The EFL Championship starts this weekend and with the standard improving every year, many have dubbed the league one of the most competitive in the world. Today we will highlight a few things to look out for when contemplating who will light the league up and who will struggle. Will Stoke, West Brom and Swansea all challenge for an immediate return to the Premier League? And will Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham be able to continue their momentum after being promoted from League One?
Championship review
>League Football is almost back!

Leeds back in the big-time?

If there’s one manager’s progress to track this season, it’s surely Bielsa at Leeds. Bielsa has previously been dubbed the “best coach in the world” by Pep Guardiola, But how will the enigmatic and sometimes controversial Argentine fare over a 46-game Championship season? His last two roles have seen him quit after two days with Lazio and then be suspended by Lille after taking 12 points from 13 games. There are no guarantees with this one.

Championship changes for Stoke

After 10 years in the Premier League, Stoke are back in the Championship. And they have not stood still. The Potters have offset the loss of Xherdan Shaqiri by signing James McClean, Oghenekaro Etebo, Tom Ince and Benik Afobe. That is the sort of business that, under new manager Gary Rowett, has made them among the favourites to win the division. Added to that, can the step down a league

Forest set to rise?

It’s been a busy summer at Nottingham Forest as Aitor Karanka has overhauled his squad with 10 new signings. Benfica midfielder Joao Carvalho has joined in a club-record deal and other new additions include Diogo Goncalves, also from Benfica, Gil Dias, from Monaco, and Hillal Soudani, from Dinamo Zagreb. They disappointed last season, but if the foreign imports settle in well, expect big things!

What will happen with Villa?

After losing in the play-off final last season, it’s been a summer of uncertainty at Aston Villa. Some of that seems to have been put to rest by new financial investment and a “vote of confidence” for manager Steve Bruce. A lot depends on whether Jack Grealish stays at the club, Villa appear to have the quality to at least make the play-offs, but could face questions if things start poorly.

Frank Lampard’s start

After enjoying plenty of success in his playing career, can Lampard get Derby over the line in his first season as a manager? The Rams have not been in the Premier League since 2007/08 but have made the play-offs in three of the last five seasons and have regularly challenged towards the top of the table. Lampard has not shied away from the expectations, saying the aim has to be promotion, but can he deliver where others have fallen short?

Will Potter work his magic?

Swansea are back in the Championship after seven years in the Premier League. During those seven years in the top flight they had seven different full-time managers, and they have another new man in the dugout to start the 2018/19 season.

Graham Potter worked wonders with Swedish side Ostersund, taking them from the fourth tier to the top division and also winning their first major trophy in 2017.

However, he has a job on his hands at Swansea, particularly after a summer when there have been more notable outs than ins. Lukasz Fabianski, Andre Ayew and Ki Sung-yeung are among those to leave the Liberty Stadium and Potter said this week there is “not a pot of gold” to buy replacements.

Looking for more from Inplay Empire?