Championship season review: Charlton, Derby, Fulham, Huddersfield

Charlton Athletic: 12th

The Addicks were one of the favourites to struggle, having needed a late upturn in results to avoid the drop in 2014. The man who masterminded that escape was not kept on, as Jose Riga made way for fellow Belgian Bob Peeters, who took his first managerial job in England.

And in the early weeks they were the surprise package, with dynamic striker Igor Vetokele grabbing the goals that had been so elusive the previous season to secure home wins over Wigan Athletic and Derby County. High-flying Watford and Norwich City were also among their victims before the end of September as they ended up as the last unbeaten side in the Championship.

That was mainly due to being hard to beat, as they drew plenty of games, but the first defeat came at Bournemouth in mid-October. The first home loss came in early December against Ipswich Town, and that result was the catalyst for a shocking run which saw them slip to as low as 19th by January, a winless streak that cost Peeters his job.

There was controversy surrounding the appointment of successor Guy Luzon, but after a slow start the Israeli was able to guide the club back to mid-table, helped by the goals of January signing Tony Watt and impressive midfielder Johann Berg Gudmundsson. Despite finishing with a run of just one win in seven games, the Londoners finished in a credible 12th place.

Derby County: 8th

Having missed out on the Premier League by the most agonising of margins, free-flowing Derby were installed as favourites for promotion at the start of a season that promised so much, but eventually yielded very little.

Results early on were inconsistent, but by October they had truly hit their stride as they swept Bolton Wanderers, Bournemouth and Reading aside with ominous authority to top the table. However, they were never able to pull clear despite the continually strong form of top scorer Chris Martin.

A few concerns were raised following defeat to arch rivals Nottingham Forest in January, but they soon recovered to go on a seven-match unbeaten run, which showed little sign of the upset that was to come.

Despite the presence and form of loanees Darren Bent and Thomas Ince, the Rams completely fell out of the automatic promotion race as a toothless performance at Fulham began a sequence of seven games without victory, which included defeats to promotion rivals Middlesbrough and an unbelievable failure to beat Birmingham City when leading 2-0 deep in added time.

They still had matters in their hands on the final day, but an awful showing against Reading saw them slip out of the top six to finish a disappointing eighth. Following this collapse, Head Coach Steve McClaren was sacked.

Fulham: 17th

Felix Magath kept his promise and remained as manager of Fulham as they embarked on their first season below the top-flight since 2000-01, one which proved more difficult than they perhaps expected.

Forced to sell or loan out most of their top earners, the Cottagers had to rely on a squad made up mainly of youngsters although they did have the previous season’s top scorer. Ross McCormack had signed for a Championship record £11m, but could not inspire his side to a strong start as they lost their opening four matches and spent the early weeks vying with Blackpool to avoid last place.

Magath was soon shown the door after just seven months in West London, and local legend Kit Symons was thrown into the hotseat. They still conceded goals, but Symons was able to turn results around, lifting them into the security of mid-table by Christmas with a run of just three defeats in 14 games; a sequence that included 4-0 home victories over Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday.

Once that momentum had faded, it was a bit more of a struggle as Fulham struggled for wins in the second half of the season and ran the risk of being dragged back into the relegation mire, but a couple of impressive wins over promotion chasing sides saw them safe, earning Symons the manager’s role on a permanent basis.

Huddersfield Town: 16th

Things looked really bleak for the Terriers at a very early stage, with a 4-0 opening day loss to eventual champions Bournemouth prompting the departure of manager Mark Robins. Academy boss Mark Lillis stepped in and oversaw a run of one win in their next five league matches before Chris Powell was named as Robins’ successor in early September.

He began by taking only one point from a possible nine, but victory over fellow strugglers Millwall at the end of the month began a superb run of seven games unbeaten. However, that form could not be sustained and they won just once more before Christmas to lie just a few points clear of the drop zone.

The second half of the season was a story of inconsistency which peaked in mid-March when they briefly occupied a place in the top half. Home form was poor overall, with January’s impressive win over Watford an all too rare occasion where everything came together.

But Powell succeeded in keeping the club clear of danger, a feat that looked a tall order when he arrived. Next season, Nahki Wells promises to score more than the 11 goals he got this term, while youngsters Harry Bunn and Tommy Smith are exciting prospects who have a lot to build on, so the future is bright in Huddersfield.

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