Middlesbrough look good to bounce back in what looks set to be a close Championship Season
The new football season is once again upon and whilst fans of teams in the Premier League have to wait another week for the ‘big kick off’, for fans of the other 72 teams that make up the Football League, the three month wait is over!
It is at this time of year that fans like to think themselves as experts and can usually be found picking their fantasy league team or placing their football bets for the forthcoming season.
Looking ahead toward the 2009/10 Championship season, the second tier of English football once again looks set to be as competitive as ever with several teams seemingly capable of realistically challenging for the title and a place in the top flight.
The Championship looks set to be as tough as ever this season, especially with the addition of two footballing heavyweights, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough, neither whom have seen football at this level in well over a decade. How these two sides will perform remains unseen given the dismal record when previously established Premiership clubs have been relegated.
Newcastle are in turmoil and enter the season without a permanent manager and still remain up for sale. The Magpies have a squad of players that you expect to run away with this division but how committed to the cause they are remains to be seen and it is likely that most will want away from St James’s Park sooner rather than later, leaving the Geordies bracing themselves for another rollercoaster season which could easily see them in another relegation scrap as it could a promotion push.
Middlesbrough on the other hand have come down and kept the nucleus of what was a solid Premier League side. Boro Chairman, Steve Gibson, has kept faith with manager Gareth Southgate and last time he did that with Bryan Robson in 1997/98, they bounced back at the first time of asking and with a talented squad at his disposal, Boro should be challenging at the top end of the table and look the team most likely to be crowned champions come May.
West Brom is the other team looking for a quick return to the Premier League and have a good pedigree of promotion in recent times. However, the loss Tony Mowbray to Celtic in the summer together with the departure of a couple of key players together with how new boss Roberto Di Matteo will take to Championship football leaves the Baggies with questions to answer but should still be well placed to challenge at the top end of the table.
Of the other teams, Roy Keane’s Ipswich side are high in the bookmakers odds of teams expected to do well with the Irishman having a 100% record in this division having guided Sunderland to the title at the first time of asking in 2007. Last season’s beaten Play-Off finalist, Sheffield United, should once again be a threat to all on comers together with Queens Park Rangers, who despite reportedly being the richest club in the World have not splashed the cash this summer other than one signing, a club record £3.5 for Alejandro Faurlin from Agetine side Instituto and could be dark horses for the title together with Nottingham Forest, who have been the league’s busiest team in terms of transfers and some shrewd buys from manager Billy Davies, who has three play-off finsihes in three seasons of management at this level, gives Forest a good chance of at least a top six finsih.