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

I really got into this last year. Prior to that, I’d been checking in and out, but it was last season that really piqued my interest and made me a regular viewer of the competition.
And heavens to Betsy, I was rewarded.

I could highlight the very last minute as a reason to watch all that came before, but I believe all that came before can speak for itself.

So I reckoned I’d add it to my prediction portfolio as I try to look a genius a few months down the line.
The rules are simple, I try to predict where each team ends up and then take the difference between my prediction and where they actually end up off my actual score, for example, if I predict Blackburn to finish 9th, but they actually finish 2nd, that would be -7 off my score. So the aim is to remain as close to 0 as possible.
Sweet.

As mentioned, this will be my first score from the division so I’ve nothing to compare it to, but I think the worst I can do is -72, so anywhere north of that is the aim.
Well, maybe the goal. The actual aim is top bins with a perfect zero.

Can I achieve it as I ask — how is the 22/23 Women’s Championship gonna end?

— —

BIRMINGHAM CITY

With Darren Carter installed as boss on a permanent basis now, the rebuild has gathered pace as The Blues look to return to the top flight at the first time of asking — and they’ll definitely be in the conversation. Tara Bourne, Charlie Devlin, Martha Harris, and Fran Stenson are all suave signings from a level up and the collections of Women’s Champo starlets Mollie Green and Siobhan Wilson give the side a glossy sheen. This more than makes up for any departures (particularly that of Sarri), and when you add in the retention of the likes of Quinn (x2), Pennock, Scott, and Lawley, Birmingham could easily bulldoze their way back to the big-time.

Prediction: 1st

BLACKBURN ROVERS

This one could hurt for the Rovers. A lack of decisive business leaves them in an overtly vulnerable position. Two weeks ago, I might not have said that, but with the departure of taliswoman Annabel Blanchard hitting the bricks for a league rival, it summarises a sad tome freckled with bright spots in players capable of sparkling bursts.
They were unable to make enough of an impact last season, and unless that thread is fixed, Blackburn could easy be cut loose.

Prediction: 11th

BRISTOL CITY

Some under the radar signings could be chalked up to slow business, but the likes of Shania Hayles, Emily Syme, and Jodie Hutton bring enviable experience to an already strong squad. They’ll slot in pretty nicely and get going as the season rolls on, but in what might be the strongest season ever for the second division, any bump in the road can knock you right off track.

Prediction: 4th

CHARLTON ATHLETIC

A raid has left them a little light at The Oakwood, with Becky Jane, Lois Heuchan, and all-star Eartha Cummings all departing. That obviously doesn’t spell the end of promotion chances, but as they were likely to struggle going forward anyways, taking away defensive cover wasn’t going to help. Cover has been pretty decisive, with Sian Rogers covering the net, and Angela Addison bringing experience aplenty — it’ll get The Addicks the right side of the line, just not the line they want.

Prediction: 8th

COVENTRY UNITED

After their Great Escape came news of the departure of long-time manager Jay Bradford. Along with the boss, several players also left, including key players like Katie Wilkinson and Mollie Green, both to league rivals. Cov are clearly still struggling from last season and though they’ve lightened their load, that’s always gonna come at a price — they’ve got a young, small squad ready to be picked apart under fresh management, and while I hope they prove me so wrong, I cannae see it.

Prediction: 12th

CRYSTAL PALACE

Millie Farrow might have departed for a league (and local) rival, but with last season all-stars Barton and Haines sticking about, there must be something on the cards… Cue the bumper signings of Anna Filbey, Rianna Dean, Annabel Blanchard, Paige Bayley-Gayle, and Elise Hughes — all statement signings that make Palace a side to really fear this season. That top section is gonna be congested, appearing moreso with only one spot to play for, but if Davenport can get this team cooking at the temperature of their individual attributes, then we got a stew goin’ at Hayes Lane.

Prediction: 3rd

DURHAM

A streamlining of sorts as Durham and local rivals Sunderland traded a wee bit, but The Wildcats have come out the other side looking fierce. They’ll provide a challenge wherever they go, and though they might not end up troubling the very top, they’ll be spoiler on more than one occasion with a mighty rigidity and a never-say-die attitude.

Prediction: 5th

LEWES

A couple of big-name departures won’t deter the scrappy Rooks from The Dripping Pan, ‘cos they’ve still got a few aces up their sleeve… I’m expecting big seasons from Rebecca McKenna and Ellie Hack to name but two, and to name one more, Amelia Hazard could be serious X-Factor going forward. Add in the fact that the vastly experienced Scott Booth is at the helm, and even if he only steers them well away from danger, that’d do one season in — but they could push on a little bit more with what they’ve got.

Prediction: 9th

LONDON CITY LIONESSES

They’re been ready to roar for a while now, and after picking up a few extra second-tier stars, their time might be now. I’m expecting a rough-and-tough, domineering season from the Lionesses as they start to assert their power over the lower-ranked teams. They’ll push to the very end, but could still be the most-disappointed come that time.

Prediction: 2nd

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Lost one taliswoman while keeping hold of another and have, additionally, filled out their squad under the guise of a threat. There’s enough here to stay away from danger and away from temptation, but it’ll be up to Redfearn and his squad to put the pieces together. I’m not expecting them to concede many, and though they’ll score more than that, it won’t be much more.

Prediction: 7th

SOUTHAMPTON

First season up, and while I’m seeing some acclimatising in their future, this is a side that have been ready to be at this level for a while and have the players to prove it. Megan Wynne and Katie Wilkinson are just the new breed, but the originals like Laura Rafferty, Ella Pusey, Milly Mott, and Sophie Pharoah could catch a few sleeping on ’em this season, and fall right into a trap of their own making.

FUN FACT: As they join the division, they bring with them the highest capacity stadium (St. Mary’s — 32,384).

Prediction: 6th

SUNDERLAND

A side that struggled with consistency last season could easy be looking at the same again. They look a side ready to sit back and strike on the counter, but as we saw when Homer took on Drederick Tatum, class opposition will keep coming at you until they wear you down. It’ll be a battle at the bottom for the Black Cats, but I don’t reckon a very dramatic one, in their favour.

Prediction: 10th

— —

1. Birmingham City
2. London City Lionesses
3. Crystal Palace
4. Bristol City
5. Durham
6. Southampton
7. Sheffield United
8. Charlton Athletic
9. Lewes
10. Sunderland
11. Blackburn Rovers
12. Coventry United

Cooler than an ice-cube with pockets.

Cannae wait.
Just like the Champo on the other side of the tracks, it’s almost an impossibility to predict ‘cos owt can happen, and the best thing is, you can watch it all happen! Sure, you can get yersel doon to the groonds, please do, but if you can’t make it a day or your team ain’t in town, check ’em out on that fabulous thing called the FA Player, that more often than not shows many a game for free on the world wide net.

But it’s all gonna be out there, on the line, in the air, ready for anyone to grab, or kick, and take home. There’s a definite (and obvious) increase in visibility, and the stakes get higher and higher season on season, and so the quality of drama rises, though they’ve got a job on their hands beating last season with Mollie Green rivalling ‘AGUEROOOOOO’ with that last-gasp free-kick.

But we can’t always compare. We do, it’s our nature. But in the finest moments, don’t we just enjoy? I hope so. Which is why these predictions are vapid, and just for me to add a bit of extra sizzle to my steak, published because if I get it right, I wanna look smart (lucky) a few months down the line.

But will I look smart (lucky)?
Is this how it’s gonna end?

Maybe. But I’ll enjoy it whatever the weather.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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