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The Championship Season Preview – Part 2


We’ve cast our eye over one half of the Championship, so let’s take a look at the other twelve clubs…

Norwich City – Manager: Daniel Farke

Last season: Having brought Stuart Webber to Carrow Road, the former Huddersfield director tried the appoint-a-German tactic. Daniel Farke has been the difficult second album so far, finishing 14th in his first full season. We took four points off them, a 2-1 win in November at the Macron, and a goalless draw away in February.

Their summer: James Maddison and Josh Murphy have been sold to Premier League clubs, but the money has been reinvested with signings from home and abroad. Tim Krul, Jordan Rhodes, Ben Marshall, and the Dortmund youngster Felix Passlack are amongst the new arrivals in Norfolk.

Ex-Wanderers: None.

Prediction: A lot could depend on goals. Jordan Rhodes hasn’t had the best run in recent years, Maddison will take some replacing too. But there are the ingredients there for them to do well. 10th.

Nottingham Forest – Manager: Aitor Karanka

Last season: Never in real trouble of relegation, but they wobbled sufficiently enough in mid-season to replace Mark Warburton with Aitor Karanka, before finishing 17th. Both meetings with them ended 3-2, we all know which way round that happened. Du-du-du-du-duh. Aaron Wilbraham.

Their summer: A lot of signings. Jorge Mendes (who has connections to Karanka) has turned his attention across the Midlands from West to East after helping Wolves go up, with Forest securing a number of Portuguese talents such as Joao Carvalho and Gil Dias. Some Championship experience has been brought in as well, with defender Michael Dawson returning and Lewis Grabban up top.

Ex-Wanderers: Zach Clough has gone back after a brief loan return to us last season. He is unlikely to get many games for the Reds this season, one would expect.

Prediction: There are hallmarks of how Wolves recruited last season and I noticed the Racing Post’s big football pullout is tipping them for big things. I’m not convinced it’s near the level of what business Wolves did last summer though, but Forest should be much improved nonetheless. 12th.

Preston North End – Manager: Alex Neil

Last season: Incredible really. Not much money, no real star names, but PNE nearly made the Championship playoffs for the first time since 2009, finishing 7th. That included a 3-1 beating of us at the Macron, but we got a draw at Deepdale, a goalless Friday night clash in November.

Their summer: They did lose Greg Cunningham to Cardiff City, and have brought in Ryan Ledson, Andrew Hughes and Jordan Storey from the lower leagues, while Graham Burke has become their latest purchase from Ireland’s Airtricity League.

Ex-Wanderers: None

Prediction: Sean Maguire and Billy Bodin have both picked up injuries which could impede their early-season form. It could affect them and they struggle a bit this season, but a few people are fancying them as a dark horse. So I could look stupid, but… 18th.

QPR – Manager: Steve McClaren

Last season: 16th for the Rs, who predictably occupied a lower-mid-table place for the majority of the season. We drew 1-1 in awful October weather at the Macron, before losing 2-0 at Loftus Road in February.

Their summer: Wanting to take the club on to the next level, they appointed…Steve McClaren. Wow. They’ve only made one major signing, but German defender Toni Leistner looks handy on paper. They could do with some more, as in January they will be subject to an embargo relating to FFP misdemeanours.

Ex-Wanderers: Alex Baptiste played 21 games after joining QPR last summer, after leaving Middlesbrough.

Prediction: They have been tipped to go down, but have a couple of decent players, such as Massimo Luongo and Luke Freeman, and should have enough about them to stay up. 19th.

Reading – Manager: Paul Clement

Last season: After being a shoutout away from the Premier League, Reading nearly went the other way last season. Jaap Stam was eventually sacked, with Paul Clement scraping to keep them up, finishing one place above us in 20th. Both our meetings ended in draws.

Their summer: They’ve added a couple of defenders who were relegated last season, Andy Yiadom from Barnsley and John O’Shea from Sunderland. David Meyler is amongst the other summer recruitments.

Ex-Wanderers: Sort of. Both Sam Walker (this summer) and Modou Barrow (2014) have been involved with pre-season preparations for us, but neither was signed in the end.

Prediction: Paul Clement might be a touch more pragmatic than his predecessor, and didn’t too badly at Derby. They should be better than last season, but way off where they were two seasons ago. 13th.

Rotherham – Manager: Paul Warne

Last season: A fourth-placed finish in League One, well back from the top three, but wins over Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury saw them promoted via the playoffs.

Their summer: A club of their size has unsurprisingly been limited to free transfers – Blackpool duo Clark Robertson and Kyle Vassell were signed, as was Sunderland full-back Billy Jones. Goalkeeper Marek Rodak is on another loan spell from Fulham, while Zak Vyner and Sean Raggett have been loaned from Bristol City and Norwich.

Ex-Wanderers: Jamie Proctor, useless for us in the 2016-17 season, joined Rotherham last season, but an ACL injury has severely limited his game time in South Yorkshire.

Prediction: Nowhere near the top two in a significantly poorer division last season, without the financial clout to improve the squad. Rotherham will be better than they were two seasons ago, but whoever finishes below them will probably be in League One next season too. 24th.

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