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Who Joins Rotherham In League One Next Season?




Much has been made of the exciting race for automatic promotion between Leicester, Ipswich and Leeds (and maybe Southampton) this season, but there is an even more intriguing battle going on at the other end of the Championship table.


With four games to go, Rotherham are rooted to the bottom of the table, already relegated to League One, and sit 19 points behind Birmingham in 23rd. Above them, just five points separate Birmingham in 23rd and QPR in 16th.


Here we take a look at each team, and their remaining fixtures, analysing how they could fare, before predicting who will face the drop come the end of the season.



QPR

QPR have had a torrid time as of late. They have been bouncing between managers for a while now, and have only just started to settle.


After Neil Critchley faced the sack last season, QPR appointed Gareth Ainsworth, the former Wycombe man, as the first team manager. However, following a dismal run, the club decided to terminate his contract, with the club lingering in 23rd place.


The board then decided to bring in Marti Cifuentes, and since then, have had an extremely mediocre time under his tenure, following 10 wins, 9 draws and 10 defeats.


It is without doubt that the football has somewhat improved since his arrival, and they have slowly drifted further and further away from the relegation zone, following some big wins against Leicester, Swansea and fellow relegation contenders Birmingham.


Goals have been a big issue for QPR, having scored just 40 all season, with only three sides scoring fewer this season.


Unfortunately for QPR, their run in is extremely difficult, which could see them win none of their remaining games. They kick off their run in with a difficult game away against Hull City who have playoff ambitions.


After that, they play host to two playoff-chasing teams. They first welcome Preston North End, before automatic promotion pushing Leeds United come to town.


To complete their difficult fixture list, on the final day of the season, they travel to Coventry City who may need to win to earn a place in the playoffs.


QPR will undoubtedly have one of the most difficult run-ins compared to the other teams below them, and they may have to rely on some of the other sides dropping points. Despite the difficult games, they should be fine, and they should remain in The Championship for the next season.





Millwall

Millwall are one of those sides that many will not be surprised to see nearer the bottom reaches of the table. After finishing just outside of the playoffs last season, hopes were high coming into the start of this season, but those hopes were quickly dashed.


They did start rather well, picking up a few wins in the opening weeks, but some heavy losses knocked confidence as they started sliding down the table.


Losses in recent weeks to teams below them have really dragged Millwall into this relegation fight, and like QPR, goals have been their main issue this season.


Millwall have had their fair share of changes this season as well. At the start of the season, they had to deal with the passing away of chairman John Berylson, with his son taking charge of the club.


Gary Rowett only lasted until mid-October, with Adam Barrett taking over as caretaker manager for the next four games. Joe Edwards then took charge of the first team, but his poor run of form resulted in him being sacked towards the end of February.


Neil Harris found himself immediately appointed, for the second time in his managerial career, and since then, he has taken them from 21st to 17th.


There are still some crucial games left to be played for Millwall. They start with a home game against Cardiff, before taking a trip to an unpredictable Sunderland side.


They then have two huge games against the teams around them. The first, Plymouth Argyle at home, before ending the season away against Swansea.


There are some very winnable games there for Millwall, especially those home games, and the away game against a poor Plymouth side. Come the end of the season, Millwall could find themself in a relatively comfortable position.





Blackburn

This is one of the shocks of the season. Last year, Blackburn were fighting for a spot in the playoffs but lost out due to one win in nine games at the tail end of the season.


Hopes were high that they could push themselves one step further and achieve that spot in the playoffs this season, at the very least.


The first half of the season was fairly mediocre, and less than inspiring. Jon Dahl Tomasson received his marching orders at the start of February, allowing John Eustace to take the helm.


In his 13 games in charge, he has only tasted victory on two occasions, a 3-1 win at home to Stoke, and a 5-1 victory away against Sunderland.


Surprisingly though, Blackburn do possess The Championship’s top goal scorer, Sammie Szmodics, who has registered 23 goals and 4 assists this season.


He could be the difference between relegation and another season in The Championship, his goals could effectively save the club.


Their remaining fixtures are not for the faint-hearted, and if they require any points from their final few games they could be in trouble.


Blackburn kickstart things with a daunting trip to Elland Road to face Leeds United, before back to back home games with varying difficulty. The first, is a game against fellow relegation candidates Sheffield Wednesday, before a slightly more difficult game against Coventry.


Should Blackburn need any points to ensure survival on the last day of the season, they will have to travel to Leicester City and take points off of the potential league winners.


With the amount of goals Szmodics has scored this season, and that home game against Sheffield Wednesday, it is hard to see Blackburn going down this season. There are teams in this division that are much worse than they are on the pitch, and it is hard to see these sides picking up any points between now and the end of the season.





Stoke

Long gone are the days of Stoke being considered a hard to beat team, and one that is feared by many. Now, they are struggling in The Championship, frequently finishing in the bottom half of the table.


This season has been no different for Stoke, as they now find themselves involved in a battle to survive relegation to League One.


They did not start the season too badly, beating the likes of Watford, Middlesbrough and Leeds in the opening few months, but a run of six games without a win saw Alex Neil lose his job.


Steven Schumacher took over nine days later, but things have not got much better. Humiliating defeats to Leicester, Swansea, Blackburn and Norwich have helped Stoke edge closer to the relegation zone.


Stoke are another side that have struggled to score goals this season, having scored just 40. Stoke have never been a side to score too many goals, even in their Premier League days, but this is really hindering them this season.


Stoke have two huge games coming up that will decide whether or not they need to hit the panic button. They first travel to Sheffield Wednesday, and then go on to host Plymouth Argyle in what are two must win games.


Should The Potters lose both of those games, they then travel to Southampton, in a game where many will expect a comfortable win for the home side, before closing out the season with a tricky home game against Bristol City.


Stoke’s survival all hangs on their results in those first two games. Should they win both, or even one of those, they should be fine. If they lose, they will need something on the final day of the season at least to stay up.





Plymouth

Last season’s League One title winners are in a spot of bother this season, as they have found it hard to adjust to life in The Championship.


They are hovering just above the relegation zone by two points, but it will be considered a big success for the club should they manage to avoid relegation.


One of the main downfalls Plymouth have had to deal with this season was the loss of their manager, Steven Schumacher, who left the club to sign for Stoke instead. The club appointed Ian Foster to take over him, but his tenure has been less than fruitful.


After struggling throughout the majority of the season, the board's patience finally grew thin, and he faced the sack on the 1st of April, after a run of five home defeats without scoring, and just one win in twelve matches.


Goals have not been an issue for Plymouth. Like Blackburn, they possess one of the top goal scorers in the league this season, Morgan Whittaker, who has 19 goals and 8 assists this season.


Like Szmodics, he could be the difference between another season in The Championship and relegation to League One for Plymouth.


Plymouth have a varied end to the season. They start with a nightmare fixture, at home against top of the table Leicester City, before crucial back to back away games against fellow relegation candidates Stoke and Millwall, before ending the season at home against playoff chasing Hull City.


It is hard to tell how Plymouth will fare in these final four games. They 100% will be relying on the sides below them to drop points, especially when they face Leicester, but they need to win at least one of the games against Stoke or Millwall to stand any chance of staying up.


It will be difficult for Plymouth, especially considering there is no game they will go into being fully confident of a victory here, but if Morgan Whittaker can perform for them, he may just keep them up.





Huddersfield

There is no surprise that Huddersfield are involved in another relegation fight, but, surprisingly, they have a chance of staying up again this season, without Neil Warnock coming in and saving them.


After their daring escape last year, Huddersfield fans may have been hoping for a quieter season this time around, but that has not happened.


Warnock only lasted 7 games this season. After drawing 2-2 with Stoke, Warnock called time on his managerial career at Huddersfield, with Darren Moore being appointed a day later.


Moore’s tenure was demoralising for the club as a whole, as he oversaw 3 wins in 23 matches, with the precariously placed 3 points above the relegation zone.


The board decided a change was for the best, as Moore faced the sack at the end of January, with Andre Breitenreiter joining the club midway through February, and has only seen his side win two games out of his 10 games in charge.


As obvious as it sounds, winning games has been their biggest issue this season. They have only won on nine occasions this season, with only Rotherham winning fewer times. Even the teams below them have won at least two games more than them this season.


Huddersfield do have a chance to steer clear of the relegation zone for another season, however. The first of their four games comes away against Bristol City, before a colossal doubleheader at home, first against Swansea, and then against Birmingham, before ending the season with a daunting trip to Ipswich.


With these fixtures, their destiny is in their own hands. If they can beat Swansea and Birmingham, they will be a Championship club against next season. If they lose against Birmingham, they could be in real trouble. It is imperative for them to learn how to win ugly again.





Sheffield Wednesday

It is no surprise to see Sheffield Wednesday on this list, and it is no surprise to see them in the relegation zone either.


The club have had nothing but issue after issue this season, whether it be issues with the board, managerial chances, or injury issues, the problems just seem to keep on coming.


Wednesday faced an awful start to the season, not tasting victory in their first 13 games, eventually beating Rotherham at home 2-0.


Xisco Munoz had already been sacked by that point, having been relieved of his duties at the start of October following a 1-0 loss against West Brom.


After an extensive search, Danny Röhl took over as manager, and he guided the club to 5 wins in 8 games over the festive period.


The good times did not last, however, as the losses started to roll in again before 4 wins in a row gave the club a much needed lifeline.


Their recent win against QPR and their draw against Norwich has now given them a brilliant chance of achieving an unlikely second season in The Championship, considering how far adrift they were a few months ago.


They have a massive game against Stoke at home coming up, in which they will be desperate for a win to help guide them out of the relegation zone, before another huge game, this time away against Blackburn Rovers.


Wednesday then entertain West Brom at home in their penultimate game, before travelling to Sunderland on the final day of the season.


It is incredible that Sheffield Wednesday have given themselves this fighting chance of staying up, and it would be an incredible story if they do manage it. They are winning, and avoiding defeat, at the right part of the season, and that could be invaluable.


A win against Stoke would really get their hopes up, and it could be a strong end to the season for them. I would not be surprised to see Wednesday avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth.





Birmingham

Like Sheffield Wednesday, it is no surprise to see that Birmingham are in the relegation zone. Despite singing well in the summer, the managerial merry-go-round has had serious consequences on the team, and the board may pay dearly for it come the end of the season.


They started the season rather well, not tasting defeat in their opening five games, and even beating Leeds United in the second game of the season.


But, they could not keep that run of form going, and once they took one loss, they could not stop, currently having only tasted victory in one of their last ten games.


Despite a strong start to the season from John Eustace, Birmingham parted ways with him just 3 days after a 3-1 home win against West Brom.


The club appointed Wayne Rooney just two days later, which turned out to be a disaster for the club and Rooney. He took over with the club in 6th, and after just two wins in fifteen games, Rooney left the club sat precariously in 20th.


Six days later, Tony Mowbray became their third manager, who oversaw 3 wins in the 6 games he took charge of. Then, due to medical conditions, he had to take medical leave, with Mark Venus taking charge in his place.


A month later, when Mowbray took formal medical leave, Gary Rowett became the club's 4th permanent manager of the season and has so far tasted 3 defeats and one victory in his four games.


Birmingham have a mixed bag of fixtures to end the season with. They host Coventry, before two big away games against bottom of the table Rotherham, and Huddersfield, before ending the season away against Norwich.


It may be too little too late for Birmingham. There has been little stability at the club, too many changes in terms of managers, and the wrong people have been appointed. Rooney should have been let go sooner, and Birmingham may not be able to recover from these poor decisions.





This could go down as one of the most exciting relegation fights in Championship history. There are a lot of big clubs involved that could get relegated, and there are a few clubs that could still spring a surprise.


Birmingham should go down this season. They have been poor on the pitch, and the board have made poor decisions off the pitch, and it has cost them dearly.


The other team joining Rotherham is a tough one, as it all depends on some key games between teams who play each other. With the form they are in, Blackburn could be in real trouble. After losing 5-0 against Bristol City, their confidence is knocked, and they could find themselves slipping into the bottom 3 come the end of the season.

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