What WSC contributors got right and wrong
3 August ~ It's "difficult to tell if the club is going forwards or backwards these days," Roger Titford, WSC's Reading fan, said in the build up to last season. By the end of the campaign it wasn't too hard to tell which direction the Royals were going in. Brian McDermott's side started slowly but a run of 15 wins from 17 games between January and April moved them up to the Championship's top spot, where they stayed to seal a return to the Premier League.One point behind Reading were Southampton, who were new to the division having been promoted from League One the previous season.
Although confident, Tim Springett's expectations were not quite that high: "If we can keep the momentum going then at least top ten," he said. Their second promotion in a row takes the Saints back to the Premier League for the first time since 2005.
West Ham were predicted to top the table by our contributors. Their own fan, Mark Segal, said that "with a new stadium on the horizon and a squad still on Premier League wages a top-two finish will be demanded. And it is achievable." The demands were not quite met, and in the end the Hammers had to go through the play-offs, like they did in 2005, to return to England's top tier.
At the bottom of the table, Portsmouth's relegation caught Leon Tricker off guard. "We've signed some half-decent players for sensible money but we need more bodies fast," he said. "If we can start every match with a full squad then I'd be hopeful of finishing in the top ten." As it was, Pompey were placed into administration again in February. The ten-point deduction that came with it means they will begin the 2012-13 season in League One, assuming they survive that long.
Portsmouth's struggles saved Barnsley from the "long-awaited relegation" Richard Darn predicted for them, but there was not such luck for fellow South Yorkshire side Doncaster Rovers. Glen Wilson's "dream of mid-table security" never came true in what he called "the toughest divisional line-up since 'the likes of Doncaster' gatecrashed the Championship."
Joining Doncaster and Portsmouth are Coventry. "We're teetering on the financial brink," Ed Wilson said. "I predict that we'll finish a giddy 15th if we can avoid administration." That administration didn't happen but Andy Thorn's side couldn't stop the Sky Blues falling to the third tier for the first time since 1964.
Elsewhere, Leicester City's season did not live up to expectations. The prediction league, probably influenced by King Power's financial backing of City, had them in second, just behind West Ham. Simon Tyers also had high expectations for his side. "We've been down this route of hope over experience before, but everyone's aware they can't mess this opportunity up. Play-offs, let's say." As it happened Leicester hovered around mid-table for much of the season, with Sven-Göran Eriksson departing after 13 games.
Other disappointing seasons came from Nottingham Forest and Leeds United, who were predicted to challenge. Forest spent much of the season fighting against relegation, while Leeds performed almost exactly as Duncan Young thought they would: "We specialise in being frontrunners at Christmas, then slipping to a minor placing by Easter." He was right. Leeds were in the play-offs until Christmas before their challenge failed and they eventually dropped to 14th.
The majority of the league's contributors tipped Peterborough United and Crystal Palace to fill the relegation places but their own fans weren't so pessimistic. "I think the club seems more ruthless this time," Peterborough fan Darren Fletcher said, before predicting a finish just above the relegation zone. Meanwhile Palace fan Matthew Barker hoped for some mid-table anonymity. They both got their wish, with Peterborough finishing 18th and Palace 17th.