Who will win promotion from the Championship?
Predictably unpredictable, the Championship laughs in the faces of pundits who try to make sense of its endless twists and turns. But the Life’s a Pitch panel are made of sterner stuff and knuckle down to the task of assessing this year’s promotion hopefuls. Attacking derring-do was the order of the day last time around, with Reading and Southampton earning the two automatic promotion places with some champagne football. West Ham made it back to the promised land through the play-offs, albeit with a style that wasn’t quite so easy on the eye. Bolton (pictured, above) start as the bookies’ favourites to bounce straight back, but will relegated Blackburn and Wolves go up with them? Will the takeover inspire Nottingham Forest? Can the likes of Middlesbrough, Cardiff, Leicester and Leeds get their acts together?
“I do agree that Bolton should be favourites,” says footballer-turned-journalist Adrian Clarke. “They haven’t lost too many players this summer, they’ve recruited OK, you’ve got the likes of Marvin Sordell to come in this season and blossom, and Benik Afobe’s come in from Arsenal on loan. I didn’t think they were that bad last year. They let themselves down, but they belong in the top flight.”
One side that can’t match Bolton’s post-relegation stability is Blackburn. They may have brought in some new faces, but it’s events off the field that worry the Times’ Rory Smith. “I think they’ve bought well,” says Rory. “Danny Murphy’s a good signing, Colin Kazim-Richards is a good signing, Leon Best would have been a good signing if he hadn’t done his cruciate. I think they have a side that could challenge, the issue is the politics behind the scenes and the fact that Steve Kean’s inept.”
Another club with problems in the boardroom is Leeds. With the rumoured takeover yet to take place, long-suffering Leeds supporters are feeling the pinch, according to the Sunday Telegraph’s Duncan White. “For Leeds it’s interminably frustrating,” says Duncan. “Fans want to see change at the club, they’re losing their best players, Snodgrass has gone – he’s an absolutely terrific talent. But it’s Leeds, it’s a big club, well supported and Warnock’s an experienced manager, so I expect them to challenge.”
And what of Cardiff City? Their new badge and red shirt are not the only changes in the Welsh capital, with the arrival of Team GB hero Craig Bellamy. “It’s not a bad place for Bellamy to be,” says Rory. “He’s a Cardiff boy, he’s a fan and, at 33, he can’t play every week in the Premier League. But, hopefully, he’ll be able to perform for the entire season in the Championship and, if he does, then Cardiff have probably got the best player in that division.”
The guys also discuss the promotion prospects of Wolves, Forest, Middlesbrough and Leicester.
Watch the video to find out who the Life’s a Pitch panel and host Mike Calvin think will be in the Premier League next season.
Watch the full video discussion by clicking on the play button in the image above.
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Cardiff v Huddersfield, 7.30pm, 17 August, Sky Sports 1
Leeds v Wolves, 12.30pm, 18 August, Sky Sports 2
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