What WSC contributors got right and wrong
2 July ~ "Automatic promotion in second place secured in the last minute of the final game." While the last day of the season was certainly dramatic for Derby fans, it was not in the manner fan Peter Gutteridge would have hoped, as the Rams slipped out of the play-off places they had held all season with a meek 3-0 surrender to Reading.
The two teams who did seize the automatic promotion spots were a surprise to everybody, with even fans Steve Menary and Kevin Wright taken aback to see Bournemouth and Watford go up. Our contributors predicted a 15th-place finish for Eddie Howe's eventual champions, and only marginally better for Watford, who were placed in 14th before their campaign kicked off.
Norwich City fan Andrew Woods had high hopes for Lewis Grabban and Kyle Lafferty, saying that they had "the makings of a decent partnership”. While Lafferty may only have managed one goal in his first season for the Canaries, Norwich went one better than predicted, snatching third and finishing only three points outside the automatic places.
Gavin Barker was bang on with his personal prediction of sixth for Ipswich, while our contributors were also correct in their placement of Blackburn and Blackpool, who finished ninth and 24th respectively. Blackpool supporter John Secker was right to be cautious in his pre-season assessment that Blackpool were "likely to be competing at the wrong end of the table”, with former manager José Riga enduring a turbulent four months at the helm before his replacement, Lee Clark, was unable to arrest their slip into League One.
Wigan's failure to build on last season's play-off defeat to QPR shocked Ian Aspinall, who said "I think we can make the top six", with Uwe Rösler sacked in November for winning only one game in 12. Rösler's sacking failed to save the club from relegation and Wigan, despite boasting a strong squad containing the talents of James McClean and Jason Pearce, dropped into the third tier of English football.
Further up the league, Nottingham Forest had "everything they wanted in the shape of an (apparently) minted owner and Stuart Pearce in the chair" before the season kicked off, according to Al Needham. His hopes of a place in the top ten before the start of the season proved misplaced, however, as Forest slumped to 14th, taking only two points from their final eight games.
Leeds United fan Duncan Young said in 2014 that "we have to hope all the wheels stay on this year, but history suggests they'll be clattering in all directions by Easter”. His fears proved well founded, as a promising five-game unbeaten run in March was derailed by the inexplicable sacking of assistant manager Steve Thompson, leaving isolated manager Neil Redfearn to pick up the pieces of another disappointing season, which ended in 15th place.
Our Championship fans had predicted Birmingham to go down, but their form was another surprise of the 2014-15 season. Chris Sanderson was fearful, noting that "until the current owners finally go away and just leave us alone, we're stuck in a cycle of mediocrity… another season long battle against relegation awaits”. The form of players such as Paul Caddis and Demarai Gray gave Birmingham hope, and powered them to tenth place, 22 points above the third relegation spot that they were pinned on for at the start of the season. Tom Lewis
The WSC 2015-16 Season Preview will be in shops on Thursday, August 6