This week I will be looking at how each of the new Championship teams will fare starting with those relegated from the Premiership. With the new season fast-approaching, Birmingham, Blackpool and West Ham fans are all hoping to see their team go straight back up in the first attempt.
I will start by looking at Birmingham City, who had a bittersweet season last term, pairing the joys of winning the Carling Cup with the devastation of getting relegated from the Premier League.
However, with a new manager at the helm after Alex McLeish’s resignation to join Birmingham’s arch rivals, Aston Villa, they will be hoping to make an immediate impression by getting them back up straight away.
Chris Hughton was able to achieve this for a deflated Newcastle side two seasons ago after their shock relegation, preventing a mass exodus of players and steadying the ship.
Yet, I believe it will be tougher this time. Birmingham have already lost Roger Johnson, Sebastian Larsson and Craig Gardner, three key players last term who will be hard to replace and, in my opinion, Birmingham’s squad isn’t as good as the Newcastle squad which went down.
On the other hand, they have brought in competent replacements.
Stephen Caldwell is an accomplished defender who has had an unlucky last two seasons and Morgaro Gomis was a key player for Dundee United.
Marlon King has also been brought in from Coventry City, as has Adam Rooney from Inverness CT and Chris Burke from Cardiff, three players who can strengthen their weak link last season, their attack.
There is going to be a lot of pressure on Hughton this season as Birmingham’s owners are expecting promotion and nothing less, so Hughton is going to have to get results straight away and lead from the start of the season, something which will be easier said than done.
However if anyone can get Birmingham promoted it is Chris Hughton and I believe he will be successful although they may have to settle for the play-offs due to such high competition.