One eye on next season

We all love a bank holiday weekend don’t we? A couple of extra days off work, banging weather and an abundance of football on the tele. This particular bank holiday will also see Blues secure their championship status with two games to spare!

Yes nothing is straightforward with Blues but after a solid point against Derby on Friday I am more than confident that Blues will get at least a point that will mathematically confirm survival away at Rotherham on Monday. However, I want to talk about something different today and something we can all look forward to….

The Championship has been really strong and exciting this year I am sure you will agree. With the exception of Middlesbrough, every team has at some point played some dazzling football and the promotion and relegation scrap, as always, have been fascinating and will no doubt go right down to the wire. Anyone can beat anyone and that has never been highlighted more than this season. There are some really big teams in the championship: Blues, Leeds, the two Sheffield clubs and Forest to name the only relevant ones. Admittedly, there also has been a fair amount of rubbish on offer this season. Ipswich, Bolton, Rotherham and QPR to name but a few teams who have offered little or nothing at all.

With just three games left to play it’s crunch time. Norwich are looking certain to win the league and, after Leeds falling apart again on Friday, second spot is Sheffield Utd’s. Unfortunately, the vile are in the play offs but I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Leeds will be rejuvenated in the play offs by Bielsa and I firmly believe they will win the play offs. With regards to relegation I couldn’t really care less what club joins Ipswich and Bolton in league one next season. In terms of tinpot ratings it would be lovely to see Wigan go down. Wigan away is a really awful away day. The highlight of it this season was watching my mate bring a Wigan fan close to tears after asking him why they only have a couple of hundred fans! However, I’ll be realistic and for the sake of the piece I’ll say that Rotherham will in fact go down.

Norwich, Sheffield Utd and Leeds go up, Ipswich, Bolton and Rotherham go back down. So that’s 6 spaces available. Who’s joining the championship next season? Well we know that Huddersfield and Fulham will be. If you thought Ipswich’s season was diabolical then Huddersfield’s has been even worse. With the capability of scoring as regularly as Brock-Madsen and, currently having a manager of Conference North level, the Terriers are really back where they belong. Fulham haven’t been much better and deservedly will end up in the Championship next year. The third and final team to join them from the premier league will be Cardiff. I like Neil Warnock but Cardiff won’t survive the premier league due to their goal difference and inability to see out a game.

The remaining 3 spaces will be taken by League one clubs after promotion. The league is Luton’s to lose and they look sure to win it. The remaining two spots are anyone’s guess. Sunderland, Barnsley, Portsmouth, Charlton and Doncaster could all go up. I can see Sunderland finishing second and Portsmouth finally winning promotion through the play offs.

What’s the point in all this Theo? I can hear you asking this question. My point is: I believe that next seasons championship will be the toughest it has ever been. Just look at all the 24 teams that will be in my “proposed” championship next season: Huddersfield, Fulham, Cardiff, Luton, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Blues, West Brom, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Bristol City, Derby, Preston, Hull, Swansea, Forest, Blackburn, Stoke, QPR, Reading, Wigan & Millwall. Just take a moment to marvel at the tastiness of that! Yes no one is in any position to make any predictions or assumptions yet that would be absurd but good luck picking a favourite out of that lot!

The league would be packed with MASSIVE football clubs with experience of playing in the top divisions. With the exception of a couple of teams, Tony Pulis’ Boro and Paul Cook’s Wigan, every team has something to offer and give. If you thought this season has been exhilarating then next season will no doubt already whet your appetite!

Turning our attention slightly back to blues again it has obviously been a successful season. With the tumultuous and potentially poisonous financial “situation” at the start of the season, the connection between the players, staff and the fans has been fixed and is now arguably at the highest it’s ever been. However, we really really really need to strengthen for next season! I firmly believe that with the right recruitment top six next season isn’t a far fetched dream. It’s a seriously achievable target. With the best manager in the division and a core of hard working players blues are a couple of technically gifted players away from a top draw side. I believe that and I know many of you guys do as well.

I’ve wrote this on a Sunday evening with a few more weeks of the season still to go. Anything can happen. Rotherham could win every single game and we could lose every game. Doncaster and Barnsley could end up winning promotion and completely destroying my Championship dream for next season! We can’t be completely sure of who we will be competing against next season but one thing we can be sure of is with some shrewd signings we will be up there next season and back with a bang!

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