If you are a supporter of any team in the English Football League, apart from the usual top six in the EPL, then playing in the Championship must be the most exciting option to watch. Yes, all fans wish their club success and the chance to play against the elite sides, but in all honesty, there’s not THAT much to play for in the Premier League.
Every season is much like the last, with the same six clubs jostling for their positions within that group. Then there are the sides like Everton and maybe Leicester City trying their utmost to get a shot at European football but not normally quite good enough to breach the six at the peak.
For the rest, all twelve clubs are battling week in and week out to get to the magical 36 points to sustain their place and the monetary benefits that come with keeping their team in the top division.
Every now and then a club picks up a good manager who blends a group of players together, such as Leicester City when they won the title and this season Wolves. Those are the seasons that fans from these twelve clubs enjoy the most. The matches where points are won against the top six. They are SPECIAL DAYS.
Unfortunately, most teams can be totally destroyed against the best, which can demoralise the players and the fans, bringing many managers a swift sacking.
Teams such as Burnley, Bournemouth and Brighton have been able to keep their teams safe from relegation in recent years down to the fact that the owners of these clubs have stood by their managers, even when results have gone against them. Take Sean Dyche at Burnley. He has done a wonderful job maintaining a mid-table position every year since their promotion. Most clubs would have sacked him early on in the season when they were struggling, but all credit to the bosses that stuck by him, as the club has pulled through and once again proved to be hard to beat. Hughton and Howe have done miracles to keep their sides out of relegation, although Brighton have suffered a bit of late, but if they stick with Hughton, I’m sure next season he will get them up the table again.
The Championship is harder than ever to get out of and into the EPL. There are so many clubs with Premier League pedigree. Who honestly would have chosen Norwich City and Sheffield United to finish as the top two before Christmas? The Play-Offs will be exciting as any one the four have a very good chance of replicating Fulham’s victory at Wembley last season.
Games come quick and often in the Championship, and looking at the teams most likely to be there next season, is there one that will do a Wolves and run away with the title? More than likely it will be a close run thing like this season, with the leaders changing throughout. A good strong and fit squad is necessary, as two games a week are more often than not.
I would love to believe Fulham could be the runaway leaders throughout next season, but I have my doubts. There are too many other strong clubs fighting for the top two automatic promotion spots. Cardiff City will once again prove hard to beat, especially if they hold onto Warnock for another season. Huddersfield have a new German manager, who once strengthening the attack, should prove another worthy opponent. Then there are the three clubs who miss out in this year’s Play-Offs. All good strong sides that will want to get one stage further next year.
A few others that should be there or thereabouts are; Stoke and Swansea, two teams rebuilding from their relegation last season. Bristol City who are edging nearer promotion each year. Middlesbrough if they keep Pulis could be the team to beat, plus Blackburn, Sheff. Wed, Notts Forest and Hull City, all clubs desperate for success.
Finally, the three sides who gain promotion from League One must not be discounted, especially Luton Town who have done wonders rising up from non-league football, and possibly Sunderland or Portsmouth. Teams with a fanatic loyal following.
WOW, what a season it promises to be. Any team capable of beating any other team with the prize of a crack at the big boys in the Premier League. Nothing like the season us Fulham fans have had to endure since winning promotion last year. It will just be nice to see some quality football played like we did under Slav, with plenty of goals to cheer and hopefully finishing in the top two, for another bash at mediocrity.
ROLL ON NEXT SEASON AND A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE KHAN FAMILY FOR SHOWING THE LOYAL FULHAM FANS YOUR FULL SUPPORT. CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THE NEW AND AMAZING RIVERSIDE STAND COMPLETED.
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