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Championship - Football: Final Day Review

It was the final day of the regular Championship season on Saturday and there was plenty to talk about with 20 teams bringing an end to their campaigns.

We will delve into the four teams who will be battling it out in the play-offs, but first will touch on cause for optimism for some clubs ahead of next season based on their impressive performances on the final day.

Baggies to challenge

West Brom put on a stellar showing as they thrashed Barnsley 4-0 at the Hawthorns and there is a feeling the Baggies could challenge more seriously for promotion next season under Steve Bruce.

Although the former Manchester United defender was chastised during his time as Newcastle United boss, he knows how to get teams out of the Championship, having earned promotion when in charge of Birmingham City and Hull City.

The 61-year-old only took charge of Albion in February this year, so he hasn't really had time to stamp his authority on the squad and it will be interesting to see what players he is able to bring in this summer.

If the Baggies can keep the core of their squad together and add quality in certain areas, there is every chance they could earn promotion back to the Premier League and even win the Championship title.

New era for Rovers

Blackburn sent manager Tony Mowbray out on a high with a 2-1 victory at Birmingham City and there is enough to suggest Rovers could be plying their trade in the English top-flight in the not-too-distant future.

For large parts of the season the Lancashire outfit were in the play-off picture, but an injury to star striker Ben Brereton Diaz stunted the club's progress and they ended up falling away from the top six.

The Chile international scored a brilliant goal in the victory over the Blues, showing his importance to the team, and it is crucial the club keep hold of the sought-after striker this summer.

Like West Brom, if Blackburn can keep hold of their prized assets and make some smart moves in the transfer window, they could put in a strong challenge for promotion next season.

Sour end for Teessiders

Middlesbrough needed some help on the final day to finish in the play-offs and even though this didn't come from Sheffield United or Luton Town, it wouldn't have mattered if it did as Boro lost 4-1 at Preston North End.

It will be another campaign away from the Premier League for the Teessiders, who last played in the top-flight in 2016/17, and there is a big job for Chris Wilder to do this summer.

Reinforcements are certainly needed at the Riverside Stadium, with all areas of the squad needing to be looked at, but it remains to be seen what transfer budget the former Blades chief is given.

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Relegated Posh end on a high

The season may have ended in relegation for Peterborough United, but they did give their loyal supporters something to cheer about as they thrashed Blackpool 5-0 at the Weston Homes Stadium.

Grant McCann was appointed in February this year and although he was unable to save the club, there was enough improvement to suggest the club can bounce straight back from League One.

With some savvy transfer business in the summer, the Posh should have enough to secure promotion and be back in the Championship for the 2023/24 campaign.

Quartet ready for play-off battle

Of the four teams who finished in the play-offs, three of those picked up victories on the final day while the other side ended up drawing.

The most notable win came for Sheff Utd, who ended up fifth and will take on Nottingham Forest in the semi-finals after they thrashed Championship champions Fulham 4-0.

It is a huge confidence boost for the Blades heading into the first leg at Bramall Lane on 14th May, which they are 11/8 to win, and they will likely need a similar level of performance over the tie to get the better of Forest.

Forest drew 1-1 at Hull City, with both goals coming in second-half stoppage-time, and Steve Cooper's men will be desperate to earn promotion after being in the hunt for an automatic spot for so long.

Forest scored 73 goals during the season, only Fulham (106) and Bournemouth (74) netted more, while they boasted the second-best defence in the league.

There is an argument that the winner of this tie will end up going on to triumph in the final and earn the third and final spot in the Premier League.

The Blades are 9/4 to be promoted, while Forest are priced at 13/8.

In the other semi-final, Luton, who defeated Reading 1-0 on the final day, will take on Huddersfield Town, who overcame Bristol City 2-0 on Saturday.

The Hatters were the surprise package in the Championship this season and will be hoping to continue what has been a fairytale year so far.

The Terriers will be no pushovers, though, as Carlos Corberan's side have won their previous four matches and are unbeaten in their last seven assignments.

Luton can be backed at 9/2 to secure promotion, while the Yorkshiremen are priced at 7/2.

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