Getting it back together: The 2003-2004 Preview

Team by team

By Michael Wood and Roland Harris

  1. Nottingham Forest
    Championship for the pleasant kids of Nottingham. A good team that player simple football well and have a decent manager. The sky is the limit.
  2. West Ham United
    Chugging up behind Forest the Hammers will get the second spot because they have too many good players not to although the 10m they got for Glenn Johnson and Joe Cole will seem like small potatoes if they end up having another season in the Nationwide.
  3. West Bromich Albion
    Losing out to West Ham in the final weeks of the season will be cushioned by getting the best play off spot but they will lose anyway.
  4. Millwall
    As an illustration as to the problems of this division Millwall will rise to the top of the pile of average teams during the season, get a day out in Cardiff but then lose the play off final.
  5. Sheffield United
    After the Lord Mayor's show, another Lord Mayor's show with a similarly low key ending.
  6. Reading
    Will get into the Premiership though the play offs. I do not like the fact but the masters of the one nil are this year's West Brom.
  7. Watford
    Expect a decent season from the Hornets who suffered less of a Premiership hangover as the rest of us because they did not drink so much of the Premiership's heady cocktail.
  8. Norwich City
    The definition of average football will manage to get into the top half of the table and I will have no idea how.
  9. Sunderland
    Expect early season hanging around the relegation zone before the collective backside is got into gear at Christmas and an upper midtable finish is achieved.
  10. Crystal Palace
    Early season runners but the perennial Christmas drop off will see Palace slip away.
  11. Bradford City

    We are a long way off having the right stuff to get back into the Premiership but we are, at least, on the right track by drafting in the kids like Simon Francis and Danny Forrest and the not that young but still young compared with recent years lads like Paul Heckingbottom. The best thing about our side will be the enthusiasm, we are a bunch of young gys with something to prove, the worst thing will be the inconstancy.

    Expect flirting at both ends of the table before a decent midtable finish.

  12. Ipswich Town
    Spud Head Joe Royle will manage to turn the qulaity that comes out of Portman Road youth system into an average dirge.
  13. Rotherham United
    Just how far can Ronnie Moore's team of giants who only ever scored from set plays go? About this far.
  14. Wigan Athletic
    Paul Jewell's side will take a few scalps and gear up for a push at the play offs the season after.
  15. Stoke City
    A season of steady progression for Robbie Williams' least favourite team.
  16. Burnley
    Sometimes a team has done as well as it ever will do and there is nothing the boss can do except try work out why his good players are not producing anymore. Burnley are that team this season and although they will not go down, the will not do well and no one will really know why.
  17. Cardiff City
    Powered by a bit of cash and some fanatical if nasty followers you can expect Cardiff to be in this division the season after this one. May even tickle the play offs.
  18. Coventry City
    Another season of getting by for the midlanders.
  19. Walsall
    Some people expect big things of Paul Merson's Walsall, not me.
  20. Derby County
    Like us and Coventry Derby will continue with a post-Premiership headache. Will be lower half of the table most of the season.
  21. Crewe
    Will struggle in this division but could escape relegation if Dean Ashton starts playing like he once could to replace sold Rob Hulse.
  22. Gillingham
    Perhaps not long for this league. I think they will end up in a dog fight with the likes of Crewe and Derby County and like Grimsby Town last season, they will not have enough to get out of it.
  23. Preston North End
    Everything will go wrong for Preston this season and they will go down.
  24. Wimbledon
    Relegated an no one will care.