We are just a few days away from the start of the Championship season with Derby v Reading kicking us off on Friday night.
While many teams will be hoping for strong season, inevitably three sides just don’t make the cut and are sent packing for League One. Last season it was Sunderland, Burton Albion and Barnsley who couldn’t keep up with the rest of the pack.
With Rotherham United, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers all bouncing back after one season and experienced Premier League sides West Brom, Swansea and Stoke City joining in with the second-tier fun, we can expect another competitive and unpredictable Championship season.
Our man, Jonathon Hague, takes a look at the relegation odds to see who is likely to be struggling in the Championship this season.
Rotherham to be Relegated @ 5/4 – BET NOW
The Millers managed to squirm their way back into the Championship at the first time of asking after Paul Warne’s side beat last season’s League One Surprise package, Shrewsbury Town in the play-off final.
While not quite odds on in the eyes of the bookies, Rotherham are the favourites to head back down and continue their recent tradition of yo-yoing between the Championship and League One. Budgets have prevented the South Yorkshire side from kicking on every time they reach the second tier, however this time feels a little different, despite going into the division as firm favourites to go down.
Taking inspiration from former League One teams that have made the step up into the Championship like Sheffield United, Milwall and Preston, Paul Warne has built a side that has comradery at the heart of the team. The egos and entitled attitude have moved on, shrewd signings have been key and Warne has been ruthless in his team selections - fighting for the shirt is all that matters in the gaffer's eyes. With a number of teams on the downturn in the division, Rotherham might surprise a few people and escape relegation this season.
Bolton to be Relegated @ 5/4 - BET NOW
Players going on strike at the start of the summer sums up the mess that has affected Bolton Wanderers over the past four years. A miracle that they’re still in the division, manager Phil Parkinson has achieved on scraps for two seasons on the trot.
However, adding a series of free signings over the summer might not be enough to strengthen their squad for the season, the acquisition of a proved Championship goal scorer in Clayton Donaldson is a great piece of business, but it’s hard to see Bolton retain their Championship status this season. Due to the strikes, the mood in the camp will be typically rusty and early result will be key to build confidence in a fractured club. If the issue of pay comes into question again during the season, expect Bolton to finish bottom.
Reading to be Relegated at 4/1 – BET NOW
Two years ago, Reading were on the verge of returning to the Premier League, but a nightmare season last year saw the Royals narrowly escape relegation. Jaap Stam was sacked after a torrid run of form and former Swansea and Derby manager Paul Clement stepped up to the plate to see Reading maintain their Championship status.
Going into this season, the transfer business conducted at the Madejski Stadium has been questionable. The signing of Marc McNulty from Coventry raises a number of eyebrows as the Scottish forward has struggled at League One level for Sheffield United and Bradford – can he really step up after one great season in League Two?
John O’Shea on a free is another signing that makes little sense, it screams of a player looking for a final pay-check before retirement. With rumours that Liam Moore wants out, the defensive line at Reading will be significantly weaker. The bookies are going with 4/1 for the Royals to be relegated which could prove to be great value at the pre-season stage.
QPR to be Relegated @ 6/1 – BET NOW
QPR have been slapped with a “World Record” Financial Fair Play fine for overspending in the 2013/14 season which saw the Rs promoted to the Premier League the via playoffs.
At £42m, the London side are going to pay the price of their spending a number of seasons ago as they will be unable to make the signings necessary to improve on last season’s midtable finish. With key players such as Jack Robinson and Alex Smithies leaving, Steve McClaren will have to continue with the same squad of players that looked inconsistent and lacking in quality last season.
The bookies give QPR a 6/1 chance of relegation which could be worth a back if early results fail to go their way. Steve McClaren isn’t exactly known for his managerial masterclasses, is he? Recently he has come out that he’s still unsure of his best team, to fans dismay. I reckon it will be a long season for the Rs and perhaps their relegation will be enough to deter other clubs from spending stupid to reach the Premier League.
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