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FLW writers predict the ups and downs in the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season



The new English Football Season is fast approaching, and the Football League World staff have provided their opinion on who will be promoted and relegated in the 2016/17 season….

Jack Sharp

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday

Newcastle will win the league.

Benitez has made a string of superb signings – Gayle will be top goalscorer, Ritchie will be superb, Hayden is a great talent; I can’t see past them.

Villa is a hypothetical, if they make the signings I think they will they’ll go up. If Grealish and Tshibola stay fit, and they sign Kodjia or Bamford they’ll bounce back straight away.

Wednesday I believe will also join these – perhaps through the play-offs. I believe they’ve got the best ‘keeper in the league in Westwood, Pudil and Abdi are both superb signings and they’ve kept the core of the side which were so magnificent last season.

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Burton Albion and Huddersfield Town

Rotherham survived by the skin of their teeth last term; but I believe that was down to Warnock the survival specialist.

They’ve not really made any landmark signings of serious note and I don’t think they have enough in their side over the whole 46 games.

Burton Albion have been superb over the last two seasons, and Clough isn’t a bad manager but like Rotherham I don’t think they have enough in their side to survive the drop.

Finally, I think Huddersfield could be relegated.

They have made many extravagant signings, however the Sky Bet Championship campaign is a seriously gruelling one – and the fact that the majority of the players they have bought in have no or limited Championship experience; I think could have a seriously detrimental effect on David Wagner’s side.

Jack Rosser
Promotion picks: Newcastle, Norwich and Reading

I think it is almost impossible to look past The Magpies this season, although anything can happen in the Championship, the quality invested in the squad coupled with Rafa being in charge, it looks as if they are perfectly prepared to take on the toughest league in English football.

Rafa’s decision to stay on at St James’ Park is quite possibly the biggest factor in their predicted success this season. The Spaniard’s has the ability to create the right atmosphere within the squad, which could even see them take that elusive 106 points record from Reading!

If Newcastle didn’t have such a strong squad I could see the Canaries absolutely romping the Championship over the coming season. Should Alex Neil be able to hold onto the core of the squad then there is no reason they shouldn’t bounce straight back.

Despite having seen Redmond depart for Southampton, there have been no other significant losses at Carrow Road so far this summer, and they are looking to make some good additions, having been linked with Ross McCormack.

There always has to be one surprise package in the Championship, and the Royals are my tip to catch the rest of the sides in the division off guard over the next 9 months.

With new manager, Jaap Stam in charge at the Madjeski, fans can accept a well organised side that could upset any opposition on their day.

Relegation picks: Burton Albion, Aston Villa and Leeds United

As much as I’d love them to stave off relegation in their first season in the Championship, I just don’t think that Nigel Clough’s side will have enough to stay clear of the drop.

They are unfortunate enough to be coming into the division in what may well be the most competitive season for years, which certainly won’t help their cause, we can all hope though.

Maybe a slightly controversial one, but I’m ready to take all the flack that may come my way. If Garry Monk doesn’t quite get the start he is looking for as the new boss at Elland Road, United may well be the first side to axe their boss of the new season.

Should this be the case I can see their quick firing attitude finally coming back to bite them with the season falling apart, and seeing them drop down to League One.

This is one that I could see happening, and wouldn’t it just be funny, eh? It’s not that I have anything against Villa, their fans or Di Matteo, it would just be quite entertaining.

A poor start to the season at Villa Park and their confidence will remain at rock bottom and with the Championship being as brutal as it is they may not recover.

Chris Strawson

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County

Newcastle – Clear favourites, squad is already brimming with talent and have bought well with the likes of Matt Ritchie coming in, think they will be clear winners

Sheffield Wednesday – Expect them to build off the success of last season, have bought well adding bits of quality in key areas and will be right in the mix.

Derby – A team who are always there or thereabouts think with the managerial partnership of Pearson and Powell they will have an added bit of steel this year which will get them over the line.

Relegation picks: Burton Albion, Blackburn Rovers and Rotherham United

Burton Albion – Squad has nowhere near enough quality to survive in this division, don’t have the financial resources to compete and feel they are clear favourites for the drop

Blackburn Rovers – Losing Grant Hanley will be a bitter blow to their survival chances, a non ambitious appointment in Owen Coyle and no real firepower upfront makes me think they are destined for the drop.

Rotherham United – Unless a couple of strikers are brought in before the transfer deadling then it looks like the lack of firepower upfront will make it tough for them this season

Robert Booth

Promotion picks: Newcastle United, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich

Newcastle United – I think they’ve brought in some good signings and have one of, if not the best squads in the league. Rafa Benitez is a good manager, and despite never managing in the Championship, I think he’ll lead them back to the top flight.

Sheffield Wednesday – They played some great football last season and were unlucky not to win the play-offs. If the likes of Bannan and Forestieri can continue the form of last season I think they’ll go up.

Norwich – Despite losing Redmond, I think their squad is still good enough for the Championship, they’ve kept Alex Neil who got them up last time which I think is important because last year we saw both Hull and Burnley keep faith in their managers and win promotion.

Burton Albion – As much as I’d like to see them stay up I don’t think they’ll be good enough. However they do have some good players and Nigel Clough has Championship experience so they have a chance of survival.

Rotherham – They only just avoided the drop last season, and losing Neil Warnock was a big blow. Similarly to Burton, I’d like to see them survive but having only just avoided relegation in the last 2 seasons, this season they could go down.

Blackburn – I think Blackburn are in real trouble this season. They were poor last season, and I think a full season without Jordan Rhodes will see them slip into a relegation battle.

George Harbey

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Norwich, and Sheffield Wednesday

With Newcastle’s signings and a manager with the expertise of Rafa Benitez, there’s no reason why they can’t even break the 100 point barrier let alone gain automatic promotion.

Norwich if they sign McCormack, will be a threat to any team, especially with Sergi Canos too.

They’ve kept the squad they had in the premier league too which will help. Sheffield Wednesday will win it via the play-offs, if they can get Forestieri firing on all cylinders once again and Steven Fletcher can regain his goalscoring form, then Wednesday will be the ones heartbreaking rather than the ones heartbroken at Wembley this year.

Relegation picks: Burton, Rotherham and Huddersfield Town

Each time haven’t done enough in the transfer window to improve their squad. There is no doubt that Burton had a remarkable campaign last term but I don’t think they have a capable enough squad to remain in the second tier.

Both Rotherham and Huddersfield lacked any real quality last year, and it will be very hard to see them improving this time around .

Charlie Firth

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday

This is fairly run of the mill I’m afraid… Newcastle have an excellent squad and a top manager, they have quality across the pitch.

They have goals, their midfield is packed with everything you’d need from a midfield and their defence is solid. They are certainties.

Villa is a different story. They’ve added droppings of quality, but overall they still need a lot of changes if they are to push on, which I believe they’ll make. Wednesday had an excellent season last year and have made some strong signings to go forward onto bigger things this year.

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Huddersfield and Blackburn

Rotherham couldn’t keep hold of Neil Warnock and I’m afraid that this will prove fatal. Will Alan Stubbs keep them afloat? I’m not sure he will, and I don’t think they’ve made their squad any stronger in the summer window.

Huddersfield have made some decent signings, but David Wagner is an inexperienced coach and has bought in players who don’t know the division, which will either see them fly up or crash and burn.

I think Owen Coyle is a terrible manager and an awful pick to replace Paul Lambert, and though they’ve made some decent signings, I have no faith that they’ll stay up.

Tom Rawcliffe

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton

In terms of promotion, I can’t look past Newcastle United. With Benitez staying at the club and some superb signings brought to St. James’ Park, they are definitely a team to fear.

Another side who I think are a good bet for promotion are Sheffield Wednesday. After a great campaign last season, they have only strengthened their side and certainly have one of the best strike forces in the league.

I also think that Brighton are a good bet for promotion next season as well. They came narrowly close last season, and I think that they could be up there again this time round, maybe with a play-off win.

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Blackburn and Barnsley

One side who I think could struggle this season is Rotherham United. They have appointed a reasonably inexperienced manager in Alan Stubbs and they also appear to have a lack of fire power up top.

I also think that Blackburn may find themselves in trouble due to a lack of defensive players which may see them leak goals.

Newly-promoted Barnsley could go either way for me but I’m taking a risk by putting them down for relegation as the lack of Championship experience within their ranks may cost them.

Steve Day

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Norwich, and Sheffield Wednesday

Newcastle are in a similar position to how they found themselves when they were last in the Championship back in the 2009/10 season when they had a very strong playing squad, a competent manager, and funds to invest in the team at their disposal. I think it will take something special to stop them from winning the title this season and the fact they have spent £36 million on new players already on signings such as Matt Ritchie, Jesus Gamez, Dwight Gayle, and Grant Hanley is a huge statement of their intent.

Norwich remain relatively unchanged from their Premier League campaign last season. Alex Neil is still at the helm and he knows what is required to get back into the top flight. Their current situation reminds me of Burnley last season. Neil is a very talented manager and the fact they have immediately replaced their big sale of Nathan Redmond with the highly-rated Sergi Canos means they should come into this campaign with high expectations.

Sheffield Wednesday came so close to finally earning a return to the promised land after an absence since 2000 but fell at the final hurdle against Hull City in the play-off final.

Carlos Carvalhal has worked wonders at Hillsborough and they are now one of the most exciting attacking teams in the Championship. They have kept all their big names from last season but also added impressively to their squad with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Almen Abdi, and Daniel Pudil.

It could be the play-offs again but I expect them to reach the Premier League this season.

Relegation picks: Burton Albion, Rotherham, and Blackburn

Burton Albion have exceeded expectations under the management of Gary Rowett, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, and now Nigel Clough.

Their players have worked effectively as a team unit and they will enter this Championship season as a relatively unknown quantity.

Unfortunately, I am not convinced that Clough has what it takes to keep his side up in the division this season. They have added shrewdly with six players coming in for just £330,000 but the team still lacks the quality needed to stay up in my opinion.

Bringing in Alan Stubbs as manager was a wise move by the Rotherham board but is he a talented enough manager to keep this squad of players up?

They narrowly avoided relegation last season finishing in 21st place and they’ve not really improved their squad adequately enough to suggest they can avoid the drop this season.

Blackburn are simply uninspiring at the moment. Last season their squad was decimated by the sales of Tom Cairney, Joshua King, Jordan Rhodes, Marcus Olsson, and Rudy Gestede with no suitable replacements coming in.

This summer they have also sold Grant Hanley. The only signings have been Danny Graham, Anthony Stokes, and Liam Feeney.

None of those required a fee so questions have to be asked about where all the money from sales has gone. It seems unless something drastic changes at Ewood Park the club could really struggle to stay up this season.

Ashley Williams

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Norwich City and Brighton

Newcastle – They have done really well to hold on to the majority of their key players, and they have also bolstered their squad brilliantly bringing in talents such as Dwight Gayle and Grant Hanley.

They also possess one of the most experienced managers that the Championship has ever had in Rafael Benitez, who will be a major impact in progression back to the Premier League. I think they will ease to the Championship title this season.

Norwich City – Once again, they have kept the majority of their players from last season and that will play a big part. I think if they sign Ross McCormack, then I believe that his goals will surely secure a brief stay in the Championship. Alex Neil is also highly rated manager, who has done well for the Canaries and he will be hungry to get his side back up to the Premier League.

Brighton – The Seagulls were really unlucky to not be promoted last season, and I think that will only spur them this season. They have also made some good signings in Steve Sidwell and Glenn Murray. Chris Hughton has been the catalyst to Brighton’s success and his managerial abilities will be enough to push Brighton over the line this time around.

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Reading and Fulham

Rotherham United – I think the Yorkshire side will struggle this season, Neil Warnock well and truly rectified their season and he is the main reason why they are still a Championship club. I feel that they don’t possess enough quality in the squad and Alan Stubbs was a tame appointment.

Reading – I feel that Reading have been on the brink of disaster for a while, and their time may come this season. I feel that the appointment of Jaap Stam is a risky choice and there could be a possibility that half way through the season, the board will have made a mistake.

Fulham – Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele goals were the sole reason why Fulham are a Championship side this season. With Dembele gone and McCormack’s departure imminent, its hard to see how Fulham can cope without them.

Andrew Bell

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Burton and Barnsley

Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday will put last season’s heartbreak behind them and secure promotion this time around. Both would be within shots of winning the title if Newcastle hasn’t come down.

At the bottom, Rotherham, Barnsley and Burton don’t look like they have enough to stay in the division. Burton will give it a good go but ultimately they’re lack of quality compared to the rest of the division will show.

Lee Connor

Promotion picks: Newcastle United, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday/Norwich

I just feel they will have too much and have invested wisely in the transfer market, despite not spending much when you take into account Wijnaldum going and Sissoko on his way.

If they get off to a good start, they will romp it for me.

I have a feeling Nigel Pearson will get the best out of what is a ridiculously talented squad and finally guide them to promotion.

If they can add another goalscorer or get Nick Blackman firing alongside Martin, they could go very well.

I can’t decide. Wednesday should go very well but there is a different pressure now on them and expectation. Norwich will definitely be up there, and they have done it before.

My fear for Norwich is they lack a goalscorer. If they can sign McCormack, they might well even get in the autos.

Relegation picks: Rotherham, Burton Albion and Reading

I think Rotherham have had it. They are expected to struggle every year and have stayed up the last two due to 3 shocking teams in 2014/15, and then last year a miracle under Warnock.

I can’t see Burton doing anything of note, they might draw a fair few but won’t win enough and Clough will once again get found out.

Unsure on the third to drop. I think Barnsley will do ok, as probably will Wigan, so count them out. I am going to go with Reading. I have a feeling that things won’t work out for Jaap Stam and they will end up down in the mire. Failing that, if Fulham sell McCormack they could be in danger.

My final picks are…….Rotherham, Burton, and………..Reading.

Jay Williams

Promotion picks: Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds

With more money being pumped into the league, it could be the most competitive yet. Newcastle surely have enough to storm the league; Sheffield Wednesday look better than last season and Leeds could well be up there after a positive window (IF Cellino gives Monk some time)

Relegation picks: Blackburn, Burton, Rotherham

Burton don’t have the financial means or second tier experience to stay up. Blackburn are in a downward spiral and I’m not convinced by Owen Coyle whilst Rotherham have flirted with the drop for a couple of years now. The appointment of Alan Stubbs is a risk which I don’t think will pay off.

Jonnie Gorrie

Promotion picks: Newcastle United, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa

Though there are rightly doubts over Rafa Benitez ahead of his first foray into the Championship, the transfer dealings conducted by the Toon Army have given the Spaniard a formidable side.

Both a lack of firepower and defensive frailty were sewing motifs for the Magpies last term, with both issues addressed over the past few months.

Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle will surely pair well with the likes of Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic, while the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark will provide a strong backbone.

It won’t be easy, but Newcastle look formidable.

Sheffield Wednesday

Falling at the final hurdle, as the Owls did last term, could always have knock on effects heading into a brand new campaign.

Still, Carlos Carvalhal has constructed a wonderfully attacking team at Hillsborough, one whose fluid movement between the lines is only likely to improve with more time spent together.

Hardened by their heartbreak, they’ll be a force next term.

Aston Villa

Undoubtedly a hugely talented side, something about the Villa rebuild hints at a lengthier process than the one currently underway on Tyneside.

The likely signing of Ross McCormack will no doubt provide the fallen Midlands giants with goals, though the nature of their plight last season could have a serious impact this time around.

However, there’s little doubt that the Villains are a talented bunch and should Roberto Di Matteo inspire them correctly, they’ll be there or there abouts.

Relegation picks: Fulham, Rotherham and Burton Albion


Obviously, the signing of Tomas Kalas is likely to give the Cottagers a major boost, though it’s hard to see where the goals will come from in West London.

With Moussa Demeble and Ross McCormack out of the side, pretty much the sole two reasons the club avoided relegation last season have gone, without much replacement.


Neil Warnock’s fire fighting mission at the New York Stadium was one of the stories of the season last term.

Not to rain on the Millers’ parade too much, the fact they could not convince their old warhorse to stay on at the club could play a pivotal role in their campaign.

Alan Stubbs, despite leading Hibernian to a historic Scottish Cup final victory, is unproven in the treacherous waters of the English second tier and may find it difficult to adapt in time.

Burton Albion

It is truly amazing to see Burton Albion rubbing shoulders with the likes of Newcastle United and Aston Villa, though it may not be for long.

While last season, up and down the country, was littered with underdog success stories, the Brewers’ lack of investment could cost them this season.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: FLW writers predict the ups and downs in the 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season

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