How Did It End? — EFL Championship 22/23

11 min readMay 31


Every year there is a chance for three teams to advance to the highest level of the professional game. Sometimes there’s the opportunity for a first-time ascension, a fantasy tale turned reality… But other times, it’s… Predictable. Or we like to think it is. In reality, it’s like trying to predict which sewer grate the dead sock will be welcomed into by the underdwellers.

But I tried anyways. Here’s what I got:-

1. Burnley
2. Middlesbrough
3. Swansea City
4. Watford
5. Norwich City
6. Preston North End
7. Luton Town
8. Coventry City
9. West Brom
10. Cardiff City
11. Millwall
12. Bristol City
13. Sheffield United
14. Huddersfield Town
15. Blackburn Rovers
16. Stoke City
17. Birmingham City
18. Wigan Athletic
19. Sunderland
20. Rotherham United
21. QPR
22. Blackpool
23. Hull City
24. Reading

And here’s what actually happened:-

1. Burnley
2. Sheffield United
3. Luton Town
4. Middlesbrough
5. Coventry City
6. Sunderland
7. Blackburn Rovers
8. Millwall
9. West Bromwich Albion
10. Swansea City
11. Watford
12. Preston North End
13. Norwich City
14. Bristol City
15. Hull City
16. Stoke City
17. Birmingham City
18. Huddersfield Town
19. Rotherham United
20. QPR
21. Cardiff City
22. Reading
23. Blackpool
24. Wigan Athletic

And now I score myself.
All I do is take the difference between my prediction and the actual result and add ’em all together. For example, if I had Millwall finishing 20th and they end up finishing 10th, that would be -10 off my score. The goal is to get as close to a perfect 0 as possible, and I have not done terribly well in recent years.


Right now, double-digits are my dream. I will do everything in my power to achieve it. Not that I can do anything now, I’m just adding up my scores and reflecting on how much of a fool I am. If I don’t achieve it this time however, I will descend upon next season with the fire and thunder of a thousand celestial armies.

But that’s next season. Just how did the 22/23 EFL Championship season end?


Predicted: 17th / Actual: 17th
Don’t wanna toot my own horn here, but I pretty much nailed it. This is a solid start and though I know it won’t continue, it’s nice to sit in this moment and dwell on the tiny amount of success it brings me.
Thank you, Birmingham. And congratulations.

Score: 0


Predicted: 15th / Actual: 7th
They made things work. To a point. My whole prediction was based on their lack of recruitment, but the folk they did recruit did a number for ’em. Can I now blame their close miss on the play-offs on failing to recruit one extra player that would have seen them over the line thus taking a modicum of credit for my prediction nine months hence?
You bet your bottom I can.

Score: -8


Predicted: 22nd / Actual: 23rd
I said that supporters would be querying why they stuck with Appleton, but they won’t be questioning that or why they sacked him. Maybe they’ll be questioning why McCarthy couldn’t turn them around, or how Dobbie nearly did, but mainly it’ll be why Critchley took a year out. Now he’s back, and maybe he just likes Blackpool in League One — they’ll be hoping it’s a match made in playoff heaven (or higher) once more.

Score: -1


Predicted: 12th / Actual: 14th
Kept on ticking along, remained solid, and though I’ve heard some criticism of Nigel Pearson being boring, but boring can get you steady, and even at his most boring, I think efficient is more the word I’d use for The Robins. They work, and there’s enough flashiness to please the eye — but will it still be there next time out?

Score: -2


Predicted: 1st / Actual: 1st
No prizes here. Just how they went up was more impressive than I thought it would be, how Vinny commanded a near-whole new fresh squad to a century was momentous, and although he, FOR WHATEVER REASON, started Muric over BPF, it didn’t bite him. But I bet it would have been forty-six wins out of forty-six had he done that. That’s tactical nous right there.

Score: 0


Predicted: 10th / Actual: 21st
Should have stuck with Morison, no doubt in my mind. Then when they did sack him, they should have stuck with Hudson. Sure, they survived at the end of the day, but only due to Reading being deducted points. This squad had the capability of getting right up there and competing, but fucking with that while they were gelling seemed only foolish in the grander scheme of things. Those behind the scenes need to take a second, breathe in, breathe out, and feckin think about it.

Score: -11


Predicted: 8th / Actual: 5th
They were missing that spectacularity, but as they went on, it couldn’t hide anymore, with the likes of Hamer, Sheaf, Wilson, and Big Swedish Vic making themselves undeniable as they pushed on towards the playoff final. This squad makes a lot of sense and it has done since they started their ascent back up the leagues. I can’t see it changing, only progressing further as this defeat fails to derail them.

Score: -3


Predicted: 14th / Actual: 18th
Real mess of a start after Corberan’s exit, with poor appointments that looked so a mile off as well as poor utility among their squad, with players flying in as unnecessarily as they were flying out. Neil Warnock steadied the ship as he so often does, but next season will require a fresh hand on the tiller with NW heading off and it doesn’t feel like a risk can really be taken on that.

Score: -4


Predicted: 23rd / Actual: 15th
Liam Rosenior deserves the freedom of the city of Kingston-upon-Hull. Actually, nobody deserves that. But he deserves something nice, like an extra present for birthdays and Christmas. What a steadily passionate man he is. And he looks nice in light grey. Seriously, how he came in and slowed things down, winning the award for Ship Steadier Of The Season, is a commendable thing at this level with *ahem* this club.

Score: -8


Predicted: 7th / Actual: 3rd
Beyond Nathan Jones there lies promise. Would he have gotten them there? Perhaps. But that’s off in a parallel universe now. The fact is that Edwards maintained that trajectory and somehow made them more robust as they pressed into trifling parts of the campaign. The good signs were there though, pushing Sheffield United as far as they could after burgeoning beyond Middlesbrough — they got to show their gumption against Sunderland before solving the Coventry riddle and becoming a Premier League side for the first time. Sensational stuff.

Score: -4


Predicted: 2nd / Actual: 4th
No Wilder? Wilder no do good? Whaaaa?
Then Carrick absolutely slaughtered the job as if he were Winston Churchill in Eastern Europe and I thought they were just gonna rock on as he lifted them from 21st to the brink of the automatic promotion places, but they just couldn’t figure out every tiny kink as the run petered out just in time to fall in the playoffs. But he got these guys firing like they never have before, and with a Summer to build the squad in his own image, this prediction might be looking odds on again next time oot.

Score: -2


Predicted: 11th / Actual: 8th
I did call a drop-off, it just unfortunately came for The Lions on the final day. Sure, it bagged me a few fewer points for this wee game I’m playing, BUT AT WHAT COST? Some staggering individual performances do seem wasted after final-day disappointment, but in reality it’ll only take a few days to really appreciate what they all did in a momentous season that fell short of being megamomentous.

Score: -3


Predicted: 5th / Actual: 13th
I suppose the break always had to come, between the going up and the coming down, the squad was always going to wither, and though it didn’t waste away, it let go. A change is on the way and whether that will be in Wagner’s image or the individual who comes after, it’s on the horizon after a season the picture of inconsistency.

Score: -8


Predicted: 6th / Actual: 12th
Just fell off in all the wrong places, — not conceding goals while not scoring them, and then to score them it seemed as if they needed to concede them. Any run for the playoffs came too late with too many hiccups and it ended up leaving them behind the curve of the tide. It still seems like a season that should have worked, but was just implemented poorly.

Score: -6


Predicted: 21st / Actual: 20th
I said it then and I’ll say it now, Beale would not have done any better for The Hoops had he stayed. They were heading down from an overly lofty holding when he rejected Wolves, and then Critchley was left with a squad out of ideas that needed time to become receptive to his. Ainsworth is a cracking man manager and will drag the soul out of this team that was left lacking one.

Score: -1


Predicted: 24th / Actual: 22nd
It was never gonna happen. But it nearly did actually. Only a points deduction put Reading the wrong side of the dotted line (and Lamouchi acted like Cardiff did enough, which technically they did, but only technically). They shot their shots, their entire arsenal as it looked, and it burned ’em out quick-style until it came down to shrewd on-pitch decisions. That never materialised.

Score: -2


Predicted: 20th / Actual: 19th
You’d be hard-pressed to find a team that didn’t show the heart and passion so-oft required in the run-in, and Rotherham were no different with their grit as they forced their way into a second consecutive season in the second consecutive tier. The bursts required from The Millers came on strong and at the right times, and the side never seemed to lose their cool during.

Score: -1


Predicted: 13th / Actual: 2nd
Did people see this coming? Should I have done? 13th might seem a bit harsh with the quality the squad had going, but automatic promotion? It still doesn’t seem right. Don’t get me wrong, watching how they play, it’s clear why they achieved it, but the squad seemed used, and while I don’t wanna use the term ‘damaged goods’ (even though I just did), that’s how it seemed, which makes their rebuild from relegation even more impressive with that group of players displaying immense fortitude to fire back with such force.

Score: -11


Predicted: 16th / Actual: 16th
Called it right with their wavering, but called it wrong with Gayle being the goalscorer they required. Balance though, eh? And it caught me in the middle with it’s soft Libratastic arms. Not much more to say on this one, it was a slightly forgettable season for Stoke and they’ll be hoping for Alex Neil to kick on and put a stamp on his stint in charge.

Score: 0


Predicted: 19th / Actual: 6th
Alright, I ain’t taking no flack for this. Newly-promoted side with a manager hitting the bricks and even with the experience of Mowbray coming in to aid the kids’ development, they’re still kids. And those kids LIT THE WORLD ON FIRE. Literally one of the teams of the seasons for me. An enviable drive that can only hold the debutante squad in good stead for the future, wherever the individuals may end up.

Score: -13


Predicted: 3rd / Actual: 10th
Seemed like they should have pushed on at many a point but just could nae find that rosy consistency. It was genuinely surprising to see them sitting down in lower mid-table for the majority of the season, only pushing on late enough to be on the outside looking in. The talent is obvious, on and off the pitch, but streamlining and focus were missing too often, and a drill sergeant may be required next season.

Score: -7


Predicted: 4th / Actual: 11th
I mean, what do you expect? Sack a promising manager who actually goes on to earn promotion while you work through another three, none of them able to stamp an identity onto a squad of players mashed together from hither and thither. Ismael has got a hell of a job on his hands, not getting his players together — if he’s given time that will be achievable, but to please the feckin’ owners who are becoming increasingly difficult to like.

Score: -7


Predicted: 9th / Actual: 9th
Steve Bruce did not get results, as I predicted, but Carlos Corberan looked set to propel them up the standings right into the hunt until that smorgasbord of play-off chasers dragged them into their unruly hunt and got ’em pegged in the mire. Look out for them next season and look out for one big signing that’ll knock the socks off of the division.

Score: 0


Predicted: 18th / Actual: 24th
The heart and soul was there but the points deduction knocked the stuffing out of them, and it looks like it may continue to. Something they were just getting used to not getting used to has reared its head once more and will afflict them next season as well, but this squad has done it before and will do it again, I’ve no doubt. This’ll be the making of a lot of these players, with the pressure put upon them creating diamonds, the adversity forging legends. Legends of the fall. Here they come.

Score: -6

The war is over. The battlefield lies strewn with crests and emblems as so many with the potential to take over the world are face down in the dirt, forced to relive the whole affair like the most beautifully violent Groundhog Day one ever did see. Unless they’re summoned away by a higher power of course.

The battle is a choice and we choose to participate in our role of bystander. Or player. Or organiser. Or manager. Or coach. Involved in a whole host of ways, and I thank you all for your service. Without one piece of the jigsaw the picture isn’t complete.

I’ll miss you Blackpool, Reading, and Wigan, but I feel as if I’ll be seeing you elsewhere. Your places cannot go unoccupied however, and they will be filled by Plymouth, Ipswich, and Sheffield Wednesday. As for Burnley, Sheffield United, and Luton, they will be replaced by Leicester, Southampton, and… Leeds. MOTMOTMOT.
But for now, there’s the little (and I mean little) case of my points total. Double-digits is actually still the dream after reading through the above, but a few high-scorers might feck me… Maybe… Possibly…


Wow. One shitey prediction away from (relative) immortality. But as I said, I’ll be back, and I will be back with a force I have never before seen within myself. Heed these words, EFL Championship, you have been forewarned.

MY BIGGEST WINNERS — Birmingham, Burnley, Stoke, West Brom — 0, Blackpool, QPR, Rotherham — -1
MY BIGGEST LOSERS — Sunderland — -13, Cardiff, Sheffield United — -11

I’ll see you soon, second tier. And when I do, I hope you’ve only changed as much as you see fit. I trust your judgement at this point, and so should you. Don’t let anyone tell you what to be.
See y’all there.

Keep it streets ahead,





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