The Championship relegation battle: Who will stay up?
As an Ipswich Town fan, I am extremely disappointed with how the season has gone. However, we have to deal with our mistakes and poor performances. I’m going to be looking at Ipswich’s relegation competition, and giving my thoughts on who I think will be relegated and who won’t – and of course why.
The Bottom half of the table
It usually takes around 46-48 points to keep a team up from relegation, with the table this close this year it could potentially take 50 points. Last season the team in 21st, Barnsley, finished with 48 points. By looking at the bottom half of the table, even Leeds and Millwall still aren’t safe just yet.
Form of last 6 matches
Leeds United – W2 D1 L3
Millwall – W0 D1 L5
Blackpool – W2 D0 L4
Bolton Wanderers – W1 D4 L1
Birmingham City – W2 D3 L1
Ipswich Town – W2 D1 L3
Sheffield Wednesday – W3 D3 L0
Barnsley – W5 D1 L0
Wolverhampton Wanderers – W0 D3 L3
Peterborough United – W3 D2 L1
Bristol City – W3 D0 L3
Overview of the teams
Leeds United – Overall it’s not the season they were expecting. When Neil Warnock was confirmed as manager, many fans rightly so thought it could be there season considering Warnock’s promotion record. A takeover and numerous below par performances have seen them slip into 13th place and regular chants of ‘Warnock time to go’. They still aren’t out of the relegation battle but should ease away comfortable provided they begin picking up crucial points.
Millwall-Giving Millwall credit where its deserved, they strung together an admirable unbeaten run earlier in the season (ended by my beloved Ipswich Town – just thought you should all know). However since Chris Wood left, Millwall never got in another decent striker. With 5 loses out of 5 games, has Kenny Jackett taken Millwall as far as he can?
Blackpool-Having watched Blackpool on Saturday I can safely say they need someone to steady the ship. They appeared very unorganised and after hitting the post lacked creation. Even the introduction of Thomas Ince didn’t have an effect on the match. Blackpool have more points than others, but if Paul Ince doesn’t get them ticking quickly, we could see Blackpool keep slipping further down the table. A win at Leeds United tonight is crucial for the tangerines.
Bolton Wanderers- Bolton Wanderers season has been extremely unexpected. Most were expecting Bolton to walk the league, however this hasn’t been the case. After Owen Coyle’s sacking in late October, Dougie Freedman hasn’t been able to lead Bolton up the table, and have now been caught by the chasing pack down the bottom of the table. Most would expect Bolton to stay up – but stranger things have happened than Bolton Wanderers getting relegated.
Birmingham City- Birmingham have been on a downward spiral ever since Hughton left the club in the summer. A young hungry manager in Lee Clark was introduced, however with the quality players at his disposal including Zigic, Burke and Butland, they find themselves in the centre of the battle. A fantastic team on paper counts for nothing if they don’t perform, unless Birmingham can create a run of wins they’ll remain near the bottom fighting away for the remainder of the season.
Ipswich Town- Under Paul Jewell we were, to put it nicely, woeful. The team looked disinterested, and weren’t in it for the benefit of the club. However, the appointment of Mick McCarthy has seen a total change of attitude from the players. A great run of form has seen Ipswich go from the bottom of the table to 18th. If the season would of started on November the 1st Ipswich would be 4th in the table. Since November we have lost only twice at home, to Brighton and Watford. Ipswich are by no means away from the bottom 3, but a win at Huddersfield on Saturday will see the Tractor Boys headed in the right direction. If Mick can keep Ipswich up, a very interesting summer could be on the cards at portman road transfer-wise.
Sheffield Wednesday- At Portman Road earlier in the season, Wednesday looked superb. However this was with Everton loanee Ross Barkley. Since his return the Merseyside Sheffield Wednesday have been continuously slipping back towards the bottom of the table. If they can win some of their upcoming games they should be fine – but they need to kick on pretty sharpish.
Barnsley- Given their current form, it is hard to criticize Flitcrofts men. They don’t have a ‘star’ player, however work hard for the team and have been reaping the rewards. If they can keep their current form up they will finish strong – if not they will be sucked back down again.
Wolverhampton Wanderers- I’d like to begin this by thanking Wolves for sacking Mick McCarthy, he’s been great! Anyway, Wolves season is very similar to Bolton’s, most expected them to be challenging at the other end of the table. The introduction of Saunders hasn’t had a great effect on the results, and if they continue in this manner they will be playing against the likes of Walsall and Crawley Town next season.
Peterborough United-They have been around the relegation zone all season and many decided to write them off for relegation, however with Peterborough that’s never the case. They always go on a good run at the end of the season, if they can maintain their current run it will be tight but they could escape the bottom 3.
Bristol City- Finally, Bristol City. They started the season strongly, however now find themselves at the very bottom of the table. Sean O’Driscoll’s introduction did see an improvement in results, however City have lost 3 of their last 4 games, it would take something special to see them stay up.
So, who will go down?
If I had to guess who will go down and in what order I’d say:
23. Huddersfield Town
24. Bristol City
Barnsley are on a great run of form, but form like that never lasts. If it does I’ll be made to eat my words, however soon enough the tide will change and results will go against them. With Huddersfield I think they’ve changed their manager at a ridiculous time, Grayson should have been given until the end of the season. I think this will effect Huddersfield in a bad way and will see them slip into the relegation zone. I think the challenge is too big for Bristol City. I think they’re destined for League 1 now, but if they manage to save themselves then fair play to them!
Whatever happens, the championship is set for a great finish at both ends. At the top we have Watford, Crystal Palace and Hull City battling it out for the 2nd Automatic promotion spot. Surely Cardiff wont fluff it up again? And of course at the bottom, nothing is certain, but were in for a treat whatever happens!