As a new season of Championship football kicks off, Vincent Ralph attempts the impossible task: predicting the final league table.
Some say it is akin to climbing Everest, while others say it is far more difficult than that. But one thing is certain – it takes a brave man to predict how the Championship is going to ultimately pan out.
Well, a brave man or a foolish one. So here I am, predicting the unpredictable.
It could be argued that QPR are building a better team in the Championship than they had in the top flight, and I am not betting against them heading back there at the first opportunity; while Dougie Freedman’s Bolton are my tip to claim the second automatic promotion place.
Reading and Wigan will give it a good go, as will my tip to be the season’s surprise package, Leeds United. Despite a quiet transfer window thus far, Brian McDermott knows how to successfully navigate this division, and I can see them taking the last play-off place ahead of Watford and Leicester.
Regarding the relegation places, my heart says Gary Johnson will inspire Yeovil Town to magnificent survival. But my head doesn’t agree, and the side that did so well to come up via the play-offs looks set for a fleeting fairy tale and a swift return.
Huddersfield Town are my tip to follow them into League One, while my third choice fluctuates even as I write. Either Barnsley will surprise many and finish mid-table, or they will suffer the fate they so narrowly avoided 12 months ago. I will go with the latter, but it is the prediction I am least confident about.
Below is how I believe the Championship table will look come May. Let me know if you think I am spot on or miles off.
1. Queens Park Rangers
2. Bolton Wanderers
4. Wigan Athletic
5. Nottingham Forest
6. Leeds United
8. Leicester City
9. Brighton & Hove Albion
10. Blackburn Rovers
12. Charlton Athletic
13. Ipswich Town
14. Derby County
15. Birmingham City
17. Sheffield Wednesday
21. Doncaster Rovers
23. Huddersfield Town
24. Yeovil Town