Connect in the back of the net

In recent years teams have been successful once getting into the Championship, managing to stay there.

Last season was no different with Barnsley and Burton surviving relatively comfortably, despite early predictors condemning them to relegation.

So how will the promoted sides fare this season?

 

Sheffield United

A big fish in League 1 terms, Sheffield United have been gradually knocking down the door to the Championship for the last three seasons, finishing in the top 6 three out of the last four seasons, with the most recent campaign winning the title.

This sort of consistency would suggest they’re ready for the challenge.

Whilst other teams, chiefly Burton, have managed to survive after a surprise promotion providing an unknown quality to their side, along with a lack of expectation; Sheffield United come into this season almost expecting to stay up.

The man who will likely hold the key to staying in the division is Billy Sharp. As captain and goalscorer if he can return anywhere near his 30 goals for the Blades last season, then you’d think United will be a Championship team in 2018/19.

Whilst Chris Wilder’s success in Leagues 1&2 is impressive, this is also a new level for him.

Now he has finally provided the promotion Blades fans have been expecting in the last few seasons, he now must also provide their expected survival. A test of management for him in the second tier of English football.

In terms of signings they’ve not spent too much, though more than their promotion comrades. Richard Stearman for a bit under £1M seems a good buy, providing experience and know-how at the heart of the defence.

Whilst picking up John Lundstram from Oxford United for half a million quid is a good deal for someone considered to be one of the best young central midfielders in the lower league circuit.

Overall one would expect Sheffield United to be the most likely to survive the season from the promoted sides. Not just because of their huge points total last term, but their squad has been stable in the recent past and in Billy Sharp they’ve got someone who can put the ball in the net.

Prediction: 15th

 

Bolton

A steady season last year saw them accelerate towards the back end, owing to the experienced squad they had compared with promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe and Fleetwood.

Perhaps learning from previous errors, they’ve been very shrewd in their signings this summer.

Mainly utilising the loan and free agent market Bolton will be happy with the business they’ve managed to do. Will Buckley and Sammy Ameobi, for example, will provide them with quality and championship experience that will aid their hopes of survival for the season.

An issue for Bolton last term was goals.

Unlike the Blades, the Wanderers had no such talisman as Sharp, this was particularly highlighted when their best forward Zac Clough sought pastures new at Forest. Whilst Buckley and Ameobi provide width and creativity they still need someone in the box to pounce.

Gary Madine hasn’t lived up to the hype at Bolton, so they will hope the loan signing of Adam Armstrong and the free transfer of Adam Le Fondre provide a much needed goal threat, if they’re to survive the season.

Tammy Abraham at Bristol City proved how vital a goal scorer can be to a club in the bottom six. Le Fondre’s record is impressive (176 in 476) but many Wanderers will fear his best years are behind him, while Armstrong arrives as a young player still learning his game.

Parkinson, another experienced head in the lower league scene, will have his chance to prove himself as a manager at the next level. Heralded for his Bradford side that went on that exciting League Cup run finishing runners up to Swansea (in 2012/13), he will hope his Bolton side can follow suit and upset the big boys this season.

A pragmatic approach from Bolton, not spending much money, aware of the mistakes that have been made by clubs in the Championship of recent years.

However, the manager is accustomed to working with such a budget and they’ve made some shrewd acquisitions. But it all comes down to goals in the Championship.

If they can get a goalscorer before the window shuts, or can inspire Le Fondre’s form for Reading of a few years back, they’ll have a chance. If not, they may find themselves back battling it out with Scunthorpe and Fleetwood.

Prediction: 22nd

 

Millwall

A trend with all these promoted sides is their “favourites” tag to get out of league 1, though Millwall managed it the hard way beating Bradford 1-0 in the play off final.

Keeping hold of Onyedinma may prove to be as important as any new blood. His pace and power saw him coveted by many other Championship clubs, but he decided to stay at the Den signing a new three-year deal.

Lee Gregory provided the bulk of their goals with 17 in the league. If he can transfer that return to the Championship that will certainly help Millwall’s cause.

Morison and O’Brien also provided notable contributions with goals which bodes well for their survival bid if they can source goals from different areas of the team.

The manager, Neil Harris, will have huge desire to do well for Millwall it being his boyhood club. However, this being his only job and holding the post for only two years he is relatively inexperienced as a manager in the game, remember though, so was David Wagner of Huddersfield.

Little money spent, but the signings of Jed Wallace, George Saville, and Ryan Tunnicliffe are all players of Championship pedigree with something to prove in this league.

If Harris can succeed in keeping Millwall in the division he will certainly be hoping the Den becomes somewhat of a fortress, being such a hostile place to play.

Whether the likes of Gregory and Onyedinma continue their form of last season that saw Millwall get up, and the injection of new faces, will all contribute to Millwall’s fate. An fairly inexperienced team, led by a very inexperienced manager; if they can adjust they might have a chance.

Prediction: 23rd

 

Written by Dominic Mehlig

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