The Championship - what next?
Pool's first season in The Championship for more years than most fans care to remember is past the half way mark. We've played all our rivals bar Ipswich who visit Bloomfield Road this Saturday, so who has impressed and who hasn't?
As Simon Grayson was at pains to point out it took 27 games for Pool to be taken to the cleaners, with Charlton putting 4 past Paul Rachubka. The Addicks were undoubtedly a class above our Seasiders, but who else has looked Championship quality?
I'll throw in a few teams - Stoke, Hull and Plymouth. We all know about the physical strength and footballing quality of Stoke, but I would argue that Hull and Plymouth looked tidy, organised teams as well. Ironically I believe Hull have been one of the best sides to visit Bloomers this season and yet we beat Phil Brown's men in front of the Sky cameras! Meanwhile Plymouth were equally well organised and had good pace in Sylvan Ebanks Blake (who has now moved to Wolves).
Strangely enough the teams around the top including West Brom, Bristol City, Watford and Crystal Palace failed to impress against Pool, with only the Baggies beating us.
The Championship table has had a familiar look to it for some time now so we should have a fair idea of where we will end up in 19 games time. At present we are holding our own in lower mid - table, a comfortable but not totally secure 6 points clear of the dreaded drop zone. Thanks to our festive form, picking up 10 points from a possible 12 we have been able to put some distance between ourselves and the strugglers.
I would predict that the current bottom 3 could well be the teams who take the plunge down to League 1. Colchester and Scunthorpe have both been on dreadful run's for several weeks and don't appear to have the quality to pull clear. Meanwhile Preston remain rooted in the relegation zone and will need an almighty upturn in form to survive.
At the top of the table you'd be surprised if Bristol City can last the course in the top few. Even so they may well do enough to book a play off place. You can't look beyond West Brom to win the league but there should be an interesting battle for the second automatic spot. Watford, Stoke and Charlton should all be challenging for a Premier league place.
For the play offs I'd stick my neck out and go for Stoke to win at Wembley.
As for The Mighty, if we can get through a tough looking February after an equally difficult end to this month then I firmly believe a position similar to our current one is achievable.
Of course these are all my opinions and count for nothing. Why not share your own thoughts on a compelling Championship season.
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