It all kicks off tomorrow night, as Championship new boys Norwich play host to Watford in the first game of the football league season on a Friday night. This will be the first live game of the English season and I must say that not only as a Championship blogger but also as a football fan I am extremely excited. If you’re a regular visitor on the EPL talk network, you may have seen on Worldcupbuzz that I wrote quite a few live blogs while matches where ongoing and I hope to carry that on for the Championship (although I’m unable to announce particular games yet). There are three live games from the Championship to start the season:
Friday 6th August:
Norwich City V Watford
UK: Live on Sky Sports 3 (and HD 3) – [7.45pm GMT kick off]
USA: Live on FoxSoccer.tv – [2.45pm ET kick off]
Saturday 7th August:
Leeds United V Derby County
UK: Live on BBC One (and HD) [5.15pm GMT kick off]
USA: Live on Fox Soccer Plus & FoxSoccer.tv [12:15pm ET kick off]
Sunday 8th August:
Cardiff City V Sheffield United
UK: Live on Sky Sports 1 (and HD 1) – [12.35pm GMT kick off]
USA: Live on FoxSoccer.tv [7.35 ET kick off]
Ignore the glorified kick about that is the Charity Shield and watch some competitive football this weekend! Middlesbrough are being tipped by many as favourites for promotion this season, but 2010/11 could well be one of the most open and balanced season’s England’s second tier has ever seen. As well as ‘Boro, big things are expected from the likes of QPR, Burnley Nottingham Forest and Reading whereas many predict it will be a difficult season for Gary Hooper-less Scunthorpe, Watford, Barnsley and Millwall. Still, the beauty of the Championship is that it is notoriously hard to predict, last season many tipped Newcastle to have a difficult season and they ended up winning the league! Leicester were promoted from League One and found themselves in the playoff semi-finals. And big spending QPR found themselves in a relegation battle. Last season saw its fair amount of drama and it promises to continue this season! I thought I’d pick out three clubs in particular that I think could have very interesting seasons for different reasons:
Narrowly avoiding liquidation, Pompey’s troubles are far from over and the cash strapped club will likely be forced to field a number of youngsters this season as not only do they seem an unattractive proposition for an aspiring player, but their debt’s are so beyond them that they can ill-afford to offer out wages for top players. Steve Cotterill was a great appointment, but Pompey’s goal for this season remains unclear. The club faces a real threat of being dragged into a relegation battle due to the many financial difficulties and in my opinion; anything that keeps them in the Championship should be seen as a success. They may still be a part of the football league, but Pompey are on an uncertain path.
Can they finally do it? The 12th man to take charge of QPR in four years, Neil Warnock, managed to keep the club in the league last season and it now appears that he is being backed by many to lead the club onto a promotion push. Some QPR fans are sitting in the fence and are unsure as to whether the club really can aspire to the top of the table, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t believe they will have a poor season like last year. The reason QPR will have an interesting season is that there finally seems to be an atmosphere of stability at the club – something they have been lacking ever since the takeover. In my opinion, QPR should be around the play-off area next season, although that could all change if the board decides to keep up its tradition of managerial changes…
The champion’s of League One returned on the first time of asking, something that seemed far from plausible when they were hammered by Colchester at the start of last season. Norwich replied by sacking Bryan Gunn and hiring the very man who had lead Colchester to the Canaries’ humiliation – Paul Lambert. Norwich never looked back and took the league by storm, even avenging the Colchester score by inflicting the same punishment on Lambert’s former team. Lambert is an exciting manager who is plying his trade well and this will be his first chance to manage in the Championship. Top players like Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt could have easily made my list (below) regarding the Championship players to watch this season and Norwich’s amazing League One form has led many to tip the club for a chance at the play offs. It could be a great season for Norwich and it is great to have their support back in the Championship – the team often filled their stadium last season when in League One.
I wish I could detail every club, but as ever I will be writing throughout the season on various issues and stories that occur. I honestly cannot make a prediction as to who will win the league, although if Kris Boyd remains fit for the entire season then it seems foolish to bet against Middlesbrough. My tip for the season is Nicky Maynard to finish top goal scorer – although Boyd could take the league by storm, Bristol City have shown a lot of ambition in the transfer market this summer and this should help Maynard carry on his great goal scoring record from last season.
Enjoy the season and good luck to your team!