Championship Season Preview: 2017-18

Though Newcastle United won the Championship title last season, one might say that Brighton and Huddersfield won the hearts of the neutrals. The duo ended 34 and 45 year top flight exiles respectively, the former with three games to spare, the latter via a Wembley shoot-out. Who will make history this year? Here’s our predictions. (Click on the green links to findQ&As with fans of each club).

Playing purposeful possession football, Fulham create chances at will. Swift wide men stretch play, creating space for a Tom Cairney-inspired midfield with the perfect blend of dynamism and guile. If the Cottagers stabilize at the back and replace Chris Martin’s hold-up play, they could take some stopping. 1st

With Gaston Ramirez staying on, Middlesbrough have more attacking quality than their defensive tactics last year led many to think. They have added good strikers to a sturdy rear-guard, putting them in the best position of the three relegated clubs. 2nd

Energizing leaders are now in place at Norwich City, who boast some of the Championship’s best attacking quality. Playmaker Alex Pritchard and striker Nelson Oliveira showed their class last year and could shine with more starts. If Angus Gunn settles quickly and the defence improves, this new era at Carrow Road could get off to a promising start. 3rd

The task for Thomas Christensen will be to maintain the solidity Leeds United showed under Garry Monk, whilst introducing tactical flexibility. New midfielder Mateusz Klich will be key to this evolution while Pontus Jansson’s permanent deal makes Kyle Bartley and Charlie Taylor the only first teamers missing from last year. We could see a better-rounded outfit. 4th

Sheffield Wednesday have a sturdy spine of Keiron Westwood, Glenn Loovens and Sam Hutchinson behind individual attacking quality that most clubs envy. The Owls need to support their forwards with quicker approach play, but they should bag another top six finish. 5th

These are exciting times for Brentford. Captain Harlee Dean remains to provide experience in a talented young side, while midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo adds grit to guile. The Bees might not be the biggest spenders, but they make up for that with clever recruitment and a fluid system that enables attacking players to flourish. 6th

While Aston Villa boast some of the league’s most technically gifted players, the current direct system can stifle creativity. Their play-off push will be built on a solid, John Terry-led defence and Jonathan Kodjia’s individuality, but it could be hindered by an internal clash of tactical ideals. 7th

With Danny Williams and Ali Al-Habsi leaving, Reading’s squad has been weakened a little. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson arrives to reduce dependence on Yann Kermorgant up top while Liams Kelly and Moore should impress again. The Royals need to inject a touch of pace into their possession play though to remain competitive. 8th

Ben Brereton and Zach Clough have the potential to tear up the league for Nottingham Forest, who have a young squad tailor-made for Mark Warburton. If they can tighten up and add consistency to the flashes of potential shown under him so far, they could be one to watch. 9th

Much-needed defensive improvements have been made at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Ruben Neves adds quality in midfield, even if the attack still needs freshening up. It may take time to introduce a new style, but there are signs that the club is modernizing off the field and on it, they should progress. 10th

After the horrors of last season, Sunderland face a tough season ahead and the midfield performances of Didier Ndong and Aiden McGeady will be key. Simon Grayson may not have the tactical flexibility to take the Black Cats up from this league, but he will instil effort and discipline – that will be the first step of a two-stage process. 11th

Although Bristol City lost striker Tammy Abraham, they soon replaced him with their record signing, Famara Diedhou. Aden Flint leads at the back behind a midfield with underrated technical quality. If some tactical consistency is found, Marlon Pack and Jamie Paterson will shine in a top half finish. 12th

With Andre Wisdom, Curtis Davies and Tom Huddlestone joining, Derby County will have more muscle this year, but not so much magic. Their most technically gifted players, Will Hughes and Tom Ince, have gone to the Premier League without yet being directly replaced. The Rams had the Championship’s ninth worst attack last term and Gary Rowett has done little to improve it. 13th

Hull City have boardroom unrest and, in Leonid Slutsky, a manager who has never worked outside Russia in charge of an ever-diminishing squad. Michael Dawson if he stays and Kamil Grosicki should do well in the Championship but a lack of depth puts the Tigers in the worst position of the relegated clubs. 14th

Form under Neil Warnock has excited Cardiff City fans, but after last year’s reliance on set pieces, it remains to be seen whether they’ll have more weapons in their armoury. Direct football got the Bluebirds out of trouble, though they may lack the variation to become a top six proposition. 15th 

Preston North End have shopped thriftily this summer but new arrivals arguably come in the stronger areas of their squad. They have lost stability at centre-back and while Callum Robinson and Ben Pearson should impress again, it may take some time to adapt to the post-Grayson era. 16th

Emyr Huws looks a good addition for Ipswich Town while Bersant Celina may have the creative spark to replace Tom Lawrence. Boardroom frugality however, means they are otherwise signing players from a level below where the club is striving for. Mick McCarthy’s tactics will help avert relegation fears, but his stubbornness encapsulates a stagnating club. 17th

Sheffield United dominated League One, but apart from perhaps talisman Billy Sharp, last season’s stars are yet to prove themselves at this level. Centre-back Richard Stearman is the only new signing who bucks that trend, with lower league additions suggesting consolidation is the name of the game. 18th

Modest summer recruitment at Queens Park Rangers means Ian Holloway pins his hopes on January additions settling. Of those, Matt Smith and Luke Freeman should provide the quality to stave off relegation, but the disjointed feel to the Rs makes progress look unlikely. 19th

A modernizing Championship will catch out tactically limited sides, of which Birmingham may be one. While David Stockdale is a good signing, this summer hasn’t delivered the overhaul needed with no senior players leaving permanently. It remains to be seen whether key figures can provide the shake-up required. 20th

While Burton Albion’s squad might have reduced in size, barring expired loan deals it hasn’t in quality. Stephen Warnock and Jake Buxton add experience at the back while Liam Boyce hit 23 in the SPL last year. Most neutrals expect the Brewers to go down, but then, this isn’t a club that conforms to expectation. 21st

More key men leave Barnsley, who have won just twice since Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall’s January exit. Young summer signings have talent – right-back Jason McCarthy and winger Lloyd Isgrove could threaten – but arrive from inferior leagues. Without leaders to guide them, these fresh-faced Tykes are thrown in at the deep end. 22nd

As well as Bolton Wanderers did in the third tier, many of their players were found wanting when last tried in the second, including summer additions. The hope is that some return stronger due the spirit Phil Parkinson has cultivated, but survival won’t be easy in an increasingly technical league. 23rd

Millwall won promotion last season largely based on aggression, power and Shaun Williams’ deliveries for Steve Morrison, but they could struggle against tactically better rounded sides. Neil Harris, who manages permanently at this level for the first time, is now at a budgetary disadvantage. If the League One champions got relegated last season, then the sixth-best team is surely in for a tough ride. 24th 

Click above to join our league in The Telegraph Fantasy Football