Championship 2014/15: Season preview & predictions - From Birmingham to Brentford

Blackburn Rovers Goal Celebrations

We preview Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth and Brentford ahead of the upcoming Championship campaign.

Birmingham City

Nobody in English football experienced a more dramatic climax to their season than Birmingham City did last year.

It took until the final minute on the last day to confirm their survival, thanks to a Paul Caddis header against Bolton Wanderers, and Lee Clark has wasted no time in trying to ensure that a similar scenario does not arise this season.

No fewer than 11 players have been brought in by the manager as he looks to bolster his team and add more quality to it than he had last season.

Unfortunately, despite the additions, Blues do not have much of a transfer budget to go around and most of the new signings have been untested players brought in on free transfers or loans.

As a result, another season of struggle looks imminent for Birmingham, who will do well to avoid the drop this time around.

Prediction: 23rd

Blackburn Rovers

A club that was seemingly going in the wrong direction, Blackburn Rovers suddenly have a feel of stability around them once again and they will be hoping that Gary Bowyer can build on his decent start to life as manager.

Last season the club remained mid-table almost all the way through the campaign, before narrowly missing out on the playoffs.

This year they will look to kick on, but despite having one of the division’s best strike-forces in Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede, there are certain holes across the rest of the squad.

It looks more likely that a second season of consolidation is on the cards, rather than a promotion push – not that that is necessarily a bad thing.

Prediction: 15th

Blackpool

As things stand, Blackpool still only have 14 players on their books – and no goalkeeper at the club.

It is a dire scenario, all set upon a backdrop of anger and discontent towards the stringent board and it looks as if this season could be a disaster for them

Jose Riga, the newly appointed manager, has already shown signs that he could be losing his temper with the lack of additions and quality at his disposal and an influx of new players will be required between now and Saturday if they are to avoid their bench looking bare on opening day.

The players they have brought in actually have not been of too poor a standard - with many boasting a lot of Championship experience - but the paucity of options means that relegation beckons.

It is a sad situation for a club that appeared to be firmly on the up when Ian Holloway led them to the Premier League, only three years ago.

Prediction: 24th

Bolton

Tipped for promotion by many last season, Bolton were poor for most of the season and, ultimately, were closer to leaving the division for League One than the Premier League.

This year there is far less expectation around the club, with a mid-table finish much more likely.

The club have been fairly active in the transfer window, adding to the undoubted quality already in their squad and bringing in a host of players with experience at this level.

However, their lack of real stand-out class may leave them just short of what is required for a playoff place.

Prediction: 10th

Bournemouth

The Cherries were last season’s surprise package and they will be wanting to ensure that the clichéd ‘second season syndrome’ doesn’t strike this time around.

With Eddie Howe in charge that seems unlikely. Howe is one of the brightest young bosses in English football and the job he has done at the Cherries is nothing short of remarkable, although it has not received too much attention from the mainstream media.

He has continued to add to his squad this summer, too, bringing in the likes of Callum Wilson, Dan Gosling and Junior Stanislas - three players of genuine quality.

The only worry for the club is the loss of Lewis Grabban, but the aforementioned trio should compensate for his departure and help fire the club on to the next level. A promotion push looks likely.

Prediction: 7th

Brentford

Brentford’s success was supposed to stop after they lost Uwe Rosler midway through last season, but Mark Warburton has simply carried on where the old manager left off.

They did their best to keep up with a relentless Wolverhampton Wanderers side in League One last campaign and thoroughly deserved their second spot when they got there.

A team with ample quality to do well at this level – with players such as Adam Forshaw and Sam Saunders already catching the eye – they have continued to add impressive players to their sturdy foundations that were put in place last season this summer.

Moses Odubajo has the potential to be a star, whilst the likes of Andre Gray and Alex Pritchard should develop nicely in a side who play some scintaliting football at times.

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They could well be a surprise package this year, but achieving their initial target of survival shouldn’t be a problem.

Prediction: 16th

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