EFL Championship – End-of-Season Power Rankings

With the season now complete, instead of a final Power Rankings update, I wanted to take a look at how the clubs fared on the season compared to my Preseason Power Rankings and how I did in “predicting” the season.

To sum it up in a few words…

 

 

Sure, I got two of the three relegated teams correct (Bolton Wanderers (exactly!) and Rotherham United, but I was way off on the third. I also had three of four playoff teams correct – West Bromwich Albion, Derby County, and Aston Villa – but failed to choose the right two clubs that earned automatic promotion.

Here’s a look at my rankings versus the season finish, and how far off I was (a negative means I had them too high and vice versa):

Club Preseason Ranking Ending Position Difference
Stoke City 1 16 -15
Middlesbrough 2 7 -5
West Bromwich Albion 3 4 -1
Swansea City 4 10 -6
Derby County 5 6 -1
Aston Villa 6 5 +1
Preston North End 7 14 -7
Sheffield United 8 2 6
Brentford 9 11 -2
Leeds United 10 3 7
Ipswich Town 11 24 -13
Queens Park Rangers 12 19 -7
Norwich City 13 1 12
Sheffield Wednesday 14 12 2
Millwall 15 21 -6
Wigan Athletic 16 18 -2
Nottingham Forest 17 9 8
Blackburn Rovers 18 15 3
Hull City 19 13 6
Birmingham City 20 17 3
Bristol City 21 8 13
Reading 22 20 2
Bolton Wanderers 23 23 0
Rotherham United 24 22 2

The Biggest Misses

Stoke City was a favorite of a lot of prognosticators prior to the season, which tends to be the case for clubs relegated from the Premier League. (West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City were also close to the top of my preseason rankings). Stoke finished 19th in the Premier League last season with 33 points, but they did score the most goals of the three clubs, giving hope when returning to the Championship. That hope never materialized, however, and a midseason stretch that saw the club go 1-1-6 pushed them towards the bottom of the table before settling into 16th to end the season.

Ipswich Town finished 12th in the Championship last season, which was primarily why I had them mid-table prior to the season. They didn’t reach that point on the season… unless you count opening the season in 9th place after an draw to open the season. They tumbled into the relegation zone by the end of September and never left for the entire season, punching their ticket back to League One for next season. (Read our brief look at their season in our Relegation Diaries series).

The worst miss in the other direction was the poor season I expected from Bristol City. I can’t remember why I thought they were going to fall from last season’s 11th place finish to just outside of the relegation zone, but I will gladly eat crow after they fought for the playoffs until the last month of the season before ending in 8th. The BBC projected a 14th place finish for the Robins, so at least I’m in good company in failing to see the strong season.

I was vastly wrong on eventual champion Norwich City as well. I had them moving up  a spot from their 14th place finish last season, but I (and a lot of other people) underestimated the impact that Teemu Pukki would have on the Canaries when he came to the club as a free transfer during the offseason… before leading the league in scoring.

So Close…

I missed three clubs by one spot in either direction, the three playoff qualifiers mentioned earlier. I had Swansea City joining West Bromwich Albion, Derby County, and Aston Villa in the playoffs, whereas the real world participant ended up being a stumbling down the stretch Leeds United squad.

Speaking of playoff teams, I thought that Sheffield United would come up just short of the playoffs and had them slotted in 8th position prior to the season. They exceeded those expectations, improving on last season’s 10th place finish and finding themselves in 2nd place behind Norwich City. They earned promotion to the Premier League without having to worry about the playoffs, quite a turnaround from a club that was in League One two seasons ago.

An (Extremely) Early Look at Next Season

Things are still yet to be settled 100%, with the playoffs not deciding the final promoting squad until the end of the month. Nevertheless, if I had to handicap the Championship for next season, the three playoff participants that don’t win should be slotted at the top of the league for next season, perhaps only behind Fulham coming down from the Premier League.

At the bottom of the table, Reading, Millwall, and Queens Park Rangers will be the default low men on the totem pole, competing with League One promotees Luton TownBarnsley, and the promotion playoff winner. I had QPR at the middle of my preseason rankings this season, expecting them to improve on their 16th place finish from last season. They will be looking for a new manager for next season, and will have a chance to improve the squad, but maybe they’ll end up with lower expectations next season

 

 

 

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