2019-20 Championship Promotion and Relegation Preview: Who Will Sink and Who Will Swim?
Several Championship clubs will duke it out to secure promotion to England’s prestigious and cash-heavy Premier League over the course of the 2019-20 campaign. Reaching England’s top-tier league is worth a cool £170 million and that success can make or break a club. At the other end of the table, there will be a handful of teams desperately battling it out to avoid the infamous relegation trapdoor, and will find themselves trading blows to put as much room from them and that fateful bottom three as possible.
Here we highlight three teams who have the arsenal to potentially fire themselves into the Premier League and three teams who might crumble under relegation pressure and fall from Championship grace.
Sailing to the Promised Land?
Sheffield Wednesday – Title Odds at Start of Season 20/1
It seems Steve Bruce’s departure to Newcastle has not disrupted the Owls’ blistering start to the season, claiming 3 points from both of their games and netting an impressive 5 times. Lee Bullen, who has taken the reigns as caretaker manager, has come flying out of the blocks and assured fans he will not be deviating from his attacking principles.
The club will need to maintain its impressive start without hitman Fernando Forestieri, who is serving a suspension. Filling the head coach role will be on top of the club’s to-do-list.
Key Men – Adam Reach and Fernando Forestieri
Adam Reach has bagged some mouth-watering goals for the club and has been an integral cog for the Wednesday machine. Forestieri is a talented centre-forward on his day, but the Argentinian is serving a six-match ban for alleged racism.
- Moses Odubajo, Brentford – free
- Kadeem Harris, Cardiff – free
- Julian Borner, Arminia Bielefeld – free
- Daniel Pudil, Mlada Boleslav – free
- George Boyd, Peterborough – free
- Gary Hooper – released
- Marco Matias – released
- David Jones – released
Leeds United – Title Odds at Start of Season 9/2
Leeds United have made a strong start to their Championship campaign after shaking off the disappointment of falling painfully short in last year’s promotion push. Marcelo Bielsa has inspired the Leeds’ troops by putting pen to paper for another season and getting the Whites off to a solid start, with a convincing 3-1 win over Bristol City and an unlucky 1-1 draw at home to a resilient Nottingham Forest.
If you like to bet on football, you’ll see Leeds are favourites to wear the Championship crown by the end of the season and with Bielsa holding the fort and Hernandez leading the charge they have an optimum opportunity to pull it off.
The Peacocks should be full of optimism after witnessing their team play some tantalising football and show that they still have that fire in their bellies, even after last season’s disappointment.
Key Men – Pablo Hernandez and Patrick Bamford
The midfield lynchpin has proven that age is really just a number as he catapulted the West Yorkshire club through the Championship table last season. Pablo Hernandez, 34, also showcased a stunning solo preseason goal which will keep fans wanting more this season. Patrick Bamford has irrefutable talent to add and is going to be vital for the club’s success this season.
- Ben White, Brighton – loan
- Helder Costa, Wolves – loan
- Jack Harrison, Manchester City – loan
- Liam McCarron, Carlisle – undisclosed
- Jack Clarke, Tottenham – loan
- Jack Clarke, Tottenham – £10m
- Pontus Jansson, Brentford – £5.5m
- Caleb Ekuban, Trabzonspor – £900k
- Samu Saiz, Girona – undisclosed
- Aapo Halme, Barnsley – undisclosed
- Mallik Wilks, Barnsley – undisclosed
- Hadi Sacko, Denizlispor – undisclosed
- Tyler Denton, Stevenage – undisclosed
- Paudie O’Connor, Bradford City – free
- Sam Dalby, Watford – free
- Lewie Coyle, Fleetwood – loan
- Jay-Roy Grot, Vitesse – loan
West Brom – Title Odds at the Start of the Season 12/1
Their season ended in disappointment last year when they fell short to a fearless Aston Villa side in the playoffs. The main focus is to break back into the top-six, but players leaving over the summer might hinder their chances. The main positive over the summer was the Baggies securing Kenneth Zohore’s signature from Cardiff.
Slaven Bilic’s troops started their campaign off with a bang, putting Nottingham Forest to the sword away on the road to claim their first three-points of the season. Shortly after that first emphatic win, the Baggies were forced to share the spoils at the Hawthorns when a galvanised Millwall side fought back to earn themselves a point.
Key Man – Kenneth Zahore
The West Midland club have spent a significant sum on the Dane and will be hoping that the striker’s services pay dividends. The Danish forward will be a catalyst for the Baggies this season, and an £8m price-tag is warranted for a man with his talent and potential.
- Kenneth Zohore, Cardiff – £8m
- Charlie Austin, Southampton –
- Romaine Sawyers, Brentford – £2.9m
- Semi Ajayi, Rotherham United – £1.5m
- Darnell Furlong, Queens Park Rangers – £1.5m
- Filip Krovinovic, Benfica – loan
- Grady Diangana, West Ham – loan
- Matheus Pereira, Sporting CP, loan
- Salomon Rondon, Dalian Yifang – £16.5m
- Jay Rodriguez, Burnley – £5m
- Morgan Rogers, Manchester City – £4m
- Craig Dawson, Watford – £5.5m
- Allan Nyom, Getafe – undisclosed
- James Morrison – released
- Gareth Barry – released
- Boaz Myhill – released
- Tyrone Mears – released
- Wes Hoolahan – released
- Alex Palmer, Plymouth Argyle – loan
Fulham Title Odds at the Start of the Season 7/1
Fulham experienced a torrid relegation experience last season spending an excess of £100m to have a stab at survival and ultimately failing. The Cottagers were architects of their own downfall by plunging back in the Championship for the 19-20 season with a torrent of supposable Premier League players. The appointment of Scott Parker will bring a new brand of football to the Championship favourites this season and notably the loan signing of Anthony Knockaert will bring much needed attack options.
Barnsley stunned Fulham on the opening day of the season by bagging three points at Oakwell, but Fulham picked themselves up and netted their only two shots on target against Blackburn to get their promotion train back on the tracks.
Key Man – Anthony Knockaert
The Frenchman proved to be the missing puzzle piece to Brighton’s promotion and was a driving force for the club to retain a Premier League status. Fulham have landed themselves a bargain, the little magician takes no prisoners at this level and will surely terrorise a leaky back-four.
- Ivan Cavaleiro, Wolves – loan
- Anthony Knockaert, Brighton – loan
- Ryan Babel, Galatasaray – free
- Jean Michael Seri, Galatasaray – loan
- Lazar Markovic – released
- Berti Schötterl – released
- Elijah Adebayo, Walsall – free
Hoping to Avoid the Drop
Birmingham City – Title Odds at the Start of the Season 50/1
Birmingham parted ways with Gary Monk at the end of last season after he guided the Blues to a 17th place finish in the Championship. Subsequently, City found themselves looking down the barrel of defeat when they were hit with a nine-point penalty discovering that the club had breached EFL regulations on spending.
Even after the points penalty, the club found their stride by brushing aside Brentford at Griffin Park, to then have three points snatched away from them at home, eventually settling for a point against Bristol City.
Caretaker Pep Clotet has been named permanent boss and has restored some composure around the struggling club. Unfortunately, a number of senior players have left over the summer as well as talisman Che Adams. With the points deduction and a lack of first-team players, Birmingham might find teams exposing their weak underbelly and might plunge them into the drop zone.
Key Man – Jake Clarke Salter
The 21-year-old defender seems to be a breath of fresh air around the club, on loan from Chelsea, he looks to be a young, dynamic talent who has been on loan at Sunderland and Vitesse. The London-born defender has also captained the U21s for their European Championship campaign over the summer.
- Daniel Crowley, Willem II – £700k
- Ivan Sunjic, Dinamo Zagreb – £6.3m
- Gary Gardner, Aston Villa – undisclosed
- Jayden Reid, Swansea – free
- Jake Clarke-Salter, Chelsea – loan
- Che Adams, Southampton – £15m
- Dominic Bernard – released
- Jota, Aston Villa – £4m
- Tomasz Kuszczak – released
- Beryls Lubala, Crawley Town – free
- Kyle McFarlane – released
- Michael Morrison, Reading – free
- Cheikh N’Doye – released
- Viv Solomon-Otabor – released
- Greg Stewart, Rangers – free
Millwall – Title Odds at the Start of the Season 50/1
Millwall escaped the relegation trapdoor by the skin of their teeth last season and will want to improve and build on the negatives. Millwall’s all-time record goalscorer, Neil Harris, is still captaining the ship in East London and will hope to aim higher than 21st this time around.
The Lions started with a skip in their step by beating Preston 1-0 at the Den and then earning a point on the road at the Hawthorns. The Championship is a long, gruelling league and Millwall haven’t suggested their summer window was a positive one.
Key Man – Matt Smith
The journeyman striker has already netted for the Lions, salvaging a point away from home. The forward will supply experience and much needed support to the London club.
- Connor Mahoney, AFC Bournemouth – £1m
- Frank Fielding, Bristol City – free
- Alex Pearce, Derby County – free
- Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Reading – £750,000
- Matt Smith, QPR – undisclosed
- Tyler Burey, AFC Wimbledon – tribunal
- Ryan Tunnicliffe, Luton Town – free
- Conor McLaughlin, Sunderland – free
- Tom King, Newport County – free
- David Martin, West Ham – free
- Lee Gregory, Stoke City – free
- Sid Nelson, Tranmere Rovers – free
- Jordan Archer – released
- Steve Morison, Shrewsbury Town – loan
Reading Title Odds at the Start of the Season 66/1
Reading have released plenty of players over the summer and will have to be very careful not to find themselves slipping down the table. Reading finished 20th last season and failed to impress, Jose Manuel Gomes – Reading’s manager – will have to go through the gears to keep the southern outfit afloat in the Championship.
Reading have suffered back-to-back losses so far in their quest for safety and will need to dig deep to get back on track. Sheffield Wednesday ripped the Royals apart in their opening game and fell to a second defeat on the road to Hull. Recruitment has been steady over the summer seeing the club bring in Charlie Adam and Matt Miazga to note.
Key Men – Charlie Adam and Matt Miazga
The towering centre- back has returned on loan from Chelsea and has the tools to in his locker to form a strong partnership with Michael Morrison. Charlie Adam is a steal on the free, he will provide some grounded experience to try and avoid another drop.
- Michael Morrison, Birmingham – free
- Charlie Adam, Stoke City – free
- Joao Virgina, Everton – loan
- Matt Miazga, Chelsea – loan
- Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Millwall – £750k
- Lewis Ward, Exeter City – undisclosed
- Liam Kelly, Feyenoord – undisclosed
- Anssi Jaakkola, Bristol Rovers – free
- Joe van den Berg, NEC Nijmegen – free
- John O’Shea – retired
- Paul McShane – released
- Callum Harriott – released
- Vito Mannone, Minnesota United – loan
- Sone Aluko, Beijing Renhe – loan
- Marc McNulty, Sunderland – loan
The Dark Horse to Go Down
Swansea City – Title Odds at the Start of the Season 33/1
The Swans were dealt a double-blow over the summer with head coach Graeme Potter departing for Premier League Brighton and starlet Daniel James making his dream move to Manchester United. It’s not all doom and gloom on the south coast of Wales as they have bounced back with a solid home win against Huddersfield and a draw away from home against title-contenders Derby.
The new-found optimism will still not encourage fans, who will be looking ahead to a season with a lack of signings and gaping hole left by departures over the summer. The Welsh outfit might find themselves banished down a division if they don’t recruit heavily in the next window.
Key Man – Mike van der Hoorn
Premier League clubs have been sniffing around the Dutchman and it is no secret that the defender has ambitions to play at a higher level. If Swansea can hold on to this Dutch prospect, then there might be hope later into the season.
- Jake Bidwell, QPR – free
- Ben Wilmot, Watford – loan
- Daniel James, Manchester United – £15m
- Jordan Ayew, Crystal Palace – £2.5m
- Luciano Narsingh, Feyenoord – free
- Martin Olsson – released
- Leroy Fer – Feyenoord – released
- Wilfried Bony – released