The Championship season started this weekend with only two teams, Bristol and QPR winning by multiple goals while the three demoted sides from the Premier League all failed to win, Sunderland and Hull with a draw while Middlesbrough lost to Wolves.
The new managers in the league are: Daniel Farke (Norwich City), Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves), Gary Monk (Middlesbrough), Leonid Slutsky (Hull City), Thomas Christiansen (Leeds United), Simon Grayson (Sunderland) and Alex Neil (Preston)
The betting sites have Middlesbrough as overwhelming favorites with new manager Gary Monk and the fact they spent 40-50m in the summer on new signings without losing anybody of note except for Negredo (who was on loan anyway) and Gaston Ramirez. Most of that money was spent on attacking options such as Assombalonga, Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher but they also added Johnny Howson, Cyrus Christie and Darren Randolph.
For some reason Villa is a popular bet and most sites have them second favorites after adding veteran players such as John Terry, Chris Samba, Ahmed Elmohamady and Glenn Whelan. They will also have Steve Bruce from the start of the season but they weren’t that impressive under him last season and finished well outside the playoffs.
The ‘sexy’ pick seems to be Wolves with their Chinese money and their Jorge Mendes influence in transfers. They made their intent known by signing Ruben Neves from FC Porto for 18m euros while also adding John Ruddy, Barry Douglas, Ryan Bennett, Diogo Jota and Willy Boly.
The two other relegated sides from the Premier League, Hull and Sunderland, didn’t have as strong of a summer as Boro. Hull brought in Leonid Slutsky to manage, his first managerial job outside of Russia however they lost many players (Robertson, Huddlestone, Elmohamady, Davies, Maguire, Jakupovic) while adding only a few pieces, couple of Chelsea loanees and Frazier Campbell. Sunderland have hired Simon Grayson who is a very successful League 1 manager but has yet to translate that into the Championship. They too lost many players in the summer (Pickford, Lens, Defoe, Larsson the notable ones) and have spent little in the summer with Aiden McGeady and Lewis Grabban being their most well-known signings…not too inspiring.
The other playoff contenders will probably be the typical names: Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham, Reading, Norwich, Derby, Leeds. Wednesday made Jordan Rhodes a permanent signing and added George Boyd but have done little outside of that. Reading have also been very inactive in the summer after their playoff final loss. Leeds have signed a bunch of foreign players of moderate success abroad but that isn’t always a recipe for success in this league. Norwich will hope to emulate Huddersfield’s model by hiring Dortmund II coach Daniel Farke and adding players from the German 2nd tier. Derby havd added good squad players such as Huddlestone, Curtis Davies and Andre Wisdom but lost Hughes and Ince to Premier League moves.
Of the three newly promoted sides, Sheffield United seem to be the safest bet for survival. Bolton are relegation candidates but they added some decent veteran players like Ameobi, LeFondre and Will Buckley. Millwall have spent 0 in the summer and also have sold nobody, net spend of 0
The other relegation candidates are probably Barnsley and Burton (second season syndrome?) Burton have added some veterans like Stephan Warnock, Jake Buxton and Hope Akpan but could lose Jackson Irvine in the next month (turned down a move to China apparently). Forest too I guess can be in some trouble, they lost their top scorer but added Daryl Murphy, who despite being 34 has a decent scoring record in the league but didn’t quite pan out at Newcastle. They also have new ownership