3 Championship overachievers this season
We’re well past the halfway stage of this year’s Championship campaign and it’s an ongoing battle at the top between Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion. The Elland Road club are perennial underachievers, as highlighted by last season’s play-off exit to Derby County – but could this be the season they return to the top flight like fans have patiently anticipated?
At the other end of the table, Luton Town have struggled to adapt to life in the second tier and sit bottom of the division, while 10 points separates 16th-placed Middlesbrough from Wigan Athletic who occupy the final relegation spot. There’s all to play for as we come to the business end of the season. But let’s concentrate on the positives and look at who has overachieved in the Championship so far this term.
The Bees are among the favourites in Championship odds to gain promotion and they’re sitting pretty in third on 43 points. The table is tight, with Millwall outside the play-offs in seventh on 40 points, so a win could change everything.
Thomas Frank was promoted from Assistant Manager to gaffer last season, guiding Brentford to the fifth round of the FA Cup and an 11th-place finish in the Championship. He looks to go one better this time around and the London club are blessed with the strike force of Ollie Watkins and Bryan Mbeumo, who have contributed 27 league goals this campaign. If this rich vein of form continues, the Bees will cement their place in the play-offs at the very least.
Since being appointed manager on October 21st 2019, Gary Rowett has revitalised Millwall’s fortunes – taking them from 17th in the table to 6th, picking up seven of their 10 league wins along the way. The Lions recently beat promotion hopefuls Brentford at The Den and appear to perform better against the top teams.
Over the last decade, Millwall have spent a large proportion of the time playing Championship football, but have never finished higher than 8th. Last season, the Londoners avoided relegation by four points and are certainly faring a lot better this campaign. Striker Matt Smith recently commented on the squad’s togetherness and fans will be hoping it doesn’t get disturbed too much by January transfers.
Since gaining promotion as the 2014-15 League One champions, Bristol City have cemented their place in the second tier of English football – and defied the critics along the way. The Robins finished their debut Championship season in 18th and have slowly risen up the table, culminating in an 8th-place finish last campaign – despite spending the majority of the second half of the season in the play-off positions.
Five losses in their last six league fixtures has seen the Ashton Gate club fall from fourth to eleventh in the table, but Lee Johnson’s side are just three points from a play-off place. Johnson previously spoke about the difficulty of the Championship, particularly the impact that parachute payments can have. But the club has progressed year-on-year and with the transfer window now open, fans will be hoping for new signings to reignite their season and push for promotion.