Championship is a tough league and it’s hard to predict which club will get a promotion, but looking at the ambition showed by the clubs during the summer, a person can get at least an idea of which clubs will fight for a promotion this season. Last season we had a case that none of the clubs that’s been relegated from Premier League managed to get promoted, I believe that this season we have at least two new Championship sides that will be fighting for a promotion. Other then these clubs that will be looking for a quick return to the Premier League, there are few more clubs that have spent big money on transfers and showed the ambition to fight for a promotion. These are the best prepared teams to fight for a promotion this season in Championship.
When you look at their squad, Stoke City simply doesn’t belong in Championship. They’ve managed to keep a lot of their first team players and they have brought a lot of experienced Championship players too. With Gary Rowett as their manager, they will play some good attacking football this season and they have an excellent team that can get a win against any Championship side. I expect Joe Allen to be their key player this season, Gary Rowett can certainly bring best out of the midfielder and having an experienced Premier League player in midfield can help their team a lot. Stoke haven’t showed much in pre-season, but Gary Rowett was still experimenting with a team and they have played against some of the big clubs, so those results are not showing anything yet. It would be a surprise if Stoke City doesn’t fight for a straight promotion this season.
West Bromwich Albion
Another club that got relegated from the Premier League is expected to be a contender for a promotion this season. West Bromwich Albion lost only one of their six Premier League games under Darren Moore and they haven’t lost any of their five pre-season games. They have also managed to keep most of their first team and their squad is full of experienced Premier League players. Sam Johnstone is an excellent signing for West Bromwich Albion as promising goalkeeper was chased by many Premier League sides and he can be a great asset to their defence. If they keep him, Jay Rodriguez will certainly be their key player this season, but although West Bromwich Albion rejected £16m bid, Burnley is still interested in signing the forward.
No one can say for sure if Derby County will improve under Frank Lampard and finally get a promotion, but it is certain that with this team they can easily finish in top six. They’ve managed to get into play-offs with Gary Rowett last season, and that team hasn’t changed much. If they keep Matej Vydra, I believe that he can once again be their key player and top scorer. They had great results in pre-season and with a win in their opening game against Reading, Frank Lampard showed everyone that he can do it and that his team is prepared to fight for a promotion once again.
Let’s hope that this season Leeds United stop their tradition of sacking their managers after a few lost games, especially after making an ambitious move of appointing Marcelo Bielsa as their new manager. They have also kept almost the same team as they had last season, but they have recently brought Patrick Bamford from Middlesbrough as they needed a proven Championship striker in their team. Their last season top scorer, Kemar Roofe continued his form in pre-season and we can expect him to be a starter this season. If Samuel Saiz manages to continue his form, he can easily be their key player this season, and with him playing at his best, Leeds United can be really dangerous in attack. A lot is expected from Marcelo Bielsa as he is a certainly a big name for Championship, and with a squad that Leeds United has, it is certain that they can fight for top 6 this season.
When we talk about the teams that are best prepared to finish in top 6 this season, we can’t forget Nottingham Forest. Aitor Karanka made some big changes this summer as Nottingham Forest has spent big money on transfers and showed the ambition to finally fight for a promotion. Karanka often plays defensive football, but he has already managed to get a promotion with Middlesbrough, so there is no doubt that he can do it again. Although they’ve brought Lewis Grabban from Bournemouth, I believe that their key player this season will be their biggest signing, Joao Carvalho. Nottingham Forest had a good pre-season, they’ve won against teams such as Malaga and Bournemouth so they certainly look prepared to fight for a promotion.
Although Middlesbrough and Ipswich played excellent in their pre-season, I believe that Aston Villa has a better chance of finishing in top 6. Middlesbrough is slowly losing some of their best players and nothing can be certain before they make some new signings. Aston Villa lost a lot of their key players from last season, including Robert Snodgrass, Lewis Grabban and Sam Johnstone, but they still have a good team and with Steve Bruce as their manager they can fight for a promotion once again. If they somehow manage to keep him, Jack Grealish will certainly be their key player this season, he has a great potential and he is a Premier League quality player. The biggest problem for Aston Villa are once again injuries, Scott Hogan and Jonathan Kodjia keeps getting injured leaving them no options in attack, but if they manage to keep them fit, Aston Villa can easily finish in top 6 this season.