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Championship Preview 2014/15 - Who Will Make The Leap To The Premier League And Who Is League One Bound?

Wednesday 30th July 2014
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil may have occupied most of our time and interest this summer, but it's back to the important business of the Football League season on the 9th August as 24 teams battle to reach the Premier League or avoid League One, Jack Critchley previews the upcoming season.

Leicester were the runaway leaders last season and were followed out of the division by big spending QPR and surprise package Burnley. We waved goodbye to Yeovil, Barnsley and following a dramatic final day of the season, Doncaster. Wolves are back in the Championship, joined by Brentford and Rotherham whilst Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich slipped out of the Premier League.

The aforementioned Welsh side begin as favourites for an instant return to the top division. They have plenty of money and the nucleus of a decent squad, but there are question marks over manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has barely had chance to establish his managerial credentials in this country. The signings of Adam Le Fondre and Fedrico Macheda should add goals. Guerra and Bergstaller are relative unknowns and Dikagcoi is a solid midfielder. There's no doubt that Cardiff will be troubling the top 6 or 7, but quite whether Ole is ready for the hustle and bustle of the second tier remains the biggest question.

Derby County were dealt the blow earlier in the week that summer signing George Thorne is out for up to 9 months. Whilst it is imperative that they find a replacement, they still have a hungry young squad and haven't sold Craig Bryson or Will Hughes. Chris Martin will always score goals at Championship level and there have been some interesting signings such as Cyrus Christie and Alefe Santos arriving at Pride Park. If Steve McLaren can use his contacts wisely, they should be there or thereabouts although they probably could benefit from working on a Plan B for those occasions when opponents suss them out - The Play Off Final being a perfect example.

With the added wealth of parachute payments, Norwich and Fulham are bound to finish in the Top 10, but once again two inexperienced managers at this level are major factors which could hinder an automatic return to the top flight.

Wigan are my personal fancy, Uwe Rosler is an astute manager and although the loss of Jordi Gomez may prevent people backing them, they will have the talented Shaun Maloney returning and still posses midfield dynamism courtesy of James McArthur. Andrew Taylor is a good purchase and it will be interesting to see how Oriol Riera fares with some of the robust defending in the division. Don Cowie and Emyr Huws will bolster the midfield and James Tavernier looked one of the most exciting attacking full back in the second half of the League One season last year. Last year they just ran out of steam and aren't faced with the distraction of the Europa League this season or lumbered with Owen Coyle (and his shorts) for the opening few fixtures.

Further down the table, the less said about Blackpool, the better. The whole club is a mess from top to bottom and there is little chance that they are going to have a competitive enough squad to stay in the division. Last seasons sensational start and the incompetence of the three relegated clubs saved their bacon last campaign, but the three promoted clubs look significantly stronger and richer this year and Birmingham and Millwall should have better seasons this time around.

They could be joined be joined by Sheffield Wednesday who are still awaiting a takeover and have little in the way of firepower currently whilst Reading are also lacking ammunition, especially if Pavel Pogrebnyak struggles to retain fitness and could finish much further down the table this time around. Leeds could implode at any moment with a combination of Cellino and Hockaday whilst Mark Robins will have to make sure Huddersfield play with a lot more consistency this year to ensure their place in the division.

Of the three promoted clubs, Rotherham will have to look over their shoulders, but should be safe by the end of the season whilst Brentford could surprise a few on their way to a top half finish.

Middlesbrough and Bournemouth appear to be dark horses and I wouldn't be surprised if either finished in the play offs. Kike will be interesting up front for the Teessiders whilst The Cherries will hope that Callum Wilson replaces the goals of Lewis Grabban who has made his way to East Anglia.

It'll be another cracking season with plenty of drama, excitement and inevitably the occasional managerial casualty.
Jack Critchley
Blackpool fan who enjoys a spot of the football league. I follow Championship through to League Two.

Total articles: 18

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