Buidling Dreams Together


EFL Championship Preview and Predictions: Part 2

Previews of every team in the division, their transfer business, and what to expect from them this season
Norwich City

One of England’s most recognised yo-yo clubs in recent years, Norwich have either been promoted or relegated in 10 of the last 15 seasons. Last year saw a disappointing 13th place finish, something the Canaries will be looking to avoid this season by pushing back up the table.

To do this, Norwich have so far brought in a trio of players who are no strangers to the second tier and have all been part of promoted sides. This has been complimented by the signing of 22 year old winger Borja Sainz from Turkey, and 29 year old Christian Fassnacht from Switzerland. 

There is undoubtable strength in this Norwich side and, despite losing modern club icon Teemu Pukki, play offs are certainly possible.

23/24 Season Prediction: Play Off Contenders

Plymouth Argyle

At the start of the 22/23 season, Plymouth were outside of the top 10 favourites to win League One. Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday were the favourites, due to the quality and depth possessed in their squads. But come May, Plymouth surprised the League by not only finishing above Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, but while becoming centurions at the same time.

This season, the bookies and supercomputers alike have Argyle as one of the favourites for relegation, likely due to the lack of proven championship quality in their squad. Despite this, Argyle have brought in a mix of old and new to replace outgoings, with Julio Pleguezuelo turning down a contract with Conference League side FC Twente, while bringing back former loanees Morgan Whittaker and Bali Mumba on permanent deals for joint-club record fees and Finn Azaz for a second loan.

Plymouth Argyle’s new record signing Morgan Whittaker had 16 goal contributions for the Pilgrims in 25 league appearances last season (Credit: Plymouth Argyle)

These squad improvements, alongside leader Steven Schumacher, one of a number of young, talented managers in England alongside the likes of Vincent Kompany and Kieran McKenna, being contracted for four more seasons, leave Argyle as a club that could become a surprise package this season.

23/24 Season Prediction: Safe from Relegation

Preston North End

Preston’s start to the 22/23 season became well publicised after the club only scored 4 and conceded 4 in their first 12 games, with an astonishing six 0-0 draws in the first seven matches. While the goals did eventually start coming more frequently, Preston still had problems with scoring them, finishing the season with the fourth lowest goals for in the division. 

Preston North End’s Deepdale Stadium (Credit: Preston North End)

This is something manager Ryan Lowe, who had been known for his attacking football at his previous stints at Bury and Plymouth, intended on fixing in the summer. With the signing of two new strikers and two new attacking midfielders, notably Will Keane, who’s goalscoring exploits propelled Wigan to the league one title in 2021, and Duane Holmes. This, alongside the loan deal for Liverpool youngster Calvin Ramsey, who will be looking to fill the hole left in PNE’s right back position that existed throughout last season.

This would make for contention as one of the stronger transfer windows of the season, however, the loss of Daniel Johnson after 8 years at Deepdale, and youngster Jacob Slater leaving for Brighton, there are still aspects of the squad that need improving in order for Preston to make a step towards the Premier League, something that has been alluding them for over 60 years.

23/24 Season Prediction: Safe from Relegation

Queens Park Rangers

By now you will have likely seen the trending picture of what the championship table looked like after 15 games last season. If you haven’t, it’s a far cry from the final table. Boro were 20th, Coventry were 23rd and reading were 10th. But by far the most bizarre part of the table is where QPR sit top. On October 22nd, QPR were had racked up 9 wins and 3 draws from their first 16 matches, but would go on to win only four matches until the end of the season, losing a staggering 18 times. After Michael Beale left for Glasgow Rangers, the appointments of Neil Critchley and Gareth Ainsworth did little to help London’s Rangers. 

QPR manager Gareth Ainsworth (Credit: Queens Park Rangers)

QPR have brought in a number of new signings, the most notable being experienced premier league goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to replace Seny Dieng, but a replacement for regular centre half Rob Dickie, who was bought by Bristol City for a seven-figure fee, is still to be found.

Ainsworth’s style of football may suit the Hoops more now they have firmly become league underdogs, but getting the fans to buy into this will be harder for him than it was at Wycombe.

23/24 Prediction: Relegated

Rotherham United

The championships ever present underdogs, last season was the first time that Rotherham have finished above the bottom four of the second tier since the league’s rebrand in 2004, at the seventh attempt. Despite this constant threat of relegation, Rotherham haven’t been deterred and have been promoted back to the championship immediately after their three previous relegations.

Rotherham’s location is a major factor in both their success, but also their inability to carry that success further, losing two key players in their 21/22 promotion to nearby Sheffield Wednesday last season, despite Wednesday being in the division below.

Aside from bringing loanee Grant Hall in on a permanent deal from Boro and Portuguese midfielder Cafu from Forest, Rotherham’s transfer business is yet to set the world alight, but these simple transfers can definitely be seen as an improvement to Rotherham’s squad and may be enough to secure a second consecutive season without relegation.

23/24 Season Prediction: Relegation Scrap

Sheffield Wednesday

Had you asked where Wednesday would finish this season directly after their play-off final success, mid-table would be your most likely response for a team that just finished the season on 96 points. However, events at Hillsborough over the past few weeks may have swayed opinions, and not without merit.

The departure of Darren Moore has been one of the biggest talking points of the Championship so far. Despite many in Sheffield holding Moore accountable for Wednesday missing out on the league one title, he was still the man behind their statistically most successful season in history, and, as captain Barry Bannan described him, the mastermind behind their 4-0 comeback in the play offs. It took two weeks for the club to confirm former Watford boss Xisco as new manager, giving him and his team exactly one month until they kicked off the season against Southampton.

Despite the haste, it took until 24th July for Wednesday to sign their second player, other than former loanee Reece James, who joined permanently at the end of June. Five players have joined since then, including three in the five days leading up to their season opener against Southampton. But whether these players have what it takes to give Wednesday the boost they need to escape a potentially troubled season remains to be seen. What should please Owls fans, however, is that the average age of these five signings is just 25, significantly lower than the average age of Wednesday squad, one of the oldest squads in League One last season.

23/24 Season Prediction: Relegation Scrap


After their double promotion from League One to the Premier League in 2010/11 and 2011/12, Southampton became a mainstay in the top flight. But several years of treading water in the lower mid-table, it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before a drop further down the table. Inevitably, the Saints’ residency came to an end in May, with the club rooted to the bottom of the table.

Southampton players celebrate during pre-season match (Credit: Southampton FC)

Southampton’s transfer activity has so far been limited to the permanent signings of predominantly young Premier League academy products. Two Manchester City teenage prospects, Goalkeeper Josh McNamara and versatile defender Shea Charles joined on deals like few championship sides could afford, former Chelsea prospect Derrick Abu, and Ryan Manning, who joins on a free from manager Russell Martin’s former club, Swansea.

The expensive deal for Shea Charles may be explained through Southampton’s current outgoing transfer saga. Midfielder Romeo Lavia, another former Man City youngster who joined just 12 months ago, is expected to leave for at least £40 million. Meanwhile, movement for captain James Ward-Prowse has fallen quiet and retaining a player of his calibre will be a massive boost should Southampton wish to bounce back immediately.

23/24 Season Prediction: Play Offs

Stoke City

Since Stoke’s relegation in 2018, the last 5 seasons have been the definition of midtable. Only finishing between 14th and 16th, the Potters will be desperate to break this streak and rise up the table, and their transfer business so far would suggest this is entirely possible.

Seven new permanent signings arrived at Clayton Wood during July, aiming to improve the squad from defence through to adding goalscoring threats. Our pick of the bunch has to be Ryan Mmaee, a Moroccan forward who was top scorer in the league for Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in both seasons he spent at the club. Alongside this, a duo of loanees from Wolves have joined Stoke, including defender Ki-Jana Hoever, who became somewhat of a fan favourite during his spell earlier this year. 

The upcoming season should be a promising one for Stoke City, with a rise up the table hotly favoured by fans and pundits alike.

23/24 Season Prediction: Play off Contenders


The Surprise package of last season, manager Tony Mowbray joined Sunderland on the 30th of August after Alex Neil’s departure, with virtually no opportunity to change the squad to suit him. Despite this, Sunderland found themselves in 6th place after 90 minutes on the final day of the season, securing a play-off tie against Luton.

Despite losing, there was so much to be pleased with as Sunderland defied all expectations and had a solid platform to build upon. While Mowbray had virtually no time to make signings, that doesn’t me he didn’t make any. And his deadline day loan signing of Amad Diallo proved to be a masterstroke. Diallo finished the season as Sunderland’s top scorer and was regarded as one of the best young players this season. This does create an issue where replacing such a crucial loanee will be difficult. 

Sunderland will still be one of the favourites to reach to play offs again this year, and with a squad strengthened with seven new permanent signings before their opener against Ipswich, Mackems should have a season to look forward to.

23/24 Season Prediction: Play Offs

Swansea City

When Russell Martin was announced to be leaving to join recently relegated Southampton, Swans fans would have been forgiven if they were concerned about what the clubs’ future held. Those fears may have partially been dispelled at the announcement of Martin’s replacement: Michael Duff. Duff has a brilliant CV so far, taking Cheltenham from the lower end of League two to an established League One side, and taking Barnsley to a play-off final last season, one that was only lost in the final seconds of extra time.

In the transfer window, Swansea have been busy strengthening at both ends of the field, bringing three forwards, a full back and a goalkeeper. Jerry Yates joins from recently relegated Blackpool, where his standout performances in an otherwise disappointing season earned him the player of the season award.

New Swansea signing Jerry Yates (Credit: Swansea City)

This success with incomings is contrasted with outgoings. Two players left South Wales on deals expected to be significantly lower than their market value in previous windows, thanks to ownership expecting too high transfer fees, and ultimately being forced to accept lower deals when their market value has diminished. Michael Obafemi joins Burnley permanently after his loan period in January, while Morgan Whittaker joins Plymouth in a deal that is believed to be worth half the value Rangers offered 6 months earlier. Meanwhile, keeping hold of goal machine Joel Piroe will be a task that, if successful, will help to continue Swansea’s push back towards the play offs.

23/24 Season Predictions: Outside the Play Offs


Watford’s 22/23 can only really be described as disappointing. A mid table finish after a collapse in form heading into the final months, unrest among the fanbase with the club’s direction, and uncertainty over what the next few years could hold for the club after their lowest finish since 2014.

And if concern for fans wasn’t bad enough after the end of season slump, the summer transfer window was bound to make it worse. With attacking duo Joao Pedro and Ismaila Sarr leaving for Brighton and Marseille respectively, Mario Gaspar, once highly regarded in Spain, cancelling his contract in July after a disappointing season, and countless squad players leaving for pastures new, Watford have been left with a significantly depleted squad.

Despite this, a rebuild has begun at Vicarage Road, with a trio of experienced Englishmen being brought in to help, most notably Rhys Healey, who’s brilliant goalscoring record at Toulouse in the Ligue 2 earned him a move back to England, despite missing the entirety of the 22/23 with an ACL rupture.

Ultimately, Watford will be entering this season with a squad weaker than their last, so giving Valerien Ismael time to install his tactics and doctrines on the players will be extremely beneficial. But if more of the same board decisions are to be expected, then the finishing position will also likely stay the same.

23/24 Season Prediction: Mid Table

West Bromwich Albion

Albion’s 22/23 season was a tale of two managers. Steve Bruce’s Reign of Terror saw just one win from the first 13 matches, leaving the club languishing in the relegation zone at the time of his sacking and Carlos Coberan’s appointment two weeks later.

The Hawthorns, the highest stadium above sea level in the EFL (Credit: West Bromwich Albion)

The Spaniard’s revolution saw a complete script change over the next two and half months, as West Brom then went on to win 9 of their next 10, despite the month long World Cup hiatus three games into that run, eventually only missing out on the play offs by three points. With Corberan at the helm, there’s no reason why WBA can’t reach the play offs, something that may have been possible last season had Bruce been let go just a few weeks earlier in the season.

23/24 Season Prediction: Play Off Contenders

Check out part one, detailing the previews for Birmingham City down to Millwall here.