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The race to reach the Championship playoffs

Thursday 2nd March 2017
Reaching the promise land of the Premier League through the playoffs is apparently the richest prize in English football. With an estimated £90million is prize money, television rights, sponsorship and other various revenue streams, it certainly is a desirable goal. 

The Championship is currently 12 to 13 games per team away from finishing. I will be looking at the teams from 3rd to 6th place, briefly assessing their chances of remaining in the playoffs this season, whilst highlighting possible threats to the top six places.

3rd place: Huddersfield Town

(Final 3 games - Fulham (H), Birmingham (A), Cardiff (H))



An impressive campaign so far for relatively new manager David Wagner and the Terriers. Surely a dream come true for just making the playoffs since their rise from League One a few years back. Key players in the likes of Nakhi Wells, Elias Kachunga, Tommy Smith and Danny Ward have pushed the team on through the positions leaving the likes of Brighton, Leeds, Reading and Queens Park Rangers in their wake, just in February. A good month for Wagner's men has seen them rise to 3rd; a modest last three games could prove to be make or break for the Yorkshire side.

4th place: Leeds United

(Final 3 games- Burton (A), Norwich (H), Wigan (A))



Since recovering from the managerial turmoil with many bosses coming and going through the Elland Road doors, Garry Monk looks as if he has steadied the ship. A magical turn around since bottom half finishes for many seasons before has seen the historically famous Yorkshire side rise to the top again. Recruiting intelligently in the likes of Chris Wood & Kemar Roofe in the past few years has provided goals for Monk's side. With Monk's successful CV, fans will be confident that he can guide Leeds United to a successful playoff campaign. A relatively straightforward end to the season will help them on their way.

5th place: Reading

(Final 3 games- Forest (A), Wigan (H), Burton (A))



Another new manager, in Jaap Stam has proven he can be a quality manager as well as a player back in his day. Attempting to return Reading to the top flight so far is proving to be successful, rallying long time serving players Chris Gunter and Gareth McCleary to Premier League quality. A disappointing February allowed Reading to pick up only 5 points out of a possible 12 could show how vulnerable Stam's side is to failure and pressure. Reading's last three games are against teams who are currently placed between 18th-24th, a run in that will be favoured by all involved at the London club.

6th place: Sheffield Wednesday

(Final 3 games- Derby (H), Ipswich (A), Fulham (H))



Wednesday has been a bit of an up and down team so far this season. They have continued to surprise pundits following their positive campaign last season ending up in 6th place last season. Carlos Carvalhal will be rallying his troops for a final push to the season. Ex-Premier League talents in Fernando Forestieri and Steven Fletcher will be hoping that they can represent The Owls in England's highest league. Wednesday fans will want their side higher than sixth as they enter their last three games, playoff rivals Derby and Fulham will want to take points off the Yorkshire side as sixth place is all to play for.

There are a few teams just below the playoffs which could enter the fray following a possible run of form. Most notably Fulham sitting just five points, with a game in hand, outside the top six. Derby could possibly prove to be strong if they could put a very impressive final 12 games together. Norwich fans will be expecting to be in and around the promotion places this season as they want to re-enter the promise land. Two surprise teams sitting in 9th and 10th are Preston and Barnsley; surely it would be fantastic if these two former League One sides could be in with a shot of reaching Wembley.

 
Jack Drury
19 years of age. Sport and Exercise Science Student at Loughborough University. Peterborough United.

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