Championship 2020/21: Norwich's impressive recruitment could yield an immediate PL return

Norwich boss Daniel Farke
Daniel Farke is entrusted to lead the Canaries back to the Premier League
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Despite enduring a torrid time in the top flight, Jack Critchley is backing Norwich to make an instant return to the Premier League...

"Despite finishing rock-bottom last season, the East Anglian side look far better equipped than Bournemouth and Watford to return to the top flight at the first time of asking"

Championship Winner Market

Daniel Farke will be keen to press the reset button after a disastrous second half of the season which saw the East Anglian side lose 10 straight Premier League games. The Canaries were bright and breezy throughout the first few months of their top flight campaign, however, they have since struggled to recreate those exploits, and looked a shadow of the side that stuck three past Manchester City in mid-September.

As a result, the Norwich hierarchy will have had ample time to prepare for the club's return to the second tier, and their summer transfer business suggests that they have been putting the majority of their efforts into ensuring that the German boss has a squad that is capable of challenging for Championship promotion.

During their 2018-19 promotion winning campaign, they finished five points clear of Sheffield United, and scored a league-leading 93 goals. They only drew three blanks throughout the course of the season, however, they also conceded 16 more goals than the Blades. While their cavalier approach was undoubtedly entertaining for the neutrals, it meant that the majority of Norwich supporters were unable to relax, even when their team was seemingly in the driving seat.

Although there are still concerns in central defence with Alexander Tettey, a central midfielder by trade, having deputised in the middle during pre-season, the back four could now be expertly shielded by new recruit Jacob Sorensen, with the former Esbjerg man described as "calm, collected and clever" by the Danish media. Kieran Dowell is an exciting arrival, with the former Everton man having spent plenty of time at this level over the past couple of seasons.

Bali Mumba is a decent prospect, and although he may not be pitched straight into the XI, he's certainly a player who can add something extra. Jordan Hugill doesn't feel like a typical Norwich signing, yet he will add some much-needed bulk to the forward line, whilst Oliver Skipp is highly rated in North London. New left-back Xavi Quintilla came through the Barcelona academy, and should be extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Although one or two outgoings are still expected, Norwich's exciting academy continues to churn out top talent with both Josh Martin and Adam Idah expected to play bigger roles this campaign.

With Sam McCallum also set to figure for Farke's men this year, Norwich have plenty of options, and with the exception of centre-back, they look extremely well-stocked in key areas. Despite finishing rock-bottom last season, the East Anglian side look far better equipped than Bournemouth and Watford to return to the top flight at the first time of asking.

They are currently [3.25] to secure promotion next season, however the [7.2] available on the Exchange for Farke's men to swashbuckle their way to the title also looks extremely tempting.

Promotion

Brentford's young squad was exceptional throughout the majority of last season, however, the Bees failed to deal with the pressure during the final couple of weeks. Thomas Frank's side may lose one or two of their stars this summer, although you can always rely on the club's talent spotters to have identified suitable replacements.

The West Londoners are undoubtedly trending in the right direction, and having notched 80 goals last season, they were one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the second tier. It was their most prolific campaign since 1994-95, and having conceded 21 fewer goals than the previous year, their defensive resolve also played a huge role in last season's near miss. They were breached on just 38 occasions, their best record since romping to the League Two title over a decade ago. With Ethan Pinnock and Pontus Jansson looks set to remain at the club this summer, continuity at the back will be absolutely vital. The arrival of former Northampton powerhouse Charlie Goode will also help add further competition in this area of the field.

Thomas Frank 1280.jpg

With another year of experience under their belts, and the prospect of playing at the Brentford Community Stadium, Frank's men should be able to build on last year's progress, and finally secure promotion to the top flight. They are [3.25] to secure promotion this time around, and they'll be desperately hoping to avoid yet more play-off heartbreak.

Relegation

Although Wycombe were always likely to begin the season as favourites for the drop, the Chairboy's spirit will give them a fighting chance of avoiding an instant return to League One, and Gareth Ainsworth's side look far too short. Rotherham and Coventry may also surprise a few, whilst Luton have something special under Nathan Jones, and although they need to bulk out their paper-thin squad over the coming weeks, the Hatters may just be crawl over the line once again.

At 7/2 and 15/2 respectively on the Sportsbook, Reading and Huddersfield may be set for a season for struggle.

Reading have swapped Mark Bowen for Veljko Paunovic, and although it's difficult to judge the Serbian on his efforts in the MLS, it may take a little while for him to acclimatise to the hustle and bustle of the Championship. The outgoing Welshman got the best out of a relatively limited squad, and although John Swift and Ovie Ejaria are quality operators, the potential loss of Yakou Meite and the inconsistent form of George Puskas may leave the Royals looking a little light in the final third.

Huddersfield also have a novice boss at the helm, although Carlos Corberan does at least have plenty of experience as a coach at this level. The Terriers were a difficult side to predict under the Cowleys, and still don't appear to have a clear identity. Karlan Grant is a fine finisher, whilst Harry Toffolo has the potential to become one of the division's most exciting left-backs.

However, the remainder of the squad doesn't inspire confidence, and although the Spaniard looks far better prepared than the disastrous Jan Siewert, the West Yorkshire side may struggle if one or two key players pick up knocks throughout the winter months.

They only finished three points above the dropzone last season, and the transition from pragmatism to a far more easy-on-the-eye approach may just result in a relatively slow start to the campaign.

Top Goalscorer

The Championship top goalscorer market is suitably competitive with the majority of the front-runners having been plying their trade in the Premier League last season.

With four places available for each-way backers, there is plenty of value to be found. Nahki Wells played for two clubs last season, and scored 11 of his 20 goals during the second half of the campaign. Having seemingly settled at Ashton Gate, he could be a decent option at 20/1. The Bermudian is likely to get plenty of service, with Bristol City possessing a number of gifted playmakers, and with a full campaign under his belt, he should be able to fill his boots in the south west next year.

However, at 25/1 on the Sportsbook, Cardiff City's Keiffer Moore could be the man to fire the Bluebirds back to the play-offs this season. The Welshman scored 10 times in a struggling Wigan side last year, and he is likely to thrive under Neil Harris. The Bluebirds take a far more direct approach, which is ideal for the lofty frontman, who is extremely effective in the air. Almost a third of his goals were scored with his head last season, although the former Barnsley striker is equally as effective with the ball at his feet.

With the talented, but mercurial Lee Tomlin tucked in behind, Moore isn't likely to be short of opportunities, and he'll undoubtedly enjoy playing in a side who are upwardly mobile, as opposed to glancing nervously over their shoulders.

English Championship: English Championship (Winner 2020/21)

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English Championship: English Championship (Promotion 2020/21)

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Friday 11 September, 7.45pm

Market rules

Back Lay
Brentford
Watford
Norwich
Bournemouth
Swansea
Stoke
Cardiff
Millwall
Sheff Wed
Nottingham
Blackburn
Bristol City
Reading
Coventry
Middlesbrough
Preston
Birmingham
Derby
Rotherham
Luton
QPR
Barnsley
Wycombe
Huddersfield
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Down

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