Championship 2013/14 preview: Can Harry Redknapp drag QPR back up or will FA Cup holders return to the big time?
A brief look at this season's SkyBet Championship which gets underway on Saturday
Can Harry Redknapp take title favourites Queens Park Rangers back to the Premier League at the first time of asking? Will Owen Coyle endure a debut season to remember at Wigan? Will fans from Yorkshire be able to keep their eyes open come the end of the season?
We take a look at whose aiming high with the Premier League waiting in reward, and whose just trying to stay afloat with relegation looming.
TIPS FOR THE TOP
It’s a question of can Harry Redknapp return Queens Park Rangers to the Premier League at the first time of asking? The west London outfit start as overwhelming favourites for what is widely considered as the tightest league in European football. Both Wigan and Reading are also well set to have a run at promotion, with Grant Holt joining the DW Stadium outfit, while last year’s play-off finalists Watford are considered by many to have an outside chance of finishing top, but promotion is definitely on the cards for the Vicarage Road outfit.
Bolton could be worth keeping an eye on although they no longer have the talismanic Kevin Davies up front, and Leicester and Nottingham Forest will be there-or-there-abouts, despite the Foxes unusually quiet transfer window having spent big in the past.
And how will Brighton far post-Gus Poyet? The rather unproven Oscar Garcia takes over the helm at the Amex, but how will he put his footprint on a side that reached the play-offs only to capitulate against their main rivals Crystal Palace.
Yeovil are favourites for the drop having earned promotion through the League One play-off victory over Brentford. Doncaster and Barnsley join them as the bookies favourites to go down, although the other side to be promoted – Bournemouth – are priced at 10/1 to go down, having seen Eddie Howe take them from the League One relegation zone to Championship in just six months.
Yorkshire could endure a torrid time this season, with Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield joining Barnsley in just surviving the trap door in May. Whether they can repeat the feat again this season remains to be seen, but the likely situation is that one of these teams will probably go down this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Grant Holt takes a step down from the Premier League to join recently relegated Wigan, and the Championship could be the perfect landscape to demonstrate what he can do. Holt will look to use his physicality and pace to terrorise defenders, something that he has done at this level before scoring 21 goals in Norwich’s 2010/11 successful promotion campaign.
Another name to keep an eye on will be new Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin, who has shown his pedigree at this level having scored 41 Championship goals over the last two seasons. Having seen his proposed move to Premier League side Hull called off due to a failed medical, he will want to show the Tigers what they have missed out on as he is given the task of firing QPR back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
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