EFL Championship Teams Primer: 2018-2019 Season – Part 3

Note: This is the third 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 and Part 2 here.

Norwich City

Nickname: The Canaries
Founded: 1902
Location: Norwich
Team Colors: Yellow / Green
Kit Manufacturer: Erreà
Kit Sponsor: LeoVegas
Ground: Carrow Road (1935-Present)
Capacity:  27,244
Manager: Daniel Farke (since 2017)
Website: www.canaries.co.uk
2017-18 Season: 14th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Eight, last in 2015-2016

The Canaries scored 60 points last season, which tied them with Ipswich Town and Leeds United. They even had fewer losses than either team. However, a worse goal differential resulted in a 14th-place finish, which was not helped by a 5-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on the last day of the season. Had they secured even a draw in that final game, to go along with the 15 other draws they had during the season, they would have been alone in 12th place, and locked into the last spot of the top half of the league.

I don’t really expect Norwich City to improve much on last season’s finish, though with three teams above them now in the Premier League, they may be able to move into that top half of the league that eluded them last season. To do so, they will have to turn more of those 15 draws into victories, as well as score more than 49 goals, which was the 6th lowest in the Championship.

Nottingham Forest

Nickname: Forest
Founded: 1865
Location: Nottingham
Team Colors: Red / White
Kit Manufacturer: Macron
Kit Sponsor: BetBright
Ground: City Ground (1898-Present)
Capacity:  30,445
Manager: Aitor Karanka (since 2018)
Website: www.nottinghamforest.co.uk
2017-18 Season: 17th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Five, last in 1998-1999

Forest hasn’t had much recent success in the Championship, though they have been relatively consistent in their presence over the past decade. They returned from a brief three-season stint in League One in 2008, and have completed those ten seasons with an average of 13th place. Not great, but sometimes it’s all about avoiding relegation, and Forest has been able to do that. It’s not to say they haven’t come closer than they did last season – two seasons ago, they finished in 21st place and only avoided relegation based on goal differential – but they should spend another season towards the bottom of the table.

Preston North End

Nickname: The Lilywhites
Founded: 1880
Location: Preston
Team Colors: White / Navy
Kit Manufacturer: Nike
Kit Sponsor: 32Red
Ground: Deepdale (1878-Present)
Capacity:  23,408
Manager: Alex Neil (since 2017)
Website: www.pnefc.net
2017-18 Season: 7th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: None; last season at Tier 1 was 1959-1960

The Lilywhites missed the playoffs by just 2 points last season and if the season had been a few weeks longer, they probably could have made it.Their 11 losses for the season tended to come in bunches; they were in playoff position after Week 12, after an opening to the season that saw them lose only once (to go along with 5 wins and 6 draws). They followed that stretch with four straight losses, which pushed them to their lowest spot in the table for the season.
Another long stretch of success – 17 games with only one loss (7 wins and 9 draws) – moved them back up the table, moving into 9th position after a Week 33 draw with Aston Villa.The lofty position didn’t last, however, as they lost five if their next eight, and even though they finished the season strongly, with 4 wins and 1 loss in their last 5 games, it wasn’t enough to secure themselves a spot in the playoffs.

Odds makers seem to think that last season may have been a fluke, with current odds pegging them for a solid mid-table finish. It’s been over 120 years since Preston won the first two titles in Tier 1 history, and nearly 60 years since they’ve even been back to the tier, but they should at least be comfortable with another season in the Championship, if not fighting for a playoff spot much like last year.

Queens Park Rangers

Nickname: The Hoops, QPR
Founded: 1882
Location: London
Team Colors: White / Blue
Kit Manufacturer: Erreà
Kit Sponsor: Royal Panda
Ground: Loftus Road (1963-Present)
Capacity:  18,439
Manager: Steve McClaren (since 2018)
Website: www.qpr.co.uk
2017-18 Season: 16th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Seven, last in 2014-2015

QPR’s last stay in the Premier League was a short one, being re-relegated after a 20th place finish during the 2014-2015 season. However, they are only seven seasons removed from winning the Championship, and look to improve on last season’s finish this year. They were only a point behind 15th place Sheffield Wednesday, despite winning one more game than the Sheffield club. They were hurt by three more losses, and had two of those losses been draws instead, they would have moved up the table. With stiff competition from the newly promoted teams, as well as the others down from the Premier League, it may be a struggle for the Hoops to improve much on last season, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try.

Reading F.C.

Nickname: The Royals
Founded: 1871
Location: Reading
Team Colors: Blue / White
Kit Manufacturer: Puma
Kit Sponsor: Carabao
Ground: Madejski Stadium (1998-Present)
Capacity:  24,161
Manager: Paul Clement (sacked 6 December 2018); José Gomes (since 22 December 2018)
Website: www.readingfc.co.uk
2017-18 Season: 20th of 24 in Championship
Seasons in Premier League: Three, last in 2012-2013

Reading was a win (3 points) above relegation, and secured their spot in the Championship for another season by drawing with promotee Cardiff City in the last match of the season. This was a reversal of the previous season, when the Royals finished in third place and only missed out on promotion because they lost on penalties to Huddersfield Town in the Playoff final. From near promotion to near relegation over the course of one season.

The last two times that Reading was promoted to the Premier League – in 2006 and 2012 – it was after they won a Championship League title. Maybe they feel like they only deserve promotion if they win a title? If they want to compete this season, and it may take a lot to do so, they need to try not to lose 22 matches, and current odds place them just within the league at season end.

Rotherham United

Nickname: The Millers
Founded: 1925
Location: Rotherham
Team Colors: Red / White
Kit Manufacturer: Puma
Kit Sponsor: Hodge Clemco
Ground: New York Stadium (2012-Present)
Capacity:  12,021
Manager: Paul Warne (since 2016)
Website: www.themillers.co.uk
2017-18 Season: 4th of 24 in League One (promoted via playoffs)
Seasons in Premier League: None, has never played above Tier 2

The Millers might be my favorite story in the Championship, but I don’t think they will last more than a season in the Championship, a feeling shared with most bookmaking sites. They are back up from a quick trip to League One last season, and they are the only team in the Championship this season that have never made it to Tier 1 in English football, even if you go back to their legacy teams (Rotherham United was founded as a merger of Rotherham Town and Rotherham County in 1925.)

I will be keeping an eye on the Millers throughout the season to see if they can prove the naysayers wrong and avoid relegation. I’m a fan of underdog teams, and Rotherham might fit the mold best of any team in England – at least within the top two tiers.

Check back tomorrow for the last six teams in Part 4!

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