1) Anyone has a chance of winning or losing
This one is fairly self explanatory: in the Premier League, one of Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea is going to win the league and they’ll also probably accommodate the top three places too, like in the last three seasons. The relegation battle has also been a little tepid recently, as we haven’t seen a proper scrap for two seasons now. In the Championship, anything can happen to anyone; with 3 games to go, half of the league were threatened by relegation, and only a few teams had nothing to play for. The only thing that wasn’t decided on the last day was the winners of the league. This season, Wolves were relegated, a team that was playing Premier League football just one season prior, while Crystal Palace nearly went out of business three years ago and are now vying for promotion with Watford. And for those saying that this sort of stuff happens in the Premier League: look at Portsmouth. Look at Bradford. Leeds. Southampton. Teams that had to spend more than they had to achieve were in peril and didn’t have a hope of staying in the league. Portsmouth are now in League 2, Bradford are just beginning to recover, Leeds are stuck in the Championship scrap and Southampton have this next point to thank for their re-ascent up the mountain. New Premier League teams are either trapped in mid-table insecurity, or plummet all the way down the leagues.
2) Best youth systems have to be in the Championship
The best youth systems are in the Championship. I’m not so much talking about right now, but young players in the youth systems have always been allowed to shine in the Championship. I’m going to use Crystal Palace as a current example, and Southampton as a previous example. Crystal Palace have created so many good players over the years from their lowly Championship status. Think an Andy Johnson in his prime. Ben Watson, winner of the FA Cup for Wigan. Nathaniel Clyne, who must have England caps in his future. Wilfried Zaha, about to embark on a journey at Manchester United. Johnny Williams is making a name for himself in the first team. One name that hasn’t been mentioned is John Bostock, once a player with limitless potential who is now wasting away in the Spurs reserves because he jumped to the Premier League far too soon: he needed at least one Championship season. Compare this to teams such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Spurs and QPR who have little youth in their starting lineups. Southampton, back in their Championship days, have produced some of the Premier Leagues better players. Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale both came through the ranks at Southampton and made their debuts in the Championship – Bale is now widely considered to be one of the best players in the world. Look now at the Premier League. Aside from perhaps Manchester United and West Ham, they buy their youth from abroad and the lower leagues. Raheem Stirling was bought from a pre-shit QPR, Zaha from Palace, Conor Wickham from Ipswich, Leighton Baines was a Wigan youth player. In summary, a lot of players that have come through to be some of the best in the Premier League have had been blooded in the Championship first.
3) Careers are made and destroyed
One thing I have noticed is the amount of players who weren’t getting enough playing time in the Premier League looking to rebuild their careers in the Championship. Some have succeeded with aplomb, some have failed. Men are separated from boys here. Those who can adapt to the physicality and competitive nature of the division survive, those who can’t get lost. Two prime examples are two players who have re-found what made them England internationals at Brighton: Wayne Bridge and Matthew Upson. Wayne Bridge has wasted a lot of his career as second fiddle to the likes of Ashley Cole, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Gael Clichy. A loan spell at Sunderland did nothing to help his form. Now, he has found the form that he once showed at Southampton, and he has adapted to what Gus Poyet demanded and what the Championship demanded. Same goes for Upson, who found himself as fourth choice centre back at Stoke having left West Ham as their first choice centre back. He also as adapted well to the Championship, and is part of the reason why Brighton have the best defensive record. You can even look at all the Manchester United youth players in Hull and Leicester’s squads, and how much they’ve done for their careers by dropping down a division. Compare these two to the likes of David Bentley, who had been in wretched form for West Ham in 2011-12 and Blackburn this season, and the Premier League remnants of the Wolves team, who have completely disgraced themselves and the managers they have seen off. The same can be said for a lot of the Blackburn players; favourites to go up, they spend a lot of the seasons endowed with controversy and managerial changes, but the players didn’t perform amongst all that.
4) It’s not about money and big name signings
If I hate anything about football, it’s money, and what it does to the arrogant primadonnas people call Premier League footballers. QPR will unfortunately grace the Championship next season; when I say unfortunately, I don’t mean it’s unfortunate that they’ve been relegated, I mean that it’s unfortunate that fans of other Championship clubs have to watch their team play them twice, because honestly they have to be the biggest team of overrated, overpaid, passionless scumbags to ever grace a football pitch. It’s says a hell of a lot that not even Harry Redknapp could get them to perform as a team. Most of them are sitting on a contract worth over 50K a week: Rob Green, Jose Bosingwa, Chris Samba, Bobby Zamora, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Esteban Granero, Park Ji-Sung, Junior Hoilett are all deserving of about £10 a week based on their shameful performances this season. Only Loic Remy and Julio Cesar have performed even slightly to the standards that their wages suggest. On the day of their relegation, Bosingwa, who has been the biggest disgrace of the disgracers this season, was actually laughing. Does he not care about how his fans must feel? Their season tickets cost £550, why not repay that money by actually trying. Don’t even get me started on the likes of Luis Suarez and Samir Nasri; as brilliant as Suarez is, you would never hear about an incident of biting in the Championship. Samir Nasri has been god awful this season, amost acting as a placeholder in the starting XI. In the Championship, it’s about the squad, it’s about how well they play together. Hull shouldn’t have gone up based on their squad, but Steve Bruce has worked some serious magic, and you could see that the understanding between the players was very strong. A lot of other teams have carried their League 1 players into the division too, such as Brighton, and we’ve already discussed Palace’s youth system. All in all, the Championship isn’t about spending money on awful players like Bosingwa just because he’s a big name. It’s about winning and nothing else. And if you want a serious counter argument, £8m and £4m for Jordan Rhodes and Leon Best, and Blackburn finished where?
5) There’s a surprise result every weekend
How often to do see a shock in the Premier League? Maybe once a month? In the Championship there’s shocks everywhere. Relegated Peterborough did the double over Cardiff. Barnsley went to St. Andrews and won 5-0. Ipswich suffered two 6-0 losses. A 5-4 win for Charlton over Cardiff. Leeds coming away from Watford with a 2-1 win. The fact that Crystal Palace won as many games as they did is surprising. I could go on, but I won’t. I can name 6 shocking results over an entire season of Premier League football: Spurs winning 3-2 at Old Trafford, Norwich beating Man U 1-0, Norwich winning 3-2 at Manchester City, QPR winning 1-0 at Chelsea, Villa beating Sunderland 6-1, and West Brom coming from 3 goals down twice to draw 5-5 with Man U. Most other results were pretty predictable in some way. The Championship will always throw up a surprise because there’s no predicting what will happen. All bets are off. And let’s face it, with the money invested in the club, it’d be a shock of QPR lost a game next season, so there’s more twists and turns to come from the division.