The brand new Championship season kicks off on August 4 with plenty of teams sure to be battling out to reach the promised land that is the Premier League.
The 2022/23 season saw Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton relegated into the Championship from the top-flight, while Plymouth Argyle, Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday are the newcomers from League One.
The Championship has a reputation as one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world, and is essentially one of the hardest leagues to escape from. So, who do I think will manage to fulfil their Premier League dream?
Leicester City to be promoted @ 5/4
They lived the dream, but now comes the nightmare.
Seven years after completing the most improbable sporting fairytale of winning the Premier League, Leicester City were relegated on the final day of the 2022/23 season, despite a 2-1 victory over West Ham United.
After their relegation from the top flight, the Foxes begin a new journey under Enzo Maresca and the Italian has inherited an excellent squad despite the departures of Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Caglar Soyuncu and Harvey Barnes to name a few.
Jamie Vardy still remains a potent threat at 36 years of age, despite not having the pace of yesteryear, and is decent shout to finish top goalscorer at 8/1. The England international returns to the second tier with 136 top flight goals under his belt and his experience could prove vital in leading the Foxes back to the big time.
There remains plenty of Premier League quality within the ranks at the King Power Stadium including the likes of Ricardo Pereira, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho, and I’m expecting the Foxes to emerge victorious in a battle royale with fellow heavyweights Leeds United, Southampton and Sunderland to go straight back up to top tier at the first time of asking.
Of the last nine sides to drop down from the top flight, four bounced back at the first time of asking and all bar one of them were promoted after a second bite of the cherry.
Middlesbrough to finish in the top six @ 11/10
I’m not entirely sure if Middlesbrough will win promotion to the Premier League for the first time since 2017 in the upcoming season, but they appear to be on a upward trajectory under former Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick.
Carrick replaced Chris Wilder in the Riverside dugout at the end of October last season with Boro languishing in 21st place, and the rookie boss seemingly turned Boro’s fortunes around, winning 16 of his opening 24 matches culminating in a 4-0 thumping of Preston North End.
Boro went onto lose half of their last eight games, however they finished fourth, sealing a playoff spot in the process and for the majority of Carrick’s tenure, they were one of the best sides in the division taking the third most points and topping the charts for goals scored.
If they can maintain that standard for a 46-game season, then I believe they will finish in the top six.
That will be easier said than done, as Boro will have to deal with the loss of several loan stars from last season such as Zach Steffen, Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer.
Chuba Akpom enjoyed a record-breaking campaign last season, scoring 29 goals in 42 games across competitions – as well finding the net in nine consecutive Championship home games – and Carrick will need the former Arsenal man to be firing all cylinders once again this term.