How’s It Gonna End? — EFL Championship 22/23


Lee Bowyer promised an overhaul heading into the wee hours of last season, and it would seem that he then became a part of it. The former manager would last only two days into the new season before being replaced with John Eustace. The new man seems composed from the dugout, and he hasn’t uprooted the squad the way Bowyer was seemingly planning. Big losses in the form of the dynamic Jeremie Bela and Bundesliga-bound Kristian Pedersen will hurt, but I expect The Blues to look to their youth once more for content this season. Jordan James is coming through neatly, and the likes of George Hall, Odin Bailey, Adan George, Ryan Stirk, and even Jobe Bellingham could be ripe for a start or ten. I’m expecting for a brutish start for the loanees of Auston Trusty and Dion Sanderson as well, playing in front of a potential standout in John Ruddy.
It’s gonna be a tough yan again if this is the way, but the youth combined with league experience should see ’em clear.


At time of writing, the squad is tight. Important players have left alongside Tony Mowbray, and the experience has swiftly dimmed in the side. On the plus side, this gives the likes of Hayden Carter and Joe Rankin-Costello to step up, but on the minus side, it means they have to. Jon Dahl Tomasson has stepped in and done surprisingly little about the situation, but with Nyambe, Lenihan, and Rothwell having left on frees, maybe the situation is difficult. I’d say they need a few major defensive signings before that window slams shut or a cracker attack will soon run out of juice carrying the side. Even if they do, it’ll be a baptism of fire for the Dane.


I gots to take chances, and to go with my plan of the three promoted sides surviving, Blackpool are one of the lambs gaan doon thanks to managerial-upheaval, a lack of recruitment that even a loan-specialist manager can’t fix, and just a dash of second-season syndrome. Appleton’ll see the season out because the team’ll fight all the way through, but they’ll go down on either the last weekend or the penultimate and supporters’ll be querying why they stuck with him. It’s ‘cos he inspired, but he just couldn’t pull the ship from the deep.


I’m anticipating a good build here. They’ve stuck with Nige, they’ve let him build, and he’s got a decent project on the go, I reckon. It’s taking it’s time, but some of the finest things do. They ain’t gonna light the world on fire here either, but they’ll threaten to, and then, when given a bit more time to fine tune, that fire can probably be seen on the horizon. A few dynamic signings, locking down some of the existing squad, that’s what’s been important — players front and centre and trusted. They were starting to deliver last season, and that journey to the Prem’s front door will continue this. They’ll take being shouted at for late delivery if it means just getting there.


I know it’s a new manager, I know there’s a new squad, I know this is the first upheaval for this side in what feels like decades, but I just got that good feeling. Vinny Komps (pronounced ‘Kumps’ for the purposes of sounding horrible) seems a nice bloke and he’s attracting talent to the club while casting out the cobwebs that were gathering in the woodshed. I think they’ll have a bit of fun with it, struggle for a bit, then all come together to finish big. As long as he starts BPF over Ari in net, it’ll all be reet.


They are having a banging transfer window. Shrewd but decisive, just like Morison himself. I think he will absolutely grind these players to give a dandy season that might just see ’em wear out towards the end. I can see some likening it to bullying, but it ain’t, it’s motivation — said every meanie coach ever. I kid, but he’ll get results in his first full season, and in his second, real results could come.


I’m just missing some spectacularity here. They’re real solid, they’re going about their business with aplomb, but if they had, not even a talisman, but a little switch-up, or a few players adding some swazz, this’d be a prediction of automatic promotion. As it is, they’ve kept that all-important spine but haven’t added enough. I don’t think they’ll be upturned because of that, but I think they’ll fall short of what will, in the end, be a pretty locked-in top seven.


Carlos has gone and so have two of their stand-outs from the season prior, with someone else having to step up and fill the void under new manager Danny Schofield, who might know the club, but might not be so familiar with the field. The recruitment seems to be in the same vein, but with this kind of turn-around, any supporters expecting a repeat of last season’s drive should slow their role and curb their expectations, ‘cos that’s how you get a fresh lad sacked. This’ll be learning the ropes and settling in, for the man in the dugout and those on the turf.


Experience gone, along with their biggest talents, leaving a mish-mash of those who struggled from last season, new signings who haven’t made much of a difference recently, and new signings with no experience of the league or the country spells disaster for ’em I reckon. Shota oversaw an upturn in form, and I’ve a feeling the Turks will oversee an upturn eventually, but this ain’t the squad with which to do it and any hope they have will be swept away as the season steadily swims along.


The smoothness of this squad is something soothing to behold. It seems that whoever they add blends so delicately into the mixing pot that one would think that ingredient has always been Luton Town. There’s such a strong central contingent that adding to it is like reattaching the petals of a flower, in both beauty and delicacy. The former will obviously serve them well, but in terms of aggression, that heart will not be enough and we’ll see ’em slip just shy of the play-offs promised land.


I’m not sure about 2nd. There could be like five or six I could put there, but none of them really seem right. Therefore, I have to go with whoever has Chris Wilder as manager. It might be too soon for them, but they could do it, I reckon. They could hold off every advancement in every match, and though they might not score a tonne of goals, they’ll do enough damage to stave off the chasing pack. Maybe.
If nobody could finish 2nd and a load of ’em just finish joint third, I’d go for that.


I like the spine. They’ve had that about them for a long time now, and this might be the biggest deviation from that time, with long tenured and vital players hitting the bricks, and signings coming in that cost a bit of moolah and arrive with a bit of something-something about them. Afobe and Honeyman will slide right in, and I’m quite excited to see what this Flemming bloke’s about, not to mention the two Leeds loanees…
The squad is tight, but the nice kind, and there should be enough there under the watchful eye of Rowett to finally push on. But I say that every season. So this time, I’m calling the drop-off, almost guaranteeing they will make the play-offs.


Even though it’s not Farke, it’s still Norwich, and it is Dean Smith, so he’ll get ’em gaan at this level too, and though the adapting is still underway, they’ll hit a dangerous stride around the start of 2023 that’ll really put ’em in contention, but Burnley’ll be too far away, and the rest of the pack will grind ’em into the mill of the play-offs.


Ryan Lowe’s path just seems to be to drive up the divisions as swiftly as owt, and this’ll be another chapter in his magisterial managerial career. He’s cleaned house and made Deepdale his own over the Summer, with those months in the previous season being vital crucial in the advancement of Lowe with Preston. They’ll continue in their solid ways, and they’ll inject some real force that’ll surprise a few, but it’ll all seem natural come season’s end. Of course, I could absolutely see them finishing mid-table in a particularly… Symmetrical(?) display?
But here I stand.


What is there seems floppy. After their comedown last season, the gaps were clear, and it didn’t take much to bring what was a solid castle to the ground. Now with a manager in his first time full-lead role, he might bring in some fresh ideas, but that can also be a poison to a squad in this position. Fresh names will come through, but it’ll take time, and there’s always less of it when you’re struggling to find your place. It could be skin of their teeth for The Hoops.


It’s that situation of Paul Ince saving them, so he’s the messiah. In reality, some late results with good composure (on occasion), along with other teams slipping up is what saw them safe, and not an immense quality in play. This has not been remedied, and I’m not seeing where this squad is gonna shine. Shane Long and Dean Bouzanis are exciting for one reason or another, but they’re not gonna add enough to a wilting squad that seems destined for some kind of drop after a nightmare season last time out.


There might be a bit of reliance on other teams being shitter, especially with Ihiekwe and Smith ducking out after having starring roles in their promotion campaign. But Brammall and Kioso, especially Kioso, are solid additions to a squad that was already solid without the two major departures, and the heart and knowledge of the side will see ’em stay in a lot more games than they have in the history of their second-tier campaigns. Paul Warne can see this team over the line, and if he can’t, then my faith in all that is will be shaken.


Honestly, they’ve added well. And they’ve got that same rigid side that is forever a threat, but maybe this’ll be the wake-up call that they’re not always gonna have a spot reserved for them in the top six. I’m sure the defence will shine (as always), but the goals could struggle to run, and though they’ll carve out a few chances, they won’t be enough, and since I can also see them being wasteful somehow, mid-table seems about right.


It always seems they’re ready to kick-on, but the squad never seems to measure up against the others they’re in competition with. There’s power in there, but there are obvious weaknesses, noticeably in goal. They’ve boosted their striking options with level-proven Dwight Gayle coming in, but there’s an overall consistency and depth missing from the squad that’ll see them drop off from even mid-table as they fail to threaten the top six in the first place.


Still a bit of a gap that I’m sure will be filled with fresh signings, otherwise that’s a lot of pressure on Ross Stewart, a man who did have a drought a division lower last season and has never played at this one. But there’s character in this side, and in this manager, and in this club, and that can hold a side in great stead, with that fire translating onto the pitch and into the stands, launching them above the trapdoor and seeing them safe to build on a season that will bring them experience, which is vital to success.


There was a lot to like last season, especially in the latter stages as they started their rise. They appeared to be free-scoring at points, and with some defensive reinforcements this time, they could well be primed with a set of players ready to excel out of their shells. Downes will be a big loss, but with the sheer volume of defenders brought in, they’re bound to fill the void, and it seems Russell might have who he wants to charge on and up the table, maybe stopping just short of another rival.


The appointment of Rob Edwards is one of those shady deals that either has to pay off or fail spectacularly. With a relegated side packed to the brim with the personnel currently employed, Edwards is looking at play-offs or bust. There’s no time for a season of rebuild, this is, in fact, promotion or bust for many. There’s flimsiness I reckon he can tame, but there’s also a bit of inexperience that could drag this side down. That management style with younger players and experienced staff will see them sail into the top six, but there’ll be a cooling period, maybe even right at the start, where the supporters will be questioning what the feck is gaan on. Or whatever they say in Watford.
Not to mention the fact that some big-name players could still be on their way out…


Steve Bruce will get results, I’ve no doubt. It might just take a hot minute ‘cos this squad still needs a little something, a dash of flavour, maybe a bit more heft; it’s all a bit skin-and-bones at the moment. I can see ’em getting pushed around a bit more than they’re used to and that’s what will ultimately cost ’em games and a play-off berth, but at least the solution should be obvious for the future, be it Bruce to see to it, or another soul.


Yeah, I just think the heart and soul will see ’em pull clear, topping the promoted trio one after another. There’s something about them. For every player that’ll struggle at this level and likely be replaced next Summer, there’s someone ready to shine and really step up and kick on. That’ll be found well before season’s end, and will leave many praising the club and the boss for adapting well to life in the second tier.



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