Pedigree – Part 1

With just over seven weeks to go before Leicester City kick off the 2009/10 Championship campaign at home to Swansea, the start of the new season is now closer than the end of the last. Foxblogger is back in pre-season training.

Already early season optimism is taking its hold, with dreams of the play-offs exciting even the most pessimistic Leicester fan. At least 16 Championship sides will consider themselves viable challengers for a place in the play-offs or better on 8th August. But which of the Championship’s 24 sides (15 of them with past Premier League experience, one fewer than last season) really have a shot at promotion, and which are doomed to mid-table mediocrity or worse? What follows is an exercise in past pedigree.

Premier League Experience: 1 Season
Current Spell in Championship: 3 Seasons
Last season: 20th

Had things gone a little differently in the 2000 play-off final Barnsley could have returned to Premier League, as it turned out an own goal from Richard Wright after 6 minutes was the closest they got. Ipswich ran out 4-2 victors that day and Barnsley haven’t looked like making a serious push upwards since their parachute payments ran out. Four seasons in the third tier from 2002-2006 have reshaped the aspirations of the club. Their first target this season will be 50 points.

Premier League Experience: 0
Current Spell in Championship: 2 Seasons
Last Season: 16th

The departure of Simon Grayson to Leeds United midway through 2008/09 looked to have rocked the Seasiders boat by March. A home defeat by Burnley left Blackpool 21st with just two wins in 15 matches. They survived, but like Barnsley their priorities will be to avoid the bottom three.

Bristol City
Premier League Experience: 0
Current Spell in Championship: 2 Seasons
Last Season: 10th

Promoted with Blackpool in 2007, Bristol City’s meteoric rise to the play-off final in their first season back in the second tier after eight years in the third took everyone by surprise. 13 home draws last season proved to be the undoing on their promotion challenge, but the Robins will expect to be in play-off contention once again.

Cardiff City
Premier League Experience: 0
Current Spell in Championship: 5 Seasons
Last Season: 7th

The Bluebirds have flirted with promotion in the past, but it has so far only proven to be a cruel tease for their long-suffering fans. In 2006/07 Cardiff lead the way until last November, only for a slump of credit crunch proportions to see them ending the season top of only the bottom half of the table. Last season it was even worse. After the 11th game of the season Cardiff dropped out of the play-off positions only twice – once after game 20, and once after game 46. Preston North End, the side who replaced Dave Jones’ team in the play-offs on the final day did so by virtue of having scored one goal more than Cardiff. The score when the two sides met on 18th April with four games to go: Preston 6-0 Cardiff.

Coventry City
Premier League Experience: 9 Seasons
Current Spell in Championship: 8 Seasons
Last Season: 17th

Some club yo-yo between divisions, Coventry City do not. Coventry City were last promoted to England’s top flight in 1967 and resolutely stayed there for 34 years. When, in 2001, the Sky Blues finally failed to pull off a great escape they took to the Championship like a barnacle to a rock. Coventry survived relegation by just one point in 2007/08, and have managed just one top ten finish since 2001. Nevertheless, they might get their act together one day.

Crystal Palace
Premier League Experience: 3 Seasons
Current Spell in Championship: 4 Seasons
Last Season: 15th

Crystal Palace are the reason every team 22nd in December still harbours hopes of a late play-off push. The Eagles ridiculous run of 51 points from 24 matches after they had managed just 22 points from their opening 22 games in 2003/04 was mimicked by Doncaster in 2008/09 (40 points from 22 games following 18 points from 24 matches) but is still the stuff of fantasy in the vast majority of cases. Palace seem to follow a mediocre season with a play-off spot in the next. If they don’t look like repeating this trend, Neil Warnock’s time in football could well be up.

Next time: Derby County to Newcastle United

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