Five Championship games to get excited about this weekend

Gareth Thomas Football, Football features Leave a Comment

Who will follow Leicester City and earn promotion this season?

Domestic football returns this weekend with the kick off of the football league! At we love football and so it’s time to take a look at one of my personal favourite leagues, the Sky Bet Championship. Here is five matches to get excited about for this first weekend of action:


BLACKBURN ROVERS V CARDIFF CITY – Friday 8 August @ 7:45pm, Sky Sports

Blackburn missed out on the play offs last season when they finished 8th in the Championship but have one of the best strikers in the league up front in Jordan Rhodes whose goals will be vital. I reckon there is no reason they can’t finish in the Play-Off positions come May under manager Gary Bowyer and 22 year old captain Grant Hanley. They also have former Cardiff forward Rudy Gestede in their ranks, he will be hoping to show his old club what they are missing with a goal to help kickstart Rover’s 2014/15 campaign.

Cardiff City meanwhile were relegated as the bottom placed team in last season’s Premier League, an embarrassment from the Championship winning side in 2012/13. Their owner, Vicent Tan, sacked Malky Mackay in December 2013 and appointed Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjær but the club failed to stabilise and were relegated. Since relegation they have lost Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch to QPR and Fraizer Campbell to Crystal Palace with Gary Medel also on the verge of an exit. However, they have invested notably in strikers Adam La Fondre, Javi Guerra & Kiko Macheda, midfielder Tom Adeyemi and kept hold of vital goalkeeper David Marshall. How will Cardiff fair on a tough return to the Championship and a trip to Ewood Park?


Derby had a brilliant season last time out but were unfortunate to lose in the play off final to QPR in May. Steve McClaren now has to motivate his boys to do the same again but go one step further and achieve promotion to the Premier League. They have some brilliant players, midfielder Craig Bryson and forward Chris Martin netted 36 times between themselves in 2013/14 and will need to be on target against newcomers Rotherham United. Some say a home game at Pride Park against a promoted side is a pretty pleasant start but don’t be so sure.

Rotherham have high hopes for their Championship campaign and their expectations certainly won’t be relegation. This will test their metal from the very first minute though and they will need to be on their toes throughout this clash. They will need to make trips to South Yorkshire a dreaded visit for their league peers who will perhaps be envying the opportunity to take a safe 3 points. They have some good players in Ben Pringle and Lee Frecklington and manager Steve Evans will be relying on all his key men to perform on Saturday afternoon.


Nottingham Forest just can’t get out of this league, they must feel stuck in the Championship and hence Stuart Pearce was brought in to try and earn promotion. They finished 11th last time out but have a good front line with Britt Assombalonga added from Peterborough joining Jamie Mackie, Matty Fryatt and Lars Veldwijk. The defence has also been strengthened with Jack Hunt and Michael Mancienne signing for Forest. Blackpool have had a torrid time recently and won’t be looking forward to Saturday afternoon at the City Ground. A big scoreline on the way?

Football is a funny old game at times but for Blackpool it has been a painful one this summer with departures numbering almost 30 bodies! For large parts of the off-season they have had only 8 registered professionals and had a pre-season tour cancelled due to a lack of footballers. They have relied on trialists to play their warm-up matches but no finally have a goalkeeper when they signed Joe Lewis on loan from Cardiff City, an impressive deal. However, Blackpool are relegation certainties the way it stands and won’t even have enough men to fill a full bench with experienced options. I worry for Blackpool!

IPSWICH TOWN V FULHAM – Saturday 9 August @ 5pm, Sky Sports

Mick McCarthy has been there and done that in his career as a football manager, his task on Saturday will be trying to beat relegated Fulham who won’t roll over easily. Ipswich finished 9th last season but I think their task next year will be tougher and losing defender Aaron Cresswell to West Ham was a blow. David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy up front will be hoping to find the net and give the Portman Road home crowd something to cheer against a much fancied Fulham side.

Fulham have a very experienced 3x Bundesliga winning manager in Felix Magath and he added Ross McCormack to his squad for £11m from Leeds United. That was a lot to pay but Rossco knows this league and loves a goal so will be a key player for the Cottagers this season. Ipswich is no easy place to travel but Fulham will believe they have the squad to achieve big things in the Championship. Scott Parker has bags of Premier League experience and could enjoy this league, Hugo Rodallega could return to form too and find his goalscoring feet at this level.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS v NORWICH CITY – Sunday 10 August @ 4pm, Sky Sports

Wolves and Norwich had 2 tiers between them last season, this year though following promotion for Wolves and relegation for Norwich they both line up in the Championship come Sunday. Kenny Jackett welcomes the Canaries to Molineux but will be fairly confident his lads can pick up a good result. Bakary Sako was ever-present in the Wolves midfield in League 1 and will surely be a key man again, as will Welshman and captain Sam Ricketts. A live TV game is a good way to welcome the midlands club back to the Championship.

Norwich City suffered relegation heartbreak but have acted quickly to bolster their squad with the signing of Bournemouth’s Lewis Grabban. He netted 22 times last season and was mightily impressive in this division, he has to prove it wasn’t a one hit wonder. They are filled with Championship proven players such as Jonny Howson, Nathan Redmond and Bradley Johnson so their campaign will be aiming for at least a play off spot come May. Wolves is a tough opener for them but I believe they are strong enough to take 3 points and boost their confidence early on in the season.


For a full preview check out The Football History Boys‘s article here: The Championship Preview 2014/15

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