England - Championship 2019/2020 Preview

The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. 24 teams, all with that dream of winning promotion to the Premier League and all the riches that come with it. The 2019/20 season begins on Friday August 2, which teams are likely to be pushing for promotion and who could be on their way down to League One?

The Contenders

Leeds United

There were times last season when Leeds United fans were busy checking the train times to places such as Liverpool, Newcastle and Watford. Their team were top of the Championship and that cherished return to the Premier League was close to becoming a reality.
Their manager had been doing his homework, but it turned out he’d been a little bit too keen and Spygate came along. Their dreams of promotion eventually faded due to a disappointing run-in. Ever determined to get their fans hopes up, Leeds won the away leg of their play-off against Derby County, only to be defeated at home and the dream died for another season.
They have been able to retain the services of manager Marcelo Bielsa, so perhaps this could be the season for promotion? United are the 9/2 favourites at Coral to win the Championship. They have managed to retain most of their squad from last season. Jack Clarke is now a Tottenham player but has been loaned back for this season. 
United will miss Pontus Jansson who has joined Brentford. Their new signings don’t look thrilling with a collection of loan signings. Perhaps the £5.5m received for Jansson will be spent before the transfer window closes?
Leeds look good for the play-offs and are 7/4 at Bet365 to be promoted. It’s going to be tough though and a lot of work is going to have to be put in before those dreams becoming reality for their fans.

Fulham

Last season was a traumatic one for the Londoners. They had won promotion via the play-offs and then spent heavily in the transfer market. All that cash just didn’t work out though with a series of defeats plunging them back into the Championship.
A major plus for the Cottagers is the fact that top scorer Aleksandr Mitrovic is still with the club. He knows how to score goals In the Championship and his presence gives them plenty of hope of an immediate return to the Premier league. You can get a tasty 6/1 at William Hill on him being the top scorer in the 2019/20 Championship season.
They have a few days more left to hopefully keep Ryan Sessegnon at the club. He didn’t have an impressive time in the Premier League last season, but a fair few clubs fancy signing him. Losing him would be a major blow, unless the fee was spent wisely.
Fulham have made two important signings this summer. Anthony Knockaert from Brighton on loan is a great acquisition. He scored 15 goals for Brighton in their promotion season and has troubled plenty of Premier League defences since.  Also arriving at Craven Cottage is Ivan Cavaleiro from Wolves, another attacking player who knows how to get Championship goals. 
William Hill have odds of 7/1 on Fulham winning the Championship this season. It’s 2/1 at Betway they win promotion. Both look cracking bets to pursue and a title win is a distinct possibility.

Brentford

The Bees had an up and down season last term. They struggled after manager Dean Smith left for Aston Villa but eventually finished 11th after winning their final three games. Brentford are one of a few clubs that have seen some departures but reinvested the transfer fees received.  Dean Smith returned to take Ezri Konsa to Villa Park for £12m. The summer has also seen Romaine Sawyers and Daniel Bentley leave but more than adequate replacements have been signed.
The arrivals of Pontus Jansson, Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard, Ethan Pinnock and David Raya (total transfer fees just over £18m) have signalled a major intent to win promotion. They had the third best home record last season but just three away victories. If their form on the road improves, then the 9/2 at SkyBet to be promoted looks good. They are 14/1 at BetVictor to win the title.

West Bromwich Albion

It wasn’t an easy season last year for West Brom. A poor run of form at home led to the controversial sacking of Darren Moore as manager. Albion promised a lot, especially on the road, but could only finish fourth, never really in contention for a spot in the top two. A semi-final play-off defeat followed and then they lost Jay Rodriguez to Burnley. He scored 22 league goals for Albion last season. 
They have made some good signings though with £8m being spent on acquiring Kenneth Zohore from Cardiff City. He’s scored 21 goals in his last two seasons in this division. Romaine Sawyers knows the Hawthorns after beginning his career there and will add substantial bite to their midfield. The same applies re Filip Krovinovic who’s on loan from Benfica. Albion will be in the promotion shake-up again and are 12/1 at Bet365 to be champions. 10/3 at Ladbrokes on them being promoted looks tempting.

Cardiff City

The Welsh side had their moments in the Premier League last season but still made an immediate return to the Championship. The loss of Kenneth Zohore is a blow, but the arrival of Aden Flint from Middlesbrough is a promising one as is Will Vaulks from Rotherham. Both scored a few goals in the Championship last season. They are a club that are used to being promotion contenders and that experience can be put to good use over the next nine months. Cardiff are 3/1 at Coral to win promotion this season.

Outsiders for Promotion

Huddersfield Town had a couple of miserable seasons in the Premier League. Hopefully they’ll score a few more goals this season You can get 6/1 at Bet365 on them winning promotion this season but their transfer activity isn’t inspiring. They certainly haven’t been splashing the cash despite those two seasons in the Premier League.
Derby County came close again last season but have lost Frank Lampard as manager. Mason Mount has gone too, and they may struggle to reach the play-offs. Derby often find a way of ruining a good start and the optimism that they had under Lampard will be difficult to recreate this season. It’s 11/2 at William Hill that they are promoted this season.
Middlesbrough will play more attractive football under Jonathan Woodgate, but they need to sign some more players before becoming promotion challengers. Pre-season has produced some mixed results and the early weeks of the season will show us just how different a team Middlesbrough will be this season. As for Notts Forest, they have another new manager (how long will this one last?) and have made some interesting signings. 13/2 at Paddy Power on them being promoted looks interesting. 
Bristol City are likely to be there or thereabouts, but they always seem to just fall short. They had an up and down season last term. A poor start was followed by an impressive run that took them into the play-off positions. Then their poor form returned, and they missed out on the top six. They haven’t had the best of transfer windows but in a tight division could squeeze into the top six.
Sheffield Wednesday struggled at times last season but rallied well under Steve Bruce. His departure to Newcastle is a massive blow for them but at least it didn’t happen during the season. They have had some time to get over that shock loss and could yet be challenging to get into the play-off positions.

Relegation Candidates

Millwall had a good cup run last year but struggled in the league. They finished a place above the relegation zone but could well struggle to keep afloat this time. Transfer dealngs haven’t exactly been thrilling. Perhaps concentrating more on the league than an FA Cup run might be an idea this season. Betfair have odds of 4/1 on the Londoners being relegated.
Another London side in danger is QPR. They have made plenty of changes during the summer but it’s all loans and free transfers.  There have been some significant departures, including Luke Freeman and Darnell Furlong.  Matt Smith has departed and another player with the same name (but not a former Dr Who actor) has arrived. They just lack consistency and another season of struggle looks on the cards. The 7/2 at Coral on them being relegated is worth a bet.
Barnsley were promoted last season but are likely to find it tough back in the Championship. They have a much-changed squad but 9/4 at Bet365 on them being relegated looks interesting. Barnsley do look in danger of becoming a yo-yo club. That’s replacing Wigan who used to have that reputation but have spent well this summer and look more a mid-table team.
Birmingham City also look in danger. The losses of top scorer Che Adams and Jota look damaging. They had a mixed season last year with their financial problems resulting in a points deduction. Before that happened, they had been fringe play-off candidates but that doesn’t look like being the case this season. They are 4/1 at Betfred to go down to League One.

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