90min
Championship

Championship 2021/22 season preview: A look at all 24 teams & final table prediction

Ross Jackson
Wayne Rooney's side will be up against it next season
Wayne Rooney's side will be up against it next season / Athena Pictures/Getty Images
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Take a deep breath because it's almost time for the ten-month long whirlwind of emotion that is the Championship to begin.

With fans slowly but surely being allowed back into football stadiums, the 2021/22 second tier campaign promises to be even more exciting and adrenaline fuelled than usual.

So, without further ado, 90min has previewed all 24 Championship teams before predicting where we think each side will finish and who will clinch promotion back to the Premier League...


1. Barnsley

Cauley Woodrow has been a consistent performer since moving to Barnsley
Cauley Woodrow has been a consistent performer since moving to Barnsley / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Last season: 5th

Manager: Markus Schopp

We'd love to say Barnsley are going to shock us all again like they did last season - but they're just not.

Not only has Valerien Ismael - the man who sparked the Tykes' season into life - left for West Brom, he's taken their best player in Alex Mowatt with him.

There's still a few decent players at Oakwell and they should have enough to avoid relegation, but we're afraid last season's success was a one off and it's likely to be back to the bottom end of the league for Barnsley.

Prediction: 20th


2. Birmingham City

Lee Bowyer has had an immediate impact at Birmingham
Lee Bowyer has had an immediate impact at Birmingham / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Last season: 18th

Manager: Lee Bowyer

Birmingham City were in real danger of dropping into League One under Aitor Karanka last season, but Lee Bowyer did brilliantly to steer them to safety.

Bowyer has been forced to utilise the free-agent market this summer with the club working on a shoestring budget, and given the amount of departures from St Andrew's it could take time for the Birmingham boss to establish his preferred starting XI.

This one could be another tricky season for the Blues but we just about fancy Bowyer to keep them in the division.

Prediction: 21st


3. Blackburn Rovers

Adam Armstrong was lethal in front of goal last season
Adam Armstrong was lethal in front of goal last season / Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Last season: 15th

Manager: Tony Mowbray

You could never accuse Tony Mowbray of not providing entertaining football at Ewood Park - the only problem is he hasn't found the right balance of attack and defence.

So far Rovers have been able to keep hold of hotshot forward Adam Armstrong despite Premier League interest, but teams with leaky backlines rarely manage to secure promotion over a 46-game campaign.

Despite failing to make a single signing this summer, the club have offloaded some high earners and there could be money to strengthen later in the window, but their Achilles heel at the back will likely cost them a shot at promotion once again.

Prediction: 8th


4. Blackpool

Neil Critchley helped Blackpool to promotion last season
Neil Critchley helped Blackpool to promotion last season / Visionhaus/Getty Images

Last season: 3rd (League One, promoted via play-offs)

Manager: Neil Critchley

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley did brilliantly to guide his side to promotion via the play-offs last season, stringing together a run of 16 league games unbeaten to turn their campaign around after a torrid start.

The main weak spot in Blackpool's side is their frontline and that's not an area they've really been able to bolster. Critchley is likely to be relying on his backline to keep his side out of trouble, so the addition of the haphazard Richard Keogh should probably send alarm bells ringing for fans of the Seasiders.

Prediction: 23rd


5. Bournemouth

Last season: 6th

Manager: Scott Parker

It's been a mixed transfer window for Bournemouth. The addition of Emiliano Marcondes is a great bit of business, but Diego Rico's departure is definitely a blow.

With Liverpool mooted to be targeting Arnaut Danjuma, the Cherries really can't afford to lose their prolific winger before the window closes.

Scott Parker is a man who knows how to get a team out of the Championship, but given the strength of some of the relegated sides, Bournemouth will have to endure the play-offs once again.

Prediction: 3rd


6. Bristol City

Nahki Nahki Wells could lead the line again next season
Nahki Wells could lead the line again next season / Harry Trump/Getty Images

Last season: 19th

Manager: Nigel Pearson

Bristol City have lost a lot of experienced first-team players this summer without generating any money from sales, meaning incomings have been sparse.

Nigel Pearson failed to really have an impact on his side's form having been appointed manager midway through the 2020/21 campaign, and the club haven't done anything this summer to suggest they're going to be a completely different team next season.

Prediction: 18th


7. Cardiff City

Mick McCarthy almost led Cardiff to the play-offs last season
Mick McCarthy almost led Cardiff to the play-offs last season / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season: 8th

Manager: Mick McCarthy

Isn't it great to have that man back in the Championship? Mick McCarthy proved he's still got it when he took over Cardiff last January and very nearly led them to a nigh-on impossible play-off spot.

There's been some big names leave the club this summer including Joe Bennett, Sol Bamba and Junior Hoilett, but McCarthy knows what he's doing and having had time to assess his squad you'd be brave to back against Cardiff being in the mix come the end of the season.

Prediction: 5th


8. Coventry

Mark Robins has remained in charge of Coventry this summer
Mark Robins has remained in charge of Coventry this summer / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Last season: 16th

Manager: Mark Robins

The addition of Martyn Waghorn could prove to be a shrewd piece of business from Mark Robins as he looks to establish Coventry as a Championship team before pushing on in the seasons ahead.

The Sky Blues' starting XI is likely to look very similar next season as it did last term and so for that reason we reckon their final standing will be similar to their 2020/21 effort.

Prediction: 15th


9. Derby County

Wayne Rooney will do well to steer Derby to safety this season
Wayne Rooney will do well to steer Derby to safety this season / Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Last season: 21st

Manager: Wayne Rooney

Oh Wayne, this really is a much bigger job than you'd anticipated, isn't it?

Having flirted with promotion back to the Premier league for so many seasons, Derby County's only route out of the second tier right now looks to be relegation.

Rooney has already admitted he's going to struggle to field a team of senior players next season as the club continues to be bombarded by off-field legal issues relating to Financial Fair Play.

The threat of a points deduction is still a very real possibility and it almost feels as though there's already an acceptance they'll be relegated.

Prediction: 24th


10. Fulham

Last season: 18th (Relegated from the Premier League)

Manager: Marco Silva

They may have lost their manager but Fulham are in no mood to sit and feel sorry for themselves following their relegation from the Premier League.

Both Harry Wilson and Paulo Gazzaniga are decent signings at Championship level, and with the Cottagers no doubt ready to wheel out Aleksandar Mitrovic so he can fire them to promotion once again they're going to be a very tough team to beat.

Prediction: 2nd


11. Huddersfield

Carlos Corberan could have a tough season ahead of him
Carlos Corberan could have a tough season ahead of him / John Early/Getty Images

Last season: 20th

Manager: Carlos Corberan

It feels like a million years ago that Huddersfield were actually a Premier League team.

The Terriers have wasted no time at all in settling back into their role as regular Championship relegation battles. While we commend the club's decision to stick by Carlos Corberan, the Spaniard really struggled in his first season in the job - winning just three league games this calendar year.

A couple of signings the club have made like Danel Sinani and Jordan Rhodes are either going to go brilliantly or terribly, and it's a risky strategy that could see them lose their fight to remain in the second tier.

Prediction: 22nd


12. Hull City

George Honeyman is one of Hull's main men
George Honeyman is one of Hull's main men / Pete Norton/Getty Images

Last season: 1st (Promoted from League One)

Manager: Grant McCann

Don't be fooled by Hull's status as new boys in the Championship. Grant McCann's side had their rocky moments last season but they showed great character to bounce back and secure promotion, and with the likes of George Honeyman in midfield and Mallik Wilks and Josh Magennis leading the line they've got some great players in their squad.

McCann will have learned a lot from Hull's relegation from the Championship in 2019/20 and he should be better equipped this time around to keep his side in the division.

Prediction: 19th


13. Luton Town

Nathan Jones led Luton to a brilliant 12th-placed finish last season
Nathan Jones led Luton to a brilliant 12th-placed finish last season / Harriet Lander/Getty Images

Last season: 12th

Manager: Nathan Jones

Speaking of impressive young managers. Many expected Luton to be fighting for their Championship life again last season, but instead they secured a comfortable 12th-placed finish.

Nathan Jones' side are progressing every season and we see no reason to believe they'll be involved in a relegation dogfight next campaign. The additions of both Cameron Jerome and Henri Lansbury will add experience to their squad, and if Jones remains at Kenilworth Road for years to come Luton could soon be in the hunt for promotion.

Prediction: 11th


14. Middlesbrough

 Dael Fry will be key to Boro's hopes
Dael Fry will be key to Boro's hopes / Stu Forster/Getty Images

Last season: 10th

Manager: Neil Warnock

Middlesbrough have lost the majority of their strike force this summer following the departures of Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher, but with replacement frontman Uche Ikpeazu looking impressive in pre-season and the signing of Martin Payero soon to be announced, there's plenty of reasons for Boro fans to be optimistic.

Middlesbrough's main issue last season was squad depth and they're still lacking in a number of areas. Expect Neil Warnock's side to experience a very similar campaign to 2020/21 - brilliant at times but ultimately not enough players to mount a promotion charge.

Prediction: 9th


15. Millwall

Gary Rowett will be hoping for another promotion push
Gary Rowett will be hoping for another promotion push / Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

Last season: 11th

Manager: Gary Rowett

Gary Rowett has done a great job since taking the reins at Millwall and after a couple of seasons where they lingered around the play-off spots but ultimately missed out we think this could be their year.

Bringing George Saville back to the club could prove to be a brilliant move considering the success he enjoyed in his first spell at The Den, and while we think they'll just fall short of promotion they should be in with a shout of making the play-offs.

Prediction: 6th


16. Nottingham Forest

Chris Hughton has steadied the ship at Forest
Chris Hughton has steadied the ship at Forest / Pete Norton/Getty Images

Last season: 17th

Manager: Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton's arrival at Nottingham Forest last October definitely gave the team a boost and their results soon picked up, but come the end of the season that had long worn off and they won just two of their final 14 league outings.

It's not difficult to spot the problem at Forest, with Lewis Grabban the club's top scorer in all competitions last season with just six goals. The experience and defensive nous of Hughton will definitely see them safe but their fans shouldn't expect much more than that.

Prediction: 12th


17. Peterborough

Darren Ferguson's side won promotion from League One last season
Darren Ferguson's side won promotion from League One last season / Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Last season: 2nd (Promoted from League One)

Manager: Darren Ferguson

Usually when a club moves up a level the main concern is whether they'll score enough goals - Peterborough shouldn't have that problem thanks to Jonson Clarke-Harris.

The frontman has been one of the most prolific scorers in the lower leagues in recent years and he's likely to be Peterborough's main man once again.

Darren Ferguson has done brilliantly since returning to Posh and we expect them to spring a few surprises next season.

Prediction: 14th


18. Preston

Scott Sinclair enjoyed his best goalscoring season with Preston in 2020/21
Scott Sinclair enjoyed his best goalscoring season with Preston in 2020/21 / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season: 13th

Manager: Frankie McAvoy

Preston are in real danger of becoming one of those clubs who people barely even remember are in the Championship.

Other than one season in which they finished seventh, their six campaigns back in the second tier have produced nothing more than mid table mediocrity.

Their summer business hasn't exactly been inspiring so far and given new boss Frankie McAvoy could take time to settle it may be that Preston actually go backwards this season.

Prediction: 16th


19. Queens Park Rangers

Mark Warburton will be hoping to reach the play-offs next season
Mark Warburton will be hoping to reach the play-offs next season / Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Last season: 9th

Manager: Mark Warburton

Queens Park Rangers are such a difficult team to try and predict - one minute they can be brilliant and the next they're awful.

Rangers finished strongly last season and so their ninth-placed finish was probably a little generous given their mediocre campaign, and some of their summer business looks to be a little risky.

The signings of 32-year-old Charlie Austin and Andre Dozzell - a youngster with very little experience in the Championship - could turn out to be masterstrokes but they could also easily backfire, leaving QPR in a spot of bother.

Prediction: 17th


20. Reading

Can Lucas Joao replicate his fine season?
Can Lucas Joao replicate his fine season? / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Last season: 7th

Manager: Veljko Paunovic

We're sorry Reading fans but last season might have been your big chance.

The losses of Omar Richards and in particular Michael Olise are huge and it's difficult to imagine Lucas Joao being anywhere near as prolific without
Olise in the team.

Reading are yet to spend a penny of the money they made from the Olise deal - perhaps an indication of the club's mindset right now - and it's likely to be back to mid table unless they go big in the market over the coming weeks.

Prediction: 13th


21. Sheffield United

Slavisa Jokanovic has taken over at Sheffield United
Slavisa Jokanovic has taken over at Sheffield United / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season: 20th (Relegated from the Premier League)

Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic

Let's be honest, Sheffield United were never a Premier League team but Chris Wilder somehow turned them into one.

The Blades' squad are probably back at their level in the Championship and the appointment of Slavisa Jokanovic has given them a great shot at promotion.

The former Fulham boss is one of the best in the league but he's going to have his work cut out if he's to secure automatic promotion with so many strong sides in the division this season.

Prediction: 4th


22. Stoke City

Nick Powell will be key to Stoke's hopes this season
Nick Powell will be key to Stoke's hopes this season / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Last season: 14th

Manager: Michael O'Neill

Losing Nathan Collins to Burnley this summer is a huge blow to Stoke's chances of mounting a promotion push, but the Potters knew they wouldn't be able to hang onto the talented youngster for long.

The signing of experienced midfielder Mario Vrancic looks to be a solid move but a lack of firepower could come back to haunt them once again.

Prediction: 10th

23. Swansea City

Last season: 4th

Manager: Russell Martin

Losing last season's top scorer and a manager who worked wonders with a limited budget is never going to be easy, but Swansea are working hard to ensure they're still in the promotion picture next season.

The appointment of Russell Martin is a really good move but the Swans could be asking a lot of new arrival Joel Piroe to fill the void left by Andre Ayew.

Steve Cooper has given Swansea a solid platform to build upon but another top-six finish might just prove too tall an order next season.

Prediction: 7th


24. West Brom

Valerien Ismael is the new man at the helm at West Brom
Valerien Ismael is the new man at the helm at West Brom / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Last season: 19th (Relegated from the Premier League)

Manager: Valerien Ismael

Last but not least it's the side we think will win the division.

West Brom were always going to have one of the strongest teams in the Championship if they managed to keep hold of most of their better players - something they've so far managed to do - and the appointment of
Ismael has only confirmed their status as favourites.

Even if they do lose the services of Matheus Pereira the Baggies have got a quality team and signing experienced Championship campaigners like Mowatt and Adam Reach is the perfect way to go about looking to achieve promotion.

Prediction: 1st


Predicted final 2021/22 Championship table

1. West Brom
2. Fulham
3. Bournemouth
4. Sheffield United
5. Cardiff City
6. Millwall
7. Swansea City
8. Blackburn Rovers
9. Middlesbrough
10. Stoke City
11. Luton Town
12. Nottingham Forest
13. Reading
14. Peterborough
15. Coventry
16. Preston
17. Queens Park Rangers
18. Bristol City
19. Hull City
20. Barnsley
21. Birmingham City
22. Huddersfield
23. Blackpool
24. Derby County


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