Rating the Summer: Championship 16/17

The Championship is in full swing and the transfer window has been closed shut. There are no more emergency loans, business is now done for all clubs until the January transfer window. So, what better to do than write about how your team did and where they’ll come. So, yes, I hate your team and am going to be incorrect about everything I state in this preview. COYW.

Aston Villa

Notable In’s: Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodjia, Mile Jedinak, Tommy Elphick, James Chester, Pierluigi Gollini, Aaron Tshibola, Ritchie De Laet, Albert Adomah

Notable Outs: Joleon Lescott (lol), Idrissa Gueye, Ciaran Clark, Scott Sinclair, Brad Guzan, Jores Okore, Callum Robinson, Joe Bennett, Adama Traore, Charles N’Zogbia, Kieran Richardson, Jordan Veretout, Carles Gil, Carlos Sanchez

Villa, under new ownership (albeit seemingly eccentric), made a lot of interesting moves. Jonathan Kodjia, Ross McCormack and Albert Adomah were brought in for 27 MILLION to add even more potency to an attack that already had Jack Grealish, Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew. They got rid of a large amount of that “corrupt” core of last season, with the likes of Okore, Lescott and Guzan all being shown the door (and rightfully so). I still worry about Villa’s midfield being overrun though, despite their huge offensive potential this year. Tshibola is still very young and the cover at CM is very thin should one of Jedinak and Tshibola go down. Villa should still contend, a change from last year’s dire performance.

Grade: B+

Barnsley

Notable In’s: Sessi D’Almeida, Tom Bradshaw, Stefan Payne, Elliot Lee, Cole Kpekawa, Saidy Janko

Notable Out’s: Alfie Mawson

Barnsley have started the season very well, romping rivals Rotherham 4–0 at home and coming back from behind to defeat promotion hopefuls QPR 3–2. The loss of Alfie Mawson is a large one but windfall from the sale, alongside a sell on clause in John Stone’s sale to Man City should mean that they have enough cash to spend in January, should it be necessary. They’re nowhere near a top half team and they will flirt with relegation a fair amount but they’ll be fine by the season’s end.

Grade: B

Birmingham City

Notable In’s: Che Adams, Greg Stewart, Robert Tesche, Ryan Shotton, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Rhoys Wiggins

Notable Out’s: James Vaughan, Lee Novak, Wes Thomas, Neal Eardley, David Edgar

Birmingham did as they have done ever since their appointment of Gary Rowett. They spent little but still improved their team ever so slightly. Che Adams, although not a full starter, is an exciting addition to a frontline holding Clayton Donaldson and now Lukas Jutkiewicz. Tesche and Shotton are reliable Championship journeymen and can do a good job for Birmingham. With Rowett, a top 10 manager in the division, they should still be competitive but not close enough for promotion. Mid-table it is.

Grade: B

Blackburn Rovers

Notable In’s: Gordon Greer, Anthony Stokes, Danny Graham, Liam Feeney, Tommie Hoban, Sam Gallagher, Owen Coyle, Martin Samuelsen, Charlie Mulgrew, Jack Byrne, Marvin Emnes

Notable Out’s: Grant Hanley, Shane Duffy, Tommy Spurr, Nathan Delfouneso, Lee Williamson, Simeon Jackson, Matthew Kilgallon

Ugh. I know there’s serious problems off the field for Blackburn but still… Blackburn lost their 2 key centre backs in a good defence last year (although I’m not too high on Duffy) and replaced them, with well, recycled averageness. Graham, Stokes and Emnes inspire very little up front, they haven’t sorted out their problems at both full back positions and Owen Coyle is the worst manager in the league. Martin Samuelsen might be the only bright spot for them in what will be a very dark year for Rovers.

Grade: D-

Brentford

Notable In’s: Dan Bentley, John Egan, Romaine Sawyers, Rico Henry, Sullay Kaikai, Callum Elder

Notable Out’s: David Button, Jake Bidwell, Marco Djuricin

Brentford lost their captain and goalkeeper to their two rivals. It sounds bad but Dan Bentley is every bit as good as Button. Rico Henry is an exciting addition at left back and a steal for the Bees. Questions still surround up front, with the talismanic Alan Judge not back until 2017 (I think?) and is also very likely to leave once his contract is up and the end of the season. Scott Hogan is a proven goalscorer and is worth 15+ this year but it’s still hard to point to Brentford as having improved enough to challenge for promotion.

Grade: C+

Brighton and Hove Albion

Notable In’s: Oliver Norwood, Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy, Steve Sidwell, Sebastien Pocognoli

Notable Out’s: Bobby Zamora, Inigo Calderon, Gordon Greer, Andrew Crofts, Chris O’Grady, Danny Holla, Adam Chicksen

I love what Brighton did this summer. Small but smart. Picking up a goalscoring machine in the championship in Murray can only reap dividends for them and adds another frightening element to potent force already in Hemed and Baldock. Norwood should be a great partner for Dale Stephens, though I’m not convinced on Duffy with Dunk. The Seagulls have improved their squad depth very well and this is a team that is looking good and worthy of promotion.

Grade: A-

Bristol City

Notable In’s: TAMMY ABRAHAM, Lee Tomlin, Hordur Magnusson, Taylor Moore, Callum O’Dowda, Gary O’Neil, Josh Brownhill, Jamie Paterson, Gustav Engvall

Notable Out’s: Jonathan Kodjia, Luke Ayling, Kieran Agard, Adam El-Abd, Derrick Williams

A very solid window from the Robins. O’Neil is an excellent fit for Lee Johnson’s team and Lee Tomlin is an excellent creative outlet. Brownhill and O’Dowda are fine first team players and TAMMY ABRAHAM is worth a whole grade up in itself. He can definitely replace Kodjia’s goals from last season and should benefit hugely from the loan spell. This is a clear improvement for Lee Johnson’s team that under-performed last year and should just about scratch the top 10.

Grade: A-

Burton Albion

Notable In’s: Jackson Irvine, Lee Williamson, Lloyd Dyer, Ben Turner, Chris O’Grady, John Brayford, Jamie Ward

Notable Out’s: Calum Butcher, Anthony O’Connor

I’m sorry Burton. But I’ve seen this story before. Attacking balls-to-the-wall football only gets you halfway through the season before it peters out. I do like you, I promise, and I understand the signings given your small budget, but I still don’t think it’s going to happen. It’ll be a long and exciting season for you that will be remembered as a valiant effort, but staying up is going to be very difficult.

Grade: C+

Cardiff City

Notable In’s: Jazz Richards (LOL), Frederic Gounongbe, Emyr Huws, Lex Immers, Joe Bennett, Kenneth Zohore, Ben Amos, Rickie Lambert, Paul Trollope

Notable Out’s: David Marshall, Fabio, Scott Malone, Joe Lewis, Kenwyne Jones, Eoin Doyle, Federico Macheda, Ben Turner, Adam Le Fondre

I don’t have a clue what Cardiff are doing this window. They could have easily fleeced Hull on that Marshall deal but gave him up for a paltry fee. Immers and Huws are “ok” signings but not much more. The Jazz Richards swap will probably benefit both Fulham and Cardiff somehow, probably due to the respective players feeling more comfortable in their new settings. Rickie Lambert is an uninspiring but necessary deadline day signing that should turn out ok, provided the likes of Pilkington and Whittingham can get balls into the box. Welcome to mid-table languishing, Vincent Tan.

Grade: D+

Derby County

Notable In’s: Matej Vydra, James Wilson, Ikechi Anya, Chris Weale, Nigel “Ostrich” Pearson

Notable Out’s: Ryan Shotton, Stephen Warnock, Jake Buxton, Jeff Hendrick, Lee Grant, Chris Martin

Remember Derby’s idea of getting promoted through playing attractive football? Well, say goodbye to that and brace yourself for ugly defensive 442 football. Enjoy, Derby fans, this is Nigel Pearson for you. Matej Vydra is a good signing provided that Pearson gets him back to his Watford form and shows that he wasn’t the turgid crap that he was at Reading. Ikechi Anya is a signing I like but Chris Martin and Jeff Hendrick are huge losses for the Rams. I’m sorry, Derby fans, but it’s not gonna be your year. Just pray that Pearson doesn’t strangle Will Hughes at some point.

Grade: C

Fulham

Notable In’s: Ragnar Sigurdsson, Neeskens Kebano, Jozabed, David Button, Stefan Johansen, Floyd Ayite, Kevin McDonald, Michael Madl, Sone Aluko, Denis Odoi, Scott Malone, Tomas Kalas, Lucas Piazon, Chris Martin

Notable Out’s: Ross McCormack, Maarten Stekelenburg, Ben Pringle, Fernando Amorebieta, Dan Burn, Shaun Hutchinson, Andy Lonergan, Moussa Dembele, Jazz Richards, Emerson Hyndman, Jamie O’Hara, Alex Kacaniklic, Sakari Mattila, Nikolay Bodurov, Richard Stearman, Jack Grimmer

Squad rebuild number one! Where do we begin? Is this the rest of the deadwood gone? Hopefully. All the culprits of the awful defence of the past have finally been shipped off to other clubs or released, as have other underperformers from last season. They’ve revamped the defence, the midfield, brought in pacy players and started the season unbeaten. The addition of Chris Martin, a proven goalscorer in the Championship, was the final piece to the puzzle and one that should gear the Whites for a promotion fight this year. Superb all around.

Grade: A+

Huddersfield Town

Notable In’s: Chris Schindler, Elias Kachunga, Michael Hefele, Jack Payne, Chris Löwe, Danny Ward, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Aaron “God” Mooy, Rajiv van la Parra, Kasey Palmer.

Notable Out’s: Joel Lynch, Ishmael “Ahab” Miller, Karim Matmour, Jason Davidson, Kyle Dempsey, Jordy Hiwula

Blackburn, take note. This is how you do a transfer window with spending very little cash. Aaron Mooy and Kasey Palmer on loan should be listed under “absolute thievery” than a simple “in”. The Terriers lost players of very little quality and reinforced very well. If David Wagner (who may already be a top 10 manager in the division) can keep up Huddersfield’s excellent start to the season, then we definitely have a contender for a playoff spot here. Superb window for all involved here and top marks.

Grade: A+

Ipswich Town

Notable In’s: Adam Webster, Grant Ward, Leon Best, Jonny Williams, Tom Lawrence

Notable Out’s: Daryl Murphy, Jay Tabb, Piotr Malarczyk

It’s a Mick McCarthy transfer window special! Lose little, buy little. Grant Ward is a nice buy and well done on somehow wrangling 4mil for Daryl Murphy from Newcastle. But Leon Best isn’t going to fill the goal hole Murphy left behind and good luck keeping Jonny Williams fit. Being unable to get the likes of Conor Washington through the door is a blow for Mick, as I felt he would have been perfect there. Sorry Ipswich, it’s mid-table mediocrity in the Championship for another year.

Grade: C-

Leeds United

Notable In’s: Kemar Roofe, Marcus Antonsson, Luke Ayling, Rob Green, Matt Grimes, Hadi Sacko, Pablo “Inconsistency” Hernandez, Kyle Bartley, Liam Bridcutt, Eunan O’Kane, Garry Monk

Notable Out’s: Lewis Cook, Scott Wooton, Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Tommasso Bianchi.

Sorry Leeds fans (and Massimo Cellino), you’re not going up this year. Garry Monk’s clearly going for a long term plan here so have faith in him (although I suspect Cellino won’t). Monk still has a lot of work to do, as I don’t think he knows what formation is best for his group of players, a problem he needs to resolve quickly. Having said that, I think the Leeds squad has improved from last year and Monk should be markedly better than Steve Evans. It’s going to be a year of patience for Leeds but one that could result in a improvement for the next season. With regards to the table this season? I’m not so sure…

Grade: C+

Newcastle United

Notable In’s: Dwight Gayle, Matt Ritchie, Jesus Gamez, DeAndre Yedlin, Matz Sels, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clarke, Mohamed Diame, Achraf Lazaar, Daryl Murphy, Isaac Hayden, Christian Atsu

Notable Out’s: Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend, Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Papiss “Half Season Wonder” Cisse, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Tim Krul, Siem De Jong, Gael Bigirimanna, Emmanuel Riviere, Adam Armstrong, Henri Saivet, Sammy “Legend” Ameobi, Moussa Sissoko, Florian Thauvin, Kevin Mbabu, Haris Vuckic

Squad rebuild number two! Lots of activity on Tyneside after their relegation. And understandably. Rafa’s built a team that would be good enough for the Premier League, let alone the Championship. To be fair to Newcastle, hiccups against Fulham and Huddersfield, who both look like promotion contending teams this year, should probably have been expected, given the amount of new signings. Rafa should get the squad playing to a high standard very quickly and cohesively, a marked difference from years gone by. It’s an A+ grade window, but nothing less was expected.

Grade: A+

Norwich City

Notable In’s: Alex Pritchard, Nelson Oliveira, Sergi Canos, Michael McGovern

Notable Out’s: Nathan Redmond, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Gary O’Neil, Jake Kean, Tony Andreu, Vadis Odjidja

Norwich didn’t need to do a lot this window because, well, they know the Championship pretty well. Pritchard and Canos are good young signings that are excellent players at this level, and they’ll be fine with Jerome and Oliveira up front. Oh, and Alex Neil is a good (but terrifying) manager. Norwich fans might be aggrieved that they didn’t get McCormack but I doubt they’ll be too disappointed come the end of the season. Pencil them in as a top 3 team.

Grade: B+

Nottingham Forest

Notable In’s: Apostolos Vellios, Armand Traore, Mustapha Carayol, Damien Perquis, Stephen Henderson, Thomas Lam, Pajtim “One Goal Wonder” Kasami, Hildeberto, Vladimir Stojkovic, Nicolaou Dumitru, Lica, Philippe Montanier

Notable Out’s: Oliver Burke, Robert Tesche, Jamie Paterson, Dorus De Vries, Andy Reid, Kelvin Wilson, Lars Veldwijk

I really liked the appointment of Montanier for Forest, he’s a much better manager than Pearson at Derby. Given how they seem to be making changes in ownership, they’ve spent comparatively little to years gone by. They got rid of a fair amount of a poor squad last year and replaced them with “intriguing” foreign talent and a variety of championship “plodders”. Forest this year seem to be the Fulham of last year: they’ll score at will but concede 2–3 goals per game consistently. That’s fine but it’s not going to get them anywhere.

Grade: C+

Preston North End

Notable In’s: Ben Pringle, Chris Maxwell, Anders Lindegaard, Callum Robinson, Simon Makienok, Eoin Doyle, Alex Baptiste, Marnick Vermijl, Aiden McGeady

Notable Out’s: Joe Garner, Neil Kilkenny, Chris Kirkland, Josh Brownhill

Preston are very much in Ipswich’s boat: spend little, lose little. That’s fine, although they lost the talismanic Joe Garner and Simon Grayson isn’t the most inspiring manager. The Alex Baptiste and Vermijl signings fill a big hole at RB and gives them some stability there for now. But, Grayson’s going to have to get a lot out of Beckford and Eoin Doyle this year to keep up with other teams in the scoring column, otherwise there’s going to be a large reliance on a defence that already appears to be regressing from last year’s excellent performance.

Grade: C

Queen’s Park Rangers

Notable In’s: Idrissa Sylla, Ariel Borysiuk, Jordan Cousins, Joel Lynch, Jake Bidwell, Yeni N’Gbakoto, Pavel Wszolek

Notable Out’s: Matt Phillips, Leroy Fer, Junior Hoilett, Armand Traore, Clint “over the” Hill, Alejandro Faurlin, Robert Green, Samba Diakite (lol), Yun Suk Young, Cole Kpekawa, Daniel Toszer, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

A lot of “big” names in that out’s list, but a clear-out of crap is exactly what Rangers needed. They’ve got a good young core that they built last year for them to go on, as well as a good manager to go with it. Rangers need to improve their game to game consistency to have a chance of aiming for promotion this year (losing to Barnsley away and Preston at home isn’t good enough), while also hoping that Sylla can take the goalscoring burden off of Polter. Otherwise, it’ll be relying heavily on a sturdy defence throughout the season.

Grade: B+

Reading

Notable In’s: Liam Moore, Roy Beerens, Danzell “Washington” Gravenberch, Joey van den Berg, Sandro Weiser, John Swift, Tyler Blackett, Callum Harriott, Joseph Mendes, Jaap Stam

Notable Out’s: Hal “National Hero” Robson-Kanu, Aaron Tshibola, Simon Cox, Anton Ferdinand, Oliver Norwood

So long, Hal Robson-Kanu! Enjoy your career from one turn in the box in the Euros. As Reading fans know, he’s pretty much useless. Jaap Stam is not. The losses of Tshibola and Norwood, a good midfield core, will hurt but Stam has got Reading playing to the typical Dutch “possession heavy” style that he favours. Whether that turns into points, we will see. Their defence should be pretty good, or at least they hope it should be, as their striking options are very limited. Asamoah Gyan failing a medical for them was a big blow and they’re likely to improve that department in January.

Grade: B-

Rotherham United

Notable In’s: Jon Taylor, Will Vaulks, Kelvin Wilson, Scott Allan, Isaiah Brown, Jake Forster-Caskey, Tom Adeyemi, Darnell Fisher, Dael Fry, Alan Stubbs

Notable Out’s: Leon Best, Jerome Thomas, Emmanuel Ledesma, Paddy Kenny, Matt Derbyshire, Lewis Buxton, Frazer Richardson, Luciano Becchio

Rotherham did what they always do. Replace sub-par players with sub-par players and their results show so far. Neil Warnock was a huge plus for them and that they couldn’t agree terms with him for whatever reason is still a huge blow to them. Alan Stubbs doesn’t inspire at all and it’ll require another huge effort for them to stay up. And I just don’t think it’s happening.

Grade: D

Sheffield Wednesday

Notable In’s: Almen Abdi, Daniel Pudil, Stephen Fletcher, Jake Kean, Vincent Sasso, David Jones, Will Buckley, Adam Reach

Notable Out’s: Lewis Price, Caolan Lavery, Marnick Vermijl

Really solid window from Wednesday. They’re a good team with a good manager and they’re definitely going to be challenging for promotion this year, provided they get over the bad start they’ve had. A solid window like this is a perfect response to that bad start and they’ll soon be firing on all cylinders.

Grade: B+/A-

Wigan

Notable In’s: Stephen Warnock, Dan “Fraud” Burn, Jake Buxton, Jordi Gomez, Nick Powell, Shaun Macdonald, Reece Burke, Adam Bogdan, Luke Garbutt, Alex Gilbey, Adam Le Fondre, Nathan Byrne, Kaiyne Woolery

Notable Out’s: Jason Pearce, Emyr Huws, Chris McCann, Kevin McNaughton, Leon Barnett, Reece Wabara

Congratulations, Wigan. You won the Dan Burn sweepstakes! You got an additional prize of Luke Garbutt for your troubles, reuniting half of the WORST DEFENCE IN ENGLISH FOOTBALL last year. So, well done. Other than, it’s been pretty good. Nick Powell should be a great signing for them, provided that Gary Caldwell doesn’t let him drown in booze. Adam Le Fondre should help out Will Grigg with the goalscoring burden but a lower mid-table year beckons for the League 1 champions.

Grade: B

Wolves

Notable In’s: Richard Stearman, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Paul Gladon, Andy Lonergan, Silvio, Ola John, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Roman Saïss, Prince Oniangue, Helder Costa, Joao Teixeira, Ivan Cavaleiro, Walter Zenga

Notable Out’s: Kevin McDonald, Bjorn Sigurdarson, Tommy Rowe, Zeli Ismail, Rajiv van la Parra, Nathan Byrne

Squad rebuild numero tres! Except this time with Jorge Mendes and a Chinese consortium. Ivan Cavaleiro is an absolutely ridiculous signing for this level and Mendes’ influence transfer-wise is very visible. Walter Zenga has had a good start with Wolves and looks very comfortable in the Championship so far. It’s a nice start for Mendes and Fosun, one that will yield a playoff appearance in my opinion.

Grade: A

Final Predictions

  1. Newcastle
  2. Brighton
  3. Norwich
  4. Wolves
  5. Aston Villa
  6. Fulham
  7. Sheffield Wednesday
  8. Huddersfield
  9. QPR
  10. Bristol City
  11. Derby
  12. Birmingham
  13. Brentford
  14. Ipswich
  15. Cardiff
  16. Reading
  17. Wigan
  18. Nott’m Forest
  19. Leeds
  20. Preston
  21. Barnsley
  22. Burton
  23. Blackburn
  24. Rotherham
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