Leeds, Forest, Wednesday or Blackburn: Who will win promotion from the Championship?
However, trying to predict the Championship is harder than choosing whether to sleep with singing sensation Susan Boyle or Weakest Link star Anne Robinson.
Before the season kicked off I asked a number of our writers and football experts who they thought would be playing in the Premier League next season. Now that we’re three games in I thought it would be fun to have a look at who said what.
Bolton Wanderers were relegated from the top flight last season but Wanderers fan Dave Blackburn believes Bolton and fellow relegated side Blackburn will bounce straight back along with Leicester City.
“Bolton have kept most of their squad and bought well in the summer - one of the best attacking line-ups in the league; but as always the defence worries me. Leicester have plenty of money and will do a lot better than last season; and Blackburn have been given plenty of stick but have bought quite well and not as many have left as was expected. It will be a very close league and I expect Leeds and Wolves to be not far off. The three clubs relegated from the Prem the previous year all ended up in last year’s play-offs.”
Sunderland’s Tony Ratton feels we could have two Welsh clubs in the Premier League next season with Cardiff finally coming up, alongside Bolton and Blackpool.
Liverpool fan and Squarefootball writer Dave Disciascio had a close call with Cardiff in the Carling Cup final last year and, like Tony above, Dave thinks this could be the year it all clicks for the Bluebirds.
“Bellamy may finally be able to lift his home town team in the Premier League this season. I think Leicester will be able to buy their way into the top flight and I have a feeling that Birmingham City could also make a return to the top flight.”
Squarefootball writer Jim Barry believes it will be the three Bs coming up, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool and Barnsley while Birmingham City fan and Squarefootball scribe Steve Coulter agrees with two of Jim’s predictions.
“I think it will be Birmingham City, Leicester City and Blackburn Rovers. I am biased but I think Lee Clark is a top manager. He's signed some good players like Ambrose and Lovenkrands. If we can keep hold of Buckland and Redmond we should do well. Leicester have to come good sometime while Rovers have signed some quality players.”
Blackpool and Blackburn seem to be featuring highly in most pundits’ predictions so far. West Ham fan Mitch Waddon is no different. He is also tipping Ian Holloway and Steve Kean for a return to the Premier League this season, but he also thinks there might be a big surprise coming our way.
“My first pick is Blackpool, especially if they can keep Ian Holloway for the whole season. They play exciting, flowing football and always entertain. I think it will be a difficult season for them but I could see them coming up via the play-offs again or in second place.
“I also think Blackburn will be able to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. They have invested in some proven Championship players and the added experience of Danny Murphy could be invaluable for Rovers. I’m not yet convinced about Steve Kean as a manager, but I respect the owner’s faith in the Scotsman and I don’t think there is a person in football out there who doesn’t want him to succeed after the abuse he was subjected to last season.
“For my last choice I am going to go out on a limb and say Charlton Athletic. In the last couple of seasons we have seen clubs bounce straight from League 1 to the Premier League without stopping in England’s second division, and I think Charlton’s momentum will continue into the new season.”
Squarefootball’s Newcastle United fan and fantasy football expert Greg Hall thinks the Premier League will be treated to a tasty sandwich of Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds, West Brom’s Andy Wakeman is putting his money on Leicester City, Bolton and Sheffield Wednesday – via the play-offs, while Squarefootball’s Sunderland reporter Sarshar Hosseinnia thinks it will be the Foxes alongside Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.
And Squarefootball’s Football League expert Hugh Larkin also has a surprise name up his sleeve. “I’m going for Leicester City and Bolton, and for Wolves to make an immediate return to the top flight.”
Personally I would love to see Leeds United back in the big time. They have done their time in the lower leagues and would be a great addition to the top flight. The same can also be said of Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest. All three are great teams with great tradition and loyal fans.
However, I would also like to see Ian Holloway’s Blackpool back in the Premier League. They won so many admirers the last time they were in the top flight and have started this campaign on fire. They narrowly missed out on a return in the play-off final last season but that heartache has only made them more determined for success this time.
So if I’m going for Leeds and Blackpool, who will be my third choice? I think it has to be Blackburn. They have kept a number of their star names at Ewood Park and Steve Kean has bought wisely. He may never convince the Blackburn fans that he is the right man for the job, but I think they should have enough in the tank to win promotion.
But that’s our view. Who do you think will win promotion to the Premier League this season? Whatever your view, we’d love to hear from you.