Championship 2011/12: Season Review

So after 46 games, the 2011/12 season is done and dusted in the Championship. For some, it represented a great year, while others will be disappointed with their efforts. Here is the Coin Toss’s team by team season review:


Position: 1st

442’s August Prediction: 4th

Top Scorer: Adam Le Fondre (11)

What can you say about Brian McDermott’s men. They started the season with a playoff final hangover after their defeat to Swansea, indeed after 7 games they were 23rd in the table. However the Royals improved considerably and collected 46 points from 51 as they rose to the top of the table, sneaking past West Ham and Southampton. Jason Roberts turned out to be an inspired loan signing, while the club now has new owners after Anton Zingarevich staged a takeover. A 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest sealed their success and they can now look forward to building for next season. Nothing short of sensational.

Season Rating: 10/10



Position: 2nd

442’s August Prediction: 10th

Top Scorer: Rickie Lambert (31)

For Reading, also reed Southampton. Nigel Adkins has inspired his side to back-to-back promotions in fantastic fashion, indeed the side have been in the Top Two essentially all season. They left it late in the end, only sealing promotion on the final day after a couple of poor results, but no one at the St Marys stadium will care about that now. The majority of the players that starred in League One starred again this year, Rickie Lambert continued his reputation as a fearsome goal getter, while Adam Lallana and Guly Do Prado have also been excellent. Links with Norwich are inevitable given the similarity of their rises, but Southampton would love to emulate Paul Lambert’s team. Don’t rule it out either, the Saints have a fantastic setup and good team spirit and should go well in the Premier League.

Season Rating: 10/10


West Ham

Position: 3rd

442’s August Prediction: 1st

Top Scorer: Carlton Cole: (14)

The Hammers’ inability to win games at home has cost them dear as they missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season. 8 draws and 4 defeats has ensured Upton Park is not the fortress the fans expected and the atmosphere at recent games has been rather frosty with manager Sam Allardyce coming in for a lot of stick for his tactics. The squad assembled in East London was certainly enough to seal an immediate return to the Premiership, especially as it still contained England internationals Rob Green and Carlton Cole. Signings like Kevin Nolan and Matty Taylor only served to increase the expectation levels at the club and if West Ham don’t go up via the playoffs, the summer could be interesting.

Season Rating: 5/10



Position: 4th

442’s August Prediction: 5th

Top Scorer: Marlon King (18)

Changes were rife at St Andrews after the Blues’s shock relegation from the Premier League. Alex McLeish left for bitter rivals Villa, while a number of key players departed the club, including influential centre backs Roger Johnson and Scott Dann. Chris Hughton was the man once again entrusted with a Championship rebuilding mission and he built an efficient squad minus the egotistical feel that West Ham’s has. Birmingham have been in and around the playoffs all year without ever threatening the automatic places, but the Blues will fancy their chances of a Wembley victory. They have a decent front line with King, Zigic and Adam Rooney all capable of fireworks, while youngster Nathan Redmond has attracted admiring Premier League glances. Promotion would be a huge bonus for the supporters, but if they fail, Birmingham look well placed for next year.

Season Rating: 8/10



Position: 5th

442’s August Prediction: 13th

Top Scorer: Kevin Phillips (17)

After their terrific year in the limelight dazzling the Premiership’s big boys off the park, it was back to earth with a bump for Blackpool, after losing key players for their Championship campaign. Ian Holloway found stars like Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan impossible to replace, but he made a number of astute signings like Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips instead. ‘King Kev’ has really impressed, defying his ageing years to notch 17 goals, while winger Matt Phillips has provided the ammunition from out wide. Another playoff success would be an even bigger achievement for the Tangerines and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see Blackpool back on Match of the Day, just to hear Ollie’s post match interviews.

Season Rating: 9/10



Position: 6th

442’s August Prediction: 11th

Top Scorer: Peter Whittingham (13)

After yet more playoff heartache, the Cardiff board decided changes were necessary, replacing Dave Jones with Scottish tyro Malky Mackay. He lost star forwards Jay Bothroyd and Craig Bellamy immediately, but new strikers Kenny Miller and Joe Mason have stepped up to the plate to replace them. The League Cup final defeat to Liverpool threatened to derail their season as the Bluebirds slipped out of the playoffs in March, but they recovered to bag their place on the final day. They will relish the opportunity of going into the season’s finale as underdogs for once and supporters will quietly fancy their chances of joining rivals Swansea in the Premier League. Job well done by Mackay and his boys.

Season Rating: 8/10



Position: 7th

442’s August Prediction: 3rd

Top Scorer: Marvin Emnes (18)

After two disappointing Championship campaigns that saw the end of Gareth Southgate and Gordon Strachan, Tony Mowbray was hoping to lead his side back into the Premiership, having established a squad of his own. It hasn’t quite gone according to plan however, as Middlesbrough’s woeful form at the Riverside (they have won just 8 games) has cost them dear, while goalscoring has also been a problem (22 in 22 games in 2012). Crowds are falling and big decisions now need to be made at the club. Rather than promotion contenders, it could well be that Middlesbrough are well on their way to sealing an unfortunate status as an average Championship team, rather than genuine promotion contenders.

Season Rating: 5/10



Position: 8th

442’s August Prediction: 14th

Top Scorer: Matty Fryatt (16)

Another season of upheaval of the KC Stadium saw Hull lose manager Nigel Pearson to Leicester in November, before replacing him with home favourite Nick Barmby. Although Barmby has no guarantees over his long-term future, he has made a decent fist of his first job, leading Hull to a top half finish. If it wasn’t for five consecutive defeats over the Easter period, Barmby could have been celebrating a playoff finish, but it wasn’t to be. Additions will be needed for the Tigers in the summer though; the squad has looked a little light at times, while they also need to hang onto their top players. Interesting summer ahead.

Season Rating: 7/10



Position: 9th

442’s August Prediction: 2nd

Top Scorer: David Nugent (16)

Leicester started as many people’s tip for promotion after Sven Goran Eriksson spent a fortune assembling a squad that looked one of the strongest on paper in the division. Signings like David Nugent, Jermaine Beckford and Paul Konchesky provided the squad with a touch of Premiership class, but the squad failed to gel and Sven got the chop in November. Nigel Pearson returned to the club, but was unable to mastermind a playoff run as the Foxes languished in mid-table for the whole season. It’s been a really disappointing year and the summer could bring about more woe as Leicester look to trim their squad to fall in line with the new Financial Fair Play rules that come in soon. Pearson will need to cultivate a squad with a bit of team spirit, as throwing money at the side hasn’t worked in the slightest.

Season Rating: 3/10




Position: 10th

442’s August Prediction: 12th

Top Scorer: Ashley Barnes (13)

No one quite knew what to expect of Gus Poyet’s Brighton as they fought their way out of League One emphatically. However, spending power was limited in the summer, though they did bring Craig Mackail-Smith to the Amex Stadium, winning the race for his signature ahead of several high-profile clubs. Brighton’s form has been rather inconsistent; they got off to a flyer at the start of the season, fighting for the automatic places, before fading away at the end of the season. Poyet can still look back on the year as job well done though and he will look to make sensible signings this summer to make the Seagulls a force to be reckoned with in the division next year.

Season Rating: 7/10



Position: 11th

442’s August Prediction: 23rd

Top Scorer: Troy Deeney (12)

It was a difficult summer for the Hornets having lost manager Malky Mackay to Cardiff and star player Danny Graham to Swansea. Many pundits tipped Watford as one of their relegation choices, but new boss Sean Dyche has worked wonders in leading his side to a top half finish. Goals have sometimes been a problem, but Troy Deeney and Marvin Sordell have chipped in on important occasions this year to keep the team ticking over. A playoff push looked possible at one point, but four successive draws saw them stay in mid-table right at the end of the season. The fans can’t complain though and they will be looking forward to seeing if the side can continue to progress under Dyche for a second year.

Season Rating: 8/10



Position: 12th

442’s August Prediction: 18th

Top Scorer: Steve Davies (12)

After a 19th placed finish in last year’s Championship, the Rams weren’t fancied by anyone to threaten the promotion challengers. This has proved to be the case, apart from a decent early season run of form, but Derby fans will have been pleased to have avoided the threat of relegation for an entire year for once. Nigel Clough has guided his side to a respectable mid table finish and the squad has some promising youngsters coming through like Jeff Hendrick. Derby need to hang onto their key players and with one or two quality additions, they could be an outside bet for next year. Those superb fans at Pride Park certainly deserve another promotion push.

Season Rating: 7/10



Position: 13th

442’s August Prediction: 9th

Top Scorer: Jay Rodriguez (21)

A season of rebuilding was predicted for Burnley under Eddie Howe and that’s what’s happened as Burnley’s form fluctuated all season. They threatened the playoffs at times, but never really put together the run of form that could have helped them break into the Top Six. They will now regroup in the summer and fancy their chances next year. Holding onto Jay Rodriguez will be crucial to their chances, while Charlie Austin has shown some signs of what he can do up front. There is some real quality in the Claret’s squad and this year of consolidation will stand them in good stead. Expect big things next season.

Season Review: 6/10



Position: 14th

442’s August Prediction: 7th

Top Scorer: Ross McCormack (19)

It wouldn’t be a normal year without any upheaval at Elland Road and this year has proved no different. Last year’s seventh placed finish raised expectation levels to new heights and the Whites put together a super run in the autumn to put them in touch with the playoffs. However, inconsistency saw Simon Grayson lose his job, with Neil Warnock chosen as his replacement. The new boss hasn’t made his mark on the Leeds team yet though, and a 7-3 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest highlighted how embarrassing their defence has been. A club record 11 defeats at home have been catastrophic for their promotion chances and the anti-Bates sentiments flying around the club hasn’t helped the players on the pitch. They need to hang on to key players Becchio and Snodgrass this summer and hope Warnock makes some astute signings to get them back on track.

Season Rating: 4/10



Position: 15th

442’s August Prediction: 8th

Top Scorer: Michael Chopra (14)

It’s been another disappointing year for Ipswich who just can’t seem to find the right balance in the Championship. A number of decent looking signings including Michael Chopra, Lee Bowyer and Jimmy Bullard increased optimism amongst supporters, and the Tractor Boys were seemingly well placed to challenge. This just hasn’t been the case though as Paul Jewell’s men just avoided their worst league finish in 50 years. They will look to make a number of new additions to the squad to try and revitalise their fortunes, but Ipswich need to show some serious improvement if they are to avoid becoming one of the division’s staple mid-table sides.

Season Rating: 3/10



Position: 16th

442’s August Prediction: 16th

Top Scorer: Darius Henderson (19)

Millwall were keen to avoid second season syndrome in the Championship and despite flirting with the bottom three on occasion this year, Kenny Jackett’s men will ultimately be pleased with 16th position. Darius Henderson has been crucial for the Lions, scoring plenty of goals, but a lack of strength in depth at the Den has meant that Millwall struggled to make any real impression on the division. Securing their Championship status again though could be vital for Millwall’s progression and if they bring some real quality in over the summer, potentially through the loan market, then they could be competing a bit higher up the table next year.

Season Rating: 6/10


Crystal Palace

Position: 17th

442’s August Prediction: 20th

Top Scorer: Darren Ambrose (10)

A decent start to the season for Palace masked the lack of quality in their squad that meant many tippers predicted they would struggle to stay in the division this year. As it happens, Palace were never in any real danger and 17th is perhaps an unlucky reflection on their season. The Carling Cup semi-final was the highlight of the year and Dougie Freedman is a promising young manager who recognizes the positive buzz around the club currently. Selling talented youngster Wilfried Zaha could raise some much needed funds and any potential transfer fee could help make significant improvements to the squad. With Freedman in charge, the future does look promising for the Eagles and they should progress further up the league next year.

Season Rating: 7/10



Position: 18th

442’s August Prediction: 22nd

Top Scorer: Paul Taylor (11)

It was important for Peterborough to survive this year following their disastrous campaign last time around in this division. Boss Darren Ferguson suffered a blow losing Craig Mackail-Smith in the summer, while the squad on paper looked weaker than most. However, despite Posh spending all their time in the bottom half of the table, they can conclude that 2011-12 has ultimately been a successful year, while Ferguson himself would have snapped your hand off for 18th at the start of the season. Hanging on to key personnel in the summer will be crucial, though George Boyd looks like he’s set to move on and Fergie himself has been linked with the Wolves job. Their inability to keep their stars at the club has cost them dear in the past and the fans will hope this isn’t the case again.

Season Rating; 7/10


Nottingham Forest

Position: 19th

442’s August Prediction: 6th

Top Scorer: Garath McCleary (9)

Disaster is the only word that can describe Nottingham Forest’s season. The appointment of the ‘Wally with the Brolly’ could have been a masterstroke as Forest looked to chase their Premiership dream, but Steve McLaren once again proved why no one in England should touch him with a bargepole. An atrocious run of form at the start of the season left Forest facing the realistic possibility of League One again and although Steve Cotterill has kept them up, many expected him to lead them into a respectable mid table position. Forest have a decent squad with an embarrassment of riches up front, but no one has produced the goods. The end of the season will come as a relief and they will look to start afresh next year.

Season Rating: 1/10


Bristol City

Position: 20th

442’s August Prediction: 17th

Top Scorer: Nicky Maynard

It’s fair to say that Bristol City are still suffering from a Steve Coppell hangover, indeed they never seem to have recovered from his decision to pull out of a move to Ashton Gate. The club looked set for a slide through the trapdoor under former boss Keith Millen, but replacing him with Derek McInnes has turned out to be a good decision. The Scot has hauled them out of the drop zone, but only just and the Robins fans have endured a torrid time this season, only sealing their Championship status last weekend. Goals have been a massive issue, indeed Nicky Maynard finished as top scorer despite leaving for West Ham in January. McInnes now needs to stamp his mark on the squad and clear out the driftwood to avoid a repeat of this season. City really should be doing better.

Season Rating: 3/10



Position: 21st

442’s August Prediction: 24th

Top Scorer: Ricardo Vaz Te (12)

Perennial strugglers Barnsley once again flattered to deceive in the Championship, but for the first half of the season, it looked like it might be a different story. The Tykes were pushing for a top half place but they tailed off badly and in reality, they have Portsmouth’s financial woes to thank for their Championship status. Manager Keith Hill is optimistic about some of the young players coming through but talented youngster Jacob Butterfield is set to leave in the summer. You have to fear for Barnsley next year again with such a weak squad, but don’t bet against them to survive by the skin of their teeth once more.

Season Rating: 5/10



Position: 22th

442’s August Prediction: 15th

Top Scorer: David Norris (8)

You have to feel for the Pompey fans who have been shafted once again by their glory chasing Chairmen. Although their threadbare squad still had some quality players in it, Pompey were always up against it, losing a number of crucial individuals last summer. This has meant they have struggled to compete and Steve Cotterill departed a sinking ship for Forest, leaving Michael Appleton with an uphill battle to save the club. In the end, the points deduction has sunk Pompey, they would have stayed up otherwise and therefore credit has to go to the manager and the players who have tried all season. You can only fear for the future of the club now as they slide further down the football league and their mere existence is under serious question now.

Season Rating: 4/10



Position: 23rd

442’s August Prediction: 19th

Top Scorer: Gary McSheffrey/ Lukas Jutkiewicz (9)

Coventry’s steady decline since Premiership relegation has been firmly confirmed this year as they slipped into the third division of English football for the first time since 1964. Manager Andy Thorn has had his hands tied by financial problems at the club, while supporters are dismayed at the way the club has been handled. The squad just wasn’t good enough to survive, especially when Jutkiewicz exited for Middlesbrough in January. The Sky Blues never looked like staying up right from the start of the season and you can’t see how they will bounce back next year with the major problems behind the scenes. Worrying times at the Ricoh Arena.

Season Rating; 2/10



Position: 24th

442’s August Position: 21st

Top Scorer: Billy Sharp (10)

Atrocious campaign from start to finish for the Yorkshire club who, after several seasons consolidating their position in the Championship, have literally chucked it down the drain this year. Sacking manager Sean O’Driscoll turned out to be a poor decision and Dean Saunders has not provided the spark needed to keep them up. Combined with a bizarre transfer policy that basically employed agent Willie McKay to bring every overrated player over 30 that he could find to the Keepmoat Stadium, it’s been a season to forget for Rovers. There will be plenty of changes at the club in the summer, but they have the potential to bounce back if Chairman John Ryan rediscovers his senses.

Season Rating: 1/10

Tom Mordey

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