The 2017/18 Championship campaign is now well underway and with transfer window slammed shut; managers can now focus solely on football and getting results. Middlesbrough and Leeds United were among the favourites for promotion before the season kicked off and both remained amongst the top spenders in this summer’s transfer window.
We take a look at who has the better chance of promotion to the Premier League come next May.
The Whites have had the better start to the season
Garry Monk’s Boro side were massive favourites to win promotion from The Championship before the season kicked off but it has not been the most impressive start. They have only won two of their opening five games, neither of which were comfortable victories. They have already been beaten twice at Wolverhampton Wanderers and most recently Nottingham Forest albeit in unfortunate circumstances. This sees Boro sat just outside the playoffs on seven points and Monk will be hoping that they can build some momentum on their return from the international break.
In comparison, Thomas Christiansen’s ‘new-look’ Leeds side has made a superb start to the campaign. Many people believed that Leeds would be worse off this season following the departure of manager Monk and then star-striker Chris Wood to Premier League side Burnley. However, that has proved not to be the case as Leeds sit third in the league having won three of their opening five games. They also remain unbeaten having only dropped points in back-to-back goalless draws at Elland Road against Preston North End and Fulham. It will be interesting to see whether the Whites can keep up this level of performance following the international break.
Boro bring in proven Championship players
Both sides have undoubtedly had successful transfer window, but it is Boro who have come out with the stronger squad which is full of Championship talent. They signed numerous players this summer including the likes of Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite, Cyrus Christie, Ashley Fletcher, Jonny Howson, Darren Randolph and so on. The attacking trio of Assombalonga, Braithwaite and Fletcher cost a combined total of over £30 million, and they should get enough goals throughout the season to fire Boro into promotion contention. The loss of players such as Gaston Ramirez and Marten de Roon is a blow, but they still have more than enough quality to win immediate promotion back to the top flight.
In comparison, Leeds have also been busy this summer but have mainly signed players that are unfamiliar to Championship football. However, this does not necessarily mean that they will not be a success. The likes of Ergjan Alioski, Samu Saiz, Caleb Ekuban and so on have all arrived from abroad this summer and have already shown glimpses of what they are capable of in the early stages of the season. The fact that they have adapted to the league so quickly is a promising sign for Leeds supporters.
Although both sides have got a good chance of promotion come next May, it is Boro who have got the better squad to deal with the demands of the league throughout the season. Leeds do not have the same level of team depth, and if they suffered a couple of injuries to the likes of Saiz or Pontus Jansson, they would be struggling. Boro also have numerous players who have won promotion from this division before and they will know how to perform in the big pressure moments, and this will give them a better chance of promotion this season than Leeds.