UNEDUCATED GUESSES

Five bold, probably misguided, Championship predictions

Nigel Pearson, the best Championship Manager since 2001-02

Nigel Pearson

Neither West Ham nor Leicester will win it

Both have assured bosses, big wallets and have spent well, but the distance between them and the chasing pack in the betting is staggering for a division famed for chewing up big clubs. West Ham started their last Championship stint with England internationals in tow and wound up fourth, so don’t write off the chances of a repeat. Leicester still need another striker.

Hull will be in the mix
They’re the club that showed Burnley, Blackpool and Norwich the way when it comes to surprise promotions, and another is obtainable. The Tigers have done nothing too stunning this summer but were one of the best teams in the division from November last term before slacking off at the end, so that and The Spoiler’s unhealthy level of faith in Nigel Pearson leads us to fancy them.

Crystal Palace will mount a play-off challenge
No doubt our anger management issues need treating, but previews tipping the top six in the betting to be the top six make us want to smash things. Usually at least one outsider creeps in and our pick, admittedly pure hunch as with Hull, is Crystal Palace. They closed 2010-11 fairly well under Dougie Freedman and seem to sneak into the play-off picture at random once every few years. We’ll stick our necks out that it’s their turn again.

Blackpool will be this year’s underachievers
Even Ian Holloway looks to be readying fans for failure given his pre-season pessimism. The previous three play-off winners all made uninspiring returns, with Burnley eighth, Hull 11th and Derby 18th. Last season’s star turns David Vaughan, Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell have all gone and while Barry Ferguson is a great signing, fellow newbie Kevin Phillips’ goals surely have to dry up some day…

Doncaster will survive again
Donny are in amongst the relegation favourites after enduring the worst of their three campaigns in the Championship, however they still survived by six points despite a dire second half of the season. With no major exits, a few intriguing arrivals (Richard Naylor, Giles Barnes) and Coventry trying their hardest to book a spot in the bottom three, we think they’ll be okay.

For added ridicule, our predicted table (we’ll settle for one right out of 24!)…
Hull, Leicester, Ipswich, West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace;
Reading, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Cardiff, Birmingham, Southampton;
Burnley, Derby, Brighton, Blackpool, Portsmouth, Leeds;
Doncaster, Bristol City, Watford, Peterborough, Coventry, Barnsley


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