As the sun sets on another riveting season of Championship football, now is the time to reflect on the past year as we float towards the build-up to a new season. We will review each team’s season in the league. In this edition of our Championship season review, we look at playoff success, off-field misery and inconsistent seasons.
Championship Season Review Part I
Aston Villa – 4th (Play-off winners)
What looked initially like turning into another season of mid-table mediocrity changed in the blink of an eye. With the help of a club-record ten-game winning streak, Aston Villa propelled themselves into the playoffs. This coincided with the return of Jack Grealish from injury.
The midfielder was named in the Championship Team of the Year and his creative abilities place him in the league’s elite. Tammy Abraham’s second loan stint in the Championship was just as fruitful as the first, as joint second top scorer in the league with Neal Maupay on 25 goals.
Promising manager Dean Smith made the side a fearsome prospect, bolstering their defensive options in January, providing the side with the squad depth needed to push on. They were able to put their Wembley misery of last year behind them with a 2-1 win in the play-off final over Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
Birmingham City – 17th
Staying in the Midlands, Birmingham City’s season is the epitome of a rollercoaster ride. Their slow start saw them winless after eight games, though an unbeaten streak was born from their poor run. Soon they were on the fringes of the playoffs, but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough.
However, their inconsistency came back to bite them. This compiled with a nine-point deduction saw their playoff push turn into a relegation battle. Che Adams, shortlisted the for Player of the Season award, fired them to a safe 17th-place finish. Garry Monk has stabilised the ship in his first full season.
Much depends on if he can ward off Premier League interest for Adams and build on the squad he has. With finances more stable now, their league position next season should be more secure as a result.
Blackburn Rovers – 15th
After briefly flirting with the playoffs following a bright start, Blackburn Rover’s season petered out into a mid-table affair in their first season back in the second division. Blackburn kept the core of the squad that did well to bounce back, adding some youthful energy in Adam Armstrong and Joe Rothwell.
Bradley Dack was pivotal to their success, and Rovers will do well to keep a hold of him with Premier League clubs circling. He and Danny Graham were Blackburn’s main attacking outlets, though perhaps they were too reliant on the duo.
Their defence proved their Achilles heel this year, shipping 69 goals (fifth-worst). Tony Mowbray will have to build from the back to push his side up the table.
Bolton Wanderers – 23rd
Things could not have gone any worse for Bolton Wanderers this season. Their season began brightly, with the Trotters third after five games. 13 games without a win, though, left them floundering in the relegation zone.
Their poor finish saw them just a point above Ipswich Town in 23rd, with the worst offensive record the Championship has seen (29 goals). However, it is what has happened off-field that has marred Bolton’s season. They have faced six winding-up petitions in 18 months, with the players yet to be paid wages for March and April.
Laurence Bassini’s takeover bid fell through, meaning the club will likely face administration. A points deduction beckons for the Trotters in League One, meaning a return is unlikely. These are truly sad times for Bolton fans.
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