The Championship brought us an epic fight for survival in 2019/20, with the bottom three constantly changing even after the last match of the season. More of the same is expected this time around, especially in a division which has seen clubs hit financially by the pandemic and unable to strengthen.
Wigan’s relegation was a bitter blow for a side who had become incredibly entertaining to watch, but it also covered up the growing gulf that promoted League One clubs face at this level. Charlton went down last term, Barnsley had the third-lowest points total before Wigan’s points deduction and Luton survived on the final day. That threat remains for the new crop of sides.
Championship Relegation Odds
The threat facing the League One sides is clear for newcomers Wycombe and Rotherham, with the bookies tipping them for the drop. Coventry aren’t far behind them, although their scouting network and impressive signings should help them steer clear of danger by the end of the campaign.
Odds correct as of 11am on 9th September 2020 on bet365.com
- Wycombe – 8/15
- Sheffield Wednesday – 6/4
- Rotherham – 2/1
- Reading – 4/1
- Coventry – 4/1
- Luton – 9/2
Wycombe to be relegated
Wycombe getting into the second-tier is an impressive achievement, but we don’t see them building on it. The Chairboys were ranked last in League One for average possession, total passes and sequences of 10 passes or more. Their direct style caused a huge shock, but going from League One relegation contenders to fighting for Championship survival shows the size of the task ahead. Their fans won’t accept being written off after last season’s heroics but doing that all over again at a higher level looks beyond Gareth Ainsworth and his men.
The Chairboys are so stretched beyond their resources that they’ve been made heavy favourites for the drop. We expect them to be competitive, cause problems from set-pieces and probably secure a big scalp or two at Adams Park, but they are fighting an uphill battle against much wealthier teams. We saw how difficult Charlton found it going forward with the likes of Lyle Taylor to call upon, so we see the gulf in class ultimately being too much for the playoff winners.
Rotherham to be relegated
Rotherham are quickly becoming the dictionary definition of a yo-yo club, having not spent a calendar year in one division since 2016. Their last four seasons have brought two Championship relegations and two immediate promotions. They certainly get to experience highs and lows year-in, year-out but can Rotherham finally move clear of danger at this level?
Given the strain on club finances, this probably isn’t the year for them to establish themselves in the second-tier. While the Millers have plenty of good League One talents, a lack of quality additions means we don’t have faith in them breaking their streak. The sides around them look too strong to be pegged back by Rotherham right now, so the best they can probably hope for is a successful 21/22 League One campaign.
Birmingham to be relegated
Aitor Karanka’s success at Middlesbrough excused most of the off-field issues in his time there. His spell at Nottingham Forest was a different story, winning just 16 times in 52 games at a team with playoff ambitions.
Karanka is far from the man to instil clam at a Birmingham side who really need it. The combination of a spiky manager with a chaotic ownership above him suggests this will end quickly and badly. The Blues lost six of their final seven matches last season and now Karanka essentially has a final shot as a Championship manager trying to keep them up.
The £25million departure of Jude Bellingham hasn’t exactly helped the club, who haven’t made great strides in the transfer market. The squad needs wholesale changes, while a run of 19th, 19th, 17th and 20th place finishes show how the rot has been allowed to set in for the Blues.
That last finish puts them in particular danger. In nine of the last 11 seasons, one of the sides finishing 20th or 21st have gone down the next season. With confidence in Barnsley to improve, we think the Blues are in line for a fall.
Top Yorkshire Club – Barnsley
Last season this market was won at a canter by champions Leeds, but this term it’s more of a basement battle. Other than newly-promoted Rotherham, the other four sides in the running this season finished within eight points of the drop last year. Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday start the season on minus 12 points, leaving them unlikely to claim local bragging rights.
We expect Rotherham to end up in the bottom three this term, while there are major problems at Huddersfield. They narrowly stayed up last term, but a risky managerial change and reports of top-scorer Karlan Grant looking to leave paint a bleak picture at the John Smith’s.
Middlesbrough start as the favourites, but that’s down to Neil Warnock. He’s working with a very young, mainly academy-produced squad and even his EFL experience won’t make up for that. That has us turning to Barnsley, the lowest placed of last season’s remaining Championship sides. However, from the point that Gerhard Struber was appointed as manager in November, Barnsley had the 13th best record in the league. He’s made good additions since and as a result, we’re backing the Tykes to top their Yorkshire rivals.
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