The Championship kick-off: Can Harry Redknapp stop QPR going way of Wolverhampton Wanderers?

Manager is old hand at this level but this is football's most unpredictable league

This time last year many were tipping Wolverhampton Wanderers for promotion back to the Premier League, which is why only the foolhardy should be lumping on 6-1 favourites Queen's Park Rangers as the Championship kicks off this weekend. QPR, like Wolves a year ago, have arguably the strongest squad on paper, but the dressing room is ridden with cliques and populated by players who are overpaid and underperforming.

Some of these earn more than the entire squad at Yeovil, the division's newest club, but the likes of Joey Barton, Loïc Rémy and Julio Cesar are proving hard to shift. As a relegated club QPR do receive a very generous parachute payment but their balance sheet must still give owner Tony Fernandes the shivers, for all his outward ebullience. This is a club which could be the next Portsmouth, or which may bounce back and progress as West Ham have done.

The one advantage QPR have over Wolves a year ago is their manager is an old hand at this level, having won promotion from it with a then upwardly mobile Pompey a decade ago. That Harry Redknapp is still at Loftus Road is slightly surprising and if they start poorly he may seek a new challenge by Christmas. Steve McClaren is already in situ to take over.

This is football's most unpredictable league and QPR are not the only team who could finish anywhere from first to 24th. Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest, for example, are clubs whose squads have the talent to win promotion, but could be undone by combustible owners. In Forest's case the manager, Billy Davies, is also a conflagration waiting to happen and it is hard to imagine the City Ground will be a calm environment even if it proves a successful one.

The division has more plots than an episode of Homeland. As well as the above, how will Brighton, fourth last year, fare after the ugly divorce with Gus Poyet and appointment of a largely untested Spanish coach in Oscar Garcia? Another new manager, Steve Lomas, must win over those Millwall fans who loathe his West Ham background. Lomas is understood to have interviewed superbly, and St Johnstone's impressive start to their Europa League campaign suggests he builds strong foundations, but budgets are tight at the New Den.

The new man at Wigan, Owen Coyle, is rebuilding his own reputation after it took a dent at Bolton and must juggle the demands of the club's debut Europa League campaign with the 46-match Championship marathon.

Over the Pennines Brian McDermott has, like Coyle and Redknapp, won promotion to the Premier League before but it is still unclear whether he will find Leeds United as supportive an environment as Reading was under John Madejski. GFH Capital has made a series of populist moves – cutting ticket prices, forcing out Ken Bates, talking of buying Elland Road back – but it has yet to invest significantly in the team notwithstanding the £1m arrival of the promising Luke Murphy from Crewe.

The last of the five new managers, Paul Dickov, was a surprising choice to take over at Doncaster Rovers, given his exit from Oldham. He will not lack for effort, but it could be a tough season for the newly-promoted club.

That inevitably also applies to Yeovil, who bring football of this grade to Somerset for the first time. Gary Johnson has done remarkably well on a shoestring and must hope Kieffer Moore from Dorchester Town proves as inspirational a purchase as Paddy Madden was last season.

The third promoted club, Bournemouth, are more overtly ambitious. With Russian money behind him, Eddie Howe has been able to bring in a mix of experience and potential with Ian Harte, Andrew Surman and the exciting Mohamed Coulibaly joining an already strong squad.

This is the first year in which the league will be operating Financial Fair Play (using a similar version to Uefa) and punishing clubs who break it. Leicester and Bolton already claim it has restricted them but whether the sanctions, which will only be financial for clubs that have escaped to the top flight – it will be restricted to a transfer embargo for those who stay put – are enough to ensure compliance remains to be seen.

The Championship: Your complete guide to the new season...

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
newsJohn Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit