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2019/20 The Championship Preview – Part Four

And the final part of the jigsaw to complete my look at The Championship competition for this season. Part One is here Two here and Part there.

Sheffield Wednesday’s pre-season was thrown a wobbly when Steve Bruce upped and left for Newcastle. Currently Lee Bullen is in caretaker charge for his third time.

Wednesday are another club with strained supporter/owner relationships. Dejphon Chansiri has thrown money at players, and Steve Bruce, but has neglected the infrastructure of the club. Bullen has inherited FFP issues, which surprises me because Katrien Meier is such a good CEO. FFP embargoes has meant that they’ve done little business in the summer. Midfielder Kadeem Harris joined from Cardiff, winger Moses Odubajo from Brentford and defender Julian Börner an interesting one from Arminia Bielefeld.

To alleviate wages Bruce released a whole host of players including George Boyd (Peterborough) and Gary Hooper. Still Wednesday have in their ranks the quality of players such as Adam Reach, Fernando Forestieri, Lucas Joao and Jordan Rhodes, who is still only 29 and has scored almost 200 second tier goals.

The Owls had a great start on Saturday, but the squad looks a little stale and fans wait on a new manager, or if Chansiri will give Bullen a go.

Odds: Promotion 7/1; Relegation 12/1
Player to watch: Adam Reach
Charlton connections: Morgan Fox
CA hunch: Got a feeling that their 8th season in The Championship might be a struggle.

Stoke City’s Nathan Jones was made in Charlton wasn’t he? There’s no doubting Jones’ coaching ability and he deserved his chance at a big club like Stoke. Jones had a hugely positive impact at Luton where the Hatters developed their very own winning style. That has taken a little time in the Potteries, but he has been allowed to invest and make the necessary changes in the summer.

£2m was spent on Barnsley’s Liam Lindsey, right back Tommy Smith came from Huddersfield, the tenacious Lee Gregory was snapped up from Millwall and a player Jones would have known well, Jordan Cousins signed from QPR. Add that Nick Powell was also signed, who on his day can change a game, Stoke’s squad looks one of the more robust in the division.

Odds: Promotion 11/2; Relegation 20/1
Player to watch: Joe Allen
Charlton connections: Nathan Jones (coach), Jordan Cousins
CA hunch: Jones has built a squad and now needs to add his style. I think they have enough for a top two challenge.

Not for the first time Swansea City lost their manager and are left to find a new one. I kind of always thought Swansea was a stopover for Graham Potter, and sure enough a decent season at the Liberty saw him move on, and not for the first time the Swans hierarchy went a bit left field on the appointment.

Steve Cooper is Welsh but has been involved in England’s youth set up since 2014. It’s a bold move but Swansea have been bold before. Cooper has watched as the Swans go through the familiar pattern of jettisoning overpaid talent and there were a lot of outgoings such as Leroy Fer and Wilifried Bony. Young talent Daniel James went to Man Utd for £15m, Jordan Ayew to Palace for £2.5m and toughest of all, striker Oliver McBurnie moved to Sheffield United for £18m.

Cooper saw zero of that as he signed full back Jake Bidwell from QPR on a free, winger Kristoffer Peterson from Dutch side Heracles Almelo and on loan Ben Wilmot from Watford plus Freddie Woodman from Newcastle.

Odds: Promotion 9/1; Relegation 8/1
Player to watch: Matt Grimes
Charlton connections:
CA hunch: If Cooper can follow the footballing model started an age ago and reinvigorated by Graham Potter then it will be a fine season. If.

It was a funny old season last year for West Bromwich Albion. They made the play-offs and were at times brilliant, and at times very disjointed. Slaven Bilic is the latest man in charge at the Hawthorns, and will be quick to exert his own strong personality on the Baggies.

The players that left in the summer reads a little like a who’s who. Gareth Barry, Wes Hoolihan, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon, James Morrison to mention a couple plus Jay Rodriguez who was sold to Burnley for £10m. Rodriguez along with the on loan Dwight Gayle scored 45 goals between them last season and they are going to be tough to replace. Harvey Barnes was often brilliant but he returned to parent club Leicester.

From Cardiff Kenneth Zohore will carry a lot of the goal getting weight on his shoulders. He scored one EPL goal last season. Bilic also signed Romaine Sawyers on the back of three good seasons at Brentford.

Benfica loanee Filip Krovinović is an interesting addition and centre half Semi Ajayi comes from Rotherham where he excelled last season.

Odds: Promotion 9/2; Relegation 40/1
Player to watch: Matt Phillips
Charlton connections: Semi Ajayi (academy)
CA hunch: Bilic is new to The Championship but has good enough pedigree to have to Baggies in the play-off mix.

A defining season perhaps for Paul Cook and Wigan Athletic. Cook has been successful everywhere he’s managed but like a few of us in this division, working with a smaller budget is not an easy ask. They benefited from loans last season, and although stand outs keeper Christian Walton and right back Reece James have gone, left back Antonee Robinson signed on a permanent from Everton.

Striker Lewis McLeod signed from Brentford, the experienced David Marshall came on a free from Hull and will be no.1 and Cook also won the race for Portsmouth’s Jamal Lowe, who after years in non-league finally broke through on the south coast scoring 17 last season.

Powell has moved onto Stoke, and he was one of few players last season that could turn a game on its head.

Odds: Promotion 20/11; Relegation 9/2
Player to watch: Jamal Lowe
Charlton connections: Nathan Byrne (loan)
CA hunch: Wigan look a little light on quality, and I think will struggle. Big task for Paul Cook.

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