The Contrasting Fortunes Of The Championship's Bottom Three
Despite the 2023/24 English football season barely being at its halfway point, things are looking bleak for the Championship’s bottom three. Rotherham United, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday are cut adrift in the second tier’s drop zone. The former of those three is the team that is closest to that all-important 21st place however, they are four points adrift of Huddersfield Town in mid-November, who are a side looking to keep improving under Darren Moore.
To make matters worse for the Millers, the Terriers poached their star player in the summer for barely £1m. As the central midfield academy product was out of contract at the end of the season, he was available for a cut price, and the West Yorkshire club were only too happy to capitalise. So where does that leave them? Let’s take a look at Rotherham and their fellow relegation candidates in depth.
Of our three strugglers, it’s Rotherham who are the only club that operates sustainably. the New York Stadium side has the smallest budget in the Championship and by some distance. As such, the latest EFL Championship odds make the Millers the 1/4 favourites for the drop this term. Owner Tony Stewart only invests in the club when absolutely necessary and he clearly deemed that the summer was the perfect time to do exactly that.
Following the club remaining in the division last season, the chairman was clearly looking to bolster his club’s status within the second tier. He twice broke the club’s transfer record to firstly bring in former Wigan Athletic loanee Christ Tiehi, then to bring in Exeter City hitman Sam Nombe. However, his investment hasn’t yet paid off.
The Millers are without an away win after 16 league games and haven’t demonstrated much ability to keep clean sheets. They suffered a humbling defeat to rock-bottom Sheffield Wednesday in a South Yorkshire derby on October 29th, and back-to-back draws have followed. They could only manage a 1-1 stalemate at home to second-bottom QPR and threw away an early lead at home to promotion-chasing Ipswich Town, eventually rescuing a 2-2 draw through Tiehi’s last-gasp thunderbolt.
Rotherham are the favourites of the three to remain in the division however, with a difficult festive period to come, they remain longshots.
“It was a very important goal today!”
Christ Tiehi on his first goal for Rotherham 💪 pic.twitter.com/gtWpjx8t1r
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 7, 2023
Queens Park Rangers
Manager Gareth Ainsworth announced himself to the footballing world as he led Wycombe Wanderers to the Championship against all odds in 2019/20. Unfortunately, he was unable to keep the Chairboys in the division but they did give some more established sides an almighty scare. Ainsworth was given the opportunity to return to the second tier last season when he was offered the managerial role at QPR, but his time in charge at Loftus Road was certainly a disappointment.
He won just one of his first ten games in charge, losing seven of them and very nearly taking The Rs down. This term began in even worse fashion, and his brand of perceived anti-football didn’t go down well with the QPR faithful. As a result, Ainsworth was relieved of his duties in late October. A managerial change in the middle of the season is never ideal, and the club’s chances of staying up will certainly take a hit.
Sheffield Wednesday are a team in turmoil. Their owner, Dephjon Chansiri, threatened to stop paying his players’ wages and the club’s debts. Despite being worth over £500m, the Thai Tuna mogul recently asked 20,000 supporters to fork out £100 each to pay a £2m HMRC bill. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the club are rock bottom of the division and has just one win all season. Don’t expect the Owls to be in the division next term.