The Championship is BACK but who will get their £200m Prem payday?

by 24britishtvJuly 29, 2022, 11 p.m. 20
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WHENEVER I see managers like Luton’s Nathan Jones it makes me glad I’m now only watching football in my armchair rather than getting het up on the touchline.

Nathan doesn’t just bite his nails but knuckles too. I’ve never seen anything like it — and it makes me think, ‘Thank goodness, I’m retired.’

The emotional rollercoaster you go through in the Championship is like nothing else and it’s a league where you can toss coins all week and still struggle to pick out who will get promoted.

There are no certainties and that is why it’s one of the world’s best leagues.

This season is going to be yet another wide-open race and here, exclusively for SunSport, I run the rule over every single team.

THE Canaries are best equipped and with Dean Smith as manager they’ll definitely be there or thereabouts.

He knows the Championship inside-out, having done a great job at Brentford before leaving to take Aston Villa back into the Premier League.

Dean has a good squad, knows what they need and the club will back him because they have the parachute payments that give relegated clubs a huge advantage.

The Finnish lad Teemu Pukki will be massive. He has again been loyal by staying after relegation, as he did a couple of seasons ago. Norwich will create chances and Pukki will put them away.

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WITH the Sean Dyche era over, the club have gone for an up-and-coming manager in Vincent Kompany. He's recruited an excellent assistant in Craig Bellamy, who is full of energy, and they’ll do a good job together.

They’ve let some players go that in all honesty needed to leave. It was a much-needed freshening up.

You must give Burnley credit for signing Scott Twine from MK Dons. I watched him destroy Plymouth by scoring a hat-trick and thought, ‘Wow, this lad is going to be a good player’ so I told two managers higher up, ‘Sign this lad.’

Neither did so well done to Vincent and Craig for doing so.

He plays behind the striker, has a great touch and good finish. The scouting is obviously spot on at Burnley.

Another interesting signing is the midfield lad, Josh Cullen, from Anderlecht. He had done well during his loan spells from West Ham at Charlton and he even captained Anderlecht, which tells you lot.

Burnley beat Huddersfield in the Championship opener on Friday night - Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen scoring the only goal of the game.

IT’S always a risk when a club decides to appoint a manager like Rob Edwards from the lower leagues.

He did a great job getting Forest Green promoted from League Two but the Championship is different gravy and a hard league if you’ve not prepared right. I’m genuinely interested to see how he gets on.

Watford go through so many managers but it has in the past worked for them — although not so much in the last year.

They plummeted. Although they had good players, the spirit wasn’t there. And the one thing you do need in the Championship is spirit.

STEVE BRUCE took over from Valerien Ismael and will have been expecting a lot more from the team towards the end of last season. In the end, it was just about getting through to the summer and starting from scratch.

I expect them to be far better this time with a pre-season under their belts and players like Daryl Dike getting back to fitness. They should be pushing the top group.

EXPECTATIONS will be higher after Paul Heckingbottom enjoyed a free ride when he took over last season and so narrowly missed out on taking the club back to the Premier League.

It was a smart move from Paul to bring in Stuart McCall as his assistant because he has seen it all.

They’ve a good group of lads. Billy Sharp up front isn’t getting any younger but he continues to surprise me and is playing the best football of his career if they keep him fit.

It sounds as though the Swedish lad they signed from Malmo for £4million [Anel Ahmedhodzic] is the type of ball-playing centre-half Paul likes and midfielder Ciaran Clarke, on loan from Newcastle, certainly is comfortable in possession too.

I expect the Blades to be up there.

I HAD expected my last club to go up because they were the best team out of all those pushing for a play-off spot last season — but fell short as they didn’t have the striker.

They brought some in during January but it didn’t really come off for them.

They’re going to have to score more goals so will be looking to sign a striker.

MAKING the play-offs last season was remarkable — but even if Nathan Jones leads them to a mid-table finish it will have been another good year.

They have a good dressing room — which you need in this league — and will be looking to ruffle a few feathers.

Cauley Woodrow from Barnsley is a good attacking signing for them.

MARK ROBINS is one of the unsung heroes of the Championship and I’m surprised he’s still at Coventry because you’d have thought a club higher up would have taken him by now.

He’s one of the brightest managers in the league but just goes about his business. He doesn’t get flustered and has a way of playing. I do like Viktor Gyokeres up top for them. Mid-table, pushing for the play-offs, is a realistic expectation.

BENIK AFOBE has signed permanently from Stoke. He is a striker who I’ve looked at a few times and thought, “Wow, if he can put his mind to it … what a player.”

Then other times I’ve thought he has been terrible.

Gary Rowett seemed to get the best out of him and Afobe needs that type of manager: one who will allow him some freedom but drum into him to do the basics.

Gary is a good manager and I expect the Lions to be mid-table, possibly pushing for the play-offs.

ONE of my biggest regrets was not taking the Sunderland job when I was at Notts County.

They’re a sleeping giant and have one of the league’s best strikers in Ross Stewart.

I was told last year to go and watch this Sunderland striker called Charlie Wyke, who would soon be available.

I went to watch him but ended up saying, “One of the best strikers in the league has got to be Stewart.”

I like his movement, unselfishness and attitude.

That is one department where they don’t need to strengthen.

He’s good as any striker in the Championship.

THE Millers are always going to have a fight on their hands with the league’s lowest budget and they’ve lost top-scorer Michael Smith and centre-half Michael Ihiekwe to Sheffield Wednesday as well as striker Freddie Ladapo to Ipswich.

Paul Warne has developed as a manager and has stayed loyal to the club. He’s always ready to roll his sleeves up.

I’ve a lot of time for Rotherham and Warney. They're a club that is backs against the wall and they’ll be odds on to go down.

THE SEASIDERS punched above their weight last season and their home form is going to be paramount.

They’ve good players there like Jerry Yates and Gary Madine, one of my old strikers.

They do have a strike force. It’s whether they can tighten up at the back a bit to keep away from the bottom part of the table.

THEY’VE a new owner in Acun Ilicali and their Georgian manager Shota Arveladze. I didn’t like how they ended their relationship last season with Grant McCann, who did a good job there.

Hull have brought in players from abroad but let’s see how they do on a dark and wet Tuesday night in Humberside.

I CAN’T see them having a great season because of the state of the club and the squad at Paul Ince’s disposal. They only stayed up last season because of Derby’s points deduction.

JON DAHL TOMASSON had a brilliant playing career and was a top Danish international but management is different.

He isn’t someone who has seen much of the Championship so it was a gamble bringing him in to replace Tony Mowbray.

It’ll be fascinating to see how he does at Ewood Park.

MY old club have taken a bit of a gamble in appointing Michael Beale but seem to have done their homework.

They’re not paying silly money out and will be giving youth a chance.

If Michael can get them on a bit of a roll, Loftus Road will be electric.

CAN’T see them pushing top half although I’ve always liked Andreas Weimann.

He’s a natural striker I’ve tried to sign and is always good value for at least 15 goals a season. They need to tighten things at the back.

LOSING Harry Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien — their two best players — will be too much for them to recover from this season.

Gary Schofield has taken over from Carlos Corberan and knows the squad but it’ll be tough to replicate what they did last time out by reaching the play-off final, losing to Nottingham Forest.

Burnley beat Huddersfield in the Championship opener on Friday night - Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen scoring the only goal of the game.

RYAN LOWE’S first full season at Deepdale is likely to be steady. I can’t see them struggling because they’ve a good home record and a nucleus of a good side.

STEVE MORRISON has gone down the younger route for players and has brought quite a few in, including experienced ex-Brentford midfielder Romaine Sawyers, 30, from West Brom.

They need to get them blending quickly. Mid-table I reckon.

JOE ALLEN has returned to the Liberty and fits nicely into their brand of football.

I can’t see the Swans pushing because Championship teams work out how to play against them.

They have an attractive style and don’t change it — but there are certain times you need a Plan B.

A LOT will depend on the new owners and how new manager John Eustace does. They certainly could do with some stability.

LEAM RICHARDSON has a good squad and I expect them to be comfortable mid-table. Will Keane up front should score goals for them.

COULD possibly push for a play-off place but I think it'll be another mid-table finish for the Potters.

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