The Championship Season Preview – Part 2
Sheffield United – Manager: Chris Wilder
Last season: Easily settled back into the Championship after six seasons in League One. Their form did dip from December onwards, but would still be very satisfied with their eventual 10th in the final table. They did suffer the shame of being the only team to lose at home to us though, but the Blades had won at ours in September.
Their summer: David Brooks left for Premier League football, but they managed to make the loan signings of Man Utd keeper Dean Henderson and Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn, John Egan has been signed for a club record fee, while David McGoldrick provides competition for proven goalscorers Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke (well, he bagged a few last season.)
Ex-Wanderers: Chris Basham has become a stalwart at Bramall Lane, having played over 150 games since joining from Blackpool in 2014.
Prediction: I can’t see them replicating their early-season form from last time out, but should be comfortably mid-table. 16th.
Sheffield Wednesday – Manager: Jos Luhukay
Last season: After two playoff campaigns, last season represented several steps back for the Owls. Suffering from a huge number of injuries, they spent most of their time in the bottom half, finishing 15th, and sacking Carlos Carvalhal in December. We beat them at home in the league and Carabao Cup, while Aaron Wilbraham equalised in injury time at Hillsborough.
Their summer: Difficult, with no arrivals at S6. Jordan Rhodes has been loaned to Norwich, while Jack Hunt has moved to Bristol City.
Ex-Wanderers: Barry Bannan, a loanee in 2015, joined the Owls that summer, and has played almost 100 league games.
Prediction: Wednesday have some good players, and some of them may even be fit this season, which will help them. 11th.
Stoke City – Manager: Gary Rowett
Last season: Stoke’s decade in the Premier League came to an end. Mark Hughes was sacked at the turn of the year, and although they played well at times under Paul Lambert, they just didn’t get the results.
Their summer: Gary Rowett has taken over as boss, they’ve kept hold of Joe Allen, while they have signed players who should do well in this league, such as Tom Ince and James McClean.
Ex-Wanderers: Benik Afobe has also joined this summer. While he never shone with us in the 2012-13 season, he has since scored goals in the Championship for Wolves.
Prediction: A good manager, strong squad, not too many losses and sensible additions. Stoke are understandably the favourites to go straight back up. 1st.
Swansea City – Manager: Graham Potter
Last season: Relegation from the Premier League, finishing 18th.
Their summer: After constant chopping and changing of managers, Graham Potter is the latest to take on the task at the Liberty. Their squad seemed quite thin, with only teenager Joel Asoro signing, but Bersant Celina and Barrie McKay have signed on, Man City youngster Lukas Nmecha could also join, and there are some talented players there to start. Alfie Mawson could still yet depart though.
Prediction: Some with Swansea connections are worried, but there looks enough there for them to be in and around the top six. 4th.
West Brom – Manager: Darren Moore
Last season: Bottom of the Premier League, after Alan Pardew and Tony Pulis were both sacked. Darren Moore took over and they made a good fight of it, but it was too late.
Their summer: A few personnel changes, with Harvey Barnes arriving on loan and Sam Johnstone replacing Ben Foster in goal. Some players still look set to depart though.
Ex-Wanderers: Craig Dawson has matured into an excellent defender but Burnley are interested in luring him away. Kyle Bartley signed this summer, and could ultimately be a replacement.
Prediction: Probably the weakest of the three relegated sides, but still look in a fairly strong position at the moment. 7th.
Wigan Athletic – Manager: Paul Cook
Last season: A return to the Championship as League One winners.
Their summer: A planned takeover hasn’t been sorted as planned, which has restricted their clout in the transfer market. Callum McManaman and Christian Walton have both returned, while one Reece James has departed and they’ve loaned another Reece James who plays left-back. Really.
Ex-Wanderers: None, for once. We did look at Alex Bruce before he joined that lot last season.
Prediction: They need to stop being a yo-yo club, but it probably won’t happen. 22nd.