With the 2 automatic promotion places sorted in the championship, which went to Leicester and Burnley respectively, we review the 4 teams below them who will look to scrap it out for the 3rd and final promotion place.
The 4 teams are Queens Park Rangers (the West Londoners who were relegated last year from the premier league), Derby County (who have had a few years absence from the premier league), Brighton (who have done well to get this far and are in yet another playoff semi final) and Wigan (the Latics like QPR were a premier league team but got relegated after several years in the top flight).
With the top 2 places decided several weeks in advance, as Leicester wrapped up the tittle in quick time and Burnley being in the automatic places for most of the season, the chasing pack were left to fight among themselves as the playoff positions were changing all the time.
Derby would 3rd position their own, after QPR’s initial good start to the season fizzling out which left the West London club in 5th and maybe relieved to even be in the playoffs. Rangers with the amount they spent on players would have been surely looking to have got promoted at the 1st attempt through the automatic promotion route. Unfortunately for Harry’s men if they are to get promoted they will have to do it through the playoffs.
This will not be easy, especially as they are facing Wigan. The Latics after losing long serving Spanish manager Roberto Martinez to Everton, opted for former Bolton and Burnley manager Owen Coyle. Unfortunately for club and manager this was not a match made in heaven and the usually patient Dave Whealan relieved him off his duties.
Wigan chose talented Brentford manager Uwe Rosler to replace Coyle, and what appointment it was as the former Manchester City manager enjoyed a really good winning streak which ultimately helped them into the playoffs and lets not forget to mention a good FA cup run that ended with an agonising semi-final penalty shoot out loss to Arsenal. A late wobble almost prevented that from happening, but thankfully for the Latics that didn’t happen.
The other team involved in the playoffs is Brighton, the Seagulls though only just scraped through. Oscar Garcia’s men had to rely on Leonardo Ulloa goal in the dying seconds of their game against Nottingham Forest to squeeze through to the playoffs.
With Reading in direct competition for the last spot and for long periods looking like they would get the last spot. The last game itself saw 6th position change at least 3 times, but ultimately it was the Seagulls prevail to the playoffs.
The playoff games saw Brighton host Derby County in the 1st leg and Wigan host QPR. Brighton went into the game knowing that Derby have beaten them twice this year and that the Rams are the divisions top scorers.
The game itself ended with another victory for County, and the East Midlands side will go back with a 2-1 advantage after initially falling behind in the tie. Having reviewed that tie, we feel Derby with their attacking prowess will be too good for Oscar Garcia’s side and will win 2-0 at Pride Park and winning 4-1 on aggregate.
The other game features 2 sides who were in the premier league last year. QPR will go into this playoff with more pressure , Rangers have invested heavily in players and Harry’s men really need too get promoted otherwise this will be classified as a failure for their standards.
The game itself was a 0-0 stalemate and is all to play for in the second leg. We feel the outcome here will be a win for QPR but only just that will leave a QPR and Derby playoff final where we feel the Rams will be victorious.