Championship 2014/15: Season preview & predictions - Ipswich Town to Nottingham Forest

Norwich City

We preview the chances of Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Norwich City and Nottingham Forest.

Ipswich Town

Mick McCarthy is doing a stellar job at Ipswich Town and they will be targeting a place in the play-offs this year.

Last season, the club fell just short, but they will be hoping that they can breach the gap this season and give themselves a chance at promotion.

The Tractor Boy’s don’t have a particularly spectacular squad, but it is solid and they have added to that functional feel with their signings this summer.

Bartosz Bialkowski comes with a good reputation from Notts County, whilst Cameron Stewart and Jonathan Parr both will be decent acquisitions at this level.

The loss of Aaron Cresswell to West Ham United cannot be underestimated, though, and because of his departure they may find themselves just outside the playoff shake off once again.

Prediction: 9th

Leeds United

Leeds United are one of the hardest clubs to place this season because there is a feeling of unfamiliarity about the place.

The bulk of the Whites signings have been from Italy, David Hockaday has never managed in the Football League and the outspoken owner, Massimo Cellino, hasn’t been in-charge long enough to judge accurately.

There is a feeling of trepidation, though. The loan dealings from Italy have brought in a host of players from reputed clubs, but it is to be expected that they will take time to adapt to the different style of football in the Championship.

Add to this the fact that Cellino, despite being refreshingly open with the fans, has an aura of someone who could be particularly trigger-happy whilst in charge and Hockaday’s future – if his buys do take time to get used to the English game – has to be in doubt.

There are warning signs, too, over the departure of Ross McCormack as without his goals the club would likely have faced the drop last season.

It wouldn’t be like Leeds to do things anything other than spectacularly and whilst they may take the league by storm, the more likely scenario is that it could be a disastrous campaign at Elland Road.

Prediction: 22nd.

Middlesbrough

Aitor Karanka’s side look one of the most improved in the division and they could be a threat this year.

The club have spent well over the summer bringing in some proven players like Kenneth Omeruo, James Husband and Adam Clayton alongside a clutch of Spanish stars.

The major problem for ‘Boro last season was scoring goals and they will be hoping that big money buy Kike can put an end to that, whilst Lee Tomlin should emerge as a good creator for the side after showing some flashes of excellent after moving from Posh last season.

This should be the North-East based club’s most entertaining season for a while, but they may still be a little way off breaching the playoffs just yet.

Prediction: 11th

Millwall

The Lions looked all set for the drop last season until Ian Holloway took charge and provided them with some added impetus.

It has created a sense of excitement around the club once again, too, and supporters of the club are hoping that they can be further clear of drop-zone this time around.

However, Millwall don’t have a particularly big budget for the division and are limited in that respect.

Their summer signings have been a mix of the experienced in Ricardo Fuller and the unproven in Lee Gregory, but it looks as if they could be set for another struggle.

The hope is that Holloway will be able to pull off another miracle and get the side to the Premier League – as he has done at Blackpool and Crystal Palace in recent times – but it looks more likely that they will exit the division in the other direction and they could be nervously looking over their shoulder.

Prediction: 21st

Norwich City

Relegated from the Premier League last year, the Canaries will be looking for an immediate return to the top tier and are well placed to do so.

Whilst many top flight clubs fill their squad with foreign stars after achieving promotion, Norwich generally stuck to their tried and tested method of bringing in some of the Football League’s finest talent when they were in the Premier League, even if the additions of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Leroy Fer went away from that approach slightly last season.

They will reap the benefits of that approach now as they have a squad of proven quality at this level. Whilst developing stars such as Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bennett should be excellent in the Championship, their more experienced campaigners are all veterans of the Football League and will know what to expect.

The only question surrounding them is the unproven manager, but they have enough quality to be right up there this season and anything other below a finish in the playoff spots will be considered a failure.

Prediction: 4th

Nottingham Forest

Another side with ample quality to make a charge for the playoffs, Nottingham Forest are likely to struggle more off the pitch than they are on it.

The relationship between manager Stuart Pearce and owner Fawaz Al Hasawi is already showing signs of frailties, as the pair are at loggerheads over the decision to sell Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow to Newcastle.

The duo have been loaned back to the City Ground, though, and the arrivals of Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio should ease some of the manager’s concerns.

If Forest get off to a good start they could be one of the division’s pace-setters, but a poor one could mean that Pearce loses his job and another season of disappointment is on the cards.

Prediction: 12th

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