With the Championship flying through the halfway stage of the season Championship editor Jason Lewis takes stock of the league so far with a look at each of the 24 teams before giving us his predicted table for the end of the season.

For predicted table and team of the season so far scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Barnsley

Season so far

Following the great escape of the 2012/13 season Barnsley would have hoped to kick on this season, but a lack of marquee article-0-1B8D1EF4000005DC-615_634x436signings in the summer suggested it was going to be a struggle again this year. The Tykes have been an ever-present in the bottom three since September and the sacking of David Flitcroft in late Novemeber has not improved their results. The appointment of Danny Wilson in mid December has done little to improve the Tykes performances and they seem all but destined for the drop after a magnificent escape last term.

What do they need to improve

Barnsley have not been conceding that many goals of late. The problem has been at the other hand with them netting less than a goal a game from their opening 24 Championship games, so as with lots of teams in this league a goal scorer will be top of their wish list.

Grade

D- Can not fault their efforts but is a results business and they just have not been getting the job done so far.

Predicted finish: 24th

Birmingham City

Season so far

A poor start to the season from the Blues found them in early trouble with just one win in their first seven games. They have improved of late with a current run of ten games unbeaten. Lee Clark is working on a very limited budget and has instilled a great spirit in the squad meaning on their day they are a match for anyone. Expect them to build on the first hleicester-v-birmingham-city-3-5784121alf of the season and possibly improve on their current position. It is enjoyable to see some young English talent getting the opportunity to learn at this level and Birmingham should be given respect for this.

What do they need to improve

They have several good attacking options in the side and with the limited budget fans are not likely to see them break the bank on a goal scorer. Securing Jesse Lingard for the rest of the season on loan could be crucial to cementing their place in the Championship with aims to build on this steady season next time round.

Grade

C+ With the shoestring budget they were never likely to be promotion contenders but have done well with what they have got.

Predicted finish: 17th

Blackburn Rovers

Season so far

After the madness at Blackburn in recent times the first half of this season drifted by quietly with them going about their business in chase of a play off spot. Rovers have lacked the consistency to be considered out an out promotion candidates with their longest unbeaten run only stretching to four games. Jordan Rhodes has been the flagship of the side with 16 goals, over half of Blackburn’s goals in the league thus far. jordan-rhodes-640x360

What do they need to improve

It is written in black and white for Rovers. A clear over reliance on the goal scoring ability of Jordan Rhodes has left them just adrift from the play offs. More goals from midfield or a handy strike partner for Rhodes could help them sneak into the play off mix come the end of the season.

Grade

B Members of the side have been stand out performers for Rovers, but as a squad lacking that grit and determination to be amongst the top of the class.

Predicted finish: 11th

Blackpool

Season so far

The Tangerines made an exceptional start to the season losing just two of their opening seven-teen leagues games scoring 22 goals in the process. Their form in their last seven, on the other hand, has been nothing short of disastrous with just one point out of a possible twenty-one. tom-ince-run-4x3204-1043401_478x359Boss Paul Ince suggested that his side had overachieved early on in the season, but a shocking disciplinary record has shot them down. Seven red cards in a season is not a great record, Blackpool have managed that in the first half of this term forcing Ince to call on the services of youth team players to make up his match day squad. Blackpool are on the slide and need to find a solution fast.

What do they need to improve

Blackpool have plenty of goals in their side and have spread them around well, only failing to score in 6 games so far this season. They need to show improvements at the back and the addition of a experienced head at the back could help this side greatly.

Grade

C Started with some inspiring play but have lost their cool of late and performances have suffered.

Predicted finish: 14th

Bolton Wanderers

Season so far

The first half of Bolton’s season could be divided into three clear sections. The first a horrendous start not picking up a victory in their opening ten games of the season. They then pulled together putting a great unbeaten run together stretching for eight 6DrqQzR-games, featuring four wins and four draws. Before finishing the year with a combination of some good and ghastly failing to avoid defeat in consecutive fixtures throughout December.

What do they need to improve

Bolton are another side stabilising themselves after the Premier League money has run out. Therefore they do not have the money to spend big in January, however the addition of some experience at the back could help them build on an indifferent start to the season.

Grade

C+ Inconsistency leaves Bolton down the wrong end of the table, although they are more than good enough to comfortably avoid relegation.

Predicted finish: 18th

AFC Bournemouth

Season so far

The Championship newcomers came into the league looking to establish a foothold in the Championship for the foreseeable future. From the evidence in the pompey-okane34-975505_478x359first half of the season they have managed that in abundance. Early on the Cherries gung-ho style was getting plaudits despite some implosions on the road. Defeats at Watford and Huddersfield being the worst of those. They have learnt quickly however and put in some great performances at the league’s big sides earning draws at Burnley, Forest and Brighton, whilst taking all three points at Reading.

What do they need to improve

Bournemouth have plenty of pace through the middle and their expansive style of play with the wingers and full backs playing a vital role a target man would thrive in the side. Eddie Howe has remained tight lipped on incoming signings, but expect the odd addition before the window shuts.

Grade

B As a new side coming into the league it is always difficult and Bournemouth have adapted best of the new teams sitting securely in mid-table.

Predicted finish: 15th

Brighton & Hove Albion

Season so far

With the departure of Gus Poyet and arrival of Oscar Garcia this season was going to be one of patience for Brighton fans as the new boss instilled his methods onto the talented squad. After back to back defeats at the start of the season the Seagulls have 42213managed to bring consistency to their game, whilst maintaining their entertaining brand of football. Just six defeats from the opening twenty-four games is a successful campaign. The defensive unit has been strong with ten clean sheets already, but the sale of front man Ashley Barnes to Burnley is a massive blow for Brighton.

What do they need to improve

Even with Barnes the Seagulls top scorer Brighton have only netted twenty-nine goals so far this season and will be chasing a goalscorer in January to lead the line and get them in the play offs for the second consecutive season.

Grade

A- With a new man at the helm Brighton have done very well to continue where the left off last season and can be real contenders for the play offs once again.

Predicted finish: 7th

Burnley

Season so far

No-one in football could have predicted that Burnley would be in the top two come the New Year, especially when they sold the lethal Charlie Austin weeks before the start of the season. The Clarets have been a joy to watch this season with the southern Danny-Ings-Burnley_3059987strike force of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes firing goals in for fun. Between them they have netted twenty-seven times in the league already. Just three defeats so far and an unbeaten record at Turf Moor justifies their place in the top two. The signing of Ashley Barnes adds attacking numbers to the squad which was much needed with Austin’s departure and expect Burnley to continue to surprise the pundits.

What do they need to improve

The obvious void was numbers up front, however Sean Dyche has acted swiftly in securing the services of in form Ashley Barnes. With money still to spend from the Austin transfer Burnley could still add to their squad in midfield if they want to support a serious push for the Premier League.

Grade

A+  The stand out members of the class of 2014. The sky seems the limit for this side, even after their start a play off finish would still be a great achievement for the club and anything can happen in the play offs.

Predicted finish: 5th

Charlton Atheltic

Season so far

Charlton have maintained their reputation of a solid Championship side without grabbing any headlines. Surviving within their Charlton-Athletic-s-Simon-Church-celebrates_3021260means is the philosophy and Chris Powell is a young manager who is becoming better and better as time goes by. His squad has remained fairly similar from last season and that could be a reason for there far from flattering league position, with them lacking the real quality to mix it with the big boys of the league. Despite their league position there seems no real fear of relegation just a wanting to see something extra out on the pitch week in week out.

What do they need to improve

The Addicks have an organised defensive unit, but like the majority at the bottom end of the table goals are the missing ingredient and if they could bring in some attacking options in January they could easily mount up the table.

Grade

C+ Nothing spectacular from the south London side. They get the results against the teams that are around them, although they have failed to string a major run of performances together. Need to be wary of the drop if they do not improve.

Predicted finish: 20th

Derby County

Season so far By Derby fan Matt Jones (@MattDJones92)

Derby entered the season with promise. Days of austerity apparently over giving Nigel Clough license to spend, bringing in Johnny Russell and Craig Forsyth. They started in staggered fashion, but a defeat to rivals Nottingham Forest saw Clough axed X5IC5DpWand Steve McClaren brought in. This appointment has led the rams from strength to strength. An eleven game unbeaten run featuring seven wins in a row, making Derby the most in form team in Europe at the time. They even matched Barcelona for possession and passing statistics! They have stuttered of late and need to ensure they do not fade away. Yet to beat a top six side highlights an area for improvement. If they can address this, it could be a very prosperous season indeed. Midfielder Craig Bryson is enjoying the best season of his career adding goals to his game, eleven goals and eight assists already. He is an early contender for Championship player of the season.

What do they need to improve

It is no doubt that Derby have a very strong creative best XI, however comparing their squad to the other leagues best they lack the depth in numbers. Quality additions could be vital and they have done early business with loan signing of striker Patrick Bamford from Chelsea and the permanent signing of Simon Dawkins from Tottenham.

Grade

A Slow start for the Rams soon picked up pace through the winter. Need to ensure their squad has the quality to put up a fight for automatic promotion.

Predicted finish: 3rd

Doncaster Rovers

Season so far

The League 1 champions have had a difficult return to the second tier with a relatively inexperienced squad adapting the rigours Doncaster-Rovers-have-completed-the-signing-of-highly-rated-Manchester-United-striker-Federico-Kiko-Macheda-on-a-short-term-loan-deal.of this tough division. In the opening few months Rovers showed heart with some good results beating both QPR and Leicester at the Keepmoat. Their recent form has been a worry though, picking up just two points from six games in December, conceding thirteen goals and scoring just three. They have been hovering around the relegation zone all season and their torrid form has seen them replace Sheffield Wednesday in the bottom three.

What do they need to improve

Doncaster have the second worst defensive record in the league, letting in forty-two goals already. Paul Dickov has said that he is working flat out to bring new additions to the squad and some defensive options would be the top of his list.

Grade

D+ As newcomers this season Rovers were bound to struggle, but should take confidence from their performances against the big teams in the league, especially at home.

Predicted finish: 21st

Huddersfield Town

Season so far By Huddersfield fan Andy (@andyhtfc)

After avoiding relegation last season Mark Robins has transformed the team into a solid unit . Playing 3-5-2 or 4-3-2-1 system, the Town faithful are enjoying some of the best football they have seen in recent years. From the results in the first half of the season there is promise of a mid table finish at a minimum. Signing of Nahki Wells bodes well the intent of the clubs ambitions AC170913Atown-09-6056298Huddersfield fans are excited by the Vaughan and Wells strike force with an outside shot at a play off spot. Exciting times ahead at Huddersfield and within the next two seasons there is an expectation with the young talent we have of pushing for promotion. The home form has been the early sign of strength with just three home defeats thus far and a side that is improving as time goes on.

What do they need to improve

The brief would have been a partner for James Vaughan to help with a push for the play offs and Huddersfield won the race for Nahki Wells. The talented striker will be a huge boost for Town and their new strike partnership is arguably one of the league’s best.

Grade

B+ Good improvement shown from surviving last season and have shown intent with the acquisition of Wells.

Predicted finish: 8th

Ipswich Town

Season so far

With Mick McCarthy at the helm you could guarantee that Ipswich were going to be an organised side who are difficult to beat. A mixed start to the season picked up pace through November and December as they had just one defeat in twelve games after ipswich-432993the festive period. The strike partnership of David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy has netted eighteen league goals so far, the pair have created a good partnership working well both home and away. McCarthy has said publicly that promotion is the aim and the Tractor Boys are going to have to battle hard to get a play off spot.

What do they need to improve

They have plenty of goals up front, but could improve with the addition of a bit more creativity in the midfield to give them that extra edge in the tight games.

Grade

B+ A mediocre start to the campaign, coming to the boil at the right time putting them right in the play off mix.

Predicted finish: 9th

Leeds United

Season so far

In my relatively short time in following football I am yet to witness a season where Leeds have a quiet uneventful campaign and this season still is not it. A solid opening few months to the season put Leeds in a great position to challenge with some additions Ross-McCormack-right-goal-celebration-with-Do_2989520in the January window. However, without a win since the 14th December, away at Doncaster, has seen them slide away from the play off spaces. Ross McCormack has stood head and shoulder above the rest at United this season scoring seventeen times in the league.

What do they need to improve

They have already done some good business in the window with the acquisition of wingers Jimmy Kebe from Crystal Palace and Cameron Stuart from Hull, both on loan deals. This adds some much needed pace to the side leaving the only major void being an effective partner for McCormack who has failed to establish a partnership with Matt Smith.

Grade

B- Some good results and mini runs. Recent form has not been to their best and know they can do much better.

Predicted finish: 10th

Leicester City

Season so far

After losing out dramatically in the play off semi-finals last year, Leicester started the season with a determination to get promotion via the automatic route and they made an emphatic start to the 5629048-largeseason losing just once throughout August and September. They were one of the pre-season favourites for promotion and have lived up to that billing sweeping the majority in front of them a side emphatically. A miniblip in December of three games without a win has been responded to well winning every game since. The Foxes laid down a marker before Christmas when they beat QPR at Loftus Road sending out a message of intent going into the new year. David Nugent and Jamie Vardy have matched the work of Ings and Vokes at Burnley, in the process keeping Chris Wood on the bench, a man who scored twenty goal in the Championship last season.

What do they need to improve

With a four point gap from second place Leicester just have to carry on with their great brand of football and everyone in the game seems to think they are certainties for promotion. Only one of the twelve teams top at the turn of the year have failed to gain promotion from the Championship and Leicester will not become the second in my opinion.

Grade

A+ They have been a different class in this division with an outstanding home record dropping just six points from thirteen game at the King Power.

Predicted finish: 1st

Middlesbrough

Season so far

Boro had a torrid start to the season winning only once in their opening ten games. Pressure was building on boss Tony Mowbray and the final nail in the coffin was a 3-2 defeat at Barnsley, a game which would have seen either manager sacked had their team lost. The appointment on Aitor Karanka can be seen as a calculated risk from Middlesbrough and with their upsurge in results of late it has article-2527522-1A3E5A7100000578-297_634x422definitely been a successful one. Unbeaten since mid-December has seen them pull away from the lure of the relegation zone. Emmanual Ledesma can be thanked for a large chunk of this improvement. Since returning from injury the Argentine has put in several match winning performances for Boro.

What do they need to improve

Early on in the season goals were being let in left, right and centre on Teesside, however the addition of Shay Given has added experience and a calm head between the sticks. More experience would not go amiss for Boro though and a combative midfielder could be top of Karanka’s list, some rumours even suggesting Mikel Essien could be on his way up north. I will wait and see on that one.

Grade

Still a young side on the whole and Karanka has had a great impact on the squad getting the most out of their potential. A solid mid-table finish will be a good achievement.

Predicted finish: 16th

Millwall

Season so far

Millwall have had a season to forget thus far. The Lions have managed just four wins so far with the worst defensive record in the league. They have conceded fifty goals so far this campaign which is just less than double the number that they have scored. The Millwall v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championshipsacking of Steve Lomas after a Boxing day hammering at Watford has left Millwall in a very difficult situation. Just a single point above the drop zone and not showing any signs of improving any time soon. Ian Holloway has taken over at the helm, but even his magic may not be enough to save Millwall in his second spell in the manager’s hot seat at the New Den.

What do they need to improve

Keeper David Forde has performed out of his skin at times to keep scores respectable and he needs some strong troops in front of him if Millwall do not want to drop back down to the third tier of English football.

Grade

D- A shocking defensive record from a side that seems to lack togetherness and spirit to get out of the deep hole they are stuck in. Must do better or the drop is a certainty.

Predicted finish: 22nd

Nottingham Forest

Season so far

There is a great deal of expectation among the City Ground faithful and the pressure continues to build as Forest get closer and closer to a top two berth. Their season began with impetus scoring in all of their opening thirteen games losing just twice. As the Reading-v-Nottingham-Forest-Greg-Halford-cele_3059975season has progressed Forest have showed that distinct ability of grinding out the results when not at their best and in Billy Davies they have a man who’s thorough approach has a record to give them hope. Henri Lansbury has been the stand out player for Forest throughout and moving Greg Halford upfront over Christmas has been a master stroke from Davies. Utility man Halford scored in the wins against QPR and Leeds helping his side to cement a place in the top six.

What do they need to improve

Using Halford as a striker has proved effective but must only be seen as a short term fix for the attacking problems at the City Ground. Billy Davies has said it essential to strengthen in January and they will be on the hunt for a goal scorer to help them in the latter half of the season.

Grade

A- Their results rival those of the top two, the difference being the strike partnerships of the top two. A few too many draws from winning positions a minor blemish to the season so far.

Predicted finish: 4th

Queens Park Rangers

Season so far

The predictions before a ball was kicked were that QPR would sweep the league with there obvious quality from back to front. That has not quite been the case. They did start as predicted, a long unbeaten run lasting eleven games till late October before losing QPR-v-Charlton-Charlie-Austin-of-QPR-celebrat_3040353in a top two clash against Burnley. A strong response from Rangers losing just once in their next eight, however over Christmas they went through a small meltdown. Defeats back to back, first to leaders Leicester at home followed by a mauling away at Forest proved QPR were going to have to fight if they wanted to return to the Premier League at the first attempt. Charlie Austin has lead the line exceptionally and has been helped by a strong guard at the back who have notched up fourteen clean sheets so far this term.

What do they need to improve

They have been struck by lots of injuries to their strikers and their failed pursuit of Nahki Wells shows that they are in the market for another striking option and will be Harry’s main priority.

Grade

A- With the talent in their squad Rangers should be amongst the top two, injuries and some individual errors have led to them falling slightly adrift. They know they could do a bit better.

Predicted finish: 2nd

Reading

Season so far

Nigel Adkins was appointed when Reading were all but relegated from the Premier League last term and he was clearly brought in to take the Royals straight back to the top tier. For the opening few months of the season Reading were keeping pace with jem154-1280090the main pack of promotion hopefuls amongst the top six, losing just three games as they entered December. Since then they have had a torrid time losing at home to Bournemouth which was their first home defeat, the longest unbeaten home record in the league. This preceded a forgetful Christmas period in which the Royals lost three games in succession. Since the New Year they have regained some confidence and are on the cusp of the top six.

What do they need to improve

Billy Sharp has struggled to get back up to speed since joining on loan from Southampton and immediately picking up an injury, whilst Adam Le Fondre is looking for a move away as he looks for regular minutes. With these two factors considered Nigel Adkins is on the look out for some more attacking options to send his side firmly into the top six come May.

Grade

B+ A mini blip over Christmas, but with Adkins proven record the Royals have confidence and on their day can mix it with the best. A real contender for the top six.

Predicted finish: 6th

Sheffield Wednesday

Season so far By The72’s Connor Thorpe (@ConnorTSWFC)

After sacking Dave Jones, Wednesday appear to be moving in the right direction under caretaker manager, Stuart Gray. The Owls were victorious in just one of their seventeen matches under Jones, suffering their worst start to a season in living club-football-connor-wickham-sheffield-wednesday_3051874memory. Ultimately forcing chairman Milan Mandaric to place Gray in temporary charge, a move that has seen Wednesday climb from six points adrift of safety to 19th in the Championship. The ex-Northampton gaffer has won four, drawn three and lost just two of his games; a sensational 6-0 victory over Leeds in front of the television cameras being the highlight. The saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is certainly being stuck to by Mandaric, who is willing to progress with Gray as a caretaker manager, keeping proceedings as they are. Gray has been assisted by the exceptional form of Sunderland loanee Connor Wickham, who has notched eight goals in ten appearances. Wednesday are by no means a one man team though, Jacques Maghoma and Chris Maguire have been revitalised, as they have been installed as regulars after previously falling out of favour. Kieran Lee has been a revelation in his new position central midfield.

What do they need to improve

For Wednesday it seems they have enough ability in the squad to avoid the drop. The big signing wanted from the fans over the January window is that of Stuart Gray and the role of manager on a permanent basis.

Grade

C A terrible start from the Owls, but a new set up has revitalised the squad and they could finish comfortably in mid-table.

Predicted finish: 19th

Watford

Season so far

After the dramatic end to the season last year it was always going to be difficult for Watford to continue where they left off. Very rarely do the losers of the play off final match that standard in the following season. Although this did not seem the case at first. 140104-murray-celebrates-16x9286-1278294_396x223One defeat in their first nine had the Hornet’s fans dreaming of promotion once more. With football the fairytale it is that just was not what played out over the late autumn and early winter. Watford went ten games without a win and the noble man that Gianfranco Zola is knew he could not turn it around and stood down from his post. Watford acted quickly appointing the veteran Giuseppe Sannino. Since his appointment performances have improved and Watford remain not that far away from the play off mix.

What do they need to improve

Watford have a wealth of attacking options, however could clearly do with strengthening at the back. Some astute additions could see Watford sneaking into play off contention. They have already strengthened through the continued links with Udinese bringing in forward Mathias Ranegie on a permanent deal and midfielder Alexander Merkel on loan.

Grade

B- A clear opening to the season of two halves from Watford. Have handed out some destructions but self-destructed in equal measure.

Predicted finish: 13th

Wigan Athletic

Season so far

The FA Cup holders were not given a quarter from the off in their first season at Championship level since 2006. A 4-0 romp at Barnsley gave premature promise, before they lost out to promoted side Bournemouth the following week. Throughout the opening grant_holt_wigan_debutmonths of the season Wigan have found it difficult to balance their domestic fixtures with long trips on their European conquest in the Europa League. The poor form all became too much for Dave Whelan when he parted company with Owen Coyle just four months into the role. The appointment of Uwe Rosler seems astute thus far. He has brought the squad together similar to the spirit created by ex-boss Roberto Martinez. Currently unbeaten since their loss on the 7th December, Wigan can focus on the league after failing to get past the group stage of the Europa League. Young forward Nick Powell has thrived at the Lactics netting five goal so far and will look to continue his education on loan from Manchester United.

What do they need to improve

Powell has been adapting well to the league, but is the sides top league scorer with just five goals and Grant Holt has been largely ineffective. Another option up top could give Wigan a late challenge for the play offs.

Grade

B- It is never easy balancing the long trips of Europe let alone with the hectic schedule of the Championship. Overall, Wigan have been mediocre, although of late look like one of the leagues best teams.

Predicted finish: 12th

Yeovil Town

Season so far

The fairytale story of last season for Yeovil, with Gary Johnson returning to the club and leading them to play off glory, was enough to wet the eye of even the harshest critic. Unfortunately this is where the tale has ended unless it has taken a sustained Yeovil v Charlton 071213interval. With a nano-budget compared to the top spenders in the league and a following considered small at League 1 level no-one is surprised to see Yeovil amongst the bottom three, but they have by no means been disgraced. Three wins in the opening half of the season sets the trend for Yeovil. They did, however, build a rightful respect from their fellow teams in part due to their victory over Nottingham Forest and an unbeaten four game run at the start for December.

What do they need to improve

The obvious limitations on the Somerset club are there for all to see. Gary Johnson has used the loan market well though, Ishmael Miller has made a good impact. Johnson will be working day and night to add some members to the squad to attempt to add one more chapter to the fairytale script at Huish Park.

Grade

C+ People feared the worst for Yeovil, but they have stuck to their guns earning them respect and plaudits in the process.

Predicted finish: 23rd

Full predicted table

Position Team
1 Leicester City
2 Queens Park Rangers
3 Derby County
4 Nottingham Forest
5 Burnley
6 Reading
7 Brighton & Hove Albion
8 Huddersfield Town
9 Ipswich Town
10 Leeds United
11 Blackburn Rovers
12 Wigan Athletic
13 Watford
14 Blackpool
15 AFC Bournemouth
16 Middlesbrough
17 Birmingham City
18 Bolton Wanderers
19 Sheffield Wednesday
20 Charlton
21 Doncaster
22 Millwall
23 Yeovil
24 Barnsley

Team of the season so far

Screen shot 2014-01-11 at 19.07.24


About Author

Jason is currently studying Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University and is an editor for the72. He hopes to graduate from University with an increased knowledge of journalism, eventually leading to a career in sports journalism. He is an AFC Bournemouth season ticket holder, with interest in football up and down the English leagues and abroad. Twitter @_JasonLewis