Peterborough - A Long Hard Season Beckons

Here's our predictions for the Championship in 2011 / 12.

1. West Ham

Still has the backbone of their Premiership side and have been signing Premier League quality players. With Big Sam at the helm, West Ham will prove to be a league above all the other Championship teams this coming season.

2. Leicester City

This year's big spenders. Expect Sven to be back in the Premiership at the end of next season (or he'll be looking for a new job). We think he'll make it.

3. Middlesbrough

Despite recent lows, the squad still has some class and a full season with Tony Mowbray running the show should result in a top 3 position, and promotion via the play-offs.

4. Blackpool

A top 6 finish for Ian Holloway and his Blackpool squad is on the cards for next season. Promotion might be one step too far, as star players leave. But don't bet against Holloway - and we'd all love 'em to get back up there again!

5. Ipswich Town

Strong signings like Chopra and a full season under Paul Jewell should mean that Ipswich are in for a good season. Replacing Conor Wickham will, however, be key.

6. Nottingham Forest

Steve McLaren is a good manager - but so is Billy Davies. Whether McLaren will improve on last season is another question, as the competition is even more fierce. Although McLaren has bagged Andy Reid as his first major signing, the confirmation that Robert Earnshaw is going back to Cardiff means that promotion looks increasingly unlikely.

7. Burnley

If manager Eddie Howe can keep hold of his best players (McCann, Mears, Bikey, Eagles, Rodriguez), this could be a club on the up. A play-off place is possible, but we think Burnley will just miss out.

8. Millwall

A strong squad and excellent manager. There's no reason why this club can’t better last season's performance. Outside bet for a play-off place.

9. Birmingham City

Don’t quite have the quality of West Ham but should prove too strong for a lot of the Championship sides, although the loss of Alex McLeish will be hard to get over.

10. Hull City

Hull are looking to off load high earner Jimmy Bullard and, if they manage this, it could release some funds to buy a couple of players and push for a top 10 finish.

11. Southampton

Southampton will build on last year's momentum from promotion from League One and will have a decent season. However, this will be a season of consolidation rather than challenging for another promotion.

12. Reading

Will a case of play-off final blues effect the club at the start of the season ? Unfortunately, we think it will. Expect another strong second-half to the season, but it won't be enough.

13. Derby County

The club has signed plenty of players, but whether they are good enough to move Derby up the league table remains to be seen. We fear that this will prove to be another disappointing season, although should be an improvement on last term.

14. Doncaster Rovers

After signing Kyle Bennett from Bury, and Tommy Spurr's move from Sheffield Wednesday, manager Sean O'Driscoll is hoping these players will help strengthen the squad. A mid table finish, however, is likely - still not a bad performance for a club this size.

15. Leeds United

Many fans are full of doom and gloom. Manager Simon Grayson is having to sell key players and, to date, hasn't been able to strengthen the squad. This could mean the season is over for Leeds before it's even began.

16. Crystal Palace

Place has secured Alex Marrow for another season and the signing of international Kagisho Dikgacoi the team a strong midfield from which to try and win matches. Another tough season, though, but this time not really flirting with relegation. Don't write off Palace for a good cup run either.

17. Coventry City

Losing six key players - including Marlon King and Keiren Westwood - is a big blow for Coventry, who will struggle again this season.

18. Watford

Having sold last season's top scorer, Danny Graham, Watford won’t be such a force this coming season - but will still have enough to stay up.

19. Cardiff

It's going to be a tough season for Cardiff. With close rivals Swansea City playing with the big boys, cash-strapped Cardiff look likely to struggle.

20. Brighton

The signing of Craig Mackie Smith shows Brighton’s intent, but he alone won’t be enough. Likely to be involved in the relegation dogfight, but should have enough quality to avoid going straight back down, which will provide something to build on.

21. Portsmouth

With financial problems still affecting the club, Portsmouth may well flirt with relegation this year. Another frustrating season for the fans.

22. Bristol City

The key to Bristol City’s survival is keeping Nicky Maynard. If he goes, Bristol City could well find themselves in big trouble.

23. Peterborough

Having sold star player Craig Mackie Smith to Brighton, Peterborough are in for a long hard season. Let's hope manager Darren Ferguson can learn from his wrong-end-of-the-table experiences.

24. Barnsley

We think a new manager and new signings will result in a shaky start, which Barnsley will find difficult to recover from.

 

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