We continue our look at the six Championship Regional Winner markets we are offering ahead of the 2022/23 season, this time profiling the three sides bidding to be crowned Top Yorkshire Club.
You’d think it would take a real Herculean effort for either of Huddersfield Town or Rotherham United to trump Sheffield United’s Championship finish come the end of the campaign.
Well fancied to secure a promotion spot, the Blades appear as likely as anybody to sustain another charge for the Premier League, after their fortunes were transformed following the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom last winter.
Promotion back to the top-flight looked a world away when Slavisa Jokanovic was dismissed midway through the season, with the former Fulham boss unable to get any sort of tune out of an expensively assembled and underperforming group of players.
However, Heckingbottom’s appointment heralded a dramatic turnaround, as the former Leeds United coach oversaw a remarkable run of form that saw the Blades notch up almost two points per game and propel themselves, almost from nowhere, into the top six.
They eventually fell just short against eventual playoff winners Nottingham Forest, and whilst they will have felt the pain of that agonising semi-final penalty shootout defeat at the City Ground, that newfound confidence, together with several shrewd summer acquisitions, rightly has them installed as the odds on favourites to prevail in this three-team market.
It’s been quite a summer for Huddersfield Town… but not the one Terriers supporters may have been envisaging a few months ago!
It all seemed so rosy in the spring, with Town flourishing under boss Carlos Corberan and set for a winner-takes-all playoff final showdown with Nottingham Forest at Wembley Stadium.
A heart-breaking defeat in the capital deprived them of Premier League football for at least another season – but it was the subsequent departure of boss Carlos Corberan that arguably left the biggest mark.
A protégé of former Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, Corberan stunned the club when he announced his resignation in July, just a few days after the Terriers had returned to pre-season training.
The subsequent departures of key men Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo, to Nottingham forest, have further hindered Town’s 2022/23 credentials, although new boss Danny Schofield knows a victory over Burnley in the Championship curtain-raiser on Friday night would quickly restore optimism.
The Millers are the favourites to make an immediate return to League One, and if history is anything to go by, then it is clear to see why.
They have established themselves as the proverbial yo-yo club, having bounced between the second and third tiers relentlessly since 2017.
Paul Warne certainly knows what it takes to get a side out of League One, but supporters will be hoping he can soon display the qualities needed to help keep their heads above water in the Championship too.
The departure of star striker Michael Smith represents an almost insurmountable blow to their chances of doing so however, with the wily frontman, who netted 25 times last season, recently joining Sheffield Wednesday.
The issue is clearly finances, and Rotherham are never going to be a big enough pull to be able to dine at the top table. Some shrewd dealings in the window are a necessity if the Millers are to simply retain their status at this level, let alone elevate themselves above both of their Yorkshire rivals.
By Mark Mothershaw