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The Football League Thread 2014/15

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The 2014-15 Football League Championship preview

By Tim Simon

 

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The Championship season gets underway this weekend and as ever, it is extremely unpredictable. Promoted Leicester City, Burnley and QPR have been replaced by last season’s relegated Premier League sides Fulham, Norwich City and Cardiff City while at the other end Wolves, Brentford and Rotherham United take the places of relegated Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley.

It promises to be a thrilling campaign in a division which always throws up major surprises at the top and the bottom of the table. This season, 18 of the 24 sides in the Championship have played in the top flight before, meaning it is arguably the most competitive the league has ever been. Boasting average attendances that rank amongst the top five of all leagues in Europe, the Championship promises to be as enthralling as ever this season.

 

Let’s preview the upcoming season, predicting the promotion battle, the relegation drama, who will take the title of top goal-scorer and the potential surprise packages of the division.

 

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Promotion favourites

As ever, the relegated clubs from the Premier League are among the favourites to make an immediate return to the ‘promised land’.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff are the bookmakers favourites, probably because they have experience of a long promotion battle and plenty of firepower in their attack. A few of their starting line-up from last year may have left but the core of the squad remains and any Championship attack including Kenwyne Jones, Adam Le Fondre, Nicky Maynard and Federico Macheda is an extremely dangerous one.

Likewise, Fulham, managed by the organised Felix Magath, are expected to make a swift return after their 13-year stay at the top table came to an end last season. Top level experience such as Scott Parker, Hugo Rodallega and Fernando Amorebieta has been joined by players from the Cottagers’ impressive youth system and the Championship’s most expensive ever player Ross McCormack, who they bought for £11million from Leeds.

 

Norwich have a very impressive squad for this level. They may have lost Robert Snodgrass to Hull City, with talented players such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond and Leroy Fer likely to follow the Scot out of Carrow Road, but it still a talented team. Lewis Grabban has been brought in from Bournemouth to bolster an already strong front-line including Gary Hooper. The Canaries should be there or thereabouts come May.

Derby County will once again be contenders. The play-off runners-up from last year have managed to keep their exciting, youthful squad together, after star midfielders Craig Bryson and Will Hughes signed new contracts this summer.

2013 F.A Cup winners Wigan Athletic are also amongst the favourites. Only Jordi Gomez has left for pastures new this summer and the Latics have added James Tavernier, Oriol Riera and Don Cowie to an already strong squad.

 

Perhaps the most impressive team in the transfer market this summer have beenWatford, who have re-signed Matej Vydra on loan from Udinese alongside the likes of Heurelho Gomes, Juan Carlos Paredes, Lloyd Dyer and Craig Cathcart. If they can hold onto star striker Troy Deeney, a promotion push is definitely on the cards.

 

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Relegation candidates

Blackpool’s much publicised problems off the pitch have made them strong favourites to be relegated this season. After a recent spree of signings, they currently have just 15 players on their books but have finally signed a new goalkeeper. The sheer lack of squad depth at Bloomfield Road means that they must surely be considered relegation favourites before a ball has been kicked.

 

Ian Holloway’s Millwall side may not be the most fashionable but they know how to scrap for points. Although they are likely to be overpowered by the wealthier clubs, they will shock a few favourable teams. The Lions are pre-season relegation candidates but the acquisitions of Ricardo Fuller and Magaye Gueye offer some hope. The former Blackpool boss will set his side up to frustrate most opponents but Millwall are likely to struggle to stay in the division as they do lack quality in key areas.

Love him or hate him, Steve Evans has done a fantastic job at Rotherham. This time two years ago they were in League Two and now they are in the second tier of English football. If it wasn’t for Blackpool’s problems, they would be favourites for relegation but holding onto star man Kieran Agard and the signings of Matt Derbyshire, Kirk Broadfoot and Jordan Bowery offer them hope of survival.

 

After penalty heartbreak against Doncaster just one year previously, Brentfordfinally made it to the Championship in the second automatic promotion spot. They will be carrying plenty of momentum off the back of last season’s success but the fact is their squad isn’t as strong as many of the leagues heavyweights.

Birmingham will just be glad to still be in the Championship after a Paul Caddis equaliser away at Bolton saw the Blues survive on the final day. Lee Clark has managed to add eight free transfers to his squad despite a lack of funds but it remains to be seen if they have enough quality to avoid another relegation fight.

 

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Who could be top goalscorer?

There are many strikers in the Championship who are looking to fire their side to the top flight or impress potential suitors from the Premier League. Last season, Danny Ings was the man to make a name for himself, finishing with 22 goals in Burnley’s promotion season. Let’s take a look at this year’s main contenders.

Ross McCormack was last year’s top scorer as he notched up a staggering 29 goals, which equated to 49% of all Leeds United’s strikes. The Scot’s record move to Fulham means that the pressure is on him to retain his personal crown.

 

Jordan Rhodes almost guarantees goals at this level. He backed up the 26 he scored in his first season at Blackburn with 25 last time around. Having signed a new contract this summer, Rhodes will be hoping his goals can fire Rovers back to the Premier League.

Should 24-goal forward Troy Deeney move to the Premier League as expected,Matej Vydra will be tasked with scoring Watford’s goals. The Championship player of the season from 2012-13 will be looking to return to Vicarage Road with a bang after an unsuccessful spell at West Brom.

Adam Le Fondre’s move to promotion favourites Cardiff from Reading means that he is in with a big shout whilst Norwich striker Gary Hooper is proven at this level despite bagging just six times in the top flight last season. Middlesbrough have splashed around £3million on Kike from Real Murcia, if he can live up to his price-tag and match his 23 goals from last season, the Spaniard could be a dark horse to finish as top scorer.

 

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Surprise packages

Last season, Burnley surprised everyone with their run to a second placed finish in the league despite having an extremely limited squad. There are several sides vying to emulate the Clarets this time around, here are a few potential surprise packages.

Promoted Wolves are considered many people’s dark horses for back-to-back promotions. Kenny Jackett has managed to keep together his title-winning squad, adding Tommy Rowe to it for good measure.

Charlton Athletic have bought well this summer. Backed by their rich Belgian owner, new boss Bob Peeters has been able to bring in the likes of Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who scored a phenomenal hat-trick in Iceland’s World Cup qualifier in Switzerland last year, the experienced Tal Ben-Haim and several free transfers to bolster an already strong squad.

 

Anyone armed with the fire-power of Rhodes has a chance of mounting a serious play-off push. Blackburn have other talents but there is no doubt that the Scot is their key. Middlesbrough are another side to have bought well, with Matthew Lowton, Emilio Nsue, James Husband and Tomas Mejias joining Kike at the Riverside next season.

There is no doubt someone from the pack will surprise us with how well, or badly, they perform. Although teams such as Ipswich, Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Bolton, Leeds, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Bournemouth and Huddersfieldaren’t considered favourites at either end of the table, it wouldn’t be the Championship without some uncertainty. Expect twists and turns galore over the next nine months and it all kicks off on Friday night.

 

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Championship Top Scorer Odds

 

Top Goalscorer 2014/15
 
EW Terms:  1/4  Odds | 4  Places
 
Jordan Rhodes 6/1
Ross McCormack 9/1
Matej Vydra 10/1
Chris Martin 12/1
Lewis Grabban 14/1
Gary Hooper 16/1
Kike Garcia 16/1
Adam Le Fondre 20/1
Federico Macheda 25/1
James Vaughan 25/1
Nahki Wells 25/1
Nicky Maynard 25/1
Callum Wilson 25/1
Adam Taggart 33/1
Craig Bryson 33/1
Craig Mackail-Smith 33/1
David McGoldrick 33/1
Grant Holt 33/1
Hugo Rodallega 33/1
Jamie Ward 33/1
Javi Guerra 33/1
Jermaine Beckford 33/1
Johnny Russell 33/1
Marc Antoine Fortune 33/1
Martyn Waghorn 33/1
Matt Fryatt 33/1
Nick Blackman 33/1
Oriol Riera 33/1
Pavel Pogrebnyak 33/1
Simon Cox 33/1
Andre Gray 40/1
Brett Pitman 40/1
Cauley Woodrow 40/1
Chris Brown 40/1
Clayton Donaldson 40/1
Craig Davies 40/1
Darius Henderson 40/1
Fernando Forestieri 40/1
Jamie Paterson 40/1
Kei Kamara 40/1
Kyle Lafferty 40/1
Lee Tomlin 40/1
Leon Best 40/1
Nouha d*cko 40/1
Reza Ghoochannejhad 40/1
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel 40/1
Rudy Gestede 40/1
Alex Revell 50/1
Atdhe Nuhiu 50/1
Conor Sammon 50/1
Daryl Murphy 50/1
Igor Vetokele 50/1
Jamie Mackie 50/1
javier acuna 50/1
Joe Lolley 50/1
Joe Mason 50/1
Jordan Bowery 50/1
Kenwyne Jones 50/1
Kieran Agard 50/1
Leon Clarke 50/1
Luke Varney 50/1
Marcello Trotta 50/1
Matt Derbyshire 50/1
Tokelo Rantie 50/1
Chris Maguire 66/1
Dexter Blackstock 66/1
Diego Fabbrini 66/1
Dominic Poleon 66/1
Febian Brandy 66/1
Gary Madine 66/1
Jermaine Easter 66/1
Lee Gregory 66/1
Lee Novak 66/1
Matt Smith 66/1
Matthew Green 66/1
Noel Hunt 66/1
Ricardo Fuller 66/1
Scott McDonald 66/1
Simon Church 66/1
Steve Morison 66/1
Steven Davies 66/1
Tommy Smith 66/1
Sergei Zenjov 100/1
Tom Barkhuizen 100/1

 
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Opening Weekend

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Orient vs Chesterfield first game.

 

Decent pre season.... they might put curtains on a few teams with their new signings although the pace from odubajo that is missing is very apparent. 

 

I expect McAnuff to do stuff and Jay Simpson. Darius Henderson joined as well

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Dont even know who to back for top scorer

 

Le Fondre

Hooper

Naki Wells

Mecheda

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Whats the odd's on Orient going up this season..them new signings should do the job...plus they havent finished in the market yet.

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orient 2nd favs to win it at 10/1

11/4 to be promoted

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Championship Top Scorer Odds

Top Goalscorer 2014/15

EW Terms: 1/4 Odds | 4 Places

Jordan Rhodes 6/1

Ross McCormack 9/1

Matej Vydra 10/1

Chris Martin 12/1

Lewis Grabban 14/1

Gary Hooper 16/1

Kike Garcia 16/1

Adam Le Fondre 20/1

Federico Macheda 25/1

James Vaughan 25/1

Nahki Wells 25/1

Nicky Maynard 25/1

Callum Wilson 25/1

Adam Taggart 33/1

Craig Bryson 33/1

Craig Mackail-Smith 33/1

David McGoldrick 33/1

Grant Holt 33/1

Hugo Rodallega 33/1

Jamie Ward 33/1

Javi Guerra 33/1

Jermaine Beckford 33/1

Johnny Russell 33/1

Marc Antoine Fortune 33/1

Martyn Waghorn 33/1

Matt Fryatt 33/1

Nick Blackman 33/1

Oriol Riera 33/1

Pavel Pogrebnyak 33/1

Simon Cox 33/1

Andre Gray 40/1

Brett Pitman 40/1

Cauley Woodrow 40/1

Chris Brown 40/1

Clayton Donaldson 40/1

Craig Davies 40/1

Darius Henderson 40/1

Fernando Forestieri 40/1

Jamie Paterson 40/1

Kei Kamara 40/1

Kyle Lafferty 40/1

Lee Tomlin 40/1

Leon Best 40/1

Nouha d*cko 40/1

Reza Ghoochannejhad 40/1

Ricky Van Wolfswinkel 40/1

Rudy Gestede 40/1

Alex Revell 50/1

Atdhe Nuhiu 50/1

Conor Sammon 50/1

Daryl Murphy 50/1

Igor Vetokele 50/1

Jamie Mackie 50/1

javier acuna 50/1

Joe Lolley 50/1

Joe Mason 50/1

Jordan Bowery 50/1

Kenwyne Jones 50/1

Kieran Agard 50/1

Leon Clarke 50/1

Luke Varney 50/1

Marcello Trotta 50/1

Matt Derbyshire 50/1

Tokelo Rantie 50/1

Chris Maguire 66/1

Dexter Blackstock 66/1

Diego Fabbrini 66/1

Dominic Poleon 66/1

Febian Brandy 66/1

Gary Madine 66/1

Jermaine Easter 66/1

Lee Gregory 66/1

Lee Novak 66/1

Matt Smith 66/1

Matthew Green 66/1

Noel Hunt 66/1

Ricardo Fuller 66/1

Scott McDonald 66/1

Simon Church 66/1

Steve Morison 66/1

Steven Davies 66/1

Tommy Smith 66/1

Sergei Zenjov 100/1

Tom Barkhuizen 100/1

Why isn't Troy Deeney on the list ?

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think deeny is coming to us.

 

should be another great year in the championship, think forest will struggle.  wolves could do well really rate kenny jackett. and i reckon ipswich will get playoffs

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Yup agree on forest, pearce aint the man

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Ian Holloway has condemned “disrespectful” Millwall supporters for goading Leeds United fans about their city’s links to Jimmy Savile.

Holloway, whose side won the game at The Den 2-0 with goals from Mark Beevers and Shaun Williams, said the behaviour had undermined what was an impressive performance – Millwall’s first opening-day victory since 2010.

“I don’t think the chants were right because they’re disrespecting [savile’s victims]. What he did is an absolute disgrace. Let’s stop and think about what he has actually done, yeah?

“That’s the most important thing and we don’t see it. ‘Oh it’s a bit of banter’. It isn’t funny, is it? I don’t think so. Nobody likes a laugh more than me but I’m respectful, and that’s what I’m trying to show to Leeds United. They’re a great club, they come here with so many fans and want to be treated the same as anybody else.”

Holloway said the Savile songs were just one example of the sort of bad taste chanting he wants driven out of the game.

“It is a really, really important issue if football supporters think they can go into a ground and sing songs about someone who has had a crash and aren’t here anymore, how disrespectful is that?

“It goes against what football is about and to me that is obscene. That brings football into disrepute. I’ve been fined for disrepute by the FA God knows how many times. But I try and get people to be respectful and that’s all I want to say.

“I’ve said it before the game ‘please come to the game, please enjoy yourself, go home safely and here we go let’s have a look at how good our team is’. Surely that’s the way forward.

 

:lol:

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lmao i heard both Felix McGrath and Mick McCarthy said McCormack was dead lmaoooo 

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The lad Roberts looked like he played well

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Forest got some players.

 

Antonio >>>>

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English League Championship

Blackburn Rovers v Ipswich Town 12:15

Blackpool v Huddersfield Town 12:15

Bolton Wanderers v Birmingham City 12:15

Brentford v Wigan Athletic 12:15

Charlton Athletic v Bournemouth 12:15

Derby County v Reading 12:15

Leeds United v Rotherham United 12:15

Middlesbrough v Brighton and Hove A 12:15

Norwich City v Fulham 12:15

Nottingham Forest v Cardiff City 12:15

Watford v Sheffield Wednesday 12:15

Wolverhampton Wndrs v Millwall 12:15

 

Big season in the championship, this should of been stickied...

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Derby or Brentford please to join Watford & Bournemouth

Always seem to see Norwich(do not want)and as for Middlesbrough it could be a good thing because we will finally get to see Chelsea's youth players competing in EPL on a regular basis.

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glad to see millwall go down, highlight of their season was beating us. jokers

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Forest got some players.

Antonio >>>>

Shame they had a dusty manager

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norwich should have run away with the league but got a dusty manager too

 

fuck boro will win 2 games next season if they get promoted united/arsenal at home

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Brentford need to Derby to lose @ Home to Reading which is very doubtful.

 

Or Ipswich to lose and to better the goal difference which is doable.

 

Been a great season for them even if they don't come up.

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Thizz why are they going to replace the bread?

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Would prefer Derby back up

 

dont want wolves or brentford.

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