As Norwich City were looking forward to their upcoming Premier League season, Championship sides Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and Peterborough United were all hoping that they could ‘do a Norwich’ as they were hoping to get a second successive promotion to take them to football’s holy grail after being in the third tier of English football. For many fans and pundits alike, West Ham and Leicester looked too strong to contend with for the automatic promotion places, and with teams such as relegated Birmingham City and Blackpool, Nottingham Forest, Reading, Cardiff City and Middlesbrough to compete with, it would be a tough ask for them to replicate what Norwich had done in the previous season.
If Brighton fans could have picked any season to get promoted, they would have picked last season. After 12 years without having a stadium to call home, they finally moved to the impressive 22,000 seater Amex Stadium. Their first game of the season, a 2-1 win at home to Doncaster was a fairytale start with a last minute strike by Will Buckley securing the win. Until their loss away to Leicester, they were top of the Championship and Gus Poyet’s side shouldn’t be deterred by a three game winless streak. Craig Noone, Ashley Barnes and former Peterborough striker Craig Mackail Smith have all impressed for the Seagulls this season. They are in 5th place at the minute and will hope to get a play off place this season. However, a top half finish would be a success for the South Coast club and should get promotion in the next few seasons should they continue to impress.
Many Saints fans will be relishing a possible successive promotion to the Premier League after a strong start to the season has got them to pole position after 9 games in this year’s Championship. The team has adapted well to life in the second tier of English football with the fulcrum of the team that won promotion last year remaining in the sides starting eleven, whilst adding Danny Fox, Jack Cork, Jos Hooiveld and Steve De Ridder to an already impressive squad. They have scored 21 goals and are the division’s top scorers by 4 goals and Nigel Adkins has won 39 of his 57 games in charge. Rickie Lambert is the joint 2nd top scorer in the league with 6 goals and the £15million pounds gained from the Alex Oxlade Chamberlain deal to Arsenal should be used in the January transfer window and next summer. Out of all the promoted teams, Southampton are the best prepared to go up and there is nothing stopping them.
After a 3-0 playoff win over the then 26 match unbeaten Huddersfield Town, many would have thought that Darren Ferguson’s team would go straight back down. After all, the season before, Ferguson was the first of four managers in the 2009-2010 season, in which they only gained 34 points and 8 wins. Ferguson said that he was to naive back then and thought that the squad was good enough and he would strengthen the squad this year to ensure a repeat would not happen. After scoring 106 goals and conceding 75 in 46 league games last year, the aim was to keep things tight at the back. This has happened with them scoring 17 and conceding 13 in 9 league matches, with much of this due to the former Exeter stopper Paul Jones. A 7-1 thrashing of Ipswich at London Road has been the highlight so far and the Posh are currently in 8th place, but a chance of promotion is unlikely, but they are on course for a mid table finish.
Like Norwich, Leeds and Millwall in the previous season, all of the promoted sides are stirring things up at the top. In such a competitive league, the teams from League 1 seem to prosper and all of these sides play an attacking brand of football that will win them not only points, but many plaudits and fans along the way. Southampton will probably be there or there about come the end of the season, Brighton should be in with a shout of the play offs and Peterborough will be hoping for their run of form to continue but would make do with staying comfortably in the league. However, this is the Championship so anything can happen to one of these teams and the dream of a Premier League place for one of them might just become reality.