Back to School: Report cards for the starts made in Sky Bet Championship

We grade the starts made by every team in the Sky Bet Championship
We grade the starts made by every team in the Sky Bet Championship

The first international break of the season is here, giving sides time to recover and reflect ahead of another hectic month in the Sky Bet Championship.

The likes of Charlton and Swansea have seen fantastic starts to the campaign, exceeding both expectations and odds to sit in the top two positions.

Leeds, Fulham and West Brom are right on their heels, their performances more in line with most pre-season predictions which called for them to be among the sides battling for automatic promotion.

By contrast, it's not been a happy start for Huddersfield and Stoke, who prop up the embryonic table with just one point each and may well be glad of the opportunity to reset.

Leeds are into 5/4 for the title with EFL sponsors Sky Bet, while Swansea are now 10/1 and Charlton move into 50/1 to cause what would still go down as a massive upset.

At the other end, Huddersfield are just 5/2 for the drop while Stoke can be backed at 4/1.

Tom Carnduff puts together his report cards for every team in the Sky Bet Championship and rates their performances so far.


Charlton: A+

Charlton have made a start beyond all expectations. Lee Bowyer's men were odds-on for relegation but four wins and two draws stretches their unbeaten run into the first international break.

They've demonstrated defensive resilience when under extreme pressure from the opposition, highlighting the closeness present in the current group of players.

Chances are the Addicks will continue to shine, and it shouldn't be long until they've secured survival - which was their aim at the start of this campaign.

They may only have to win a quarter of their remaining fixtures to survive but after the start they've had it's time to aim higher.


Swansea: A+

Another surprise package, Steve Cooper's men have won five of their six games so far which includes a scrappy victory over Leeds last time out.

Borja Baston has hit the ground running with five goals while Mike van der Hoorn is showing the potential to be the best defender in the Sky Bet Championship this season if he carries on current form.

The big question is regarding how Swansea keep this run going. If they are lucky on the injuries-front, combined with a positive transfer window in January if required, they have the potential to maintain a promotion push.


Leeds: A

As expected, Leeds have started the season in good form and have accumulated 13 points from a possible 18. Many questions were surrounding how this defence would cope without Pontus Jansson but just three goals conceded gives them the best record in the division.

Despite remaining among the best teams to watch in terms of entertainment, a lack of goal-scoring edge could prove to be problematic. The Whites should have won games against Swansea and Nottingham Forest but wasting multiple chances was costly and that's the key issue to address.

Still, it's been a positive start and if they maintain this sort of trajectory, a title bid seems certain.


West Brom: A-

Slaven Bilic has got his side playing football the way he wants and they are one of three teams to hold an unbeaten record in the Sky Bet Championship.

Three wins and three draws gives them 12 points, sitting fourth in the table. The attack has started as expected, but seven goals against is the second-highest among teams in the top-six so that could be a problem.

Home form could be better with just one win from three, but there are few complaints on the whole.


Preston: A-

Questions surrounded how this team would do given the loss of Callum Robinson to Sheffield United in the summer. However, ten points from their opening six games leaves them outside the play-off positions only on goal difference.

Their efforts at Deepdale have been a huge bonus and teams will struggle to play away against Alex Neil's side. Preston have won all three games in front of their own supporters, scoring eight goals and conceding just two.


Bristol City: B

Bristol City have recovered well from their opening-day defeat to Leeds. Lee Johnson's men have since won three games and drawn two.

An unbeaten run has been a positive but they're sitting at a 'B' performance currently given dropped points in games they should have won, while their performance against Leeds - a good yardstick - suggests they're a little way short of promotion quality.

Eleven goals is a huge positive though and they are having little issue in finding the net - largely due to Kasey Palmer's influence in attacking midfield.


Fulham: B

Fulham sit inside the top-six but have lost two of their opening six games. Scott Parker's men have the best attack on paper and that's why they have already hit double figures in goal scored.

They failed to follow up a convincing victory over Millwall with a surprise home defeat to Nottingham Forest and this inconsistency is an issue, however sixth place represents a solid enough start and the break comes at a nice time for them after one point in two matches.


Birmingham: B

Pep Clotet had a big job on his hands given Garry Monk's shock departure in the summer combined with Che Adams' move to Southampton.

Birmingham reinvested the money gained from that sale to add depth across the squad. They're at St. Andrew's but the away form is a big concern with back-to-back 3-0 defeats on the road.

They remain within touching distance of the leading pack but there's some doubt as to how long that will last.


Nottingham Forest: B

Forest should be in a higher position in the table having lost just one of their opening six games - that one came on the opening day against West Brom.

They have produced an attractive brand of attacking football which has contributed to their start of two wins and three draws, and they've come through some tough away games at Charlton, Fulham and Leeds unscathed.

Forest are certainly to be considered for the play-offs at this early stage.


QPR: B-

QPR started the 2018/19 campaign in the worst possible fashion, losing 7-1 away from home in their third game away at West Brom.

It's been different under Mark Warburton despite a relatively slow start. Two wins in their last two outings has helped to put them on ten points at the first break point of the season and they're up to eighth.

Jordan Hugill's form has been a huge positive and the R's will be hopeful that the striker can continue his great showing in front of goal.


Luton: B-

They may be sat in 15th but you can't have too many complaints with the start that Luton have made.

The international break has come at the worst possible time with consecutive victories but they'll be satisfied with their current points tally.

They've carried on their intent on attack from last season, despite a change in head coach, but ten goals conceded will be a huge concern.


Millwall: C

Millwall are in an expected mid-table position at this point but just two wins from six would perhaps leave fans wanting more - that's despite just the single defeat.

The Den is proving to be a tough venue once again with Hull the only one of the three visiting sides able to find the net there. That said, Millwall have only won their other two games at home by a 1-0 scoreline.

Away form continues to be a problem which needs addressing going forward. Matt Smith should also have more goals on his tally and needs to cut down on the number of big chances missed.


Sheffield Wednesday: C-

Wednesday are still without a manager but Lee Bullen has steadied the ship after a rough summer that dragged on due to Steve Bruce's departure for Newcastle.

They started well but have since tailed off and have lost three of their last four. Bullen is unsure what the future holds in terms of his position at the club but an appointment needs to be made soon.

Whoever the new manager is, they need to have a short-term impact in order to turn around recent fortunes with Wednesday suffering three defeats in four.


Blackburn: D+

Tony Mowbray wanted to introduce a new style of football over the summer and Blackburn have done reasonably well all things considered, albeit they would have wanted to be higher in the table at this point.

They enjoyed a good patch in mid-August with two wins and a draw but that was sandwiched between losses either side. Goalscoring is a concern with five in their favour and seven conceded.

Rovers manage a point against Cardiff, but have to work to ensure that Ewood Park is a tough place for visiting teams to play.


Middlesbrough: D

A new brand of football was demanded at Middlesbrough after Tony Pulis' poor Boro side missed out on the play-offs last season and that saw the hierarchy take a gamble on Jonathan Woodgate.

They are currently enjoying a three-game unbeaten run but only have the single victory on their tally. Boro are yet to win away from home and their six goals conceded on the road is among the highest in the division.

That current run will give them hope that things are looking up but they need to win more games as Woodgate learns on the job.


Derby: D

So much was expected of this Derby side after the Rams enticed Phillip Cocu to Pride Park but they too have managed just the single win so far.

That came on opening day at Huddersfield and County have failed to build on it since. They were beaten convincingly at Brentford last time out and also lost to Bristol City at home.

Wayne Rooney will have an impact when he arrives, but they need to ensure they are still in with a realistic chance of the play-offs when January comes as they sit closer to bottom than they do to top.


Reading: D

The arrival of George Puscas and Lucas Joao for big fees led many to think that this Reading side would be up among the league leaders - but they have won just two of their six games.

A lot of work needs to be done by Jose Gomes to truly make this squad into promotion contenders and consistency will be an issue based on early showings.

Two wins in three in mid-August came against poor Cardiff and Huddersfield sides and they face a big test away at Middlesbrough in their next outing.


Brentford: D

The Bees found themselves as one of the favourites to top the Sky Bet Championship this season but their start to the campaign has been uninspiring given the squad they possess.

A great victory over Derby goes alongside a narrow away victory at Middlesbrough in their only successes so far and the Brentford faithful would have expected more by this point.

Ollie Watkins has been a positive and could fill the void left by Neal Maupay's departure as Brentford look to make a move up the table from 14th.


Hull: D-

A side expected to face relegation trouble have done little to convince otherwise in the early stages, despite picking up good away points at Millwall and Brentford.

This season will be a test for a squad that already looks quite thin.


Barnsley: D-

It's been a tough start for a team who have just been promoted back to this level but Barnsley's lack of goals are the biggest concern for a side so strong in attack last season.

They haven't won since the opening day - where they beat Fulham - and have suffered three defeats in the five games since that contest at Oakwell.

Barnsley need to ensure that their home form is good enough to keep them in this division and have a Yorkshire derby against Leeds to look forward to after the break.


Wigan: E

Wigan are sitting in the relegation zone despite a run of four consecutive defeats being halted by a draw at home against Barnsley in their last game.

Paul Cook's men have only managed to score four goals, the joint-lowest tally in the division, while they sit alongside a handful of teams in conceding double figures already.

The DW Stadium was a tough venue for visitors last season, but two of the three teams to play against the Latics there have picked up at least a point so that's an area that needs working on.


Cardiff: E

They may be sat in mid-table but Neil Warnock's men have not looked convincing at any point of the season so far.

It could take Cardiff time to adjust to life back in the Sky Bet Championship following their relegation but they should be in a better position given their busy summer in the transfer window.

Their away form has been the biggest negative and there's a feeling that teams don't fear coming up against them despite their recent Premier League status.


Huddersfield: F-

Another underperforming side who were recently in the Premier League and Huddersfield fully deserve their F- grade.

A draw away at QPR is the only point on their tally so far and it led to Jan Siewert being sacked following the home defeat to Fulham.

The Terriers head into the international break on the back of four consecutive defeats and their choice of next manager will be crucial in ensuring that they don't suffer back-to-back relegations.


Stoke: U

Stoke's start to the season has been nothing short of abysmal. Nathan Jones' men sit bottom of the table with one point, conceding 15 goals in just six games.

They had all the potential to be a side who could compete for the league title this season and while performances were decent despite the poor results early on, things have continued to get worse.

A win on penalties against a second-string Leeds side in the Carabao Cup proved to be a red herring and they followed it with an away defeat to Birmingham.

Jones should be given time to build, but you imagine patience will wear thin if their current form continues.


Odds correct at 1545 BST (02/09/19)

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