Championship outright predictions: Winner & promotion

Championship outright predictions: Winner & promotion
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
August 3, 2021

The kick-off of the 2021/22 Championship season is just days away, with plenty of things up in the air. There’s not a lot of confidence to be found in the sides leftover from last term, which potentially paves the way for the relegated sides to dominate again.

This crop of Championship teams isn’t exactly stellar, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have a dull year in the second tier. In fact, this year could provide an opening for some underrated sides to contend alongside the clubs who have come down.

We’ve taken a look at all the promotion contenders ahead of the new season to put together our outright winner and promotion predictions. See our selections below, while don’t forget to check our outright predictions schedule for all our upcoming articles.

How do relegated sides usually do in the Championship?

Before last season, only seven of the last 30 relegated sides won an immediate return to the Premier League. However, last term was a big change for the fortunes of the sides dropping down. Both Norwich and Watford won automatic promotion, while Bournemouth made the playoffs despite a bad start.

All three sides avoided the usual pitfalls of relegated sides. We’re starting to see the influence the Premier League income and parachute payments can have, while relegated sides are starting to get smarter about relegation. That’s certainly the case this term.

Championship 2021/22 winner prediction

Fulham at 11/2

The frontrunners for the title are the four Championship sides who have been relegated in the last two seasons. This year’s trio – Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United – are followed by 9/1 Bournemouth as the title favourites. There’s quite a leap after that, with Cardiff at 16/1.

That shows the gap between those sides with Premier League money to fall back upon. Outside of those four no side looks to have put a title-winning squad together. With the worrying trend for relegated sides broken last term, it’s worth putting your faith in the most settled of the trio to win the title, which is exactly how last season played out too.

Fulham aren’t usually considered settled, given they’re now a real yo-yo club who are not afraid of making transfer moves. However, this time they’re looking to use the experience within their side to return to the big time. Fulham have 19 members of their squad who have won promotion before, including 10 players who have done it twice.

To compliment that, they’ve made a big move by targeting Marco Silva to replace Scott Parker. The former Everton boss has been discarded by English football since leaving Goodison, but it’s worth remembering that he did no worse than the current managers of Real Madrid and Barcelona while with the Toffees.

Silva was brilliant during his short stint at Hull, he had Watford looking strong before internal divisions caused issues and his Everton reign wasn’t all bad. Silva has a point to prove now, but he’s not going to stray from what made him successful. While big changes are happening at the other frontrunners, Silva will introduce a familiar style to a side which looked like a solid Premier League outfit by the end of last season. These players have been down this road before, they can quickly adapt to their approach and they’re being led by a good manager with a point to prove. Overall, it’s hard to look past Fulham.

Championship 2021/22 promotion prediction

Sheffield United at 11/4

I see the final automatic promotion spot being a fight between Sheffield United and West Brom, who sides who are also under new management. Both haven’t made major moves but have squads which are a real blend of quality and Championship experience. The only thing really splitting them is their choice of manager.

Valerien Ismael was the Championship’s standout manager with Barnsley last term, but his plan to introduce the same pressing style may have some early headaches given the players he is imposing it on. I’d back him to eventually get it right, but a slow start could be costly.

Nothing is guaranteed for Slavisa Jokanovic at Sheffield United, but he inherits a side who played a tactically astute style under Chris Wilder. They’re all settled and capable of taking on new ideas, so Jokanovic’s impressive style – which has earned two promotions already – should work at Bramall Lane. It’s a case of evolution over revolution for me and that’s why I’m backing the Blades to be the sharpest of the pair.

Bournemouth at 10/3

Elsewhere, Scott Parker is doing his own overhaul on the South Coast, where his comments about feeling settled and supported must have went down a treat at former club Fulham. Bournemouth aggressively pursued Parker after Jonathan Woodgate left, making the former England midfielder the man to lead them back to the Premier League.

That’s something he did with Fulham in 2020, but to be honest I wasn’t all that impressed by his single Championship campaign. Parker got the most out of a squad which was too strong for much of the division – a position he’s arguably found himself in once again.

However, Parker really grew into his role in the Premier League and he looks a far better manager thanks to that experience. He’s clearly received promises to tempt him away from Fulham and the squad he has to work with finished the season brilliantly despite being lumbered with poor choices of manager throughout. They really clicked at this level towards the end of the season and the talent there should make them contenders. I like Bournemouth to go up, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they needed the playoffs to do it.

Championship 2021/22 playoff predictions

Millwall to finish top 6

Even if the Championship’s four frontrunners all click the beauty of the league is that they won’t hold all the cards by the end of the season. At least two playoff spots are up for grabs with few sides making any strides forward towards them. Millwall seem to be edging towards a top six finish and their summer signings are the mark of a side gambling for a playoff spot.

Recapturing George Saville – signed for £1.8m after selling him for over four times that in 2018 – is a bold move. Saville had his best Boro season last term and I don’t see any reason why he won’t do well with the Lions. Benik Afobe is another experienced Championship man who could pay off for Millwall this season.

They’re playing under Gary Rowett, a man who is most comfortably punching above his weight in this division. He pushed the Lions into the top half last term without their considerable home support, so the return of fans and some potentially great additions make Millwall my best bet to join the playoff party.

More betting news

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