Aston Villa

Manager: Steve Bruce

Last season: 13th

Key man: John Terry

After being a Premier League ever-present, Aston Villa had a mediocre campaign last season but have rebuilt in the summer and done some very good business in the window.

New Manager Steve Bruce has brought together his own squad ahead of his first full season in charge at Villa Park.

Chris Samba, Glenn Whelan and Ahmed Elmohamady have all been cleverly acquired by Bruce but the stand-out is obviously the signing of John Terry who is an unbelievable coup for the club.

Selection: Aston Villa to finish in the Top 6 at 11/10


Manager: Paul Heckingbottom

Last season: 14th

Key man: Adam Hammill

Paul Heckingbottom did a sterling job at 'little old' Barnsley last year driving them to 14th.

However, a couple of key departures may hit the Yorkshire club hard.

Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) and Sam Winnall (Sheffield Wednesday) were two integral members of the team and are certainly hard to replace but I'm confident that Heckingbottom will continue to work hard with his available resources.

However, if extra bodies aren't brought in, I do fear for them somewhat.

Selection: Barnsley to be Relegated at 2/1

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Manager: Harry Redknapp

Last season: 19th

Key man: David Stockdale

The arrival of legendary manager Harry Redknapp in the back end of the 16/17 season rescued the Blues from the drop and the club can begin to look up with the perfect man in charge.

The rumour mill is in full flow with the experienced Redknapp in charge. Peter Crouch, Ashley Cole, Robbie Keane have all as expected been linked with a move to St. Andrews and no doubt Niko Kranjcar too.

Joking aside, these are the kind of players that Redknapp can attract and Blues fans can look forward to the new campaign for the first time in a fair few years.

Selection: Birmingham to Finish in the Bottom Half at 5/6


Manager: Phil Parkinson

Last season: 2nd (Promoted) in League One

Key Man: David Wheater

It's always going to be tough for any teams entering the Championship from League One but it is good to have the Wanderers back in the division after a season out.

And they do have some exciting youngsters in their ranks like Sammy Ameobi, Josh Cullen and Josh Vela.

It promises to be a difficult season for The Trotters, who are one of the favourites for relegation, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them back down in League One next year.

Selection: Bolton to be Relegated at 2/1

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Manager: Dean Smith

Last season: 10th

Key man: Lasse Vibe

The departure of natural scorer Scott Hogan to Aston Villa will no doubt hinder the London based club but after 10th placed finish last year, the Bees always seem to go under the radar and impress quietly throughout the campaign.

Selection: Can Vibe provide the vibe and fill the void of Hulkomania Hogan? I'm not so sure. Brentford to Finish in the Bottom Half at 6/5 for me.

Bristol City

Manager: Lee Johnson

Last season: 17th

Key man: Aden Flint

Looking at Bristol City, there is only one place to start, no more Tammy Abraham.

The Chelsea loanee finished the campaign with 23 goals and cleaned up at the End of Season Awards scooping Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer - The first player to do so.

To summarise, Lee Johnson will struggle to replace the goals that Abraham brought, and even with his goals they ended the season in 17th, so that makes you think how they may fair this year.

Selection: Back Bristol City to Finish in the Bottom Half at a rather generous 4/6.

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Burton Albion

Manager: Nigel Clough

Last season: 20th

Key man: Jackson Irvine

Anything above 22nd place will be a fantastic success for the Brewers again this year. For the size of the club and the resources to hand, Nigel Clough has done a very good job and his continuing to do so bringing in players with vasts amount of experience.

Having said that however, I think they may just fall short this year and drop back down to the third tier.

Selection: Burton Albion to be Relegated at 7/4.


Manager: Neil Warnock

Last season: 12th

Key man: Sol Bamba

After Neil Warnock arrived in Wales, he turned Cardiff's fortunes around somewhat leading them to a respectable mid-table finish.

I still feel like investment is needed in a few positions if they are going to push for a top half finish in 2018 but with Warnock in charge, they are in experienced hands and will no doubt be working extremely hard week in week out.

Selection: Cardiff to Finish in the Top Half at 9/10.

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Manager: Gary Rowett

Last season: 9th

Key man: Tom Huddlestone

Derby look geared for a successful season this year. They have a good manager in Gary Rowett who has been harshly treated in the past has made some fantastic signings to join an already strong looking squad with plenty of depth.

I think this is the Rams' time to reach the play-offs and reach them comfortably.

After that, who knows.

Selection: Derby to finish in the Top Six at 7/4.


Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic

Last season: 6th - Play-off semi-final

Key man: Lucas Piazon

Slavisa Jokanovic did a superb job last time out to pull Fulham into the play-offs, that alone was a great achievement in itself but one that will only be extremely tough to beat this year.

The extended loan of Chelsea man Lucas Piazon is a bonus for the Cottage faithful and he could be the one to spark that bit of magic when required.

Selection: Fulham to finish in the Top Six at 11/10

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Manager: Leonid Slutsky

Last season: Relegated from Premier League

Key man: Michael Dawson

The appointment of Russian Leonid Slutsky is another left-field appointment you could say after Marco Silva's departure after the Tigers were relegated from the Premier League in May.

Following dropping down a level, Hull have also lost a couple of key men in Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone - two players that Derby will benefit greatly from in the Championship.

Apart from the two aforementioned, they have kept the main part of the squad and that alone should be enough to see a strong push for a play-off spot.

Selection: Hull to finish in the Top Six at 7/4.


Manager: Mick McCarthy

Last season: 16th

Key man: Joe Garner

Everything seems to be a little quiet down in Ipswich these days; they never seem to be really in danger but they rarely push into the top half.

And to sum up, I expect much of the same this season.

Tommy Smith was close to being my 'Key Man' but I've gone with striker Joe Garner, he seems to be the man that will get the goals for the Tractor boys this year.

Selection: Ipswich to Stay Up at 4/9.

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Manager: Thomas Christiansen

Last season: 8th

Key man: Chris Wood

Unproven foreign managers in English Football seems to be a recurring theme this year in the Championship and it's no different at Leeds United as a former APOEL boss Thomas Christiansen takes over from Garry Monk.

The defence was one of the main stand-outs for the Whites, that's something that hasn't been said in a long time.

The partnership between Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley was immense but one that has been split up this year with only Jansson returning.

One player that has been tied down is teenager Ronaldo Vieira.

The man with the best name in Football is one of the rising stars in the game and has progressed incredibly in two years and is now a main man in midfield for one of the biggest clubs in the country.

And finally, my choice for 'Key Man' is striker Chris Wood. The New Zealander netted 27 times in the league alone last year seeing him win the golden boot and that amount of goals is invaluable to any team so if he can replicate that kind of figure again then who knows what the future holds for Leeds United.

Selection: Leeds to finish in the Top Half at 8/13.


Manager: Garry Monk

Last season: Relegated from Premier League

Key man: Ben Gibson

After an excellent season in Yorkshire with Leeds United, Garry Monk is now the main man in Teeside at Middlesbrough.

Monk is building an impressive looking squad and one that should be challenging to bounce straight back up into the big time.

Centre-back Ben Gibson is one of a few key men for Boro but with speculation looming about the defender, I would be tempted to go for one of the many forward options; Patrick Bamford, Martin Braithwaite or Britt Assombalonga.

Jonny Howson is also a very good signing from Norwich. He will compliment and work well in midfield with Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton.

Selection: Middlesbrough to be finish in the Top 2 at 3/1.

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Manager: Neil Harris

Last season: (6th) Promoted from League One via the Play-Offs

Key man: Lee Gregory

As with all promoted teams, expectations can't be too high (saying that we know what football fans are like) and survival must be the number one target before anything else.

I think Neil Harris' side will struggle this year and have a real battle on to survive the dreaded drop back down to League One.


Manager: Daniel Farke

Last season: 8th

Key man: Nelson Oliveira

Norwich have taken a different approach ahead of the 17/18 season, whether or not it pays off or not time will tell.

Chairman Ed Balls has opted to go for German Daniel FFarke to take charge, an unknown after coming from Dortmund's second team.

We do see a lot of these foreign managers come and go in a short space of time but we also see them be successful like Carlos Carvajal and David Wagner.

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Nottingham Forest

Manager: Mark Warburton

Last season: 21st

Key man: Daryl Murphy

Forest surprisingly finished just one place above the drop zone last season but with a manager in Mark Warburton, I feel he will bring stability to the club, if given time that is - we know what Forest are like with their managers.

The former Rangers boss seems to be a perfect fit for the midlands club and if backed, could finally give the faithful something to really get behind for the first time in several years. Something they deserve.

Daryl Murphy is a very good signing for Forest. Someone who has proved he can score anything upwards of 20 goals a season in this division after being prolific at Ipswich not long ago.


Manager: Alex Neil

Last season: 11th

Key man: Jordan Hugill

New manager Alex Neil has huge boots to fill after Simon Grayson did a brilliant job with the Lancashire club getting them up to 11th last season.

Alex Neil still has a lot to prove as a manager after a rollercoaster spell with Norwich City ended on a down.

North End fans have every right to be somewhat sceptical about the appointment as Neil is still relatively unproven but having said that they have to get behind him and back him.

Selection: Preston to finish in the Bottom Half at 4/9.


Manager: Ian Holloway

Last season: 18th

Key man: Conor Washington

It didn't take long for Ian Holloway to be back in the hot seat after a spell doing punditry on Sky Sports.

QPR seem to be somewhat of an unknown quantity with a lot of youngsters in the squad but if Conor Washington and Matt Smith can form a little and large partnership up front, that will no doubt be effective in the Championship.


Manager: Jaap Stam

Last season: Play-off Final losers

Key man: Liam Moore

Reading exceeded everyone's expectations last season after reaching the Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium, but you always got the feeling that they were going to come up short on the day, the beautiful game seems to have scripts written and situations written in the stars.

Being one of the world's best defenders, manager Jaap Stam has turned Reading into a solid outfit and one tough to break down, hence why I think Liam Moore's physical presence at the back will be crucial as to how they fair this year.

Selection: Reading to finish in the Top Half at 4/5.

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Sheff United

Manager: Chris Wilder

Last season: 1st (Promoted) in League One

Key man: Billy Sharp

The Blades are finally back in the second tier after being crowned Champions of Sky Bet League One last season.

United fans can't be hoping for much more than simply surviving in the relentless division but a lot will depend on if experienced goal scorer Billy Sharp can replicate his 30 goals recorded last season.

Sheffield Wednesday

Manager: Carlos Carvahal

Last season: Playoff semi-final

Key man: Jordan Rhodes

After back-to-back play-off heartaches for The Owls, they will be looking to make it third time lucky in 2017/18, but the competition only seems to be getting stronger.

George Boyd from Burnley is a very good bit of business for the Yorkshire club and will improve an already strong looking squad in all areas.

Fernando Foristieri would have been the obvious pick for 'Key Man' but I just feel like Jordan Rhodes will push on and get back to his free-flowing best scoring at least 20 goals.

Selection: After reaching the final and then the semi-final of the play-offs, I think Wednesday will go one worse this year. Back Sheffield Wednesday NOT to finish in the Top 6 at 4/6.

Image result for Kieran Lee Sheffield Wednesday


Manager: Simon Grayson

Last season: Relegated from the Premier League

Key man: Lewis Grabban

It only seemed a matter of time before the Black Cats would be plying their trade in the second tier of English Football and now this has happened, it may actually be a good thing for the club to rebuild rather than cling on and scrap every year.

Obviously the financials in the top flight are astronomical in comparison but nevertheless this is a good opportunity for the North East side to reconnect with their passionate fan base and start to play some exciting footballer.

Just like a lot of teams, Sunderland will also kick-off the new campaign with a new man at the helm as Simon Grayson joined from Preston.

It's a good opportunity for the former Leeds boss on a personal basis and one he couldn't turn down, but whether it works out or not, that is still to be seen.

My Key Man would have undoubtedly been Lamine Kone but the defender's future seems to be away from the Stadium of Light.

The loss of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will also have a big impact on their fortunes this year and that's why I think they may find it difficult, just like Aston Villa did last year.

Selection: Sunderland to finish in the Bottom Half at 6/4.


Manager: Nuno Santo

Last season: 15th

Key man: Helder Costa

After an uninspiring league campaign, Wolves fans will be hoping for clear improvement this time around after securing the services of forward Helder Costa on a club record fee of £13m.

However, the appointment of new Head Coach Nuno Santo has certainly raised a few eyebrows and no doubt with the Wolves faithful after a recent flurry of managers have come and gone.

Selection: Wolves NOT to finish in the Top 6 at 8/15.

Words By: Jay Taylor

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