EFL Championship – The Top-4 Prediction
There’s still a long way to go in what is a crucial summer transfer window in the Championship, let alone a full 46-game season thereafter.
Already though, we can see certain teams taking shape, with some of them being barely recognisable from last season’s version and the early favourites are Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa. For what it’s worth, here are my top 4 based on what we know so far:
Wolves where underwhelming to say the least last season but frankly, they just had all the hallmarks of a Paul Lambert team. With him gone and new man Nuno Espirito Santo at the helm, signings have been ambitious, exciting and full of quality for this division and it’s easy to see them springing a surprise.
Helder Costa is quality, Ben Marshall is underrated just like Dave Edwards, Conor Coady is improving as an attacking right-back and the signings of Roderick Miranda, Ryan Bennett and especially Ruben Neves are sheer class.
Watch out for Wolves mounting a serious title challenge and stealing the thunder of local rivals Aston Villa and Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City. West Midlands derbies next season should be quite something to watch.
A lot may depend on whether or not they can convince star centre-back Ben Gibson and midfielder Adam Forshaw to stay but so far, they have managed to retain the bulk of their Premier League squad from last year.
It’s not as though they were nailed on for relegation from day one; they played some decent stuff early in the season but suffered badly given the uncertainty that Aitor Karanka brought before and during his departure. Garry Monk is a more than an able replacement for the long term.
Jonny Howson is a good signing for them and they have allowed the right sort of people to leave, so as usual, the Boro hierarchy have their heads screwed on in the transfer market and that’s why I cannot see them going into freefall following relegation. They’ll be up there in the top rank.
The pressure is on Gary Rowett after Rams owner Mel Morris promised him that he would have the freedom to choose his own squad this season, within budgetary requirements of course. He has allowed Tom Ince and Will Hughes to leave and has not followed up on the club’s interest in title winner Grant Hanley of Newcastle. So his decisions so far have been brave.
That said, he has brought in quality pair Andre Wisdom and Curtis Davies and has his eye on plenty more. I’d say that; given the way they played after he came in as manager last season, we can expect them to challenge for the tite.
Steve Bruce reckoned last season that they were the big draw in this league and not Newcastle. But, aside from his delusional ramblings, his side are expected to come good this term and for what it’s worth, they have the most valuable squad in the league.
The signing of John Terry is a major positive, though it’s the only business they’ve done so far in terms of incomings and so more is needed from them between now and September for them to justify favouritism. They’ll be there or at least as thereabouts you’d feel. So a top-4 finish for them I say.