Championship League 2018/19
The Championship is as an exciting and mostly unpredictable division and this season the outcome seems even more uncertain. In our view there are no clear favourites for automatic promotion, and a long list of play-off contenders.
Middlesbrough, under Tony Pulis, could be one to challenge for the title this season. They made the playoffs last season, and with Pulis they have a man with experience at the helm, although perhaps his style of play does not favour winning the very top position.
Last year Wolverhampton were the runaway winners of the league and the team most likely of “doing a Wolves” this summer has been Nottingham Forest. Bankrolled a the Greek shipping magnate they have spent more than £25m on players.
Relegated Stoke are another club who have spent like they mean it. Owner Peter Coates, perhaps not coincidentally also owner of club sponsor Bet365, has recruited Gary Rowett, who jumped ship from Derby. It feels like a a Stoke squad that could make it, except they will be playing one tier lower.
One of the other relegated teams, West Bromwich Albion have been going about their business more quietly over the summer. After almost pulling off an escape from relegation last season local legend Darren Moore was given the job full-time only to promptly lose the goalkeeper Ben Foster and the key centre-half Jonny Evans Will they push for it all the way?
Finally, we would mention Leeds United who will challenge under Marco Bielsa. The Argentinian has started cautiously at Leeds, introducing a back three during preseason but persisting with much of last year’s squad and completing only the Championship-tested permanent signings of Barry Douglas and Patrick Bamford to date.
Other teams to watch are Derby, under Frank Lampard in his first managerial job, and Aston Villa, who count future monarch Prince William under their fans, after being bought out, and seemingly operating on a better financial footing. Steve Bruce will be under pressure to perform here.
Check out the league winner odds here.
Ipswich Town have completed the signing of Bristol Rovers striker Ellis Harrison for a reported £750,000. The 24-year-old Welshman joins on a two-year deal and becomes manager Paul Hurst's fourth summer signing since taking charge at Portman Road. Rovers and Ipswich agreed a fee on Monday as Harrison did not travel on the club's pre-season tour of the Netherlands. "He gives us something different at the top end of the pitch," Hurst said. "He's athletic, leads the line well. He has a good work ethic, good mobility and has a good leap on him." Harrison made 206 appearances, scoring 49 goals in all competitions during his time at the Memorial Stadium.
Midfielder Marlon Pack has signed a new three-year Bristol City deal, while striker Mohammed Eisa has joined from Cheltenham Town for an undisclosed fee. Pack, 27, has played 233 games for the Robins since his move, also from Cheltenham, in August 2013. The Portsmouth-born player has also deputised as captain during his time at Ashton Gate. Eisa, 24, has agreed a three-year contract after scoring 25 goals in 50 games last season. "It's a place I adore, a place I now call home and I'm really excited for the future," Pack told the club website. "The club's going in the right direction, as it has been since I came here. My family's happy here and I'm happy." Eisa's arrival from the League Two club caps a remarkable rise through the leagues, as he was playing for Greenwich Borough in the eighth tier as recently as 2016. "We hope he can make another step up the football ladder," said the Championship club's chief executive Mark Ashton. "He is tall, athletic, a proven finisher and we believe he can become even better."
Defender James Meredith has signed a new "long-term" contract with Championship side Millwall. The Australia international joined the Lions from Bradford City and was an ever-present in the league last term. Meredith, 30, was part of Bert van Marwijk's 23-man Australia squad at the World Cup in Russia this summer but did not make an appearance. "We've got a really exciting future here," Meredith said. "I'm looking forward to the start of the season."
Former Leeds United and England defender Paul Madeley has died, aged 73. Madeley made 727 appearances during an 18-year Leeds career, playing in every position bar goalkeeper. He won league championship, FA Cup, League Cup and Inter-City Fairs Cup honours, and was a losing European Cup and Cup-Winners' Cup finalist. "Paul was a much-loved husband, father and brother," the Madeley family statement read. "The family are extremely proud of his achievements in life and on the field for Leeds United and England. "He was born in Beeston, a stones-throw from Elland Road, and only ever played for and supported Leeds United. "The late Don Revie christened him his 'Rolls Royce' and to us he was just that - a class act as a husband and a father who always had time for everyone he met.
Stoke City have signed Republic of Ireland winger James McClean from fellow Championship club West Bromwich Albion for an initial £5m. The fee for the 29-year-old could rise to £6m with add-ons. McClean, who becomes Stoke's fourth signing of the summer, has agreed a four-year contract with the Potters. "James is a player I've admired for a long time. He has real quality with his left foot and is an old-fashioned winger," said boss Gary Rowett.
Swansea City have lost both their Interwetten Cup matches, against Genoa and FC Magdeburg, on penalty shootouts. Following a 1-1 draw against Serie A side Genoa, Kyle Naughton and Jordi Amat both missed penalties as Swansea lost the shootout 4-3. It was a similar story against hosts Magdeburg later in the day as Graham Potter's side lost a shootout 4-2 after a goalless 60 minutes of play. Both games were made up of 30-minute halves instead of a full 90 minutes. Potter fielded entirely different sides for the two matches.
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