It’s not a contentious statement to say the Championship is one of the most competitive leagues across Europe. Momentum is everything and within moments the pristine of the Premier League can be upon the horizon, only to be snatched away mercilessly by a few bad results. Teams can force their way into the play-offs with a purple patch at the end of the season, and at the same time can go from a campaign of relative obscurity in mid-table, to being favourites in the Championship relegation odds.
While the bottom two look set in stone at the moment as far as the Championships is concerned, with Barnsley and Derby County lodged in 22nd and 21st respectively, there are plenty of other teams who could still find themselves in a relegation dogfight. Let’s take a look at three sides in danger of the drop before the end of the Championship season.
Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool, Cardiff City fans were optimistic about their side’s chances in the second half of the season. After losing their main goal threat Kieffer Moore to Bournemouth in last month’s transfer window, the Welsh side have reinvented their approach play — relying less on long balls to the target man and instead trying to play more progressive football, which will obviously take time to perfect under Steve Morison.
The trip to Anfield was a much-needed break from league action, in which Cardiff have been lukewarm to put it nicely. Inconsistency could very easily get the better of the Bluebirds should the losses continue to pile up, and while their FA Cup trip did well to brush some poor form under the carpet, now is the time to kick on and use their games in hand to jump above Hull City in 19th.
With the leakiest defence in the league this season, Reading have shipped far too many goals and judging from their recent run of losses, it’s only a matter of time before the Royals find themselves dragged into the bottom three — a situation that looks perilous and one they’re unlikely to get out of. It’s been almost a decade since they last played top flight football and five years since they made the play-offs.
Mediocrity has been acceptable at the Madejski for far too long and the recent dip in results must surely be the rude awakening the club need to turn things around, with some heavy defeats a theme of the season. Having been beaten 4-0 by Queens Park Rangers and Huddersfield Town, as well as being thrashed 7-0 by Fulham, the backline will really need to sort things out ahead of a decisive February, which includes clashes with fellow strugglers Peterborough United and Blackpool.
Lee Bowyer might still be relatively new to management, but he’ll know from his time as a player just how ruthless the Championship can be. Back in the dugout at the club he spent two years at between 2009 and 2011, Birmingham City might be 13 points clear of the drop, but their recent form has left a lot to be desired. A side that was considered a possibility for the play-offs in the championship preview at the start of the season, the Blues have won just once at home since the turn of the year and with conflict between the board and fans over their ‘faceless’ owners, things could go from bad to worse if results aren’t turned around quickly in the league.