Welcome to part three of our four part series of previews of the four top divisions of English football. We have already previewed League Two and League One on the site and we will preview the start of the Premier League in earnest next week, as their fixtures start the week after the rest of the English teams.

For this article we are going to be focusing on the 24 teams in the Championship, many of whom will harbour hopes of claiming a promotion spot and playing in the richer environment of the Premier League next season.

For others though, this season may be about one thing, survival and avoiding the drop down into League One and that battle could be just as epic as the one that takes place to decide who finishes in the two automatic promotion and four playoff sports come the end of the season.

As always, The Championship promises to be a very tough race to call with a wide gulf between some teams in terms of finances and resources, yet each season we seem to have teams that defy this big gulf to do very well, while richer teams can also struggle and drop to the bottom reaches of the table.

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Let’s now take a look at the 24 teams set to battle it out in The Championship this season

The Championship Preview

AFC Bournemouth

  • Last Season’s Record – 6th in The Championship (playoffs) – (77 pts, +27 GD)
  • Manager: Scott Parker
  • Top Players: Chris Mepham (DC), David Brooks (AMLC), Arnaut Danjuma (AMRC), Dominic Solake (AC), Jefferson Lerma (MC), Lewis Cook (MC), Philip Billing (MC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 9/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Vitality Stadium (11,364)

Scott Parker is a great choice as manager and I think Bournemouth will push hard for promotion this year but may have to settle for the playoffs once again.

Prediction – 3rd

Barnsley

  • Last Season’s Record – 5th in The Championship (playoffs) – (78 pts, +8 GD)
  • Manager: Markus Schopp
  • Top Players: Cauley Woodrow (AC), Devante Cole (AC), Liam Kitching (DC), Herbie Kane (MC), Josh Benson (MC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 20/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Oakwell (23.287)

Barnsley were the surprise team in The Championship last season but I think with Valerien Ismael now gone to West Brom, they may struggle a great deal to match that performance.

Prediction – 19th

Birmingham City

  • Last Season’s Record – 18th in The Championship – (52 pts, -24 GD)
  • Manager: Lee Bowyer
  • Top Players: George Friend (DLC), Lukas Jutkiewicz (AC), Scott Hogan )AC), Harlee Dean (DC), Tahith Chong (AMLC), Jonathan Leko (AMR)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 40/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): St. Andrews (29,409)

I cant really see where Birmingham have made the improvements needed to move them significantly up the table and as a result, I think they’ll finish in a similar position to last season.

Prediction – 17th

Blackburn Rovers

  • Last Season’s Record – 15th in The Championship – (57pts, +11 GD)
  • Manager: Tony Mowbray
  • Top Players: Adam Armstrong (AC), Ben Brereton Diaz (AC), Bradley Dack (AMC), Bradley Johnson (DMLC), Dani Ayala (DC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 22/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Ewood Park (31,367)

I can see Rovers making an improvement on last season, especially if they can keep Adam Armstrong at the club, but even so, I still think a top half finish is about the best they can hope for.

Prediction – 10th

Blackpool

  • Last Season’s Record – 3rd in League One (Promoted) – (80pts, +23 GD)
  • Manager: Neil Critchley
  • Top Players: Chris Maxwell (GK), Keshi Anderson (AC), Gary Madine (AC), Luke Garbutt (DL), Richard Keogh (DC), James Husband (DL)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 66/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Bloomfield Road (16,616)

Blackpool were superb in winning promotion last season, but this squad doesn’t really look like it has enough quality to do well at this level and I fear it could be a season of struggle for the tangerines.

Prediction – 23rd

Bristol City

  • Last Season’s Record – 19th in The Championship – (51 pts, -22 GD)
  • Manager: Nigel Pearson
  • Top Players: Danny Simpson (DR), Jay Dasilva (DML), Matty James (MC), Chris Martin (AC), Andy King (MC), Andreas Weimann (AMC), Tomas Kalas (DC), Nakhi Wells (AC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 33/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Ashton Gate (27,000)

Nigel Pearson should inject a bit of steel and grit into this Bristol City team and as such, I think they will improve a little on last seasons showing, without ever pushing on into the top half.

Prediction – 16th

Cardiff City

  • Last Season’s Record – 8th in The Championship – (68 pts, +17 GD)
  • Manager: Mick McCarthy
  • Top Players: Sean Morrison (DC), Will Vaulks (DMC), Joe Ralls (MC), Kieffer Moore (AC), Josh Murphy (AML), Alex Smithies (GK)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 16/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Cardiff City Stadium (33,316)

I see Cardiff as being one of a number of teams pushing hard for a promotion spot, but I think this time around, Mick McCarthy’s side may well just come up a little short.

Prediction – 9th

Coventry City

  • Last Season’s Record – 16th in The Championship – (55 pts, -12 GD)
  • Manager: Mark Robins
  • Top Players: Matt Godden (AC), Kyle McFadzean (DC), Jamie Allen (MC), Martyn Waghorn (AC), Bright Enobakhare (AMLC), Fankaty Dabo (DLC), Liam Kelly (MC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 40/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Coventry Building Society Arena (32,609)

Mark Robins has done a fantastic job with Coventry and I think he will do enough to keep them in this division once again this season.

Prediction – 18th

Derby County

  • Last Season’s Record – 21st in The Championship – (44 pts, -22 GD)
  • Manager: Wayne Rooney
  • Top Players: David Marshall (GK), Kamil Jozwiak (AMRC), Max Bird (MC), Tom Lawrence (MC), Colin Kazim-Richards (AC), Krystian Bielik (DC), Graeme Shinnie (MC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 50/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Pride Park (33,597)

The financial situation at Derby is perilous and with a squad stripped of talent and the possibility of a points deduction if they go into administration, little wonder Derby are favourites for the drop and I think they may well end up bottom of the table.

Prediction – 24th

Fulham

  • Last Season’s Record – 18th in the Premier League (Relegated) – (28 pts, -26 GD)
  • Manager: Marco Silva
  • Top Players: Harry Wilson (AMLC), Aleksandar Mitrovic (AC), Anthony Knockaert (MLC), Tim Ream (DRC), Tosin Adarabioyo (DC), Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Jean Michel Seri (MC), Alfie Mawson (DC), Tom Cairney (MC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 11/2 favourites
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Craven Cottage (19,359)

A very strong squad, a manager who has a great record at this level and a team that knows how to get out of this division, with a player good for 25-30 goals a season and a fantastic new signing in Harry Wilson. This is why Fulham are my pick to win the division.

Prediction – 1st

Huddersfield Town

  • Last Season’s Record – 20th in The Championship – (49 pts, -21 GD)
  • Manager: Carlos Corberan
  • Top Players: Harry Toffolo (DL), Jon Hogg (MC), Jordan Rhodes (AC), Rolando Aarons (ML), Fraizer Campbell (AC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 50/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): John Smith’s Stadium (24,121)

Huddersfield struggled last season and I think this season will be an even greater struggle for a team that doesn’t really appear to know which direction the club wants to go in. Relegation looms.

Prediction – 22nd

Hull City

  • Last Season’s Record – 1st in League One (Promoted) – (89 pts, +42 GD)
  • Manager: Grant McCann
  • Top Players: Richie Smallwood (MC), Josh Magennis (AC), George Honeyman (MC), Tom Eaves (AC), Jacob Greaves (DC), Matt Ingram (GK)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 40/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): MKM Stadium

Hull were excellent in winning League One last season and there is enough talent in this squad to ensure that they don’t drop back down into that division again come the end of the season.

Prediction – 15th

Luton Town

  • Last Season’s Record – 12th in The Championship – (62 pts, -11 GD)
  • Manager: Nathan Jones
  • Top Players: Martin Crainie (DR), Sonny Bradley (DC), Danny Hylton (AC), Elliot Lee (AC), Tom Lockyer (DLC), kal Naismith (MC), Joe Morrell (AMRC), Cameron Jerome (AC), Henri Lansbury (MRC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 40/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Kenilworth Road (10,356)

One of the more underrated managers in this division. I think Nathan Jones has done a wonderful job at Luton and despite their small budget, I expect them to be safe in this division once again this season.

Prediction – 14th

Middlesbrough

  • Last Season’s Record – 10th in The Championship – (64 pts, +2 GD)
  • Manager: Neil Warnock
  • Top Players: Jonny Howson (MC), Lee Peltier (DR), Sammy Ameobi (AMRC), Uche Ikpeazu (AC), Chuba Akpom (AC), Paddy McNair (DRC), Duncan Watmore (AML)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 16/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): The Riverside Stadium (34,742)
  • The veteran Neil Warnock is a good manager for Middlesbrough and I see them as being a team challenging hard for the playoffs come May, but perhaps just missing out on making it.
  • Prediction – 8th

Millwall

  • Last Season’s Record – 11th in The Championship – (62 pts, -5 GD)
  • Manager: Gary Rowett
  • Top Players: Alex Pearce (DC), George Saville (MC), Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (AC), Benik Afobe (AC), Bartosz Bialkowski (GK), Maikel Kieftenbeld (MC), Matt Smith (AC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 33/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): The Den (20,146)

It could be a tough season for Millwall this time around. I can’t see this squad has improved any and I think others around them have got better. They won’t go down, but I don’t think they will enjoy a comfortable season either.

Prediction – 20th

Nottingham Forest

  • Last Season’s Record – 17th in The Championship  – (52 pts, -8 GD)
  • Manager: Chris Hughton
  • Top Players: Joe Worrall (DC), Joe Lolley (AMLC), Tyler Blackett (DRC), Harry Arter (MC), Carl Jenkinson (DR), Gaetan Bong (DC), Joao Carvalho (AMC), Nuno da Costa (AC), Jack Colback (MC)< Lewis Grabban (AC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 18/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): City Ground

Chris Hughton is a great appointment for Nottingham Forest and his record at this level suggests that Forest fans can look forward to an improved season and I fancy them to make the playoffs this year.

Prediction – 6th

Peterborough United

  • Last Season’s Record – 2nd in League One (Promoted) – (87 pts, +37 GD)
  • Manager: Darren Ferguson
  • Top Players: Mark Beevers (DC), Jonson Clarke-Harris (AC), Jack Marriott (AC), Sammie Szmodics (AMR), Jack Taylor (MC), Siriki Dembele (AC), Kwame Poku (DMC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 66/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Weston Homes Stadium (15,314)
  • I think Peterborough are in for a tough time of it in the Championship. They did very well to score plenty of goals to get in this division, but I think defensively they will be found out here and may end up in a relegation battle, but I tip them to just about stay up.
  • Prediction – 21st

Preston North End

  • Last Season’s Record – 13th in The Championship – (61 pts, -7 GD)
  • Manager: Frankie McAvoy
  • Top Players: Declan Rudd (GK), Daniel Johnson (MLC), Ched Evans (AC), Alan Browne (MC), Scott Sinclair (AMRC), Izzy Brown (MC), Ryan Ledson (AMC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 33/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Deepdale (23.404)

Preston are a team that flatter to deceive at times and as such, that makes them a prime candidate for another mid-table finish and I can’t see anything in this squad to suggest this coming season will be any different.

Prediction – 11th

Queens Park Rangers

  • Last Season’s Record – 9th in The Championship (68 pts, +2 GD)
  • Manager: Mark Warburton
  • Top Players: Osman Kakay (DR), Stefan Johansen (MR), Lyndon Dykes (AC), Charlie Austin (AC), Andre Dozzell (MC), Moses Odubajo (DC), Albert Adomah (AML), Yoann Barbet (DC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 22/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Loftus Road (18,439)

If there is one team that I expect to be a surprise package this season it is QPR, I like what Mark Warburton has done with this squad and if they can find consistency, they could surprise a few and clinch a promotion spot.

Prediction – 2nd

Reading

  • Last Season’s Record- 7th in The Championship (70 pts, +8 GD)
  • Manager: Veljko Paunovic
  • Top Players: Liam Moore (DC), John Swift (MC), Yakou Meite (ML), Marc McNulty (AC), Ovie Ejaria (MC), Lucas Joao (AC), George Puscas (AC), Michael Morrison (DC), Tom Holmes (DL)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 25/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Select Car Leasing Stadium (24,161)

Reading were something of a surprise package last season but I think they have lost a couple of key players that made them so strong and as such, I can’t quite see them matching last season’s performances.

Prediction – 12th

Sheffield United

  • Last Season’s Record – 20th in The Premier League (Relegated) – (23 pts, -43 GD)
  • Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic
  • Top Players: Aaron Ramsdale (GK), John Fleck (MC), Rhian Brewster (AC), Sander Berge (MC), John Egan (DC), Oliver Burke (AMC), David McGoldrick (AC), George Baldock (DR), Enda Stevens (DL), Jack O’Connell (DC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 15/2
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Bramhall Lane (32,050)

Given the quality of this squad, which performed so well in the Premier League a couple of seasons back, I think Sheffield United will push hard for promotion back to the top flight but may have to settle for a playoff spot.

Prediction – 4th

Stoke City

  • Last Season’s Record – 14th in The Championship – (60 pts, -2 GD)
  • Manager: Michael O’Neill
  • Top Players: Joe Allen (MC), Steven Fletcher (AC), James Chester (DC), Danny Batth (DC), Tom Ince (ML), Nick Powell (AMC), Harry Souttar (DC), Sam Surridge (AC), Sam Clucas (MC), Mario Vrancic (AMC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 16/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Bet365 Stadium (30,089)

A poor start last year made things very tough for Stoke but with Michael O’Neill a year into the job and his squad moulded more to his liking, I can see Stoke pushing on into the playoffs.

Prediction – 5th

Swansea City

  • Last Season’s Record- 4th in The Championship (Playoffs) – (80 pts, +17 GD)
  • Manager: Russell Martin
  • Top Players: Matt Grimes (MC), Jamal Lowe (AC), Wayne Routledge (AMR), Yan Dhanda (MC), Joel Latibeaudiere (DC), Connor Roberts (DR), Ryan Manning (DL), Korey Smith (MR)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 20/1
  • Home Ground (Capacity): Liberty Stadium (21,088)

Having seen their well-respected manager Steve Cooper leave after the end of last season, I think the Swans may struggle to match last year’s performances and I think a tailing off is inevitable and a drop down the league will follow.

Prediction – 13th

West Bromwich Albion

  • Last Season’s Record – 19th in the Premier League (Relegated)  – (26 pts, -41 GD)
  • Manager: Valerien Ismael
  • Top Players: Sam Johnstone (GK), Kyle Bartley (DC), Semi Ajayi (DC), Callum Robinson (AMR), Jake Livermore (MC), Kenneth Zohore (AC), Matt Phillips (AML), Matheus Pereira (AMC), Karlan Grant (AC), Romainw Sawyers (MC), Robert Snodgrass (MRC), Adam Reach (MLC)
  • The Championship Winner Odds: 13/2
  • Home Ground (Capacity): The Hawthorns (26,688)

With an ambitious manager at the helm, he has already started to shake things up, but for team built on stability, I am not sure that is a great idea. The Baggies will go close but will just miss out on the playoffs.

Prediction – 7th