Note: This is the second of four posts about the 24 teams competing in the Championship, which is Tier 2 of English Association football. Teams are presented in alphabetical order with a bit of their history and some expectations for this season. You can read Part 1 here.
Nickname: The Rams
Team Colors: Black / White
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro
Kit Sponsor: 32Red
Ground: Pride Park Stadium (1997-Present)
Manager: Frank Lampard (since 2018)
2017-18 Season: 6th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Seven, last in 2007-2008
The Rams locked themselves into a playoff spot last season in Week 44 with against second-place finisher Cardiff City, and held on with a win and a draw in their final two games, finishing two points ahead of seventh-place Preston North End, who remained out of the playoff despite their own unbeaten string to end the season. With the departure of three clubs to the Premier League via promotion, I don’t see any reason why Derby County can’t yet again compete for promotion this season, though they will probably want to be a bit more consistent over the course of the season instead of holding off until the end.
This will be the Rams 51st overall season at Tier 2, with four championships to boot. But I imagine they want to return to the Premier League sooner rather than later, if only to try and get the “one-and-done” taste out of their mouth following their most recent go of it in 2007-2008, a season in which they finished in 20th place and were the second club in Tier 1 history to secure relegation in March. Their only other time in the Premier League was a six season run from 1996-2002, but they have spent more total seasons at Tier 1 – 65 seasons with an average finish of 10th. They currently have 13-to-8 odds of finishing in the top 6, so maybe they’ll be spending 2019-2020 back in the Premiership.
Nickname: The Tigers
Location: Kingston upon Hull
Team Colors: Black / Amber
Kit Manufacturer: Umbro
Kit Sponsor: SportPesa
Ground: KCOM Stadium (2003-Present)
Manager: Nigel Adkins (since 2017)
2017-18 Season: 18th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Five, last in 2016-2017
The Tigers came back down to the Championship after a brief one season stay in the Premier League, and the only five seasons at the top tier of English football have occurred since 2008. I’m not hopeful for a return anytime soon, and their flirtation with the bottom of the Championship table last season – though they only spent one total week in the relegation zone – doesn’t bode well for their hopes going into this season. Some odds makers have them finishing in 19th place, which would save them from relegation, but won’t be an improvement on their finish last season.
Nickname: The Blues
Team Colors: Blue / White
Kit Manufacturer: Adidas
Kit Sponsor: Magical Vegas
Ground: Portman Road (1884-Present)
Paul Hurst (sacked 25 October 2018); Paul Lambert (since 27 October 2018)
2017-18 Season: 12th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Five, last in 2001-2002
The Blues started last season strong, with six wins against three losses in their first nine games, which placed them in playoff position at that early point in the season. Inconsistency from that point on, however, moved them to the middle of the pack, and they never reached higher than 7th – a one week stay after the games of Week 20 – for the rest of the season.
Ipswich Town in nearly 20 years removed from their last visit to the Premier League, but they have been a consistent presence in the Championship, with this season marking their 17th consecutive season at Tier 2. However, the club’s average finish over those seasons – 11th place, with as many seasons in the top 12 as the bottom 12 – will probably be the peak of their expectations for this year as well, especially considering their relatively distant 12th place finish last year, a season where they conceded more goals than they scored.
Nickname: The Whites
Team Colors: White
Kit Manufacturer: Kappa
Kit Sponsor: 32Red
Ground: Elland Road (1919-Present)
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa (since 2018)
2017-18 Season: 13th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: 12, last in 2003-2004
Like Ipswich Town, the Whites started out the season strong, and were in first place after Week 9 after six wins, two draws, and a loss in their first run of games. Nevertheless, the Whites actually finished with the exact same record as the Blues last season, and were only placed a spot behind because of goal differential. They too conceded more goals than allowed, which is the stuff that 13th place finishes are made of, and Leeds United was no exception.
Leeds United was a mainstay in the Premier League during the new Tier 1’s first 12 seasons, but has not been back since a 19th-place finish in 2004. Those first 12 seasons saw seven finishes in the top five of the league – but also five seasons at 11th or worse. Leeds has also struggled a bit to stay in the Championship since that relegation, with a three season odyssey for Tier 3 along the way from 2007-2010, but they have stayed in the Championship since… though I don’t see them moving on any time soon either. Expect another mid-table finish for the lads from Leeds.
Nickname: The Boro
Team Colors: Red / White
Kit Manufacturer: Hummel
Kit Sponsor: 32Red
Ground: Riverside Stadium (1995-Present)
Manager: Tony Pulis (since 2017)
2017-18 Season: 5th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: 15, last in 2016-2017
Middlesbrough qualified for the Championship playoff the season after being relegated, and while they were unable to make it back to the Premier League through the aforementioned playoff, losing to Aston Villa in their semi-final. The Boro should expect another finish near the top of the table, however, and finds itself in position to at least make the playoff if the odds makers are to be believed.
Middlesbrough has a longer history at the top level of English football, with a total of 61 seasons, as compared to the 46 seasons spent at Tier 2. However, they have found a little more success at Tier 2, winning four titles – the last being in 1995. If they do manage to make it back to the Premier League after this season, I’m sure they will look to spend more than one season back at the top, instead finding the long-term success that they had found previously in their history.
Nickname: The Lions
Founded: 1885 (as Millwall Rovers)
Team Colors: Navy / White
Kit Manufacturer: Macron
Kit Sponsor: TW Drainage
Ground: The Den (1993-Present)
Manager: Neil Harris (since 2015)
2017-18 Season: 8th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: None, last season at Tier 1 was 1989-1990
The Lions last appearance in Tier 1 was prior to the formation of the Premier League, and they have spent only two seasons in Tier 1. They came awfully close to qualifying for the playoff last season, and even moved into playoff position with four matches to go. Two losses in the last four games probably doomed them to missing the playoffs, especially since those two losses were against playoff participants Fulham and Middlesbrough. Basic math would place them as the favorite for a top 5 finish this season, but they will hope for more consistently during the season from start to finish, instead of trying to close the gap towards the end of the season.
Check back tomorrow for the next six teams in Part 3!