The English football season is about to begin and many teams will be hopeful of having a very good season. The English Championship is a very tough league to be promoted from, but the prize for promotion is a spot in the very lucrative English Premier League. With many top clubs in the Championship, and many ex-Premier League teams, the race is on to grab a promotion spot.
The three clubs that were relegated from the Premier League, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Hull will all be looking to bounce back at the first time of asking this year.
Middlesbrough look to be in the best position out of those three, they have managed to keep hold of the majority of their squad and they have a lot of Championship experience. They are current favourites to win the league and to be promoted and they look worthy of that.
I expect things will be much tougher for Sunderland and Hull, who have lost a lot of players and look to be rebuilding this summer. Both will have hopes of a Premier League return, although I believe they have a longer plan than Middlesbrough and their aim is to be back within two or three years. If I am a fan of Sunderland or Hull, this year is about rebuilding, seeing some promise on the pitch and pushing for the Premier League in two years.
Elsewhere, after a season rebuilding, and after making some very good moves in 2017, Aston Villa will be hoping they can return to the Premier League at the second time of asking. They were relegated from the Premier League in 2016, and spent their first season in the Championship with a plan that is similar to what Sunderland and Hull are trying to do. They lost a lot of players, rebuilt their squad last season and this summer they look in much better shape. They have added a lot of quality this summer, including the marquee signing of John Terry and it would be a huge disappointment if they did not feature in at least the top six this season.
Elsewhere, two clubs that are always close to promotion are Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds. Both have spent money over the past couple of seasons to try and return to their glory days, and this summer looks no different. Again they have added new players in an attempt to make the Premier League and hopes will be high at the Yorkshire clubs going into the 2017/18 season. Whether they quite have enough quality remains to be seen, as the Championship looks to have improved yet again this summer. Many teams are involved in the promotion race, and these two should be part of that pack of teams desperately searching for a spot in the Premier League.
Rounding off the challenge for the Premier League looks to be Derby, Wolves and Norwich. All three have experience of the Premier League, although Wolves and Norwich have experience in recent years, something Derby don’t have. All three are very good, established Championship clubs and they all know what it takes to be successful in the league. They have put together squads that look capable of challenging again and although the league is ultra-tough and competitive, they look to be in with a chance of promotion once again.
It is a sign of just how strong the Championship is when we are talking about nine clubs who all have realistic chances of gaining promotion to the Premier League. Many call the Championship the hardest league in the world to be promoted from, and looking at the line-up this year, it is easy to see why it has that reputation.
Many clubs will be hopeful of making the Premier League right now, but when we reach the end of the 2017/18 campaign, only three can make it. Two progress automatically by finishing first and second in the league, while one of the other clubs in the top six will progress through the play-offs, which are an exciting series, culminating in a Wembley final.
The start of the season is not too far away and clubs up and down the country are now putting the finishing touches to their promotion bids. With some huge clubs involved, the Championship looks as tough as it always does and the race for promotion this season will surely be very close. Keep an eye on what happens throughout the season, I am sure we are in for an exciting ride.