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The 2011/12 Championship revealed


Filed: Friday, 3rd June 2011
By: Staff Writer


The 24 teams taking place in next season's Championship have finally been decided. Join us as we take a look at all of West Ham's 23 opponents...

Barnsley

Last season: 17th
Title odds: 100/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 194 miles
Key man: Jason Shackell (centre half, 27) Considered a key figure at Oakwell but one tipped to leave the club this summer.

Like the vast majority of teams in the division, Barnsley have tasted top flight football in the Premier League - albeit for just one season, back in 1997/98. A perennial favorite for relegation, the boys from Oakwell have failed to finish higher than 17th in the last five seasons - yet miraculously avoided a return to League One, from where they were promoted in 2005/06.


Birmingham City

Last season: 18th, Premier League
Title odds: 8/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 137 miles
Key man: Ben Foster (goalkeeper, 28) City will do well to keep him with a number of Premier League clubs likely to be interested.
Ex-Hammers: Liam Ridgewell.

One of the three clubs relegated from the Premier League next term, City will almost certainly be one of West Ham's biggest rivals for promotion next season - although it remains to be seen how much of a stomach owner Carson Yeung has for England's second flight.


Blackpool

Last season: 19th, Premier League
Title odds: 16/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 257 miles
Key man: Charlie Adam (midfielder, 25) Blackpool's stand-out player in the Premier League last season - but also certain to leave.

After just a year with the big boys, Blackpool - and charismatic manager Ian Holloway - are back in the Championship having endured a dreadful end to their 2010/11 campaign which culminated in relegation. Not fancied by many for a title challenge next term but financially flush after a year in the Premier League and with some hefty parachute payments due - so a decent outside bet.


Brighton & Hove Albion

Last season: 1st, League One
Title odds: 22/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 71 miles
Key man: Ashley Barnes (striker, 21) A real 20-goal-a-season striker.
Ex-Hammers: Mauricio Taricco.

Guy Poyet was the architect of the Seagulls' return to the Championship after five years in the third tier of English football. Finishing just five points shy of the century mark last season, Albion are sure to cause one or two upsets next season - as they did in 2004 when winning 1-0 at the Boleyn Ground.


Bristol City

Last season: 15th
Title odds: 33/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 128 miles
Key man: Nicky Maynard (striker, 24) A 20-goals-per-season striker with youth on his side

Having made the play-offs in 2007/08 in their first year back in the second flight, City are now an established mid-table Championship side having finished 10th, 10th and 15th under Keith Millen in the three seasons since. Not exactly flush, City are hoping that a move to a planned 30,000 capacity stadium at Ashton Vale will bring the glory days back.


Burnley

Last season: 8th
Title odds: 16/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 250 miles
Key man: Tyrone Mears (full-back, 28) Former Hammer who failed to make the grade in the Premier League but remains a no-nonsense defender.
Ex-Hammers: Tyrone Mears.

A Premier League outfit just two years ago, the Clarets spent their first season back in the Championship on the fringes of the play-offs spots. Having finished last season strongly - with only one defeat in their final six games - they will be hoping to push for the top six this term.


Cardiff City

Last season: 4th
Title odds: 16/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 160 miles
Key man: Pete Whittingham (midfield, 26) The former Villa trainee made more appearances (45) for City than any other player last term.

Having sacked their manager (Dave Jones) and parted company with a potent strike force (Jay Boothroyd and Craig Bellamy) the future is uncertain for Cardiff, who were beaten in this season's play-off semi finals by Reading having finished fourth in the league.


Coventry City

Last season: 18th
Title odds: 80/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 117 miles
Key man: Marlon King (striker, 31) Ex-jailbird King scored 13 vital goals last season.
Ex-Hammers: Freddy Eastwood.

The Sky Blues had been in the top flight for an uninterrupted 43 seasons before they were finally relegated in 2001/02, since when they've failed to finish higher than 8th in the Championship. The last five seasons have seen City flirt with relegation and there is little to suggest they will trouble the top of the Championship next term.


Freddie Eastwood: Coventry City


Crystal Palace

Last season: 20th
Title odds: 66/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 15 miles
Key man: Nathaniel Clyne (full-back, 18) A great prospect who was also named as the Football League's Young Player of the Year.

Having made the play-offs twice in three seasons between 2005 and 2008 Palace have flattered to deceive since, finishing in the bottom five for the last two seasons. Now under former fans' favourite Dougie Freedman, the chances are they'll be struggling against next season.


Derby County

Last season: 19th
Title odds: 33/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 145 miles
Key man: John Brayford (right-back, 23) Versatile defender with plenty of experience under his belt.
Ex-Hammers: Stephen Bywater.

Only 40 years ago County were one of the greats of English football. However time has not been kind to the Rams who have been floundering in the Championship for eight of the last nine seasons; a brief soiree in the Premier League ending in humiliation after they amassed a record low 11 points in 2007/08. Since relegation they have finished no higher than 14th and a top ten finish will be considered a good season in 2011/12.


Doncaster Rovers

Last season: 21st
Title odds: 100/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 170 miles
Key man: Billy Sharp (striker, 25) 16 goals in 29 sppearances last season.
Ex-Hammers: Josh Payne.

A non-league side just eight years ago, Rovers have slowly but surely made their way through the league system since. They reached the Championship via the League One play-offs in 2007/08 and enjoyed two seasons consolidating their position before narrowly avoiding the drop last term. Donny will be happy merely retaining their Championship berth in 2011/12.


Hull City

Last season: 11th
Title odds: 22/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 191 miles
Key man: Liam Rosenior (right-back, 26) Son of former Hammer's favourite Leroy.
Ex-Hammers: Richard Garcia; Jimmy Bullard.

Having reached the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2008/09 after two seasons away it was back to more familiar territory for the Tigers last year. A disappointing 11th-place finish in their first season back in the Championship will be something City will be hoping to improve upon this coming season.


Ipswich Town

Last season: 13th
Title odds: 16/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 76 miles
Key man: Carlos Edwards (midfielder, 32) Missed just one league game for Town last season.

One of several former European trophy winners now languishing in England's second tier, Town are now looking forward to their tenth consecutive Championship season. As mid-table as they come, Ipswich have finished between 7th and 15th in every season since returning to England's second division.


Leeds United

Last season: 7th
Title odds: 20/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 200 miles
Key man: Max Gradel (winger, 23) The Ivorian winger has attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs due to his sparkling form last season.

A game that many Hammers will be looking forward to due to its historical connections, Leeds are once again looking upwards after years in the doldrums. A 7th placed finish last term will be one the Yorkshire side will be looking to improve upon and they are likely to be there or thereabouts come next May.


Leicester City

Last season: 10th
Title odds: 11/2
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 120 miles
Key man: Richie Wellens (midfielder, 31) A virtual ever-present in last season's campaign.

Another ex-Division One regular, the Foxes are back amongst the contenders after several years of struggling. Since being promoted from League One in 2008/09 Sven-Göran Eriksson's side have finished 5th and 10th - and are already hotly-tipped for the Championship title next season.


Richie Wellens: Leicester City


Middlesbrough

Last season: 12th
Title odds: 14/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 250 miles
Key man: Julio Arca (defender/midfielder, 30) Out of contract this summer, the ex-Sunderland left-back is one who 'Boro will be desperate to hold on to.

One of the original yo-yo clubs, 'Boro have struggled to adapt to life in the Championship since being relegated form the Premier League in 2008/09, since when they have finished in mid-table twice. Now under Tony Mowbray, the Smoggies will do well to make the top ten next term.


Millwall

Last season: 9th
Title odds: 25/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 8 miles
Key man: Tamika Mkandawire (centre-half, 28) A tall, imposing defender who has risen to prominence from the lower leagues.

2011/12 represents an opportunity to clash swords with the old foe once again. 'Wall achieved a creditable 9th place finish last season after being promoted via the League One play-offs the season before. Matching that next season will be a difficult - yet not impossible - task for Kenny Jackett's side.


Nottingham Forest

Last season: 6th
Title odds: 12/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 252 miles
Key man: Lee Camp (goalkeeper, 26) Considered one of the best stoppers outside of the top flight, the Northern Irishman is key to Forest's hopes.
Ex-Hammers: Chris Cohen.

It's been 13 years since the former European champions last graced the top flight but after several years in football oblivion, Forest are once again emerging as a force at Championship level. Two play-off appearances in the last two seasons suggest they'll be in contention once again in 2011/12.


Peterborough United

Last season: 4th, League One
Title odds: 66/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 90 miles
Key man: Craig Mackail-Smith (striker, 27) The Scottish international will be looking to fire his team to safety next season - if he remains at the club.

Peterborough are back in the Championship after winning the League One play-offs for only the third time in the last 20 years. However Darren Ferguson has installed a steely determination to his side who, despite their minnow status, are going to be a tough act to beat next season.


Portsmouth

Last season: 16th
Title odds: 40/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 107 miles
Key man: Hayden Mullins (midfielder, 32) As reliable as ever.
Ex-Hammers: Hayden Mullins; Tal Ben Haim.

Having survived by the skin of their teeth thanks to some leniancy from HMRC Pompey are back on the up - or so they hope - after being placed in the hands of new (Russian) owners. With a decent backbone of honest pros a few new signings could see them challenging for a top ten spot.


Reading

Last season: 5th
Title odds: 12/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 50 miles
Key man: Shane Long (striker, 24) 28 goals in all competitions last season is nothing to be sniffed at.
Ex-Hammers: Jobi McAnuff.

Having been walloped 4-2 in the Championship play-off final the Biscuitmen have to recover quickly from that massive disapppointment and regroup for the coming season. Still, Brian McDermott's side should be in and around the title-chasing pack regardless.


Southampton

Last season: 2nd, League One
Title odds: 16/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 88 miles
Key man: Rickie Lambert (striker, 29) A tough Scouser who has scored goals at every one of his six league clubs.

Another former giant who have fallen on hard times, the Saints are back in the Championship after two seasons in League One, where they'd last played in the late 1950s. A bit of a dark horse, it remains to be seen how they will cope a league up but with some good young players on board, hopes are high.


Watford

Last season: 14th
Title odds: 66/1
Distance from the Boleyn Ground: 33 miles
Key man: Danny Graham (striker, 25) A return of 27 goals from 49 appearances last season was highly impressive.

Bar one desperately disappointing season in the Premiership (2006/07) Watford have been in the Championship since the turn of the century. Having exhausted the parachute payments that followed Malky Mackay - who was an outside shout for the recent West Ham vacancy - is currently doing a great job on a shoestring.


Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.







Your Comments


by Niran Ade-Onojobi
07:28PM 11th Jun 2011
''We need to start the season on a winning note and appreciate the fact that we do not have a devine right to being in the Premier League. Therefore we must work hard to earn a place where we belong. It is disheartening that Grant put us in this mess but we have to put that behind us. We can make it back at first attempt.''

by Tell how it is Charlie!
08:52AM 4th Jun 2011
''What are the odds on West Ham? What has the betting odds been like in predicting placements in previous seasons? This really looks a wide open league if you go by the bookies odds.

It just shows you the potential for what can happen if you're relegated. Forest, Ipswich, Leeds, Southampton and Derby, all with a very good fan base. Brighton, another club with a potential strong fan base. If I remember correctly their directors decided to sell their ground for a commercial development and make them nomads! ''

by 1hammer0
09:00PM 3rd Jun 2011
''That is going to be one tough league to get out of next season. Everyone at the club needs to be on top of their game. The fans as usual will do our bit. We have the best fanbase in all leagues. And we need the encouragement from the board and manager to contiue our loyal support for the club with positve actions. ''

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