We are just over a third of the way into the Championship season, but the table is already beginning to highlight the promotion contenders, the play-off hopefuls and sides facing a struggle this season.

Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion have raced away at the top of the league in recent weeks, but surprise early-season leaders Huddersfield Town certainly remain in contention for a top-six finish, if not a push for the top two.

Meanwhile at the bottom, Rotherham United have been cast adrift but above them things become much tighter, with six clubs within five points of each other, while Huddersfield in third are just nine points above 17th-placed QPR, underlining how concertinaed this division is.

The latest two-week interval from club football offers us an opportunity to reflect on all that has gone before in 2016/17.

We’ve spoken to our network of reporters up and down the country and collected their views to come up with a comprehensive assessment of each club’s seasons so far.

Steve Bruce

Aston Villa

The green shoots of recovery can now finally be seen.”

Gregg Evans, Birmingham Mail

It’s not the start Aston Villa expected. It certainly isn’t what they hoped for.

But thankfully the green shoots of recovery can now finally be seen.

A dismal and unpredictable start to life in the Championship saw Villa fall into the bottom three by October.

One win - against Rotherham, the whipping boys of the division - had given the claret and blues false early hope.

Complacency kicked in and there’s a sense that Villa thought they were bigger than they actually were.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Huddersfield Town players celebrate with their fans after the 1-1 draw at Aston Villa
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Town celebrate draw at Villa Park

Defeats to Bristol City and Preston North End quickly ended that.

And with that final loss, out went Roberto Di Matteo. A proven manager at this level who failed to deliver this time around.

The Championship is a different beast to that of 2009/2010 when he guided West Bromwich Albion to automatic promotion.

He quickly found that out. Steve Bruce, his successor has quickly turned things around, though.

Eleven points from his opening five games has seen Villa charge up the table.

They’re still in 14th-place and six points away from the play-offs. But crucially, they’re no longer looking over their shoulders.

Barnsley manager Paul Heckingbottom

Barnsley

The biggest positive continues to be the sense of unity between manager, players and fans.”

Simon Gaskell, Sports journalist and Barnsley fan

Overall it has been a hugely positive start to life back in the Championship.

Having been out of the division for two seasons and with it being touted as the strongest line-up of teams for many a year, with the likes of Villa and Newcastle dropping down, there was naturally some trepidation about how we might fare.

Early victories over Derby and QPR showed that we belong at this level and despite not having the biggest squad to fall back we have shown ourselves more than capable of competing.

The biggest positive continues to be the sense of unity between manager, players and fans with everyone pulling in the same direction and fully buying into the philosophy of investing in young players who can improve and play at a higher level while improving us at the same time.

Returning to winning ways at Oakwell, where we haven’t won since August and have been handed defeats by Newcastle, Fulham and Reading, will be key to maintaining our success.

Video thumbnail, Fans and players
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Town fans celebrate last-gasp win over Barnsley

What happens to skipper Hourihane in January will also have a significant bearing on the season.

He is out of contract at the end of the year and newspaper stories linking him with the Old Firm and Aston Villa have already been doing the rounds.

Hourihane’s recent absence in the middle of the park through both injury and suspension showed just how much poorer we are without him so keeping or adequately replacing him will be crucial.

For the time being though we are just happy watching a team that has scored 27 goals, gives everything for the cause and continues to defy the expectations of those who would write us off.

Birmingham City Manager Gary Rowett is well respected within the game.
Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett

Birmingham City

The next step for Blues is to hit their highest notes more frequently.”

Brian Dick, Birmingham Mail

The fact Birmingham City actually spent some money in the summer and last season mounted two-thirds of a play-off run - meant there was pre-season talk about a more sustained challenge for the top six.

After 16 games Blues are one place and one point outside the play-offs so you’d have to say they are on course and have made a positive start.

The next step for Blues is to hit their highest notes more frequently.

For every rip-roaring performance like those against Norwich City and Fulham, there are three or four that fall a little short.

The most recent display against Huddersfield was probably typical so far this season - decent at the back, but for one slip - and not quite good enough up front to take control of the game.

After that 1-1 draw Gary Rowett called for his players to show more quality on a more consistent basis.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Huddersfield Town fans unable to roar their side to victory over Birmingham City
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WATCH: Town fans in fine voice against Birmingham City

Therein lies the nub of the issue. Blues regularly demonstrate many of the virtues required to stride majestically into the top six.

But they are less able to summon the one that will actually put them there - creativity leading to goals.

If they could retain their defensive organisation and fortitude and ally that with one more goal every game - they would be nailed on play-off material.

That’s where the January transfer window comes in. Rowett will look for one or two players who can deliver in the offensive third and help turn Birmingham from nearly-but-not-quite, into usually-if-not-always.

But remember this, seventh after 16 games is absolutely fine.

Blackburn Rovers manager Owen Coyle

Blackburn Rovers

The apathy and disillusionment is clear.”

Sam Jones, City University of London journalism student and Blackburn fan

Expectations were not high going into the season anyway, given the lack of transfer activity, the managerial situation and the ongoing protests against the owners.

Once it became clear that outgoing players would not be replaced, expectations plummeted, as they did once Owen Coyle had been appointed as the 'outstanding candidate'.

Given time, his predecessor Paul Lambert may have turned the team into promotion candidates this term. But without the financial backing required, he chose to walk away.

Supporters accepted that the team may struggle this season, but now there is a real possibility of relegation. The start was abysmal, leaving Rovers playing catch-up with the rest of the pack.

A run of seven games without a win was finally ended when Rotherham, the Championship’s basement team, were defeated at Ewood Park. The Millers are currently six points adrift of Blackburn at the bottom of the table.

Blackburn Rovers' owners - Indian brothers Balaji Rao and Venkatesh Rao, Directors of Venky's

In terms of improvement, it requires more than a quick fix. The club cannot continue to rely on loan players. Heavy investment in the January window would help, but is unlikely to happen. The defence has looked painfully exposed on too many occasions, typified by the team keeping just one clean sheet.

And if things weren't going well on the pitch, off it, there are some serious ongoing problems. The owners are universally unpopular and have not been seen at Ewood Park since January 2013. Their early mistakes and mismanagement has got the club into this mess.

Supporters have had enough and are voting with their feet. Attendances at Ewood Park have plummeted - only just staying in five figures, leaving the ground a third full.

Cries of 'Venky's Out' can be heard from sections of the crowd, but even the ferocity of that chant is waning. The apathy and disillusionment is clear. Maybe the more upbeat chant of 'there’s only one Jack Walker' is a prophetic judgement from the terraces.

It takes a lot of imagination to see the present, or any future owners, taking the club back to the glory days. Uncle Jack bankrolled the club to the pinnacle of domestic achievement, by using his money wisely and recruiting the right people. The Venky’s are incapable of doing either.

Scott Hogan has been in scintillating form for Brentford FC during the month of September.
Scott Hogan has been in scintillating form for Brentford

Brentford

They need to make sure they don't have a 'bad month'.”

Tom Moore, Get West London

Brentford have had a decent start to the Championship campaign and sit near the sides in the play-off spots.

The Bees were not expected to be as high as they are at the start of the season with Ian Holloway tipping them to be relegated.

However, they are one of a number of sides that can challenge for a top six spot. In order for this to happen, they need to make sure they don't have a 'bad month' where they end up with only two or three points.

The worry is that, were leading striker Scott Hogan, who has suffered two anterior cruciate ligament injuries since joining the club in 2014, to get injured then the Bees would find themselves with their backs to the wall in terms of striker options.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Final whistle celebrations as Huddersfield Town start new season with a win
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Town celebrate win over Brentford

Philipp Hofmann hasn't had the best of times at Griffin Park, while Lasse Vibe is preferred in the advanced midfield three.

Smith should certainly consider his striking options in January and sign someone to put pressure on Hogan's spot in the side, while also easing the pressure on the frontman in terms of goals.

With Lewis Macleod also out for the rest of the season, another player capable of playing in midfield would be a strong sign.

The likelihood is Alan Judge will depart the club in the upcoming transfer window and this will free up funds to bring players in.

Chris Hughton, the Brighton & Hove Albion manager, at the game against Huddersfield Town. Picture by Griffiths Photographers

Brighton

They look the most likely to challenge Newcastle United for the Championship title.”

Lee Wilmot, Croydon Advertiser

Second place in the table, only two defeats all season with the best defensive record in the league – everything is pretty rosy for Brighton & Hove Albion.

Should we really be surprised?

The Seagulls went so close last time around, only missing out on promotion to the Premier League on goal difference.

They have kept a good core of their team from last year, keeping the likes of Lewis Dunk and Dale Stephens, while adding to their ranks with the flair and prowess of Anthony Knockeart and Glenn Murray.

Anthony Knockaert

They also have a dynamic manager in Chris Hughton who knows how to get out of the Championship.

The infrastructure has been in place for a number of years now that they have the Amex Stadium and on the pitch they are showing that they mean business, too.

There will be tough tasks to come, but at the moment they look the most likely to challenge Hughton’s former employers Newcastle United for the Championship title and they already have a five-point cushion to the play-off places.

So far, so good.

Tammy Abraham

Bristol City

That ability to come from behind to win matches owes much to a strong mentality and spirit.”

Andy Stockhausen, Bristol Post

When the Robins return to action against Birmingham City at St Andrews on November 19, they will do so in a position of relative strength, situated as they are just three places and two points outside of the play-off zone. Such a situation would have been unthinkable a year ago.

But those players who were embarking upon a Championship campaign for the first time in August 2015, have benefitted hugely from the experience gained last season, while a successful summer recruitment drive, one which heralded the arrival of 14 new players, served to transform the options available to head coach Johnson and his assistant, John Pemberton.

That business has not only hastened the process of Johnson building a team in his own image, it has contributed materially to a healthy return of seven wins and three draws and a goal difference of plus-four from the opening 16 games of a season that remains laden with potential.

Lee Johnson, manager of Bristol City

This City side has entertained paying customers, playing attractive football and scoring 23 goals, the vast majority of them in the second half of games. That ability to come from behind to win matches owes much to a strong mentality and spirit and the additional options at the disposal of a manager who is now able to make substitutions without weakening his team.

But as with any work in progress, there are areas in which improvement must be found before City are able to attain the levels of consistency required to mount a sustained challenge for the top six. Defeats to Norwich, Newcastle and Brighton should have informed us all of exactly where the Robins are still falling short.

In part, those shortcomings can be addressed in the January transfer window and the one which follows it next summer. As for the rest, it will be up to Johnson and his staff to continue the task of nurturing and improving the raft of talented young players currently being spawned by an Under-23 development squad and an Academy that are at long last benefiting from the existence of a clear pathway between youth and first-team football.

Nigel Clough, Burton Albion manager

Burton Albion

Albion have launched a campaign to attack the Championship this season”

Ashley Wilkinson, Burton Mail

Any time Burton Albion are outside of the bottom three, they are exceeding expectations in the Championship.

That may sound a very fundamental and perhaps harsh analysis, given the season the Brewers have had so far.

The Brewers have a tiny fraction of the budget available to, for example, Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

Days after losing 1-0 at the Pirelli Stadium, Derby spent around £12million to bring Matej Vydra and Ikechi Anya to the club.

Burton Albion's Jackson Irvine celebrates scoring the winning goal against Derby County.
Jackson Irvine scored the winner against Derby County.

By contrast, Albion broke their record transfer fee this summer to spend around £250,000 on Jackson Irvine, now the club's top scorer.

Albion have launched a campaign to attack the Championship this season, and it is working well. The longer they can keep their heads above water this season, the closer they will be to Championship survival.

And they will have done it, as they have everything over recent years, against all the odds.

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock

Cardiff City

Warnock is already a winner in the eyes of the support.”

Chris Wathan, Wales Online

Pre-season optimism is nothing new at any football club.

The anticipation of what is to come in the campaign ahead is usually sky-high before a ball is kicked, but it's fair to say there was more summer hope at Cardiff City than elsewhere.

After all, the whole of Welsh football was still giddy after the national side's Euro 2016 exploits and one of the key management members of that squad was set to lead the Bluebirds out of the solidly tedious tenure of Russell Slade.

However Paul Trollope's aim of recapturing the feel-good factor of France in the Football League's second-tier never really get going. The two-yard miss of questionable summer signing Frederic Gounongbe ensured a goalless opening day draw, underlining very early on a lack of finishing threat and denying a quick platform for Trollope's attempts to change a style of play.

Former Cardiff City manager Paul Trollope

As results, performance levels and belief dwindled, so did patience, Trollope paying the price 11 games in and jettisoned during the last international break with the pre-season hopes of play-offs looking a world away.

Neil Warnock came in, and did so with a 'what it says on the tin' approach. Quite what Trollope thought as he was quickly given the green-light for a clutch of Bosman signings remains to be seen, but Warnock has immediately lifted the mood with his honest and hard-working manner that both fans and players have quickly responded to.

He has made no secret that he wants – or, in fact, needs – further additions in January, the defeats to Wigan and Newcastle strengthening an argument that the team still lacks pace and a potency up front, even bracing Bluebirds fans that he will be willing to sell better players to re-balance the squad.

And with Warnock already a winner in the eyes of the support, not to mention the scare that this half-term position near the foot of the table has given the club's board, he is likely to get his way.

Video thumbnail, Watch Huddersfield Town fans delight at Elias Kachunga's last gasp Derby County winner
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Huddersfield Town fans celebrate win over Derby

Derby County

Football has a habit of delivering the unexpected.”

Steve Nicholson, Derby Telegraph

Promotion pushes in the last three seasons coupled with the appointment of a manager who had taken a club from the Championship to the Premier League, Nigel Pearson, fuelled expectations surrounding Derby County.

Could this be their season?

The signs looked good but football has a habit of also delivering the unexpected.

Derby won just one of nine league matches from the start of the season and tumbled into the bottom three. Never mind promotion, the word 'relegation' was being murmured!

Rams and Pearson parted company after he had been in the job for only four months and they turned again to Steve McClaren, who has overseen three wins and a draw in his five games to make everyone feel a little better.

Derby County manager Steve McClaren

A run of one defeat in seven has eased Derby's position and with back-to-back home games against Rotherham and Norwich after the international break, fans are now looking up the table rather than over their shoulder.

Rams are capable of a top-six finish but they remain the Championship's lowest scorers with 12 in 16 fixtures, and that will need to improve if they are to continue their climb.

With this in mind, McClaren may use the January transfer window to bolster his striker options although he has great faith in former England international Darren Bent.

Injuries to right back Cyrus Christie and midfielder George Thorne, who has played the controlling role for McClaren in the past, might mean Derby will also look at both positions when the transfer window opens.

Fulham vs Huddersfield Town, Craven Cottage, 29.10.16: Fulham's boss Slavisa Jokanovic greets Town's Head Coach David Wagner.
Fulham vs Huddersfield Town, Craven Cottage, 29.10.16: Fulham's boss Slavisa Jokanovic greets Town's Head Coach David Wagner.

Fulham

The current new faces are a lot better than the class of 2015/16.”

Paul Warburton, Get West London

If there was a school report for Fulham it might read: ‘Has done well at times, but needs to me more consistent. I expect more from him next term.’

Barely escaping relegation, and then only thanks to the goals of Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele, the others thought Fulham would struggle again.

After all, both of the hitmen had gone.

But a heartening defeat of Newcastle on opening night boosted confidence and led to a decent August.

By September, other sides had sussed them out, and they struggled.

October was a bit of both until the month’s final game when they hammered Huddersfield 5-0 - even the players were surprised it all gelled in one go.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Huddersfield Town in fine voice at Fulham FC DESPITE 5-0 mauling
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WATCH: Town fans in fine voice at Fulham DESPITE 5-0 loss

The follow-up win against Brentford, and like Newcastle, on live TV, was equally emphatic.

It also has something to do with a side that saw a lot of late August arrivals in a close season turnaround of 32 comings and goings.

By the time the dust settled, Fulham had enough new players for a complete team and three subs - and all over the pitch.

This time last year they had signed seven and only one, Tom Cairney, looked the real deal.

In a nutshell, the current new faces are a lot better than the class of 2015/16.

Huddersfield Town 1 Derby County 0, 22.10.16: Elias Kachunga celebrates his stoppage time winner.
Elias Kachunga celebrates his stoppage time winner against Derby with Kasey Palmer and countrymen Michael Hefele and Christopher Schindler

Huddersfield Town

There is a desire and belief in themselves and one another which grew exponentially.”

Rory Benson, Huddersfield Examiner

Not many people would have predicted Town's lightning start to the season and many argued the wheels would eventually come off the Town bus.

But we're now a third of the way through the season and Town are still third in the league.

David Wagner's side deserve to be toward the top of the table, having beaten high-flying Newcastle and Leeds, despite being marginally edged out by Brighton and Reading.

The team Wagner has put together has grit and character, and when they have been beaten - which hasn't been too often this season - it's hard to bet on them losing again the following week.

There is a desire and belief in themselves and one another which grew exponentially in their six-match unbeaten run at the start of the year and it's hard to quantify how far that could take them.

Video thumbnail, Huddersfield Town's player ratings so far this season - November
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Huddersfield Town's player of the season so far - November

Town's dream start may have been tampered down by the side taking just four points from their last available 15, but the international break will give them time to regroup and re-energise as a squad in order to restart the season with a bang.

Town have faced nine of the 11 other top half teams already this term and are playing three of the bottom four over the next three rounds of fixtures, with their rivals having some tricky ties to navigate.

This season is still well on track for the Terriers. Being realistic, a top half finish would have been deemed a success at the start of the campaign, so anything Town can achieve above that is a massive positive - and it could well happen.

The wheels on the Town bus are very much still on and I would not be surprised to see them driving on over the festive period and toward a playoff berth come May.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy gestures on the touchline during the Sky Bet Championship match at Portman Road, Ipswich.

Ipswich Town

Another good run-in to Christmas is needed. A much more productive January is needed.”

Darren Campbell, Ipswich Town fan at the Birmingham Mail

Even though it remains relatively early in the season, you could forgive Ipswich Town fans for thinking they already know what lies ahead.

This is the fifteenth season they’ve endured watching the club at this level without interruption. And after going through the routine so many times over, experience has made Town fans wary of forecasting any kind of change.

Unfortunately for Ipswich, things have changed around them during that fifteen years. With the division now bloated with one-time Premier League clubs, Town have been swallowed in the quagmire of the Championship, waiting for their turn back in the spotlight only to be bumped back by well-funded queue jumpers.

This season does not look much different either. Newcastle's reintroduction to the Championship seemed to confirm there would probably only be two passes to the Premier League party this year before the campaign had even begun. And after an underwhelming opening third of the campaign, Ipswich sit 15th, a long way down the waiting list for those remaining tickets to the top flight.

Video thumbnail, Watch travelling Huddersfield Town fans go crazy in 1-0 victory at Ipswich Town
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Town fans celebrate at Ipswich

Of course, there is still a very long way to go. And the first half of autumn has often been a barren period in Town's campaigns under boss Mick McCarthy. Encouragingly, November and December have generally proven very profitable during his tenure, with Town having ended the last three calendar years in the Championship's top six. A last-gasp Bonfire Night win at Sheffield Wednesday hints the pattern could yet repeat itself.

Sadly, things have generally gone awry come the New Year. Recent January transfer windows have passed at Portman Road without significant improvement to the squad, and Ipswich have consequently found themselves lacking depth when it matters in the second half of the campaign, prompting a post-Christmas slide.

Another good run-in to Christmas is needed. A much more productive January is needed. And if those objectives aren't realised, the time may well have come where substantive change is needed at Portman Road.

Leeds United manager Garry Monk

Leeds United

Perhaps this could be Leeds' year. Things are certainly looking promising.”

David Dubas-Fisher, Trinity Mirror Data Unit

Leeds have their best defensive lineup in over a decade. They have a great manager in Gary Monk. They finally seem to have done some good business over the summer and they have a wealth of young, exciting talent. The squad is gelling, it’s playing decent football, it’s scoring goals and it’s keeping them out at the other end too.

So, the only way is up... right?

Well, not so fast. This is Leeds United that we’re talking about, and an act of self-destruction is never far away.

Video thumbnail, Town celebrate at Leeds
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WATCH: Huddersfield Town celebrate win over Leeds United

Massimo Cellino has been awfully quiet this season. That could mean that he has learned from his past mistakes at the club - that sometimes is better to leave the manager to do his job, that needless fights with the EFL, Sky, sponsors and fans are destabilising.

Or it could mean that, like a dormant volcano, something big is building up beneath the surface of Elland Road.

Perhaps this could be Leeds' year. Things are certainly looking promising. However, don't rule out a massive explosion from that volcano, which throws the club into the air and sends the villagers running for the hills.

Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles

Newcastle United

“Newcastle are exactly where they want to be"

Lee Ryder, Newcastle Chronicle

Newcastle are exactly where they want to be and have an eight point cushion when it comes to the automatic promotion places.

But there’s still such a long way to go it would be foolish to say that it’s a foregone conclusion.

Rafa Benitez won’t allow anybody to get too carried away either.

Of course, Newcastle fans should be enjoying this winning run and can dream of where it will take them.

However, the target for Newcastle now is to continue laying the foundations for automatic promotion and make sure they are in good shape for the second half of the season.

And here’s some food for thought...

Video thumbnail, Town celebrate at Newcastle
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The first Championship table that was calculated in 2016 saw Middlesbrough lead the way on 52 points.

Yet Boro still had to scramble over the line on the last day of the season and only finished second on goal difference to Brighton!

Eventual champions Burnley only had 42 points and were in fifth spot.

Therefore, so much can change in a short space of time in this division and the biggest danger to Newcastle’s season has to be popping the champagne corks too early.

With 37 points in the bank so far it’s going extremely well for the Magpies but Benitez will have his mind on nothing but the next game - a policy that has served him so well this season already.

Wes Hoolahan

Norwich City

Norwich’s problem this year is a defence which has conceded with alarming regularity.”

Tom Marshall-Bailey, Trinity Mirror Regionals

With the Canaries considered one of the favourites to seal an immediate return to the Premier League, the season so far must be treated as a disappointment - and the fact Alex Neil’s job is reportedly on the line tells you all you need to know.

Norwich’s problem this year is a defence which has conceded with alarming regularity; Nottingham Forest (30) and bottom-of-the-table Rotherham United (38) are the only sides who have shipped more than their 27 so far in 2016/17.

While talk of Neil’s exit appears premature, the Canaries are hellbent on returning to the top flight at the earliest available opportunity and avoiding the fate of fierce rivals Ipswich Town, who since relegation in 2001/2002 have festered in this division.

Alex Neil

Their firepower ensures that they still have a fighting chance of promotion, conversely their tally of 28 goals this season is bettered only by Newcastle United and a position of fifth at this stage is hardly anything to be sniffed at.

And yet the fanbase is growing increasingly weary of the kind of defensive ineptitude that cost their side Premier League status in the first place.

A dip into the January sales appears an inevitability, if Neil makes it that far.

Philippe Montanier

Nottingham Forest

A fully blown fight against the drop is a very real danger.”

Paul Taylor, Nottingham Post

The patience of Forest fans has never been more tested than it has been in recent months.

Supporters could be forgiven for feeling as though they are just waiting, like people gathered in the rain at the bus stop. They are waiting for their team to find their feet under Philippe Montanier and they are waiting, with even more anticipation, for the attempted takeover deal by an American consortium to be completed and provide a much needed new chapter.

Until that happens, it feels as though the club is in limbo. It could be a matter of weeks or it could be more than a month, but if and when the consortium, lead by former San Diego Padres owner John Jay Moores, complete their takeover, it will feel like a new beginning for the Reds.

At least some of the clouds currently hanging over the City Ground will start to part when it happens, with current owner Fawaz Al Hasawi’s popularity levels at an all time low.

In the meantime, Forest head into a challenging flurry of fixtures very much needing to revive their fortunes for two significant reasons.

Nottingham Forest owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi

Firstly, they must end a run of just one win in 11 games if Montanier is to have a long term future at the club. Secondly and equally significantly, they need points to avoid seeing their current flirtation with the relegation places become a fully blown fight against the drop.

Because that is a very real danger.

But still, for Forest fans, after 16 games; after a frustrating, stuttering start to the campaign under a new head coach who has attempted to instil an entertaining, more attack minded brand of football in the team, it is still events off the field that feel more significant.

Forest are waiting for changes on and off the pitch.

On the pitch, Montanier must find a way to inspire his team to collect much needed points through away games at Ipwsich and Barnsley, followed by the visit of high flying Newcastle and the small matter of a trip to face old rivals Derby County.

But what happens off it, could have an equally big influence in the future of the club.

Fans will hope they do not have to wait too long for either to happen.

Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner watches his team during the Sky Bet Championship match against Preston North End.
Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner watches his team during the Sky Bet Championship match against Preston North End.

Preston

To challenge for a play-off place, Grayson may need to strengthen his squad.”

Oliver Dawes, Sports Journalist and Preston North End fan

Heading into the international break, Preston sit 11th in the Championship table, and it's hard to be unhappy with the current league position and the recent form, with just one defeat in the last eight league games.

A slow start to the campaign with five defeats in the first six games had piled the pressure on manager Simon Grayson, but much like last season, he has managed to turn things around and start picking up points.

Wins over Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town and Norwich City last month put Grayson in contention for the manager of the months award, and whilst he lost out to Newcastle's Rafael Benitez, Preston are finally getting the results that fans wanted to see before the start of the season.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: The action shots from Huddersfield Town's trip to Preston
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The images from Town's trip to Preston

It's unclear what Preston's goal for the season is; they've shown lately that their aspirations should be higher than simply staving off relegation, but teams with bigger budgets and better squads will be challenging for the top six, meaning that Grayson and co should maybe look to match last season's top half finish and keep the momentum going.

To challenge for a play-off place, Grayson may need to strengthen his squad, but despite selling Joe Garner to Rangers back in August, a January spending spree isn't expected. Another winger and another striker should be on Grayson's wishlist, whilst the situation surrounding Bailey Wright's contract – which expires at the end of the season – means that a central defender could be targeted too.

Things are certainly looking up for North End, and with plans to build a new 'Premier League-calibre' training complex, the club is finally moving forward again, and if Grayson can keep this great form going in to 2017, excitement about a push to finally reach the Premier League will certainly begin to build around the city.

Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers, 17.09.2016: Town Head Coach David Wagner and QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ahead of the game.
Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers, 17.09.2016: Town Head Coach David Wagner and QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink ahead of the game.

Queens Park Rangers

The chanted ​club ​mantra for six months has been ‘consolidation’.”

Paul Warburton, Get West London

Surely it can’t be lost on Rangers they sacked a manager in exactly the same week last year as this?

It gets better.

Chris Ramsey lost an away game at Brentford and then lucked out at Derby the match after. He was given the boot.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink lost a home game to the Bees, and the next match drew with another east Midlands side, Derby, and ​was also shown the door​.

The chanted club mantra for six months has been ‘consolidation’ - shorthand for we can only afford modest players and need to hope for a play-off spot at best.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Final whistle celebrations as Huddersfield Town beat QPR at the John Smith's Stadium
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Town celebrate win over QPR

So it looks as though there was more to Hasselbaink’s firing than just 17th place - even if two wins takes them back to the play-offs - it’s​ that tight​ a league.

Rumours coming out of the training ground suggest the Dutchman had only a partial grip on the reins, and lacklustre draws​;​ defeats that should have been a point​;​ and only five wins out of 16 hardly helped.

The ex-Chelsea striker wasn’t getting the best out of the side, and anyone watching the Brentford debacle, and there were millions on live TV​ who did​, could see it, too.

Reading FC v Huddersfield Town, 24.09.2016: Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner greets Jaap Stam.
Reading FC v Huddersfield Town, 24.09.2016: Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner greets Jaap Stam.

Reading

In recent weeks we’ve seen signs that things are really beginning to click on the pitch.”

Charles Watts, Get Reading

There’s no doubt that so far Reading are Jaap Stam are exceeding expectations.

To be sitting fourth at this stage is a fine achievement given the size of the shake-up which has taken place since the summer.

A new manager, new coaching staff, new technical director and 11 new players - Stam has done a hell of a job to mold things together so quickly and get results.

It hasn’t been a completely smooth ride, there have been some bumps in the road - with some fans struggling at first to get to grips with the new possession-based style of play.

But in recent weeks we’ve seen signs that things are really beginning to click on the pitch and the fans are now firmly behind their team.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Huddersfield Town fans create an amazing atmosphere during away defeat to Reading FC
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Town fans at the Madejski Stadium

Three successive wins has given everyone a major boost and morale is at an all time high right now - so in a way the international break has come at a frustrating time.

The most encouraging thing about Reading’s season is there is still plenty which could be improved.

So the fact they are sitting fourth, even though we all know there are areas where they can get stronger, is encouraging.

When Reading have been at their best this season it’s been when they have moved the ball quickly and played at a high tempo. Barnsley away and Wigan away immediately spring to mind.

But we have only seen that sort of form fleetingly so far, that’s something that can be worked on - and hopefully something that will improve the more the squad gets used to Stam’s style of play.

It’s still very much a work in progress at Reading, something Stam is always keen to point out when people suggest to him that promotion might be on the agenda.

Ex-Rotherham United manager Alan Stubbs

Rotherham United

They’re certainly going to need to tighten up at the back if they’re to stand any chance.”

Richard Sharpe, Rotherham United fan at The Sentinel

It’s hard to try and draw any positives from an opening to the season which has seen one win and just seven points from 16 league games. They have shipped eight more goals than their nearest challenger in the division, have the lowest points tally of any of the 72 EFL clubs, and by far the worst goal difference (-21).

Their inability to pick up points on the road, just one from 24 on that front so far this season, puts immense pressure on their home form.

Their one win came at the New York Stadium, but they may well look back on missed opportunities in the home games with Wolves, where they dropped points from being 2-0 up against 10 men, as well as squandering points from winning positions in 2-2 draws with both Bristol City and Nottingham Forest.

Video thumbnail, WATCH: Huddersfield Town players celebrate with the fans after the 2-1 win over Rotherham United
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A defensive upturn in fortunes, a 6-1 hammering on the final day at Hull City apart, was behind their revival last year, and they’re certainly going to need to tighten up at the back if they’re to stand any chance this time around.

They lack players with Championship experience, and that seems to be telling, with their summer signings seemingly lacking a plan, given the imbalance the squad has.

After back-to-back promotions, then two survival missions completed in the Championship, it looks set to be a long season in the Millers’ fifth season at the New York Stadium.

Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday. Sky Bet Championship. John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield. Huddersfield Town Head Coach, David Wagner (left) and Sheffield Wednesday Manager, Carlos Caculhal.

Sheffield Wednesday

It feels like Wednesday have yet to go through the gears to be at their best.”

Matt Harris, Essex Live

The main word summing up most Wednesday fans’ thoughts on the start to this season will be frustration. The team’s inability to capitalise when on top in games has been the main bug bear.

Wednesday were free scoring last season, but have averaged just a goal a game this campaign. Chances have gone begging and the Owls have been rightly punished.

Against Leeds, Brentford, Birmingham and Derby, Wednesday failed to take the chances they had when they were on top. They lost three of those and drew the Brentford match and it is something that will hopefully rectify itself soon.

It feels like Wednesday have yet to go through the gears to be at their best, like they are in set in second gear. And although they may have gone up to third on occasion, they have kept dropping down.

Huddersfield Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1,16.10.16: Town's Jonathan Hogg battles for the ball with Wednesday's David Jones.
Huddersfield Town 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1,16.10.16: Town's Jonathan Hogg battles for the ball with Wednesday's David Jones.

Another issue has been conceding first. Of the 15 matches played this season Wednesday have gone behind nine times, but have rescued 11 points from being in losing positions, demonstrating the fantastic character this squad has.

And yet despite the players out of form, the lack of goals and the tendency to concede first, Wednesday currently sit eighth in the table, outside the play-offs on goal difference and only seven points off second. It is a position we could only have dreamed of a few years ago and yet it doesn’t feel enough.

This is a good squad Carlos has put together, one of the best for 20 years at Hillsborough, but it has yet to click. And the fear is that, with competition for the automatic promotion places so fierce, with Newcastle, Norwich and Brighton looking strong, if Wednesday have to wait too long for things to fall into place, the lottery of the play-offs may be the only option.

Wigan Athletic's Sam Morsy (left) celebrates with teammate Max Power

Wigan Athletic

“A lack of quality summer signings has told in the early stages of the season.”

Tom Marshall-Bailey, Trinity Mirror Regionals

Wigan hardly romped to the League One title last season, but there was something confident and comprehensive about the way they marched their way back into the second tier after a year out.

But a lack of quality summer signings has told in the early stages of the season since promotion.

Will Grigg has yet to properly catch alight and stay true to his iconic terrace chant but has a respectable return of five goals at this stage.

The problem is the lack of goals elsewhere in this side.

Only Jordi Gomez has more than a solitary strike to his name but the Spaniard has not always been one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Wigan Athletic v Reading - DW Stadium
Jordi Gomez in action for Wigan

Perhaps that will change under new manager Warren Joyce; he fielded Gomez from the outset in his opening game in charge, the 3-0 reverse to Reading.

Gary Caldwell paid the price for a conservative approach, which has left the Latics facing a battle for survival, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

If Joyce can identify a way to improve his side’s goalscoring problems, he has the nucleus of a good side and the fact the Reading defeat is the first time they have lost by more than one goal this season suggests he has something to work with.

But therein lies the problem, he simply must inspire some kind of improvement in attack, or otherwise Wigan run the risk of becoming a yo-yo club between the second and third leagues.

Birmingham, ENGLAND- October 15: Wander Helder Costa of Wolverhampton Wanderers scores a penalty during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Villa Park on October 15, 2016 in Birmingham, England (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Wolves

Wolves are underperforming for the quality of the players that they can field.”

Steve Wollaston, Birmingham Mail

Wolves lie 19th in the Championship with just 4 wins in 16 games.

They are two managers down and one new one just taken up residence.

They have new owners and a jigsaw of players thrown together with the objective of getting promotion.

In short, it’s been a load of old cobblers.

The solid, reliable, and thoroughly decent Kenny Jackett was unceremoniously sacked by Fosun and replaced by the entertaining, wildly erratic managerial journeyman, Walter Zenga.

It didn't last long, 87 days in fact.

Many felt it was harsh to sack Zenga, an equal amount of people felt he should never have had the job in the first place.

What happened before Zenga had even had chance to install an Espresso machine in his office was that the ruthless world of football dealt a savage and telling blow.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager Walter Zenga during the Sky Bet Championship match against Huddersfield Town.
Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager Walter Zenga during the Sky Bet Championship match against Huddersfield Town.

The new board want success yesterday and weren’t prepared to risk another game, the international break loomed on Zenga like a foreboding black cloud.

One that arrived with a downpour, much quicker than he expected.

Wolves were in a stale state at this time last season, an owner wanting out.

They were however some nine points ahead of where they are now, albeit with the same erratic and unpredictable nature.

Wolves are underperforming for the quality of the players that they can field, the fans know it, the players know it, the board knows it and now Paul Lambert has to do something about it.

Fosun bought Wolves with the purpose to get the promoted instantly, they threw money at it, and the new boss.

It doesn't always work like that, and to be fair, the Wolves fans know that deep down too.