The wait is over and the EFL 2017-2018 Championship season preview is here.
The festivities started with the unveiling of Adopt an English Football League Team Week on Monday, and will end when the first ball is kicked in anger on Friday night UK Time.
We can’t wait, 46 games for each side lays ahead, plenty of midweek matches, conveniently timed for Australians to be the perfect accompaniment to a midweek work day.
It’s a hard slog, but someone’s gotta do it, and below is our preview of the season ahead for a league some call the toughest in Europe.
Not enough here? For an even bigger preview of the Championship and Football League 2017-2018 why not catch our full preview via the Fox Sports Academy.
What a shame it seems the excellent coverage partnership between BeIn Sports and Fox Sports in Australia won’t be continuing. Makes it hardly worth the extra $4 in our opinion as Football League nerds. Not that they are officially telling us yet.
EACH CHAMPIONSHIP 2017-2018 TEAM’S CHANCES IN 20 WORDS OR LESS
With attention spans at an all time low, especially for something so sports nerdy as English Football League, we attempt to assess every team’s season in the quickest possible time, limiting our thoughts to 20 words or so.
We have listed them is last year’s order for now, until we get to our predictions of this year’s finishing positions.
Almost survived thanks to Marco Silva’s arrival last season. He’s gone now, and so have some good players. Relegation is an outside chance.
Scored bugger all in the EPL and have addressed that in the market. Looks most likely to make the playoffs of the relegated sides.
As dysfunctional as a club to be relegated in years. Better sort it out quick as the Championship is unforgiving, especially for a team in the bottom half which looks a possibility.
Surprised many by finishing third when they were so fancied pre season for the drop. Still unfashionable in the betting despite boosting squad.
Made play offs twice in a row now, and need to break through or lose their chance in the sporting cycle. Having Sheffield United back is a bonus.
Fulham stormed into the play offs as one of the form teams, but didn’t get past the first round. Kept their promising players was key and they have done that. Highly fancied to go up. manager has done it before with Watford.
Another year of wondering if this is the year they awake from the slumber. At least they got rid of the previous owner Massimo Cellino.
Disappointed last season after the drop and they got rid of manager Alex Neill as a consequence. Have cleaned house a little for this season and are following Huddersfield with a relatively unknown German coach.
Another year of Derby not fulfilling their potential? They look strong as ever, and that’s the problem. Hopefully manager Gary Rowett is not sacked too early this time.
Have become a fixture now in the Championship, but slowly dropping back after making the play offs a few ago.
PRESTON NORTH END
Lot manager Simon Grayson to Sunderland, but inherited former Norwich man Alex Neil. Potential to finish anywhere, but look likely for bottom half.
Have Neil Warnock who is always entertaining and took QPR up a few years back, largely forgotten about in promotion talk. At least their owner has calmed down.
A second year in the Championship and have pulled out the big guns by signing John Terry. Will be an embarrassment to both if they don’t at least make the play offs.
Amongst the favourites for relegation like every year, and will probably survive and then sell their best one or two players.
Spent 18M GBP on one player. Which would cover most club’s entire transfer bill for the season. New Chinese owners looking to go big.
Signs looked good until a 6- thrashing by third tier Charlton in a trial game. Maybe a wish for sweet mediocrity is the way to go this year.
Lost Tammy Abraham back to the EPL, his 20+ goals will be hard to replicate. As will survival.
A real dark horse for relegation, just waiting for things to go wrong under Ian Holloway.
Another team hiring old school manager with Harry Redknapp staying on after keeping Birmingham up in the last game last year. Can’t see it lasting.
Somehow survived in the Championship last season, second season syndrome will see them sent back to the third division in our opinion.
Will the new owner taking over, there’s hope for better, or at least don’t get worse.
Scored 100 points on way to the League One title. Have plenty of talent to make Grand Final, good record for promoted teams doing it again.
May not have finished as good as Sheffield United last season, but did not take five seasons to return to the Championship. Just one.
Millwall are back in the Championship and look like they might finish in the bottom half if they can behave.
GF INDEX 2017-2018 CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTIONS
We could do our usual and tip the potential winners and losers from the 2017-2018 Championship season, but this season we’ve done something a little different.
We have taken various fields of data from last season and heading into the new season to determine the 2017-2018 Championship.
Using stats from last season like Overall Wins, Goal Difference, Away Goals Scored, Last 6 Form, Form after Xmas, Most Clean Sheets in a row, Points scored (divided by division e.g. Championship /2, League Two /4). Then we throw in Promotion and Relegation odds, Crowd % at home games, Squad Value, Manager Tenure. All specific data fields are ranked 1 – 24, and 24 points awarded for the best in each category and so on down to one for last. Then sorted by the totals.
Simples really. We don’t necessarily agree, but that’s what the data says.
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OUR SELECTIONS FOR THE 2017-2018 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
Despite coming up with the GF Index for the upcoming season, we’re also putting up our gut feeling with our tips for comparison. Who will get them right? probably neither, but here they are all the same.
CHAMPIONS: Aston Villa
PROMOTED: Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday
RELEGATED: Burton, Birmingham, QPR
TOP 5’s FOR THE 2017-2018 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
Everyone loves a short, sharp list, so here’s a pile of stats for the 2017-2018 Championship season.
5 START OF SEASON ODDS – WINNER
ASTON VILLA $7.50
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY $11.00
5 START OF SEASON ODDS – RELEGATION
BURTON ALBION $2.35
Odds all correct at time from William Hill Australia. Click to see latest here.
5 GREAT RIVALRIES TO WATCH FOR
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY v SHEFFIELD UNITED
IPSWICH v NORWICH
ASTON VILLA v BIRMINGHAM
DERBY COUNTY v NOTTINGHAM FOREST
SUNDERLAND v MIDDLESBROUGH
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
JOHN TERRY – Aston Villa
Will a celebrated career in the EPL make any difference in the Championship.
RUBEN NEVES – Wolves
Will he justify the 18M GBP price tag?
BRITT ASSOMBALONGA – Middlesbrough
Ditto for this 17M GBP man.
JORDAN RHODES – Sheffield Wednesday
A natural goal scorer who gets another chance to shine in the Championship after no luck with Middlesbrough last season.
TOM ELLIOTT – Millwall
Has moved from AFC Wimbledon and is quality.
5 MANAGERS TO WATCH
HARRY REDKNAPP (Birmingham)
Famous for wheeling and dealing, like a character from Minder. Saved Birmingham last season, but it is a full season ahead.
MICK MCCARTHY (Ipswich)
Straight talking Mick is always good for a soundbite, if not an entertaining win. Or many goals.
DANIEL FARKE (Norwich)
Relatively unknown German manager trying to repeat Huddersfield success.
NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO (Wolves)
Great name, plenty of money and impatient Chinese owners to please.
LEONID SLUTSKY (Hull)
Great name again, pressure on to ensure it is not a double drop for Hull.
5 LONGEST SERVING MANAGERS
MICK McCARTHY (Ipswich) – 4.7 years
NEIL HARRIS (Millwall) – 2.4 years
CARLOS CARVALHAL (Sheffield Wednesday) – 2.1 years
DEAN SMITH (Brentford) – 1.6 years
NIGEL CLOUGH (Burton) – 1.6 years
5 GREAT GROUND NAMES
THE DEN – Millwall
DEEPDALE – Preston North End
STADIUM OF LIGHT – Sunderland
MOLINEUX – Wolves
CRAVEN COTTAGE – Fulham
5 GREAT NICKNAMES
CANARIES – Norwich
BLADES – Sheffield United
TRACTOR BOYS – Ipswich
RAMS – Derby County
TROTTERS – Bolton Wanderers
5 GREAT MASCOTS
TERRY BYTE – Fulham
BARNEY THE OWL – Sheffield Wednesday
BILLY BREWER – Burton Albion
CAPTAIN CANARY – Norwich City
TOBY TYKE – Barnsley
5 TOP % FULL OF HOME GAMES 2016-17
NORWICH – 96.7%
MIDDLESBROUGH – 86.7%
DERBY COUNTY – 86.4%
BURTON ALBION – 84.3%
SUNDERLAND – 84.2%