Championship 2018/19: Team-by-Team Rundown, Part 3

Championship 2018/19: Team-by-Team Rundown, Part 3
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
August 2, 2018
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

This is the second instalment of our Championship Team-by-Team Rundown. You can read the rest of the series here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

This is the third part to our rundown of each Championship team who will compete in the division this coming season. All the teams have different aims and desires, and have strengthened in the market accordingly to achieve these goals. Can just-relegated Stoke go straight back up? Will Rotherham go straight back down? Or can teams like Nottingham Forest finally get promoted after years of attempts? Find out what we think in the article below.

Read More: Championship 2018/19 Outright Betting Tips and Predictions: Winner and Top Goalscorer

Norwich

Position last season: 14th
Key Player: Nelson Oliveira
Key Signing: Tim Krul

What FST Thinks

Norwich City would have hoped for so much more than what they got from the team last season. For a club of their stature, having been in the Premier League as recently as 2015/16, the play-offs should be seen as the norm. However, a failure to score enough goals saw the team stranded in mid-table, with criticism aimed at new manager Daniel Farke for a perceived negative style of play.

This summer has been all-change for the Canaries. Player of the Season James Maddison has been sold to Leicester for £24m, whilst playmaker Josh Murphy has gone to Cardiff and promising on-loan goalkeeper Angus Gunn returned to Manchester City and is now at Southampton. They have been replaced by Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul, winger Ben Marshall from Wolves, and attacking midfielder Emiliano Buendia from Getafe, whilst Jordan Rhodes has been put to add to the attacking threat the team have. Whilst Krul and Rhodes are clearly proven at this level, they have been out of form for a couple of years now, whilst Marshall and Buendia do not have the same quality as Maddison and Murphy have.

The sale of Norwich’s most talented players have ominous signs for the season ahead and it could be another season in mid-table for the club, albeit in a slightly higher position than 14th if strikers Jordan Rhodes and Nelson Oliveira start scoring goals regularly.

What the Fans Think

Fan: Jacob Tabbanor

Predicted Finish: Top six

“I was dreading this season but having now signed Tim Krul, Jordan Rhodes, Pukki, Passlack and Ben Marshall as well as getting Leitner back and keeping Trybull and Tettey i think we could get into the top 6 this season. Obviously too early to tell but with the business we have made on a budget our team is looking pretty healthy.”

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest predictions

Position last season: 17th
Key Player: Ben Osborn
Key Signing: Joao Carvalho

What FST Thinks:

It was another disappointing season from Nottingham Forest during the 2017/18 campaign. Despite brief moments of magic, such as beating Arsenal 4-2 in the FA Cup and good form early on, the season was largely bleak, with manager Mark Warbuton sacked and Aitor Karanka appointed with the looming threat of relegation. Whilst never in serious trouble, Karanka did not do much to improve the style of play and questions will start to be asked very quickly if his new-look team fails to get started.

Indeed, Nottingham Forest appear to have been inspired by Wolves in how to get out of the division; buy. Almost £25m has been spent on players, with half of that sum going on Joao Carvalho from Benfica, an exciting 21-year old attacking midfielder, who could turn out to be this season’s Ruben Neves. On top of that, proven striker Lewis Grabban has been signed for £6m from Bournemouth, whilst experienced heads like Michael Dawson and Jack Colback have also been acquired.

On paper then, this Nottingham Forest side looks like it has the talent to challenge for the play-offs at least, however it remains to be seen that with all the changes made to the team it will be able to gel effectively.

What the Fans Think:

Fan: Ben Robertson @benrobertson31

Predicted Finish: 2nd

“This is the first time in years where Forest fans can genuinely be excited at the start of the season. Brilliant signings so far, experience in Dawson, Jack Colback is Premiership quality, three young and exciting attackers from Portugal and Grabban is proven at our level. Stoke will be strong and will probably win the league, I think we’re best of the rest. In Karanka we trust!! Moore isn’t tested as a full time boss and Potter’s Swansea are in a period of transition. Lampard is an unknown quantity as a gaffer. Brentford could be the dark horses!”

Preston North End

West Ham vs Preston Predictions

Position last season: 7th
Key Player: Alan Browne
Key Signing: Ryan Ledson

What FST Thinks:

Preston overachieved significantly last season. On one of the smallest budgets in the division, the team outperformed many of the big spenders throughout the season but missed out on the play-offs by an agonising two points. Under Alex Neil, the team played a tight, compact style of play which saw them concede only a goal a game as they consolidated their position in the top half.

This season will be much tougher however, and Preston have continued with their low-spend approach, with under a million spent. It will be interesting to see how 20-year old winger Ryan Ledson does, signed from Oxford but unproven at this level. The sale of Greg Cunningham to Cardiff will be a blow but the club will have hopes that replacement Andrew Hughes, acquired from Peterborough, can do as well. Overall though, the club will have to rely on the core of players that did so well last season, such as Alan Browne, who got seven goals from midfield last season.

It will be difficult for Preston to replicate their form from

last season and by all accounts this team should finish in mid-table security for the coming campaign. However, with such a fantastic team spirit, a distinct style of play under Alex Neil and the talent the side has, do not be surprised if this team is once again around the play-offs.

What the Fans Think:

Fan: Rhys Dobson @RhysDobson3

Predicted Finish: 6th

“Brought in a lot of youngsters that are looking sharp in pre season but our team for this upcoming season will be very similar to last. Our manager is still looking for a striker to partner up with Sean Maguire who managed 11 goals last season despite being injured for 4 months. I think our team is strong enough to compete to get in the playoffs, we will definitely be the under dogs and that will work in our favour. Also we have scored 25 goals in pre season and conceded 6 so we are showing some form in front of goal.”

Queens Park Rangers

QPR

Position last season: 16th
Key Player: Massimo Luongo
Key Signing: Steve McClaren

What FST Thinks:

Last season was a forgettable one for Queens Park Rangers. Largely unthreatened by relegation, whilst not challenging for promotion saw the team marooned in mid-table. This lull saw manager Ian Holloway removed at the end of the season. New manager Steve McClaren has show he can get teams to perform in this league, and he will have to sort out a defence that conceded 70 goals last season, an average of 1.52 a game.

To solve this, centre back Toni Leistner has been acquired from Union Berlin on a free transfer. However, this has been the only signing and with formerly key players such as goalkeeper Alex Smithies and defender Jack Robinson moving on, QPR are in real danger of being in a relegation fight if they do not improve their team.

Find all of our betting tips and predictions for the upcoming season here.

What the Fans Think:

Fan: Michael

Predicted Finish: 15th

“Transfer activity, we’ve had very little, the £42 million fine we’ve just been hit with for FFP is probably why. Signed a CB from Union Berlin, Toni Leistner on a free, who looks decent and is a position we were in desperate need to strengthen. Lost Smithies to Cardiff which was a blow, but nothing else to talk about really, hopefully we can add a couple of good championship players before the window ends.

We ended the season quite well, especially at home. We’ve got a lot of talented youngsters (Eze, Smyth, Osayi-Samuel, Oteh, Chair), so how well we do just depends on how they can step up to the level. Especially Ebere Eze who is our player to look out for, looks a very very good prospect, who was class at Wycombe for the first half of last season and just been given the no.10 shirt. If we can get him firing then I’d be more optimistic, especially as we have a solid core to the side (when everyone’s fit) and I have to mention Luke Freeman who I think is one of the best players in the league. However, our away record is so poor and I think the young players may struggle in those games, but at the same time replacing Holloway with McCLaren I think was the right thing to do, so our fortunes may change.

The league is very strong this year though, big clubs have come up and down. And more money being spent is why I’m not as optimistic.”

Reading

Reading predictions and betting tips

Position last season: 20th
Key Player: Sone Aluko
Key Signing: Marc McNulty

What FST Thinks:

We covered Reading in our Championship relegation candidates article. We argued that the lack of funding put into the team this summer, with largely uninspiring acquisitions, as well as the lack of quality in the current team, spearheaded by an unclear style of play under Paul Clement could mean it would be a long season for Reading. Things have gone from bad to worse for the team as the star player we identified in Liam Moore has handed in a transfer request in the last day or so, meaning that the team will have to source a replacement fast.

With all that considered, Reading are surely looking at a mid-table finish at best, with is a disappointing prospect for a team that still holds the record for the best Championship season recorded, gaining 102 points in 2005/06, as well as several promotions to the Premier League in recent years.

What the Fans Think:

Fan: Joe @Joelong97

Predicted Finish: 14th

“Transfer activity has been anything less than inspiring, but still a mixed bunch. Leaving it up until the last game of last season to survive many fans thought we’d have money to spend (and chief exec Ron Gourlay said so himself!). The imminent signing of Sam Baldock is another one dividing opinion but I’m sure I speak for a lot of Reading fans when I say that a repeat of a relegation scrap is a lot more likely than being in the promotion hunt.

In our current predicament, the squad we have at our disposal and how disappointing our pre-season has been. I’ve tried to be a bit more hopeful with my table prediction. But it very well could end up that we drop a few places down the table. I just hope it’s above the dotted line!”

Rotherham United

League One - Rotherham v Scunthorpe

Position last season: 4th in League One
Key Player: Will Faulks
Key Signing: Billy Jones

What FST Thinks:

Another team we think will struggle to stay in the division in the coming season. The team does possess the same level of quality as the teams around them, and will have to rely on players like Will Faulks to make the step up to Championship-level fast. In addition, the new signings Billy Jones and Kyle Vassell could prove to be shrewd acquisitions, but Jones will have to show better than he did at Sunderland, whilst Vassell is untested in the Championship.

However, unlike Reading, there will be optimism surrounding Rotherham after a promotion campaign that saw them as the underdog throughout the season and they will be up for a scrap. Whilst destined to be in the bottom half, it is a question of whether Rotherham can replicate their home form from last season, where they only lost five times in 25 matches.

What the Fans Think:

Fan: Alex Jones @AlexJonez86

Predicted Finish: 15th

“Transfers have been a shambles, we’ve had a shocking transfer window. Relegation is a big worry for our side based on the lack of transfer activity but if we can bring in a midfielder and a striker we should be fine. We have faith in the manager but we can’t attract decent players meaning we are behind the other clubs.”

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