Phil Hay’s Championship predictions for 2014-15

Phil Hay.
Phil Hay.
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The YEP’s chief Leeds United reporter Phil Hay makes his predictions ahead of the Championship season. Do you agree?

Champions: Fulham. Got themselves in a shocking tangle last season but have thrown money at their squad, including £10.75m at Ross McCormack. Felix Magath, below, has been round the block at a very high level and with a clean slate, the job at Fulham should not be a problem for him.

Runners-Up: Wigan Athletic. Progressed like a train under Uwe Rosler and would have gone up in second place in May had Owen Coyle not wasted the first half of Wigan’s season. Strong in most positions and have made an interesting investment in Spanish striker Oriol Riera.

Play-Offs: Derby County, Cardiff City, Watford and Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren’s formula is working at Derby and his squad remains intact. Cardiff City are also in good enough shape, despite their relegation, and Watford opened the door by bringing Matej Vydra back to Vicarage Road and arranging one of their crafty deals for Juan Carlos Paredes, an Ecuador international. Middlesbrough’s season depends on the fixed strategy of Aitor Karanka paying off – but he did some effective groundwork last season.

Relegation: Blackpool, Rotherham United, Birmingham City. Blackpool are signing their own death warrant and Birmingham City almost did likewise last season. Their last-minute escape from relegation in May was a sensational moment but symptomatic of the shambles the club had become. Criticism of Lee Clark was also very audible. As for Rotherham, they will either surprise or fall flat. You never can say with someone like Steve Evans in charge.

Leeds United: 13th. There are too many variables in United’s squad – foreign imports, young academy players, others who came up short last season – to predict too much but the bottom half of the Championship is a mish-mash of clubs with limited potential. Avoid an especially bad start and mid-table should not be asking the earth.

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