If you were to do some Championship betting with Paddy Power, you possibly wouldn’t be hedging your bets on Barnsley, Stoke City or Wigan Athletic to gain promotion. But with the Championship being such a hard division to compete in, it’s no wonder that seemingly strong teams often face upset.
With the New Year around the corner, time is running out for drastic changes to take effect. Changing a manager or coach is only beneficial to a club if they have enough time to make a difference. A last-ditch effort to run away from relegation rarely pays off, so it’s now or never for these clubs. Let’s take a look to see at those who need to change their fortunes next year.
With a pitiful 12 points to their name, the Tykes are favourites to be relegated this season. Having won just two games, and losing 11, it’s fair to say fans are not impressed. The club were only promoted to the Championship last season, so to be relegated this quick will certainly break the hearts of all fans.
Thankfully at the beginning of October, the club sacked manager Daniel Stendel, but it took six weeks to find a replacement. Gerhard Struber took the reins towards the end of November and since then has flipped the club upside down. A week after his arrival, he appointed caretaker Adam Murray as the new first-team coach. The changes have come at the right time for the club, and hopefully the Austrian can turn things around and save them from relegation.
In a slightly more impressive position are Stoke, sitting on 14 points. Although the total may not seem suitable enough to avoid relegation, the fact that safety is a mere three points away is certainly a booster.
Stoke still have everything to play for, hope is not yet lost, but something needs to change. The side have lacked scoring capabilities with only 20 goals so far this season. However, new boss Michael O’Neill ensures the fans that there is no one single area that needs developing, it’s the whole squad as it is overpopulated and unfocused.
Wigan sit in the relegation zone just one point from safety, so a win could send them up the table and settle nerves before the festive period. Lately, they’ve missed out on quite a few points. Against Millwall, they drew after losing a lead twice, and against Stoke, they suffered a 2-1 defeat after a promising first-half lead.
It seems this season that Wigan cannot find their good form. Last season the side managed to avoid relegation and finished 18th, although they were also in a slightly stronger position at this time of year. For the Latics, it was the New Year which sent the club on a spiral toward relegation last year, but if there’s any chance of surviving the season, the only way is up.
Just because a team is not in the relegation zone, does not mean they are safe. Luton Town, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town are all dangerously close to dropping into the red. The Championship is notoriously known for being a close division, and at the moment only seven points separate 7th and 17th. The January transfer market is a last-ditch effort for most teams to turn things around, but who will fail and be relegated in May?