How important is a strong start in the Championship?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez and Huddersfield Town's manager David Wagner shake hands at the end of the game.

With Newcastle United struggling to adapt to life in the Championship we look back at how well previously promoted teams have started their campaigns.

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their first goal with Jamaal LascellesNewcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their first goal with Jamaal Lascelles

When Newcastle were relegated to the Championship in May many expected them to make an immediate return to the top flight.

And having kept hold of Champions League winning manager Rafa Benitez before spending upwards of £45m in the transfer market, the Magpies were made runaway favourites to win the division with the shortest odds of any team in Championship history at 9/4. 

But things haven't gone according to plan so far with two defeats from two against teams that finished in the bottom quarter of the division last term in Fulham and Huddersfield. 

Huddersfield Town's Jack Payne celebrates scoring their second goal with teammatesHuddersfield Town's Jack Payne celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

And while those on Tyneside may be starting to worry following an abject start, history suggests that there is no need to panic - not yet anyway. 

Two defeats from two is hardly the ideal start but teams have been promoted following even worse starts to the season. 

A classic example is Sunderland's 2006/07 campaign in which they began the season in disastrous form with four straight losses before turning things round and winning the title come May. 

In fact, both of Sunderland's Championship successes have came following difficult starts as they won just one of their opening six matches in the league's inaugural 2004/05 season.

Republic of Ireland assistant coach Roy Keane before the game Roy Keane managed Sunderland to the Championship title in 2006/07

In the 11 seasons since, seven promoted sides have taken three points or less from their opening three matches with only the aforementioned Sunderland, and 2012/13 play-off winners Crystal Palace failing to pick up a single point. 

Also, the previous two Championship winners have had to endure difficult starts to the season with last season's Champions Burnley failing to win any of their opening three matches and 2014/15 winners Bournemouth picking up just three wins from their opening 10 matches. 

Newcastle can also to some solace upon looking at Wednesday's opponents Reading, who won the division in 2011/12 despite losing four of their opening six league games. 

Newcastle United manager Rafa BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Another stat that favours the Magpies and any other struggling side is that more teams have been promoted from the Championship having failed to win in each of their first three games (5) than teams who have taken maximum points over the same period (3).

Whether or not Newcastle manage to turn things around remains to be seen but panicking at this point would be very premature regardless of Wednesday's result. 

The Championship is a long and hard division but nothing is decided in the first few games and defeats are to be expected - even if you come out on top at the end. 

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