In addition to the teams leaving the Premier League ranks, 3 teams will join (in some cases rejoin) the elite teams battling it out on Britain’s biggest stage. The Championship is an unpredictable brutal slog of a season for the sides trying to grab the 2 automatic promotion spots and those vying for a shot at the 3rd spot via the promotion playoffs. To have some speculative fun, let’s take a look at the promotion race that binds the Prem to the Championship.
As their season is slightly longer, due to having 4 more squads to do battle with, that means the teams have anywhere from 8-10 matches left. For my calculations teams will be awarded 0pts for matches with teams 4 or more places ahead of them, 1pt for matches against teams 3 places above and below them, and 3pts for teams 4 or more place below.
Has been perhaps the surprise of the season playing an adventurous, energetic pressing attack style have been able to compete with the best consistently in the division. An on and off Premier League regular the Canaries seem to be on their way back up.
The Blades have been on a steady incline for most of the year after coming up from League One last season. In fact, they have been on an upward trajectory since 2013 when a Saudi Prince became a 50% owner (and recently entered negotiations to take over 100%). With that type of backing the club could be on it’s way back up to the Premier League stay should they make the jump.
Leeds is one of the most controversial sides in England with austerity, owner changes/rows, more financial issues, a failed crest change, kit supplier issues, etc. Most recently they have appointed Bielsa who is a polarizing character as manager and he has not disappointed in performance or news headlines. After a public spat with Lampard over the ‘Spygate’ issues, we will see if the stylistically attractive side can make it back to the Premier League and resume their classic rivalries with sides at that level.
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom is trying to pull off a bounce back after being sent down at the end of last season. They have been fairly consistent performers this year, though that doesn’t mean their results have been repetitive, they are a side that has not really had a run of good or bad form but still able to pick up enough points to stay in the playoff spaces. Recently they sparked a controversy themselves by sacking a fan favorite manager in Darren Moore, leaving many to speculate what exactly the cause was and some accusing the brass at the club of racial bias. With a caretaker in charge at the moment, the Baggies might have it all to do in holding on to a playoff spot.
Boro under the guidance of Tony Pulis is performing in the typical style as Pulis is a master of the Championship due to his tactics benefiting his squads over the long haul season. A recent drop from the top flight should have you familiar with this club but of course, only a handful of their old players remain (a consequence of the volatility of the Championship). They currently hang on to one of the playoff spots but have had a recent downturn in form.
Everyone should remember Villa, another recent relegation victim, who hadn’t been relegated during the Premier League era previously. They have been some of the most consistent performers in the Championship since the start of the 16/17 season. Having a new owner in place at the same time has probably been beneficial to that fact, however, they have not been able to make their way back to the Prem since.
Preston North End
One of the storied clubs of yore in England, PNE are 9 years out from getting a new owner who has solidified the financial situation at the club. They have averaged an upper mid-table finish for the few years since regaining Championship status. Sitting level on points with Villa but in 7th based on goal differential, they will be looking to snag a playoff spot.
Led by Former Chelsea man Frank Lampard, the manager has surprised many with his ability in the technical area for the Rams. Last in the Premier League in 07/08, they have been one of the sides consistently challenging for a return to the top flight for the past few years. They do have a game in hand on most of the teams holding the positions above them on the table, so they may jump back into promotion contention.
Most recently recognized for a League Cup run that saw them down 4 Premier League clubs last season, they are relatively new to the perennial Championship contenders list. Being promoted back to the Championship in 2015, they have had strong starts to their seasons but seem to stall as they reach the second part of the season and miss out on the top 6. They are in 8th on 55pts with 2 matches in hand on most of those in front of them.
1.Norwich – 102pts
2.Sheffield United – 98pts
3.Leeds – 95pts
4.West Brom – 89pts
5.Middlesbrough – 82pts
6.Derby – 78pts
7.Aston Villa – 74pts
8.Preston North End – 71pts
9.Bristol City – 68pts
Some teams clearly have easier schedules overall which lead to such a skewed final table with the only big movers being Derby as they eek into the final playoff spot over Villa. Of course, a few of the sides do play other teams in the top 9 as well but in this simulation, the higher placed teams do get a boost (though unrealistic to expect undefeated records for a couple). The final table should be fairly close to this with a few of the clubs that are closer on points maybe trading places based on the actual results. The fun part of the Championship is just how wild the results can be game to game, so you should keep an eye out for the teams that rise to the occasion or fall away at the end. Then you can try and catch the usually epic playoff matches as the clubs push for that 3rd and final spot with a big money prize.