2019/20 The Championship Preview – Part Two
My next look at our new Championship opponents. Part One is here.
The long running saga of Frank Lampard leaving for Chelsea meant Derby County had to quickly re-adjust this summer. They chose Phillippe Cocu as their new manager. The Dutchman has no previous experience on British soil, but he has won the Eredivisie three times as a manager.
Derby released a whole load of players at the end of the play-off’s and saw Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Fikayo Tomori all return to parent clubs. Everton loanee Kieran Dowell replaces Mount, but he’s probably not quite as technically accomplished. Left back Graham Shinnie joins from Aberdeen, but the Rams look a little short of numbers at present.
Like in SE7 movements before the transfer deadline will be crucial, but Cocu won’t have Lampard’s connections. Club captain Richard Keogh, Scott Malone, Tom Huddlestone and Martyn Waghorn are just four players with a lot of experience and Jack Marriott, Tom Lawrence and Duane Holmes are all top end players at this level.
Odds: Promotion 11/2; Relegation 14/1
Player to watch: Jack Marriott
Charlton connections: Scott Carson (loan), Martyn Waghorn (loan)
CA hunch: Last year Derby threw a lot of money at getting promotion, and they may have missed their best opportunity. I don’t think they’ll do as well this season.
Fulham start as second favourites to Leeds. Scott Parker is someone we know well, and like Lee Bowyer I will suspect will drive a team culture based on fitness and hard work.
Parker has had a huge clear out of players and only made one permanent signing, and that an unknown Chelsea youngster. However the loan signings of Ivan Cavaleiro and Anthony Knockaert are impressive, with Aleksandar Mitrovic pretty much odds on for the division’s top scorer at all the bookies.
Alfie Mawson should be among the division’s better centre-backs, and Parker will rely on Tom Cairney in midfield. Ryan Sessegnon is expected to move to Spurs. I’m not sure about Fulham. We’ve seen relegated sides go one of two ways and unlike Cardiff for example, Fulham decimated their side after winning promotion so gloriously the season before, and have lost that continuity.
Odds: Promotion 9/4; Relegation 66/1
Player to watch: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Charlton connections: Scott Parker
CA hunch: They will be one of the better sides on their day in the division and will score goals, but I’m not sure that’s enough.
Huddersfield Town have had the expected churn following relegation but still pack a very useful Championship squad. Philip Billing is the most high profile departure (to Bournemouth), and Jan Siewert has continued their grab of talent from the lower leagues. Like us, but with a much bigger budget.
Striker Josh Koroma was Macauley Bonne’s partner at Leyton Orient, midfielders Tim Akinola came from Lincoln and Reece Brown from Forest Green Rovers. The much more experienced Tommy Elphick signs from Aston Villa after being on loan at Hull last season.
Town still have Aaron May and Alex Pritchard and we are all going to be interested to see how Karlan Grant fares.
Odds: Promotion 7/1; Relegation 7/1
Player to watch: Karlan Grant
Charlton connections: Ben Hamer, Karlan Grant
CA hunch: I’m not sure this team has the depth to compete for promotion again, especially with Siewert still a bit of a novice. Yet the club have a lot of things to admire, and are void of any crazy over expectations. Play offs definitely achievable.
Hull City’s third year in The Championship and in the summer Grant McCann was made their third manager in that time. Like a club close to our hearts, the Tigers have struggled with short sighted thinking, and their summer shows a familiar pattern. With a lot of contracts ending there were many departures and just a few incomings on Humberside.
A player we, or at least fans, have had in their thoughts as a potential Charlton player, Tom Eaves joined Hull from Gillingham. Centre half Ryan Tafazolli joined from Peterborough and young Everton winger Josh Bowler signed on loan.
First choice keeper David Marshall left for Wigan and was replaced by Matt Ingram from QPR. Todd Kane on loan from Chelsea could be inspired and the form of defenders Jordy De Wijs and Reece Burke will be vital. Nigel Adkins put a brave face on the issues at Hull last season, now McCann has to do the same but he has a task on his hands.
Odds: Promotion 25/1; Relegation 5/1
Player to watch: Tom Eaves
CA hunch: I have them down as strugglers.
In pretty much everyone’s opinion, maybe apart from Norwich supporters, Leeds United were the best team in The Championship last season. The champions of Europe will start as favourites, and it is characters like Marcelo Bielsa and sides like Leeds that make being back in The Championship all the more mouthwatering.
Leeds carried a huge squad, and Bielsa has cleansed it, probably to avoid FFP. Most were periphery players but Pontus Jansson was the highest profile. Jack Clarke was sold to Tottenham, but loaned back – why can’t we ever do that?
The talented Jack Harrison is back for another loan season from Man City and winger Hélder Costa, massively influential during Wolves’ promotion, is at Elland Road for the season too.
The experienced Pablo Hernández drives them on from midfield and if Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford can stay fit, then they have a lot of goals in the side too.
Leeds look tough to beat, but for three seasons they have faltered badly at the business end of the season, and that can become psychological, especially amongst it’s ardent fan base.
Odds: Promotion 7/4; Relegation 66/1
Player to watch: Helder Costa
CA hunch: They have to be champions. Don’t they?
Luton Town have had a wonderful ride. Deservedly L1 champions, Hatters’ fans will be expectant probably more than Charlton and Barnsley’s. After Nathan Jones left for Stoke, Mick Harford didn’t miss a beat, but he has gone back to his previous role and now Graeme Jones has taken over.
Jones has added the experience of Ryan Tunnicliffe (Millwall), Martin Cranie (Sheff Utd) and Callum McManaman (Wigan) on free’s, and broke their transfer record for Croatian goalkeeper Simon Sluga, but did lose Jack Stacey to Bournemouth and James Justin to Leicester. Money interestingly that wasn’t re-circulated.
Still many players remain from their L2 days and it will be interesting see how those players fair at this level. Players such as James Collins, Elliot Lee, Danny Hylton, Harry Cornick, Dan Potts and skipper Alan Sheehan have been brilliant during Luton’s rise, but they all face another big challenge.
Luton were so consistent last season and Graeme Jones will be hoping they get off to a good start.
Odds: Promotion 22/1; Relegation 9/2
Player to watch: Pelly Ruddock
Charlton connections: Martin Cranie (loan)
CA hunch: I’m not sure if this next jump up will be one too many, but they have a lot of togetherness and momentum, so I think bottom half with no real relegation worries.
Part Three coming soon.