2017/2018 Predictions for the English Football League and SPL

By on July 30, 2017

As the start of the new domestic season draws closer, Richard Lewis has concocted his preseason predictions for the English Championship and Scottish top flight. The big Championship kick-off is just over a week away, with first fixtures coming on Friday 4th August 2017, as Sunderland host Derby County at the Stadium of Light and Nottingham Forest face Millwall at the City Ground at 19:45pm BST kick-offs. The first round of the EFL Cup is also only just round the corner, starting on Tuesday 8th August, but holders Manchester United do not join the competition until the third round and will be a bit busy that night, anyway, contesting the Uefa Super Cup with Real Madrid.

2017/2018 English Championship Predictions!

Champions: Middlesbrough
Top Goal-Scorer: Britt Assombalonga
Player of the Season: John Terry
Young Player of the Season: Ryan Sessegnon
Manager of the Season: Steve Bruce
Surprise Package: Sheffield United
My Three Promoted Sides: Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Wolves.

Middlesbrough have spent big this summer on new signings in the hope of going straight back up and have brought in former Swansea and Leeds manager Garry Monk to lead the promotion charge. A good, young manager, who knows this level well, plus the record £14million signing of striker Britt Assombalonga and I think Boro have more than enough to be at top end of the Championship table. Also, I see Aston Villa having a strong campaign, as they have brought in top quality and experienced players like John Terry and Chris Samba, to make their defence look formidable. This will also be Steve Bruce’s first full season in charge of the Villa, so he would have had his first preseason to get the players ship shape for a 46 game campaign. Like Garry Monk, Steve Bruce also knows what it takes at this level to have a team at the right end of the table, as he has previously lead Hull to promotion to the Premier League. Villa spent big last summer and in January, so there hasn’t been the same level of money going on transfer fees, but there has still been household name recruitment, with Terry the marquee addition. I think Wolves could be the other side to go up, as they have spent big again this window, with the league record signing of highly sought-after midfielder Ruben Neves from FC Porto for £15.8million and also recently snapped up striker Jota on loan. Neves was playing Champions League football not so long ago and now has dropped down to the English Championship – plus, he is still a young prospect.

The Championship looks as strong as it has ever been, with clubs buying players from sides playing Champions League football across Europe and spending sums like £14 million and £15 million on one player. It is not just in the Premier League where the fees and wages seem to have shot up, the second tier in England can now attract players for large sums. But, when the prize money of gaining promotion to the top flight is so rich, a big club in the Championship is willing to risk £10-15million on one asset if it gives them an advantage to reach the promised land. All last season’s Premier League relegated sides will hope to be in the top six mix, while sides who missed out in the playoffs in May will also hold aspirations to be back up there.

There are Premier League and Champions League winners now playing in the second tier, and not just the players and clubs which have upped in stature and quality, but the managers are increasing becoming household name appointments, with Harry Redknapp back in football in charge of Birmingham. All the Midlands clubs look strong in the Championship – as they all have Chinese owner backing – and will all feel they belong in the top flight. Sunderland and Hull have lost more key players then Middlesbrough this summer, but could still be top six contenders. Hull will try to use their Russian manager Leonid Slutsky’s connections with Roman Abrahimovic to get some loan stars from Chelsea, but probably would have had a greater chance of automatic promotion if they kept Marco Silva from going to Watford. I based a lot of my predictions on budgets, but in the Championship it doesn’t always work out that way, so maybe I was a little harsh putting Preston, Barnsley and Burton as my relegated three candidates, but Preston did lose their inspirational manager – Simon Grayson – to Sunderland earlier this summer and Burton did well to survive last season on their small budget. I feel the two Sheffield clubs could have good seasons, with the players they have and a strong fan base. Fulham may be another dark horse, considering they only fell in the play-offs last season and have many young starlets in form.

Predicted 2017/2018 Championship Table:

1). Middlesbrough
2). Aston Villa
3). Wolves
4). Hull
5). Sheffield Wednesday
6). Sunderland
7). Fulham
8). Reading
9). Sheffield United
10). Derby
11). Birmingham
12). Norwich
13). Leeds
14). Brentford
15). Cardiff
16). QPR
17). Ipswich
18). Nottingham Forest
19). Bristol City
20). Bolton
21). Millwall
22). Barnsley
23). Preston
24). Burton

2017/18 SPL Predictions!

Champions: Celtic
Top Goal-Scorer: Moussa Dembele
Player of the Season: Scott Sinclair
Manager of the Season: Brendan Rodgers

It seems inevitable that Celtic will be champions again, but Rangers should run them closer this year, as a result of the new players they have recruited this summer, including experienced Portuguese defender Bruno Alves. Aberdeen have lost some key players during this window, but have kept hold of highly rated manager Derek McInnes, so should still maintain a Europa League position. Although, they are still not getting much closer to season champions Celtic and Rangers could overtake them as the nearest challengers at the top end of the league, to make it a Glasgow duopoly again. I feel Kilmarnock and Hamilton will have a season fighting relegation near the bottom.

Predicted 2017/2018 SPL Table:

1). Celtic
2). Rangers
3). Aberdeen
4). Hearts
5). Hibernian
6). Partick Thistle
7). Motherwell
8). St Johnstone
9). Ross County
10). Dundee
11). Hamilton
12). Kilmarnock

PHOTO CREDIT: Ceaton89 [CC BY-SA 3.0]

About Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis can relate almost anything to football and quite often does! You may have seen Richard's previous ideas and work in the BBC Match of the Day Magazine, from 2011 to present. He is a Manchester United and England fan, but has gone to see Leyton Orient play with his O's season ticket in the 2013/14 campaign. Aside from football, Richard has written articles on Doctor Who and studies English Language and Linguistics at the University of Westminster. Aspiring sports journalist.
  • Michael Hopewell

    Brave predictions and almost certainly wrong. It’s a tough league where the oft quoted any team can beat any other has a grain of truth to it. It’s also difficult to bounce straight back – even with parachute payments. Historically (in recent times at least) it’s almost unheard of for all 3 relegated teams to be challenging at the end of the season. One will emerge as an automatic contender and the other two will maybe flirt with the playoffs or settle for mid table obscurity. Middlesbrough look the obvious choice, but having bought 3 new strikers to add to some good ones they had already, I don’t see Assombalonga as top scorer because he simply won’t get the game time needed to achieve that. The top scorer in the league is much more likely to come from a team with a smaller squad who pick the same striker every week. As for John Terry, most red cards in a season is a safer bet than player of the season. I’ll give you young player of the season though, he does look a class act