The underachievers of the 2019/20 Championship season
The Championship season has finally reached its conclusion, and some sides are delighted, others less-so. We take a look at some of the biggest underachievers from this season’s Championship campaign.
The Championship roundup
With an action-packed final day, the season ended with plenty of shocks, thrills and emotion. Leeds were crowned champions, finishing 10 points clear of second place West Bromwich Albion.
Fulham broke Brentford hearts in the Play-off final. A 2-1 victory for Scott Parker’s side meant Fulham were the final team to gain promotion to the Premier League.
Hull City plummeted to rock bottom of the table, just eight days after an 8-0 slaughtering against Wigan Athletic. Managed by Paul Cook at the time, Wigan had just confirmed the club’s administration despite their positive results.
The news arose after new owners decided no-longer to fund the club. As a consequence, Wigan faced a 12-point deduction, sending them to the third tier of English football for the third time since the league was established in 2004.
The Search for Supremacy
In the eyes of many fans, the Championship is one of European footballs most competitive leagues. 24 teams, battling it out over 46 matches per season, regularly playing two games per week.
It is a league that lacks consistency, with even the champions Leeds losing nine games over the season. As a result, the championship is evidently an incredible competition to watch.
A big problem for teams relegated from the Premier League, is that it’s not a simple task to rocket straight back to to the top-flight.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the top underachievers in the Championship based on their 2019/20 season performances and final standings (in no particular order).
Middlesbrough- 17th (53 points)
Middlesbrough began the 2019/20 campaign under the control of Jonathan Woodgate, a manager with very little experience. Woodgate had a two-year spell as a Middlesbrough player, making 46 appearances in total. With a new inexperienced manager taking charge, there was a level of uncertainty at the Riverside Stadium.
Highlight of the Championship season has to be ex-Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate accusing the league table of lying. pic.twitter.com/BRUY7vNWff
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) July 25, 2020
The last time Middlesbrough were in the top flight, was the 16/17 season and then the newly promoted side descended instantly back to the Championship. Even the signing of Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo wasn’t enough to survive, despite his nine goals.
Since their relegation, Boro have come close but never quite succeeded in gaining promotion. The season after their relegation, Middlesbrough finished 5th. The promotion dream, however, was destroyed by Aston Villa in the play-off semi-finals.
One year later, Middlesbrough fans had to endure more agony, as a 7th place finish meant Boro missed out yet again.
A dismal start to the 2019/20 competition etched a whole new image into the history of Middlesbrough Football Club. With 15 matches played into the new season, Middlesbrough were already sat in 22nd place.
Boro picked up ever-so slightly but still returned from the break in 19th. Their first game back was horrific, losing 3-0 at home to Swansea City. Post-calamity, Woodgate was sacked and Middlesbrough immediately hired the experienced Neil Warnock.
Warnock, former Cardiff City and QPR manager, had eight games remaining to reignite some hope at the Riverside. Boro managed to win four and lose four. These 12 points were just enough to keep Warnock’s side in the Championship.
Finishing 17th was certainly not ideal by any means, especially for a club of Boro’s stature. Overall it has been a disappointing season for fans to forget. However, with more time, Warnock has the opportunity to improve the atmosphere next season.
Birmingham City- 20th (50 points)
Birmingham City’s squad at the start of the 19/20 competition looked highly promising. 12 new additions to the side brought a great deal of excitement to St. Andrews.
Managed by Pep Clotet at the time, the Spaniard recruited several players from his home nation. Fran Villalba joined from Valencia, Alvaro Gimenez was picked up from UD Almeria, as well as a number of others, joining from Spain’s second division.
👀 Saturday sees Birmingham host Sheffield Wednesday.
🤝 Remember what happened last time Pep Clotet and Garry Monk were reunited…
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) February 20, 2020
The Blues most recent escapade in the Premier League was in the 2010/11 season, when they finished 18th . It’s been ten years since then, a decade that has included two 10th place finishes, two 19th place finishes & narrowly avoiding relegation with a 21st place finish. Ultimately, sinking lower and lower. Birmingham’s most recent season was yet another relegation scrap, finishing 20th.
With two managers out of the door last season, Birmingham went ahead with recruiting Aitor Karanka as new head coach. The former Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough manager brings plenty of Championship experience to the club, however Blues fans have seen a similar style of recruitment with manager Garry Monk (2018/19).
Birmingham’s most exciting moment of the season came in the news of 17 year-old wunderkind Jude Bellingham’s move to Borussia Dortmund. The eight-time Bundesliga champions snatched up Bellingham for a fee of approximately £20 million pounds.
A team that looks much better on paper than it has performed all season, it’s tricky to predict just where Birmingham will land next season. Karanka’s Birmingham side lack in defensive ability, and will therefore be looking for a purchase or two this summer. Blues fans will be hoping to avoid a repeat of recent seasons.
Derby County- 10th (64 points)
Last in the list of Championship underachievers is Derby County. Admittedly off-field incidents heavily influenced their season, but they have not quite lived up to expectations.
A 10th place finish isn’t necessarily a poor resolution to Derby County’s season, however it doesn’t bring a huge deal of excitement to the fans.
The 19/20 campaign has been the Rams’ worst finish for 7 seasons. The most extraordinary statistic from Derby’s season is their number of goals scored is exactly the same as their goals conceded (62), hugely impacting their final finish.
Derby County were previously managed by current Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard. His one-year reign during the 18/19 season saw his team finish 6th place. The Rams then made it to the Championship Play-off final, where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Having last been in the premier league 12 years ago, Derby have since made two play-off semi-final appearances (losing both), and two play-off final appearances (losing both).
Mid-way through the 19/20 season, England legend Wayne Rooney joined the Rams on an 18-month contract. At this point in the season Derby sat in 17th spot and needed something to lift them. Rooney played the remainder of the season as a player-coach, racking up five goals and three assists in 20 league appearances.
3 points to end the season but disappointed we never made the play-offs. Thanks to all our fans for your support this season, little break then we’ll be back stronger 💪⚪️⚫️ pic.twitter.com/uafDdGTVv7
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) July 23, 2020
The season ended with the Rams finishing 10th. Although Derby began to recover during the second half of the season, the club’s expectations prior to the season may not have been met.
On the plus side, Derby have plenty to look forward to in the future. They provided the most minutes to players under 21 in the League this season and will hope that they can hold onto them.
The Championship next season
Six new sides, relegated and promoted, in the league mark the start of a new battle for each Championship club. Coventry, Rotherham and Wycombe were all promoted to the Championship, with Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth dropping from the top-flight. This will give teams who struggled last season a chance to test their squad strength against fresh cohorts. With new summer signings and alterations behind the scenes, clubs will be hoping to rise up the league next season.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘The top 3 Championship underachievers this season’. Can you think of any other teams that underperformed this season? Let us know!
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