Oh man. Yesterday was our best day ever here at Through It All Together, with over 7000 views in a 24 hour span. You Leeds United fans are ready for some football. Either that, or you just really, really, really love white polos with casino branding across the chest. We’re betting it’s the former.
Our sneak peek at the new home kit surpassed our sneak peek at the new away kit for most viewed story of 2016, dropping the all-blue article to second place. But that’s totally understandable! We’ve been waiting too long for something to get excited about, and the signing of Garry Monk has Leeds United fans dreaming of bigger things.
Yes, we said the p-word, and the season hasn’t even started (TEN DAYS), but this is the time for dreaming! At least, until our staff gets a crack at this week’s roundtable. On the promotion topic, we asked our staff writers a simple question: Which three teams are going up in 2017? We have enough answers to make this a two-parter, so we’re going to give you our predictions today and Friday here at Through It All Together.
For part one, we’ve got sitting around the roundtable this week: Anthony Linley and Matt Robinson from Yorkshire, Ben Mallis from Perth, Australia, and Johnny Wakefield from Charlotte, North Carolina in the States.
All of us are "all Leeds," and all of us will try to answer the question we present every Wednesday to the best of our ability. It's not a quiz show, but it should give you insight into us as fans and writers alike.
And at the end, in the comments, don't forget to let us know how you'd answer the question of the week.
The Weekly Wednesday Roundtable (Part One!)... begins now.
Which three Championship sides will earn promotion in 2017?
Ben Mallis: I have three for you: Leeds United, Leeds United and Leeds United. Aw, a man can only hope. Unfortunately for all of us that enjoy this little website, the three teams I see getting promoted this season are Brighton, Norwich and Newcastle.
Brighton was arguably the best Championship side last season and only missed out on automatic promotion by three goals! They are well placed to succeed again this campaign, and should have the motivation after a disappointing play-off performance.
The Canaries have retained the core of a Premier League team, and history shows they don’t stay in the same spot for long. Norwich have overtaken Sunderland as threw yo-yo of English football, moving leagues six times in the past ten years. They’ll go up.
And as for Newcastle United, they are simply the most talented side in the division, and they keep getting better. Say what you want about Rafael Benitez, but this squad screams league winner to me. For comedic value I pray that I’m wrong; just imagine Benitez floundering in the Championship as the Geordies go crazy??? Yes please!
But no. It’ll be those three.
Matt Robinson: It’s a good question. I can’t see anyone winning it outright this season though other than Newcastle. They’ve managed to keep a pretty strong squad together this summer despite the relegation. Rafa is alright as well I suppose. Also if they are there or there about in January you can guarantee they will throw money at it like a sportsdirect.com Boxing Day sale.
I think the second automatic spot will be tight between a few teams, Norwich, Derby, Wolves. I hate to say it though, I think Wednesday might knick it. They had a really solid season last year, are building well this summer and again, have a fair bit of money to spend.
Finally for promotion through play-off spot. Wait for it......... wait for it......... LEEDS! Damn right! I see us sneaking in at 6th place along with the teams who missed out on auto, and then making an absolute storm to Wembley glory. We have had a half decent summer and still need to make 3 or 4 good signings, but I think we will. Add that to another 2 or 3 half way through and I can see Monk making a real fist of this season.
Anthony Linley: Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United are shorter odds to win the league outright than to make the play-offs and with parachute payments (expected to be largest in Championship history) fueling a rebuilding programme, who can blame punters for backing the Geordies. The Tyne side outfit have laid out their intentions early already capturing Grant Hanley (£5.5m) Dwight Gayle (£10m), Matt Ritchie (£12m) and prospect Isaac Hayden from Arsenal. Add those to the players Newcastle already hold and you can understand why they are league title favourites. Newcastle are my first name down on the list of top three finishers.
The second automatic spot is not such a clearer choice but Norwich have experience of this division retaining most of their squad with the exception of Nathan Redmond and so I would expect them to do well. Some bookies are offering 2 to 1 for Norwich to reach a playoff berth. They are a safe bet for second.
Aston Villa might be a popular choice, but they are a different story. Their new Manager Roberto Di Matteo has played down his clubs chances in perhaps a public display of lack of confidence in his own ability to repair shattered egos. He hopes to play his way out of the division with style. But the physicality of the Championship may prove too much for a side with a relatively inexperienced manager. Tommy Elphick is a notable addition to the central defence in a move from Premiership Bournemouth (£3m). The rest of the Parachute payments should help keep Joleon Lescott in super cars. Villa have recently been taken over by a Chinese Business man for an overpriced £76m, I hope he knows what he’s doing. Villa are now a Championship club and nothing should be taken for granted but they are worth a bet for 3rd or 4th.
Talking of take overs from the far East, Wolverhampton Wanderers deserve a shout. They have just become the latest midlands outfit to be bought out, this time by Chinese conglomerate the Fuson Group. The take over proceedings have meant little action in the transfer market, however their new owners intentions are also to take their new club to the Premier League, pledging to spend £20-30 million as a "necessity" on players - expect action in the markets soon. With Kenny Jackett retaining his job post-takeover he must be rubbing his hands at the thought of all that wonga to splash on players. I would expect Wolves to finish higher than they did last season and are my long shot for a 3rd or 4th place finish.
Are you wondering where our beloved Leeds fit into all this? Well there’s still a couple of weeks to go for us to get in our midfield general as discussed in our previous round table. If that happens I’d like to re-visit this post, if it doesn’t happen then to me we are still falling just short of what we need to compete in what will be a very exciting league.
Johnny Wakefield: After the last game of the 2015/16 season, I couldn’t get "We love you Leeds, Leeds, Leeds" out of my head for weeks. I saw Steve Evans’ tears, and I was sure that we’d stick with him, keep everyone else we needed to keep, sign a bunch of players, and make the push for promotion. (I'm a sentimental dreamer, okay?)
Well, that clearly didn’t happen exactly, but instead, I think we might’ve done even better. I’m excited about Monk (have I mentioned that before?) and Clotet, I’m excited about Antonsson and Roofe, and I think we have a foundation to build on. I’ve got us in the top 6.
I think all the writers above said it well, Newcastle is likely going up. They had a disastrous finish to the 2015/16 season in the Premiership, but they’ve got a team worthy of that level, and a manager with a name as well.
My second club to win automatic promotion is Brighton. Ben mentioned them above too, but the way they played last season (please, please don’t make me remember this again) and the way they got to work immediately after their heartbreaking play-off defeat make me think they’ve got the right mentality & lads in place.
The next four: Norwich, Derby, Wolves, and Leeds United. From there, who knows what will happen in that playoff crapshoot. Because I’m a fan, I’m saying Leeds as my third.
I don’t think we have the squad quite yet to make it out of the Championship (or even to the playoff, to be honest), but it should be a much better run than we gave it last year, and I think we have important pieces in place. Add a few more (my world for more defenders), and this could be the year.
So that's it for the first of two parts in this week's roundtable. We'll have part two for you Friday morning, the responses from our staff were just too good to combine into one post. Cannot wait for this season to start. Which of these writers do you think was the closest? Did anyone pick all three correctly? Or who are your three? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading this week, and see you again tomorrow for part two. #MOT