Championship review (assessing the break):contenders already doomed”

Because of the nature of football talk, things are frequently taken too far. Consider the Championship table as it currently stands and the significant distance that separates the top two from the chasing group.

On the one side, supporters of the top two teams, Leicester City and Ipswich Town, are calculating and projecting their teams’ enormous early point totals with excitement and optimism in anticipation of huge end totals. Fans of the pursuing pack, on the other hand, are trotting out the old cliché, “There’s a long way to go,” which is ultimately an objective fact despite being boring, generic, and lacking in detail.

The reality, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle between the two extremes, but any historian covering the Championship will be able to tell which of the two stories is more notable. There will always be someone who says, “There’s a long way to go,” and let’s face it, that sentiment will be expressed this season both before and after those crucial Easter games. The exceptional start by the top two—Leicester winning ten and Ipswich winning nine of their first eleven games—won’t happen every season. I won’t repeat all the statistics you’ve undoubtedly already heard, but it’s noteworthy that one team got off to such a fantastic start; having two makes it

According to conventional belief, a club may automatically qualify for the Premier League by scoring two points per game during a Championship season, which will give them 92 points. We will be halfway through the 23 games played on Christmas Day, barring any chaos caused by winter postponements. Leicester and Ipswich have a very good chance of finishing at or over the 46-point mark, which tends to that magical 92-point total. Although getting a head start in life does not ensure success, I’m sure every club would prefer to have one than not.


The teams in the Championship’s play-off spots right now are an interesting mix. Everyone within striking distance will be vying for the four spaces between third and sixth place, with some eyeing the top two, some aiming to solidify their positions, and still others just looking up. Leeds United checks all the criteria as the side most likely to challenge for the top two; their present performance points to a pleasant, gradual, and painless closing of the current nine-point deficit. Like Leicester, who are now in first position, they have an experienced manager in the dugout who has won the Championship twice. They also have a year one parachute payout coming in this season.

Sunderland is a club that would gladly hang on and give it a go in the season-ending knockout competition, therefore I’d put them in fourth place. It seemed as though the Black Cats’ participation in the playoffs the previous season arrived a little sooner than expected—they had only advanced from League One one season prior. You get the impression that they’d be more ready for this one. I apologise for sounding so critical, but I’m sure Preston and Birmingham supporters would be thrilled if their teams stayed in the play-off positions.

Preston has had a great start, but they had a three-game losing skid going into the international break. North End would finish in the top six, which would be a first in the second tier since 2009 and somewhat of a victory. Wayne Rooney became the new manager of Birmingham after the team’s ownership changed in the summer. The Blues’ new owners appear hurried, and winning the playoffs would be a true testament to their on-field aspirations.

The play-offs bring a chance at promotion to teams that would not otherwise be in the conversation, which is why so many teams in the chasing pack are hoping to finish in the top six. Current parachute teams Southampton and Norwich City, who are both presently one point off, are the obvious ones to watch out for. Two of last season’s play-off losers, Middlesbrough and Coventry City, should also be watched closely. Middlesbrough is now on a four-game winning streak after a dismal start, while the Sky Blues appear to be very difficult to beat. The present four will most likely split up; it’s anyone’s guess as to which way they will all go.


A few small gaps are also appearing at the bottom; they are not nearly as big as the one that separates second and third in the fight for automatic promotion, but they are nevertheless noticeable. These spaces resemble the tiny chips you could get on your car’s windscreen; they might not seem like much, but if you ignore them, in the worst case situation, they could eventually grow into large fractures.

Despite being three points from the bottom, Sheffield Wednesday has made a managerial move by bringing in young German coach Danny Rohl to Hillsborough in an attempt to improve their situation. Next up is Rotherham, who have only managed to pick up one point in their last six efforts away from home at the New York Stadium, seemingly depending entirely on their performance there. With just one victory in their previous 10 games in all competitions, QPR is the final team in the bottom three and is presently two points outside of safety.

We may return to that uninteresting, general analysis from the first two conversations and declare that “much work remains,” or perhaps more pertinently, that the gaps are quite small. Of course, both statements are true once more, although demoted teams typically score fewer than one point per game. This implies that even a tiny lead can depend on multiple weeks of work at that low score level in addition to others advancing even more slowly.

It’s easy to see the worst case scenario, but I can make stronger arguments for a number of the teams currently above the line trending up and away from the relegation zone. Regardless of point totals and projections, the main concern for the bottom three is who exactly they are going to pull into the mud with them to overtake. In such case, those fissures will widen and they may be appropriately sliced adrift if our bottom three fail to show any sign of recovery.

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