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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Ian Holloway on the Championship
Plymouth boss Ian Holloway
By Ian Holloway
Plymouth manager

The Championship was such a tough division last season - and I have no doubt it is going to be even harder in the 2007-2008 campaign.

I reckon there will be 10 to 12 teams challenging for the top six places.

But there are only two automatic promotion places available and my tips would be West Brom and Sheffield United.

Sheffield United have a new manager in Bryan Robson, who has seen it all in football.

They have sold a couple of players this summer but I expect them to be one of the main challengers for an automatic return to the Premier League.

Plymouth boss Ian Holloway
Holloway's Plymouth finished 11th last season

Robson's old club West Brom have also lost a couple of players, with Diomansy Kamara and Jason Koumas both going, but they were so close last season and will be again.

But outside of those two it will be really tight for that final promotion slot.

Along with Sheffield United, Charlton and Watford will be looking to bounce back from being relegated last season.

Teams coming down from the Premier League have such an advantage, with the money on offer up there.

It does not seem fair to me to get 30m for failing but that is the way it is and we have to live with it.

Charlton have had a few years in the Premier League and are the bookmakers favourites to go straight back up.

But they have made a lot of changes and sold their top scorer Darren Bent, which can make it difficult for a team, and Alan Pardew has a big job there I reckon.

Wolves and Southampton missed out in the play-offs last time and they will again be challenging at the top.

606: DEBATE
Ian H, BBC Sport

Mick McCarthy did a fantastic job at Wolves last season. He has discovered some cracking players and moulded a really strong side and I am sure they will be up there again.

Then there are teams like Cardiff, who have shown they are really trying to do something with the signing of Robbie Fowler.

Colchester showed last season what a good side they were.

They have lost a couple of players but have made a really ambitious signing in Teddy Sheringham.

He is the oldest swinger in town but at this level he will add a touch of class.

There were so many teams in it with four games to go and I am sure it will be the same this season.

We will be hoping Plymouth are one of those clubs in with a shout.

Last season we did ever so well to finish 11th but we will have to improve as a team to repeat that.

Our aim, like many teams in this division, is to get to 50 points - and hopefully safety - as quickly as possible.

It is all well and good talking about making the play-offs but we need to get to 50 points and then start looking at what we can do.

Ideally, I would like another eight points from last season's total, get to 75 and see where that takes us - but it is a big ask with so many good teams in there.

We broke our transfer record three times last season and hopefully we might get a player or two in before the transfer deadline closes at the end of August and then maybe we will look to strengthen again in January.

Then I would be happy with my squad.

I always say it is lucky the scouts do not bother to come down to Plymouth or I would not have any players.

The teams coming up often struggle to adapt to the Championship

We were just a couple of players short of a strong squad last season - but I love our team spirit and we have some good players.

We just need someone that can win some headers.

A player who can clear everything from our area and someone who can score some goals with his head at the other end.

When I was playing I needed to stand on an orange box to win a header and I have got a few players like that as well.

I would really like a big horrible player who if he got a penalty would want to head the ball.

Someone like Sol Campbell would be ideal - although I don't think we can afford his 60,000-a-week wages.

It is such a tough division that it is hard to predict the teams at the bottom.

My old side QPR are one of the bookies' tips for the drop but I think they will be fine.

The teams coming up often struggle to adapt to the Championship - as Southend showed last season when they got off to a bad start and struggled to recover.

Bristol City, Blackpool and Scunthorpe could all have similar problems - there just are not that many bad teams around.

It is a really scary division and it is no wonder managers get sacked after a year with expectations so high these days.

  • Ian Holloway was talking to Andrew McKenzie. You can read his first BBC column of the season this Friday




  • The Coca-Cola Football League Championship Table
    30 January 2010 19:21
        P GD PTS
    1 Newcastle 27 27 56
    2 Nottm Forest 28 23 52

    3 West Brom 27 26 50
    4 Cardiff 27 22 45
    5 Swansea 27 3 42
    6 Sheff Utd 27 4 41

    7 Blackpool 27 10 40
    8 Leicester 26 2 39
    9 Middlesbrough 28 7 37
    10 Bristol City 27 -4 36
    11 Preston 26 -2 35
    12 QPR 27 -4 34
    13 Doncaster 26 -1 33
    14 Coventry 28 -8 33
    15 Barnsley 26 -8 33
    16 Scunthorpe 27 -13 33
    17 Watford 26 -6 32
    18 Derby 28 -11 32
    19 Sheff Wed 28 -12 31
    20 Crystal Palace 27 2 30
    21 Ipswich 27 -8 29

    22 Reading 27 -16 26
    23 Plymouth 26 -14 24
    24 Peterborough 28 -19 18

    SEE ALSO
    The Championship form guide
    06 Aug 07 |  Championship
    How to watch football this season
    02 Aug 07 |  Football


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