making relegation a probability.
Prediction: Realistically I see us selling Mawson and company in the last days before the season starts and not replacing them properly until later on. Because of this, as well as our current injuries with Fer and Clucas, I can see us initially struggling to build an identity but over time, we will start playing like Potter wants us and finishing the season strongly.
8th place, missing the play-offs by 4 points
What will happen to your closest rivals?: The scum that is known as Cardiff City will break the record for lowest points ever accumulated in a Premier League season, getting 5 points all from draws, and will therefore get relegated with 17 games to spare.

West Bromwich Albion by Joelwba

Location: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, West Midlands
Nickname: The Baggies, The Throstles
Major honours: 1x League title, 1x League Cup, 5x FA Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 20th in Premier League (relegated)
Transfermarkt squad value: £101.16m
Manager: Darren Moore or Big Dave as he's known to Albion fans. A club icon as a player in the early 2000s, he returned to look after our U23 squad before being promoted to assistant manager by Alan Pardew in January. Following the end of Pardew's horrific reign, Moore took temporary charge with Albion facing inevitable relegation. He led us to wins over Newcastle, Spurs, Man Utd and a draw with Liverpool, somehow taking our futile battle for survival to the final week of the season. Following this he earned the head coach role permanently. Moore is loved among the Albion faithful, largely due to his reputation as a player here. He heavily favours a 4-4-2 formation and at the back end of last season, tended to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how his approach differs in a league where we are one of the favourites, not fighting to survive (hopefully)
Best player(s)/ talisman: It's an interesting situation for Albion currently. There are plenty of Premier League quality players still in the squad. A lot depends on if they are picked off before the deadline shuts. Chris Brunt is a club stalwart and likely to be reappointed as captain. He is adored by the fans and in my opinion will be an incredible asset in the championship. His set pieces alone will bring 10+ goals to the side. Kieran Gibbs is a high quality player who appears to be set to stay and should make a big difference. Jay Rodriguez, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli should all make a big difference in this division IF they stay. In all honesty I expect to lose a few of the above. Sam Johnstone appears to be an astute signing to replace the outgoing Ben Foster.
Rising star: Sam Field he's one of our own! He looked completely at home against some of the top Premier League sides last campaign. A box-to-box midfielder, he's full of energy and looks so comfortable on the ball. I expect him to be a major part of our side this season, having just signed a new long-term deal.
Kyle Edwards is an exciting attacking midfielder who has been impressing in pre-season. He may have a part to play following a loan spell at Exeter last campaign.
Jonathon Leko looked like a potential world-beater when he first came through a couple of years back. A lightning quick winger full of tricks. A loan spell at Bristol City and limited appearances later he seems to be losing his way. Will be an interesting one to watch.
Finally, the enigma that is Olly Burke. After signing with us last summer for £15m, he failed to impress any of the four managers we had over the season. He looks exciting when he comes on, without any end product so far, and was unfairly blamed for a loss at West Ham by Alan 'Coward' Pardew. We all know the talent he's got. Hopefully we can see it this season.
What happened last season?: Let's not talk about it... We finally escaped the stranglehold of Tony Pulis, only to opt for the human joke that is Alan Pardew and duly hurtled towards relegation. Four of our players stole a taxi and then played (and lost) the following weekend.
Pardew was sacked about 3 months too late, and Moore took over, restoring pride with some notable wins over Man Utd and Spurs.
This season we also lost the great Cyrille Regis, and the outpouring of emotion and the coming together of the club during the weeks after his passing was something special.
Summer transfer business (so far): We started by releasing Claudio Yacob, Boaz Myhill and Gareth McAuley. Yacob and McAuley will be greatly missed but it is perhaps the right time for them to go.
Jonny Evans departed for Leicester for a cut-price £3m, Ben Foster left for Watford and James McClean has departed for Stoke City.
Sam Johnstone has been bought in to replace Foster, with Jonathon Bond arriving as backup. Kyle Bartley has joined from Swansea City and it appears that Harvey Barnes will soon be arriving on loan from Leicester.
Finally, James Morrison is currently out of contract but still with the club. His future is uncertain.
I am very happy with Johnstone and Bartley. It has been a quiet window for Albion so far but that is largely a good thing. The squad is packed with Premier League talent and the window is more about keeping hold of them.
There is major interest in Dawson and Rondon, along with interest in Rodriguez, Hegazi and Chadli. If any of the above go, then we would need to replace. Otherwise I would be happy with another striker and another CB.
It is also worth mentioning that every player in the Albion side suffered a 50% wage cut upon relegation which means that we are financially sound despite relegation, but may lead to more big names leaving.
Predicted starting XI: This is my best attempt. It will undoubtedly be 4-4-2. We may see Nyom in at right back and perhaps Barry in for Field.
Obviously about half of this side could leave, so we shall see.
Best case scenario: The bulk of the side remains and the quality in the side shines through as we breeze to automatic promotion.
Worst case scenario: The better players leave or do not put the effort in. Moore cannot transfer his great start into his first full season in management. We become embroiled in a relegation battle
Prediction: It will be somewhere in the middle. I'd like to think we'll go up automatically but I think play-offs are more likely. 6th
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Villa won't go down but will settle into mid-table, despite the recent takeover.
I think Wolves will do well in the PL, although I don't know how long Nuno will last before a big club comes in.

Stoke City by mrmariomaster

Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Nickname: The Potters
Stadium: bet365 Stadium, 30,089 seats
Major honours: 1972 League Cup
17/18 finishing position: 19th, Premier League
Squad value: £127.8 million
Manager: Gary Rowett signed from Derby in May. His honest attitude has brought lots of optimism to fans, who are looking forward to an overhaul of the Club. His style of play seems to change based on the squad he has available.
Best Player: Joe Allen was vital to the Club last season, giving us hope that we would avoid relegation. His massive new contract signed this summer shows how loyal and committed to the Club he is, and will be a vital player this season.
Rising star: Tom Edwards is a local lad who has won the Under 18 Player of the Year award twice in the Club. In the latter parts of last season he played some good first team football.
What happened last season: A pathetic attempt at a season that had been coming for a while under Mark Hughes. Paul Lambert was appointed in January, but a win rate of just 2 in 15 matches wasn’t enough for him to keep his job and miss out on the million pound bonus offered to him.
Transfer business so far: So far this has been a decent transfer window. Peter Etebo had an amazing World Cup for Nigeria and Benik Afobe looks really promising. Adam Federici has also been appointed to replace Lee Grant. Xherdan Shaqiri has left along with a few players like Stephen Ireland and Glen Johnson who will not be missed. Badou Ndiaye also looks to be on his way out, but it looks like Jack Butland will stay with us, which is massive. Perhaps most surprising are the new contracts signed by our 2 best players last season, Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer.
Predicted Line up: Here is our predicted squad. I’m not sure what formation we will have. EDIT: This is a new version, complete with our rumoured new signings and in the right formation.
Best case scenario: Stoke will finish top with an all-time Championship points record.
Worst case scenario: A mediocre start to the season will see Rowett sacked and Stoke with a disappointing mid-table finish.
Prediction: I think with our squad and our new manager, we will finish 1st.
What will happen to our closest rivals? Port Vale will be relegated to the Vanarama National League.

Aston Villa by trueschoolalumni

Location: Villa Park, Trinity Rd, Birmingham B6 6HE
Nickname: The Villans, The Villa, Prince William's Club, David "Twat" Cameron's Second Club.
Major honours: 7 First Division wins, 7 FA Cups, 5 League Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intertoto Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 4th
Transfermarkt squad value: £67.77m and dropping fast
Manager: Steve Bruce (for now). Former Man Utd playing legend who's been a fixture of English football for decades. He joined Villa in 2016 after successful runs at Hull, Sunderland (yes they were good once) and Birmingham City. A bit of a promotion specialist, he's taken Championship clubs up to the Premier League 4 times in the past and just missed out last season, losing 1-0 to Fulham in the Playoff Final. Tactically, he's fairly old school who prefers 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1, usually involving a big man up top. Fun fact: while managing Huddersfield in 1999 he wrote three novels, "Striker!", "Sweeper!" and "Defender!", which focus on main character Steve Barnes, a football manager. Barnes solves crime and takes on terrorists, and the books have become prized rarities. The Guardian's Football Weekly podcast managed to get a copy and read out some of the copy - suitably awful.
Best player(s)/ talisman: There's only one Jack Grealish. A Villa boy through and through, he's been with the club since 2001 (aged 6), and made his way into the first team in the 2013-14 season. He's been the centre of controversy a few times, most notably getting on the beers and passing out on a Tenerife street. Playing as a number 10, his quick feet and dribbling skills provide a number of goals and assists, as well as fouls. He probably went down a bit too easily when first in the Premier League, but time in the gym has noticeably toughened him up and he's a much more solid player as a result. One of the better players in the Championship, and due to Villa's abject finances, a transfer target for the likes of Leicester.
Rising star: Keinan Davis could possibly be it, potentially Andre Green and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy as well.
What happened last season?: Have you ever walked into a casino, spotted the roulette table and popped £10,000 on red? It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off. You've doubled your money if you win, but look like a right git if you lose. Villa figured this was a good way to approach 2017-18: spend millions on players, get in lots of loans, gamble everything on achieving promotion. After a so-so start, Bruce got the team playing well, stringing together a number of wins and moving through the playoff spots. Unfortunately they ran into a few teams playing out of their skin - champions Wolves ran away with the league and boasted a squad that included several Champions League players. Neil Warnock's Cardiff couldn't stop winning and grabbed the second automatic promotion. In the playoff final Villa came up against a Ryan Sessegnon-led Fulham and were just pipped at the post 1-0.
Summer transfer business (so far): It's one-way traffic, due to absolutely abysmal finances. Loan spells for Lewis Grabban, Robert Snodgrass, Josh Onomah and Sam Johnstone have all ended, which is almost the spine of the team (Johnstone in particular - he was arguably the best keeper in the Championship and personally bagged a number of wins). Plus clubs are circling to pick off whatever assets we have left (eg. Jack Grealish, James Chester). With no prospect of anyone new coming in, it looks like the youth academy will be getting a lot more game time.
Predicted starting XI: Possibly this, but half these players could be gone before the first match.
Best case scenario: Mid-table anonymity would have to be best case - Villa are a mess and could go down this time around.
Worst case scenario: Our finances are the real issue - they are dire. Villa need to find £9 million this month to avoid going into administration. Owner "Dr." Tony Xia is a billionaire, apparently, but tax bills went unpaid and the question remains if he's able to support the club as generously as he has in the past. Administration, points deductions and potentially relegation to League One are all real possibilities right now. It's not looking good.
Prediction: Due to financial irregularities in the 23 clubs above us, Villa will get into the Champions League and take out the likes of Atletico, Bayern and Real Madrid on the way to our second European Cup. "Taylor, Green, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball played in for Jack Grealish. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Keinan Davis!"
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Unfortunately the Scum managed to avoid League One in the final rounds of the season. Here's hoping they go one better. Agbonlahor to re-sign for one game: the Derby. And score the winner, again.

Middlesbrough by OneSmallHuman

Location: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Founded: 1876
Nickname: The Boro (Or just Boro)
Major honours: The League cup 2003-2004 season
17/18 finishing position: 5th
Transfermarkt squad value: 79.34m
Manager: Tony Pulis became manager of us in late December 2017, replacing the sacked Garry Monk after a pretty lacklustre few months of the campaign (despite where our league position was). Pulis is known in England for being the man that is never relegated when in charge of someone in the top flight. We are all aware of Tony Pulis' style of football. You start by having a strong and massive defence and maximise your use of set pieces to gain an advantage. Pulis is a lover of all set piece plays, whether that is crossing the ball in from a corner or free kick, or launching a ball into the box from a throw in, they're all in his arsenal of weapons. 'Pulisball' as it is pretty much known. Pulis has achieved promotion from the championship once before with Stoke, and I hope he achieves it again with us this season
Best player(s)/ rising star: I mean, where else do I begin. Adama Traore. Arguably the best player in the championship on his day and is one of the most frightening dribblers in English football, maybe even world football. The winger is known for his speed and dribbling ability although is usually criticised for his lack of end product. Before last season I would've agreed, however 5 goals and 10 assists, with all but 2 assists coming before Pulis' arrival show the progression of the Spanish winger.
As for other members of the squad, Ben Gibson, the prodigal son. Boro through and through he's progressed into a commanding centre half with the ability to play out from the back thanks to Karanka. He gained attention and emerged as one of the few given credit after our disappointing premier league campaign but was only the subject of one bid upon our relegation, from now manager Tony Pulis. It remains to be seen whether he'll be here come the first game of the season, but I hope he will be.
As for future stars, Dael Fry, already has played 2 championship campaigns for us and looks as assured as a veteran of the game. Another centre half produced by our academy and he is being played in cdm this pre-season by Pulis, to add to his versatility. Hopefully a standout season for him, especially if Gibson does end up leaving. Finally, yes, he does always look as confused as images of him show.
What happened last season?: Well, the first half of the season was tragic under Monk. We played really poor football at times and looked like we hadn't defended a day in our lives. There was also no consistency in the team, we'd win one game then lose the next. A key theme under both managers however, was our inability to beat those around us in the table. After Pulis' appointment the results picked up and it ended with us finishing 5th in the table. We ultimately lost in the playoff semi finals to Aston Villa but honestly, we didn't think we'd even be in the top half around Christmas.
Summer transfer business (so far): Just the three deals to talk about so far. We've acquired Paddy McNair from Sunderland who looks like a decent player. He's been utilised in right back and midfield during pre-season so it looks like they'll be his positions for the season. I imagine he'll play alongside Clayts and Howson in a midfield three.
Aden Flint was signed from Bristol City and I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't like how much we paid for him. Obviously the man is a Pulis player but I'm a bit unsure about his defensive ability. That being said he's looked strong during pre-season and I'm sure Pulis will get the best out of him. Fabio departed our club for Nantes so we'll need more full back cover.
As for the rest of the window, I expect Gibson to leave but will be delighted if he doesn't. One of our strikers will also leave and Braithwaite should follow after his decent World Cup performances. We'll probably bring in a striker and a winger and hopefully hold onto Adama. That'd be a successful window in my eyes.
Predicted starting XI: My best guess The only other guess I could make is that Gibson might leave and then Ayala would start, but he's injured at this point in time. Britt might play over Gestede too if Pulis is feeling fancy.
Best case scenario: It has to be top of the pile right? It's not out of the question to imagine us up there and if everything clicks then we've got a chance. A defence that scores more than some teams' strikers, Adama channelling his inner Messi and finding consistency, Rudy/Britt/Bamford scoring for fun. It could be carnage.
Worst case scenario: I can't see us finishing outside the playoffs, if we did then that would be gut-wrenching. But if we did then that would most certainly be the worst. Realistically, it'd be losing in the playoffs... again, and if it were in the final again then god help me. Although saying this, now losing Bamford and maybe Traore will be a worst case scenario in itself, definitely if they're not replaced.
Prediction: Have to be confident, although it always kills me. 1st or 2nd. Tony Pulis and his nice white trainers carry us to the promise land. That being said, we never do it the easy way.
Best Match of Last Season Sorry Leeds fans, but it had to be. "Hattrick Bamford" as our Twitter account tweeted, 3-0 against Leeds with Adama running the show. Leeds clearly found some positive from the game as they're set to sign him off us. This was the sign of what we should've done more last season. Showed what Paddy could've been too if given an even more extended period in Striker by himself. Oh well.
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Who even are our closest rivals in this league? We're in geographical purgatory. Can't say Sunderland anymore so what? Leeds? Bielsa either turns them into the well oiled machine they hope for or he succumbs to the old Leeds ways and is sacked by December. As for the Mackems, probably promoted from League 1.
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