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FM21 – Championship Guide – Part 2

Part 2 of the Championship guide includes the remaining twelves teams not covered in Part 1. Each club info section contains an overview of the club, predicted finish, club vision and some key players, hot prospects and finally a suggested formation.

Clubs in this post

Millwall

Millwall have famously never played in the Premier League, so guiding them to the top flight could be an interesting story. Well known for being aggressive and dirty, the London club have a huge rivalry with West Ham. Now a well established lower Championship club, fans at the Den haven’t seen top flight football since the 1980s.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
14thGoodGoodThe Den (20,146)

Club Vision

Play Direct FootballFavoured
Play high-tempo pressing football Preferred
Make the most of set piecesFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Top HalfRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundDesired

Key Players

Jake Cooper

Jed Wallace

Ben Thompson

Hot Prospects

Danny McNamara

Billy Mitchell

Hayden Muller

Suggested Formation – 5-3-2

Millwall have a few good quality centre halves so choosing a back five works well here, especially as Romeo and Ferguson offer good options at right and left wing back respectively. In central midfield you have Woods, Thompson, Williams or Leonard, who can form an interesting three. Parrott represents a good option upfront. This formation does lack positions for Jed Wallace and Connor Mahoney, so a 5-2-3 or 4-4-2 could also be effective if you wanted to fit the wingers in somewhere.


Norwich

Having been relegated last season, Norwich are one of the favourites to bounce straight back to the Premier League. Their finances are very good, and Emi Buendia is easily one of the best players in the Championship, if you can keep hold of him. A successful first season could set you up to solidify Premier League status in years to come.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
2ndGreatExcellentCarrow Road (27,359)

Club Vision

Play possession footballDesired
Develop players using the club’s youth systemDesired
Sign players under the age of 21 for the futurePreferred
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Win PromotionRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred
– Second Season
Remain in the Premier LeagueDesired

Key Players

Emiliano Buendía

Teemu Pukki

Todd Cantwell

Hot Prospects

Max Aarons

Josh Martin

Sam McCallum

Suggested Formation – 4-3-3 DM Wide

The Canaries have great depth all over the place, but for me, a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 looks the best bet. Max Aarons is an excellent attacking outlet at Right Back, and if you played Buendia ahead of him, he could do a lot of damage cutting in from the right. Tettey and Skipp form a solid central two, and Cantwell works well ahead of them in the AMC position. Pukki is the best option up front. You can’t really go wrong here, Norwich have the most technical side in the League. A possession based tactic will work wonders.


Nottingham Forest

Forest spectacularly missed out on the play offs last season, not winning a single one of their final six games of the season. This time around the aim will again to be to reach the play-offs. They are a club with huge potential, and famously double winners of the European Cup in the late 70’s under Brian Clough. A longer save attempting to replicate that success could be an interesting avenue. Short term, Forest need to fix their inferiority complex.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
5thGoodGoodCity Ground (30,576)

Club Vision

Play attacking footballPreferred
Develop players using the club’s youth systemPreferred
Sign players under the age of 22 for the futureFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Reach Play-OffsRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred

Key Players

Harry Arter

Lewis Grabban

Joe Lolley

Hot Prospects

Loïc Mbe Soh

Alex Mighten

Brennan Johnson

Suggested Formation – 4-2-3-1

Forest have a lot of quality but not a lot of depth. I would recommend a 4-2-3-1 in with an attacking full back on one side, namely the right. Christie or Darikwa both provide attacking outlets there, and paired with Joe Lolley make an excellent partnership on the right. Sow and Yates can operate in central midfield, and loanees Knockaert and Freeman both provide quality in the AM strata. Grabban is aging, but scored 20 last year, so should still bag you ten goals a season.


Preston North End

Preston have been steadily improving under the radar, staying mainly in the top half of the Championship since they were promoted in 2015. Twice top flight winners, Preston are a big club with some of the best training facilities in the league. Small improvements could see them pushing for play off positions in the not too distant future.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
11thExcellentAverageDeepdale (23,404)

Club Vision

Play possession footballFavoured
Play attacking footballFavoured
Sign players under the age of 22 for the futurePreferred
Sign players based in EnglandPreferred
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Top HalfRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred
– Second Season
Sky Bet Championship – Play-OffsDesired

Key Players

Daniel Johnson

Ben Pearson

Ben Davies

Hot Prospects

Josh Earl

Tom Bayliss

Ethan Walker

Suggested Formation – 4-3-3 DM Wide

Preston have a solid spine, with a strong centre half pairing of Bauer and Davies, Pearson, Johnson and Browne in central midfield and Sean Maguire upfront. Barkhuizen and Sinclair provide pace in the wide areas. A counter attacking 4-3-3 seems like the best fit here.


QPR

Queens Park Rangers having played in the Premier League as recently as 2015 now find themselves a regular in the bottom half of the Championship, having finished there in the last four seasons. Their finances are pretty secure now, after shifting a lot of their higher paid players, and they now seem to be in a position to start building back towards the Premier League again. It’ll be a few seasons before they get there however.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
15thGoodAverageThe Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (18,224)

Club Vision

Sign players under the age of 21 for the futurePreferred
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Top HalfRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred

Key Players

Tom Carroll

Rob Dickie

Lyndon Dykes

Hot Prospects

Conor Masterson

Aramide Oteh

Manassé Mampala

Suggested Formation – 4-2-3-1

There’s not a lot of quality in the QPR squad but where there is depth is across the AM Strata. Ilias Chair, Adomah and Osayi-Samuel make for an interesting three, and Carroll and Ball provide a strong central midfield. Seny Dieng is a decent option in goal, with room to improve. If you wanted to fit Amos in the squad, a 4-3-3 DM Wide is another option.


Reading

Reading have spent 7 years in the Championship since their relegation in 2013, the closest they came to promotion was a third place finish in 2017, but they lost out to Huddersfield in the play-off final. The clubs finances aren’t great, so keeping the wage budget low and turning a profit on players will be crucial. Reading will have aspirations of a return to the top flight, but that will be a couple of years off.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
18thGreatGreatMajeski Stadium (24,197)

Club Vision

Sign players to sell for a profitRequired
Maximum one-year contracts for players over 34Favoured
Minimum two-year contracts for first-team playersFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Top HalfRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundDesired
– Second Season
Repair the club’s financial damageRequired
Sky Bet Championship – Reach Play-offsFavoured

Key Players

Rafael

Ovie Ejaria

Liam Moore

Hot Prospects

Michael Olise

Tom Holmes

Thierry Nevers

Suggested Formation – 4-2-3-1

Reading have great options at full back, Richards and Yiadom offering decent work rate and pace on the wings. Ejaria and Meite offer great quality in the wide areas and Puskas is an excellent forward option. Central midfield options aren’t great, but there is a lot of cover at centre back, so a 5-2-1-2 or 5-2-3 could also work.


Rotherham

After winning promotion from League One last season, Rotherham will be hoping they can retain Championship status this time around, their last campaign in 18/19 ended in relegation. Avoiding relegation will be a tough ask considering the quality of the Championship, and there’s not really a budget to bring many players in.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
23rdAverageBasicAESSEAL New York Stadium (12,088)

Club Vision

Play attacking footballPreferred
Develop players using the club’s youth systemFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Avoid RelegationRequired
FA Cup – Be CompetitiveRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Second RoundDesired

Key Players

Daniel Barlaser

Wes Harding

Kieran Sadlier

Hot Prospects

Ben Wiles

Viktor Johansson

Joshua Kayode

Suggested Formation – 4-4-1-1

A more defensive minded formation is important here, so two banks of four will work well in that sense. Jamal Blackman is a solid Championship goalkeeper, and the defence basically picks itself. Ogbene offers an attacking outlet on the right hand side with good pace, and Ben Wiles works well in the number 10 role. Smith looks a great Target Man, so a direct approach could work well here.


Sheffield Wednesday

A club with a very rich history, Wednesday are an interesting prospect this year. They start the season with a 6 point deduction and with financial difficulties clearly apparent, avoiding relegation this year will be the target. However, if you can grow the club and improve the finances over the next few years, bringing Wednesday back to the top flight, chasing a fifth English title or a fourth FA Cup could be an interesting prospect.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
22ndAverageAdequateHillsborough (39,812)

Club Vision

Play attacking footballDesired
Play entertaining footballPreferred
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Avoid RelegationRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred

Key Players

Callum Paterson

Barry Bannan

Adam Reach

Hot Prospects

Osaze Urhoghide

Alex Hunt

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru

Suggested Formation – 5-2-3

The full backs Wednesday have are better in the DM Strata, and combined with a lack of quality at Centre back makes a back five a good choice here. Luongo and Bannan can form an excellent double six in central midfield, and loanee Izzy Brown provides quality off the wings. Kachunga and Paterson are both good options upfront.


Stoke City

After ten seasons in the Premier League, and after a steady decline since Pulis left the club, Stoke were relegated in 2018 and haven’t looked anywhere near returning. 16th and 15th place positions in the Championship over the last two seasons have seen a lot of high earners leave the club, and Stoke appear to be turning the corner. Play-offs should be the aim this season. There’s also a huge amount of talent coming through the squad. If you’re looking for a youth development save, this is it.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
9thExcellentGreatbet365 Stadium (30,089)

Club Vision

Play attacking footballPreferred
Play possession footballPreferred
Develop players using the club’s youth systemDesired
Sign players under the age of 22 for the futureDesired
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Reach Play-OffsRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred

Key Players

John Obi Mikel

Steven Fletcher

Joe Allen

Hot Prospects

Nathan Collins

Thibaud Verlinden

Tyrese Campbell

Suggested Formation – 4-4-2

There’s a lot of quality all over the pitch, and a lot of depth too, but 4-4-2 looks a decent option here. In Central midfield there’s four top quality options, Etebo, Mikel, Allen and Ndiaye, so packing the midfield might be an idea. A flat back four is probably the best option with defensive full backs Fox and Bauer. There’s a lot of loanees here, selling a few high paid players and bringing some youngsters in probably wouldn’t affect your squad too much.


Swansea

Swansea came out of relative obscurity in the noughties under Brendan Rogers to reach the Premier League in 2011, and after several mid table finishes and a cup final, found themselves relegated back to the Championship in 2018. They are well known for playing attractive progressive football and the Welsh side have good finances and facilities for a second tier side. Promotion will be the aim, though it might have to come through the play-offs

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
7thGreatGreatLiberty Stadium (21,088)

Club Vision

Play attacking footballFavoured
Play possession footballPreferred
Play entertaining footballFavoured
Develop players using the club’s youth systemPreferred
Sign players under the age of 22 for the futureFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Top HalfRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fourth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Third RoundPreferred
– Second Season
Sky Bet Championship – Reach the Play-OffsRequired

Key Players

Ryan Bennett

Matt Grimes

Andre Ayew

Hot Prospects

Steven Benda

Ben Cabango

Josh Thomas

Suggested Formation – 4-2-3-1

Swansea have a pretty solid first XI but outside that there isn’t a lot of depth. Ayew is great anywhere across the front four, and loanees Gibbs-White and Gyökeres add a bit of quality as well. Grimes is an excellent playmaker at Championship level. Cabango and Bennett are a decent pairing at Centre Half. 4-3-3 DM Wide is another option here.


Watford

Watford’s aspirations this seasons will be to win the league and no less. They have a very strong squad for the division and will be looking to bounce straight back to the Premier League after relegation last season. With some of the best training facilities in the league and solid finances, there is also quite a young squad so a few years down the line, Europe could be an ambition.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
1stSuperbGreatVicarage Road (22,200)

Club Vision

Do not sign players over the age of 32Preferred
Sign players under the age of 23 for the first teamDesired
Sign players under the age of 21 for the futureDesired
Sign young players to develop for profitDesired
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Reach Play-OffsRequired
FA Cup – Reach Fifth RoundRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Fourth RoundPreferred
– Second Season
Sky Bet Championship – Gain Automatic PromotionRequired

Key Players

Etienne Capoue

Ismaïla Sarr

Nathaniel Chalobah

Hot Prospects

João Pedro

Ben Wilmot

Domingos Quina

Suggested Formation – 4-2-4

This team has so much talent it’s difficult to find a position which doesn’t work. Considering you’d expect to win almost every game, an attacking 4-2-4 gets the best out of the squad in my opinion. This way you can fit Pedro, Sarr, Deeney, and Gray all in the same side. Chalobah and Capoue are an obviously central pairing and are defensive minded enough to cover the attacking players.


Wycombe Wanderers

Wycombe won promotion last season with their direct physical style, winning the League One play-offs. This is the highest the club have ever been, their first season in the Championship, and it’s very likely that they will come straight back down. With no budget and a much poorer side than other relegation candidates, this is a very tough ask.

Predicted FinishTraining FacilitiesYouth FacilitiesStadium
24th AverageBasicAdams Park (10,264)

Club Vision

Sign players to sell for a profitRequired
Sign players under the age of 23 for the first teamPreferred
Maximum one-year contracts for players over the age of 33Favoured
Minimum two-year contracts for first-team playersdFavoured
– First Season
Sky Bet Championship – Fight against relegationRequired
FA Cup – Be CompetitiveRequired
Carabao Cup – Reach Second RoundRequired

Key Players

Daryl Horgan

Ryan Allsop

Anthony Stewart

Hot Prospects

Curtis Anderson

Andre Burley

Malachi Linton

Suggested Formation 4-4-1-1

As you can imagine there’s not a lot of depth here, but a flat back four seems to fit the team best. Dominic Gape adds a lot of quality in midfield, and Wheeler and Horgan look good value on the wings. If you were looking to be more defensive, a 4-1-4-1 can also work, loanee Josh Knight looks useful in the DM role.


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post. League One and Two may be on the horizon if the demand is there, so if you’d like to see those, please tweet us @DictateTheGame or me personally at @VarsFM.

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