Championship 2012/13 Preview Teams C-M

Huddersfield Town story posted by Sean Makin on 18/08/2012
Teams are Crystal Palace, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough.Championship 2012/13 Preview Teams C-M

Crystal Palace

Palace looked as though they may challenge for the play-offs but they ran out of gas and finished in the bottom half of the table. A victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in the League Cup was something to shout about and Wilfried Zaha was named Football League Young Player of The Year. Palace have so far managed to keep hold of Zaha but Nathaniel Clyne has left in a big money move to Southampton. Palace have moved to bring in Joel Ward (Portsmouth, £400,000), Aaron Martin (Southampton, season-long loan), Aaron Wilbraham (Norwich, free), Peter Ramage (free) but losing Darren Ambrose and Anthony Gardner is a big blow for Palace.

Last Season - 17th - top scorer - Chris Martin, Darren Ambrose (7).

Prediction - 20th
Could be a long hard season again for Palace.

Fans view with Ben Nagle on Twitter @bennagle17 and his blog

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

Last season was average, Championship-wise. We sacrificed a decent league position for a run in the Carling Cup, but I think if you asked the majority of Palace fans they will be happy with the way it panned out. We were never going to challenge for promotion, in fact we were almost favourites for relegation at the start of the campaign. Last season was Dougie Freedman's first full term in charge so fireworks, Idon't think, were ever on the cards. We ended the season in 17th,which is progress, if very minimal. Looking back though, to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, and to come just a penalty shootout win away from Wembley was a dream for the Eagles. Other highlights included being the first team to beat arch-rivals Brighton at their brand-spanking new stadium, andgetting 3 points from Millwall at their place on New Year's Eve. The most disappointing has to be the aforementioned cup run ending in such dramatic fashion at the Cardiff City Stadium. The 24th January 2012 will livelong in Palace memories, but for all the wrong reasons. So close, but yet so far.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Wilfried Zaha and Nathaniel Clyne have both been touted as potential Premier League stars. One thing that Crystal Palace Football Club prides itself on is the ability to find a player at a young age, bring them through the academy, and turn them into a star. These two players are prime examples, and shone last year. Both young, and both ridiculously talented. Zaha, although inconsistent at times, has moments of sheer brilliance and is worth the ticket price alone, whereas Nathaniel Clyne (sadly not a Palace player any more) made the right-back position his own, and was solid for the whole campaign. One other player that shouldn't be overlooked is Jonathan Parr, who played a ridiculous amount of games last season (80-odd by the time May came around), first for Norwegian side Aalesund and then for the Eagles – he picked up the official 'Player of the Year Award'. Worst are Kagisho Dikgacoi and Jermaine Easter. The former isa stadium announcer's worst nightmare, and sometimes a Palace fan's too. Slow on the ball, he at times looked as though he couldn't care less, and Jermaine Easter finds the net very little for a striker. Both are attempting to make me eat my words though, as they picked up one apiece on Tuesday night, in our 2-1win at Exeter in the Capital One Cup.

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

We've been repeatedly told by the management and owners that Palace is a work in progress, so that's exactly what we're looking for. I'd be happy with a top half finish, 9th-13th,and if we have a good campaign our squad should be good enough to get us there. Promotion isn't a realistic aim this season, but definitely will be in the future. Crystal Palace are a rollercoaster club though, you just never know what you're going to get.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

At the time of writing, we haven't got too much to shout about transfer-wise. We've brought in three players– Aaron Martin, from Southampton on a season-long loan, and Joel Ward and Aaron Wilbraham, both permanent, from Portsmouth and Norwich respectably. Joel Ward is a solid right-back, and will slip nicely into the full-back position in place of Southampton-bound Nathaniel Clyne. We lost the services of Anthony Gardner to Sheffield Wednesday, so Aaron Martin will play regularly at centre-back with captain Paddy McCarthy. Thirdly, 32-year-old Aaron Wilbraham is experienced and hopefully not past it – he (I pray) will score some greatly-needed goals. Negativity has been prominent within the fans pre-season, so hopefully the board and manager will manage to bring in another player or two before the transfer window slams firmly shut at the end of the month.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

Two words – Andy Dorman. He's out of favour with the management, and quite simply isn't very good. He played for St Mirren before Palace, and when we signed him in 2010 I asked a Scottish friend if he rated him. "Easily their best player", he said, "Fantastic signing", he said. Not quite...

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

Jonathan Williams, or Joniesta as he's known by the Palace faithful, will be hot property at the end of the season should he stay injury-free. He broke his leg last year playing for Wales U21's, but impressed massively before that playing between the midfield and striker. Another one to watch, a possible breakthrough player this season, is Kyle Da Silva. Remember the name.

Fans favourite?
You can't look past Julian Speroni for this one. For years, he played second fiddle to the tracksuit-loving Gabor Kiraly, but hasn't looked back since he got his break between the sticks. He's consistently brilliant, getting us out of trouble on regular occasions. I just love him, I really do.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

Pre-season doesn't throw much up for Crystal Palace, it's more of a 'get match-fit, play the youngsters' type scenario. But if I had to pick, Bayan Fenwick has looked good. Whether he'll get much football this season is yet to be seen, but down the right wing the youngster looked good. Reise Allassani too has a big future ahead of him.

What is your manager Dougie Freedman like?

Elusive. He's the kind of manager that you need to take with a pinch of salt, and realise that most of the time what he says isn't entirely true. He'll say a player is injured, and then he'll start the next game. He said we wouldn't sign Glenn Murray because his wages were too high, and then the next week pictures were taken at the stadium with the Brighton man, Palace shirt in hand. He's a no-nonsense Scotsman, but overall a fantastic manager. There's no better person to be at the helm of Crystal Palace right now – he did, after all, save us three times.

What advice would you give to Freedman?

I wouldn't, I'd be too scared of the backlash. Just, err, keep doing what you're doing Dougie. You're brilliant, by the way.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

Couldn't be more so. The board saved us from the brink of inevitable liquidation, and all four of them are Palace fans – what more can you ask for? It's nice to know that the club are at the forefront of their minds, and we haven't got some Arab businessman who only cares about his chequebook. The set-up right now is just what we need, and I think the future is bright.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

This season is full of derbies, and a team will always want to beat their rivals. Millwall, Brighton, Charlton – almost-win games in a Palace fan's opinion. For me though, if I had to pick one it'd be Brighton.

Any opposition player you admire?

Plenty. Jordan Rhodes is an incredible talent, and I'm not just saying that because he's a Huddersfield player – he's proven himself time and time again, so keep hold of him. He's also in my fantasy football team, so if he could score lots that'd be great too. Kevin Phillips is an absolute machine at Blackpool, how he still scores so regularly is beyond me and I admire him for that.

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down.

Putting myself on the line here... I think Bolton will finish as champions, with Leicester coming second. The play-offs spots will be taken up by Wolves, Blackburn, Cardiff and Blackpool. The three unlucky losers dropping down to League One? Barnsley, Millwall (hopefully) and Peterborough.

Derby County

Derby started off well but faded and finished mid-table but there are positives to build on for Nigel Clough. Top scorer Steven Davies has fallen out with Clough and has been transfer listed and the sale of Jason Shackell to Burnley didn't go down too well. Another key player Shaun Barker is out after major knee surgery and could be a while before he is back. Losing Paul Green was also a blow. In come Michael Jacobs (Northampton, undisclosed compensation), Paul Coutts (Preston,undisclosed), Richard Keogh (Coventry, undisclosed), James O'Connor (Doncaster, undisclosed), Michael Hoganson (Newcastle, released)

Huddersfield Town

The dream come true for Huddersfield Town fans after a 11 year absence from the second tier they made it back beating Sheffield United in the play-off final. Lee Clark was replaced by Simon Grayson in February and the former Blackpool and Leeds manager had the midus touch. In Jordan Rhodes they have the hottest property in English football and when he is around Town are always likely to score. In come are Sean Scannell (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Paul Dixon (free, Dundee United), Oliver Norwood (Manchester United, free), Adam Clayton (Leeds, undisclosed), Joel Lynch (Nottingham Forest, free), Anthony Gerrard (Cardiff, £350,000), Keith Southern (Blackpool, undisclosed)

Last Season - 4th in League One - Top Scorer - Jordan Rhodes (37)

Prediction - 16th Probably be another rollercoaster of a season but consolidation and then build on from there is the main aim.

Fans view with Michael Miles

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

After a rollercoaster of season we finally got promoted via the play-offs at the third time of asking. Jordan Rhodes' 40 goals was the main catalyst to really why we had a shout at promotion as without his goals I sadly don't think we'd have finished where we did. Best moment has to be winning the play-off final at Wembley. We were the better team I thought overall and the lottery of penalties went in our favour when Steve Simonsen tried to be the first footballer to put a football in orbit. Worst for me was the home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, we never got going from start to finish and went out on a whimper.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Best - without a doubt Jordan Rhodes. 40 goals in a season need I say more? Come on leaps and bounds since signing for us back in 2009 his overall game has got better too. You can guarantee if he the ball comes to him in the box there is only one player where it is going.

Worst - Anton Robinson. Signed after playing well against us for Bournemouth in the play-off semis back in 2011 but it hasn't really happened for him in Huddersfield. Looks as though there is nothing to his game, became a passenger when he did play and just ran around aimlessly.

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

I think we'll do OK and finish around 15th. Back after a 11 year hiatus I think once we find our feet as I think we'll be pulled back down to earth at first, we'll finish mid-table and if we keep Rhodes we've always got a player that is going to score goals but if we lose him I dread to think. We have a manager in Simon Grayson who has taken two teams up from League One and kept them in the Championship so that bares well and we have a chairman who is willing to spend a few quid to strengthen the team.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

Whilst we haven't brought in any marquee signings yet Grayson has signed some proven players at this level. Midfielders Adam Clayton and Oliver Norwood have been signed from Leeds and Manchester United respectively and both comes with positives reviews from fans of their former clubs. Also defender Joel Lynch who I have been told was one of Notts Forest's top performers last season has come in a free transfer. Keith Southern looks a warrior in midfield has signed from Blackpool where is he a legend and we beat a number of Championship clubs to sign Paul Dixon (Dundee Utd) and Anthony Gerrard (Cardiff). Sean Scanell (Crystal Palace) looks like he could be a key player for us this season with his pace and trickery. All we need now is a striker who can score goals to partner Rhodes and take the pressure off him.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

Well it seems I am picking on him but Anton Robinson. We've already got rid of Antony Kay and Jamie McCombe so he's the only one left that needs to go.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

I am hoping Oliver Norwood. I've heard he's a technical midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and is good at set pieces. We've been crying out for a few years for a midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and pick a pass so I'm going to say him.

Fans favourite?

Jordan Rhodes. I'd also like to mention goalkeeper Ian Bennett who seems to be the housewife's favourite.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

I can't really comment on this because I've only been to a couple of matches not all of them but if I had to pick one I'd say Sean Scannell.

What did you make to the sacking of Lee Clark?

Shocked when I first heard we had sacked him after a home defeat to Sheffield United. Lee Clark has done some great things here, the football we played his first full season was one of the best I've seen Town play in donkeys years, the unbeaten run and he brought in some real talent like Rhodes, Anthony Pilkington and Lee Peltier but in the end his tinkering of the team and too many draws in the end was his downfall. Some might say Clark had taken us as far as he could after the 2011 play-off final. If he has learned from his mistakes then Clark will do well at Birmingham.

Impressed with the appointment of Simon Grayson?

I'll admit he wasn't my first choice as I thought at the time there were better managers than Grayson out of work but to be fair to Grayson he came and did the job he was brought in for which was promotion. The real test for Grayson now is keeping us there.

What advice would you give to Grayson?

Buy a striker who can score to take the pressure off Rhodes.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

Absolutely. Sir Dean Hoyle is a legend, he's a Town fan and we couldn't have asked for a better chairman in terms of he puts money into the team and his charity work and work in the community for people worse off than ourselves. We are really luck to have a man like Dean Hoyle in charge of our club.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

For me it is Peterborough United. Revenge will be sweet for that 2011 play-off final defeat and when we beat them both home and away I will take my BELIEVE t-shirt and shove it up Darragh MacAnthony's arse.

Any opposition player you admire?

Danny Murphy. Also Craig Bellamy.

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

1. Bolton
2. Wolves
Play-offs - Cardiff, Leicester, Blackburn, Middlesbrough.
Relegated - Barnsley, Millwall, Bristol City.

Hull City

Nigel Pearson left during the season for his former club Leicester City and club legend Nick Barmby looked as though he was taking the club in the right direction. Come May and a remark about the club's finances saw Barmby get the boot and former Wigan and Sunderland boss Steve Bruce given the task. Bruce inherits a experienced Championship squad and has kept star midfielder Robert Koren. Some big money has been spent to: Eldin Jakupovic (Aris, released), Ben Amos (Manchester United, season-long loan), Nick Proschwitz (SC Paderborn, £2.5million), Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham, free), Sone Aluko (Rangers, free), Alex Bruce (Leeds, free)

Prediction - 9th Another play-off push but may fail when the going gets tough.

Fans view with Ryan Beckett. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RyBeckett_HCAFC.

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

Happy with overall season, considering we lost our manager, Nigel Pearson during this season, run of 5 defeats in a row cost us a play-off place. Best moment had to be beating Leicester in the final minutes, worst moment - losing 5 games in a row.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Robert Koren best performer - scored a lot of important goals from midfield. Worst Performer - Towards the end Cameron Stewart, came back during the season after a long injury. Peter Gulasci otherwise, awful loan keeper!

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

Play-offs a real possibility, Automatics not out of reach. Anything above 6th place, big achievement.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

Aluko from Rangers could be a great signing, Nicky Proschwitz is our big money signing who finished top scorer of German second division. Faye and Alex Bruce adds to an already good squad. Very happy with our business.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

Personally, Paul Mcshane bit of a liability on big wages.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

Robert Koren as proved last season, top player.

Fans favourite?

James Chester, very impressive young center half who will no doubt play Premier League football in the future

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

Hard to tell, glad Jay Simpson found the net numerous times though!

What did you make to the sacking of Nick Barmby?

Still don't know the full story, was harsh if it was down to Nick wanting more funds but I believe there is more to it. Still doubted he could take us to the next level but we'll never know.

Happy with the appointment of Steve Bruce?

Very happy, couldn't get anyone much better!

What advice would you give to Bruce?

Some sections of our fans can be very negative, just hope he ignores any criticism if we drop points early on or during the season and pressure doesn't get to him.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

I'd say so yes, owners seem to be showing good intentions of getting back the premiership with a great appointment of manager and the signing of Nicky Proschwitz for over 2 million. Background staff obviously brought in through Bruce's various links.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

As of previous seasons, Leeds as our local rivals. Would be nice to take points off Leicester as Nigel Pearson left us for them.

Any opposition player you admire?

Jordan Rhodes of Huddersfield, as most fans would probably love him in their team!

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

Champions - Bolton
Runners Up - Wolves

Play-offs - Cardiff, Leicester, Hull, Blackpool
Relegation - Barnsley, Peterbrough, Ipswich

Ipswich Town

Some big players came in at Portman Road last summer and big things were expected but seven successive defeats at Christmas left Ipswich looking over their shoulder at the drop zone and that's where they stayed hovering round for rest of the season. Luke Chambers has arrived from Forest to shore up the defence but losing midfielder Grant Leadbitter was a blow. It could be a season where manager Paul Jewell is looking over his shoulder. Transfers in Elliott Hewitt (Macclesfield, undisclosed), Luke Chambers (Nottingham Forest), Scott Loach (Watford Und).

Last Season - 15th - Top Scorer - Michael Chopra (14)

Prediction - 17th
Could be another long hard season for Ipswich fans.

Fans view with Phil Ham of

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

The worst moment was the 7-1 defeat to Peterborough which was one of those days when just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. We went 4-1 down, then someone got sent off. The we had half-time, the game restarted and someone else was sent off.

It was an up and down season overall. There were dreadful days and spells, but there were also decent runs of form and there was an improvement in the final few months, which included a 5-1 home victory over West Ham, which was particularly enjoyable.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Full-back Aaron Cresswell joined from Tranmere last summer and carried off all the Town Player of the Year awards. The Liverpool-born youngster settled straight into the team with his crosses from the left flank one of the Blues' biggest threats.

Jimmy Bullard enjoyed a superb loan spell at the end of 2010/11 and was Cresswell's predecessor for those Player of the Year award. After an acrimonious exit from Hull, the midfielder joined a permanent basis last summer but rarely showed that form again and his contract was settled by mutual consent earlier this week.

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

We're always 15th these days. We're even 15th on alphabetical order this season. Mid-table finishes are all too common and all at Portman Road are desperate for a season where the Blues challenge at the right end of the table again. The first XI looks capable of getting somewhere near those sorts of heights but at the moment the squad is a bit short and there are few experienced options if senior players pick up injuries.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

Paul Jewell has added four players over the summer, Ipswich-supporting goalkeeper Scott Loach, right-back Elliott Hewitt from Macclesfield, who is out for a couple more months having undergone hip surgery, centre-half Luke Chambers and season-long loanee Massimo Luongo from Spurs. Jewell admits that the squad is at least three players short with another central defender, a central midfielder and a big striker all still targets.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

We've not got that many at the moment, but Canadian international midfielder or full-back Jaime Peters and striker Nathan Ellington are both surplus to requirements and likely to follow Bullard out of Portman Road in the near future.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

Loanee Luongo has impressed in pre-season training and during Tuesday's Capital One Cup victory over Bristol Rovers. Of our own players, 16-year-old Byron Lawrence might be the one to make an impact, the midfielder having been tipped for great things.

Fans' favourite?

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is probably the most obvious crowd pleaser. His cutting in from the right and unleashing exceptionally powerful left-foot shots has become very familiar over the last year.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

Luongo, 19, looks a very good player. Rarely gives the ball away, likes a tackle and looks far from a novice who is yet to make his league debut.

What is your manager Paul Jewell like?

He's yet to win the fans over after 18 months at the club. Town supporters are success-starved after a decade in the Championship and so far there haven't been enough signs that that's going to change very soon.

What advice would you give to Jewell?

He's actually taking an approach which most supporters would see as in keeping with the 'Ipswich way' at the moment; building a side over a period of time based on youth. Last summer the policy of bringing in experienced ex-Premier League players on short-term deals was widely criticised, particularly once it became clear it wasn't working.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

Town are owned by publicity-shy multi-millionaire Marcus Evans, who has put a fair bit of cash into the club since taking control towards the end of 2007. While not everyone is happy with Evans's low profile, most feel he's supplied a fair bit of cash but managers haven't spent it wisely.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

Hmm, no Norwich, no West Ham, no Sheffield United (long story). Not sure really. After that 7-1 last year, it would be good to give Peterborough a hammering.

Any opposition player you admire?

I can't believe I got this far without mentioning Jordan Rhodes. Only one man at Town wanted to see Jordan move on and that was Roy Keane. We may well ultimately get a total fee of £1 million-plus for him when he leaves Huddersfield with all the top-ups and the sell-on, but that's not really much compensation to those of us who had seen him progress from the academy to the reserves and on to the fringes of the first team and were looking forward to seeing him establish himself at Town.

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

I've absolutely no idea, this division is always so unpredictable. But if I'm forced, I can see Wolves doing best of the sides coming down and maybe Cardiff could beat Blackpool to second place. Bolton, Middlesbrough and maybe Charlton or Huddersfield – League One sides have made a big impression in recent seasons – could be in the other play-off places. Town will be just outside. At the other end, Barnsley, Bristol City and hopefully Peterborough will struggle.

Leeds United

In February Leeds were in touching distance of the play-off places when Simon Grayson was shown the door which shocked most Leeds fans. In came the experienced and League football promotion winner Neil Warnock but the club finished a disappointing 14th. The transfer door at Elland Road has been swinging constantly with a host of players coming and going with Warnock bringing in some experienced Championship pedigree in the likes of Paul Green, Jason Pearce and his old mate Paddy Kenny but the loss of Robert Snodgrass to Norwich is a blow to the Whites. In came Jason Pearce (Portsmouth, £500,000), Adam Drury (Norwich, free), Paul Green (Derby, free), Paddy Kenny (QPR, £500,000), Andy Gray (Barnsley, free), Jamie Ashdown (Portsmouth, free), Luke Varney (Portsmouth, free), David Norris (Portsmouth, free), Lee Peltier (Leicester, undisclosed), Rodolph Austin (SK Brann, free), El Hadji Diouf (free)

Last Season - 14th - Top Scorer - Ross McCormack (18).

Prediction - 11th
- A good shout at the play-offs but I think there are teams in the Championship with better squad at the moment.

Fans view with Daz at Leeds.vital

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

I have to be honest. We started with a poor performance and it did not get much better all season.

Not many highlights to mention. If I had to pick one it would have to be the away win at Peterborough United, just because of the fact we were stood on terracing watching a game for a change. We won 3-2 with a winner deep into stoppage time by Darren O'Dea and I had backed him for last goal at 33/1.

Quite a few worst moments. 5-0 home defeat by Blackpool, 7-3 at home by Nottingham Forest. A team not trying for most of the season is probably the worst moment.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Ross McCormack put a disappointing first season at Elland Road behind him by scoring 19 goals last season. The emergence of some of the young lads like Tom Lees, Zac Thompson and Aidy White is always nice to see.

Worst performer was one of your old boys, despite there being many is quite a clear choice. Paul Rachubka will go down as probably the worst goalkeeper to ever wear the Leeds shirt. He made five starts in the championship, he made mistakes in every one, and they all proved crucial. His last appearance against Blackpool was the final straw. Three huge errors led to us being 3-0 down in the opening 35 minutes. When the third one went in Leeds boss Simon Grayson sent out a rookie 18-year-old keeper out to warm up. He was replaced at half time and he's never been seen again.

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

We have a manager who knows how to get out of this division; his record is second to none. He has brought in a lot of what I call 'Warnock signings'. Players who will run through walls for the side.

I still think we are one or two players short, especially in attack. I think we will definitely be in the top twelve but I do think it will take time for a new squad to gel.

If we are in the top half at Christmas, I think we will get stronger in the second half of the season and reach the play-offs.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

As mentioned previously, we have brought in eleven players. The goalkeeper, defence and centre of midfield looks sorted. We now just need that spark in the final third that can be the difference between an average side and a very good side.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

Seeing as we still have Rachubka on the books then he would be the one I would happily drive to a new club.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

I am really looking forward to seeing Rodolph Austin. He is a Jamaican international midfielder who has been playing in Norway. Built like a tank and likes a challenge.

Fans favourite?

With so many new players and the loss of Robert Snodgrass this summer we need to adopt a new one. I think most fans are like me and cannot wait to see Austin.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

We have had a youngster, Sam Byram, who has played really well in pre-season and he looks to have a great future. He made his senior debut against Shrewsbury on Saturday and did not look out of place.
Of the new signings, Luke Varney looks like he could be a good addition to the squad.

What did you make to the sacking of Simon Grayson?

I was saying from early in the season that he had lost the dressing room. The players just did not look like they were giving him their all.

It was a shame really, because he had done so well for us previously. It really came as no surprise to me when he was sacked.

It was good to see him almost get straight back into football although the move to Huddersfield was a huge surprise.

Impressed with the appointment of Neil Warnock?

I like him. He is a character in the game, something that is a dying breed. He gets stick wherever he goes and he takes it and gives a bit back. He knows how to get teams promoted, so I am fully behind him and hope he achieves it with us. What I know is, he won't let players get away with not giving 100% at that is all I ask.

What advice would you give to Warnock?

Very hard to try to give advice to a man who has probably forgot more than I know. All I ask is that he gives it his all, which I am sure he will.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

In two words, Ken Bates – Need I say anymore regarding our chairman. The backroom staff have worked with Warnock for many years in Mick Jones and Ronnie Jepson so they obviously work very well together.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

When you look at the championship this season I am most looking forward to a large number of local games. There are so many teams from the midlands upwards, which will mean good attendances and good atmospheres.

I don't really look at anyone in the division as major rivals and teams I most want to beat. I suppose the Yorkshire derbies are going to be the ones to look forward too. After the past few seasons we really owe Barnsley one, so would like a win over them.

Any opposition player you admire?

I really like Jimmy Bullard. What is happening with him? A good midfielder, who works hard and always plays the game with a smile on his face.

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

It is once again a wide-open league. The three teams that came down are not automatic promotion candidates and the three teams that have come up will all fancy their chances to emulate what Norwich and Southampton have done in the past few seasons.

Champions: Bolton Wanderers
Runners-Up: Leicester City

Play offs:









Leicester City

Nigel Pearson returned to the club after the Sven party flopped and finished just outside the play-offs after picking up Leicester in mid-table. Pearson was quick to show the door to the ageing players and while fans were shocked to see defender Sol Bamba sold, Pearson has moved in quickly to add reinforcements. Ritchie de Laet and Matty James (Manchester United, undisclosed), Jamie Vardy (Fleetwood, £1million), Marko Futacs (Portsmouth, undisclosed compensation), Zak Whitbread (Norwich, free), Anthony Knockaert (Guingamp, undisclosed)

Last Season - 9th - Top Scorer - Dave Nugent (15)

Prediction - 4th
I believe Pearson will get the Foxes into the play-offs again.

Fans view with Simon Poole of Leicester.vital

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

Ninth in the Championship doesn't really tell the whole story of last season for Leicester City. Anything outside the top six is generally considered as an underachievement by Foxes fans; expectation is constantly high. Sven-Goran Eriksson leaving the club was disappointing, as the team he put together were showing signs of promise. That, and not making the playoffs were the worst moments. Although when one door closes, another one opens - and Sven's dismissal brought former manager Nigel Pearson back to Leicester. Under Pearson, we had some great results, including a 2-1 FA Cup win at Norwich City, and a 4-0 win over rivals Nottingham Forest - two highlights of last season.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Kasper Schmeichel was outstanding for us, and was deservedly nominated player of the season. Unfortunately, former captain Matt Mills was probably our worst performer - although this had more to do with the level of expectation on his shoulders after the club overpaid for him. Fans seemed to love or hate Sol Bamba, who also left the King Power Stadium this summer.

How do you think you'll do this season? Hopes, final position?

The club has the potential to finish in the top six - but the same was applicable for the last two seasons. The Championship continues to become more and more competitive every year, and with the likes of Wolves and Bolton now playing second-tier football, automatic promotion will be a big ask for any side.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

Our squad certainly has more depth in midfield and attack this season. Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood Town was technically a big money signing due to his goalscoring record in the lower leagues, and fans will be hoping he can replicate this at Championship level. Fans will be excited by winger Anthony Knockaert too, who should compliment Ben Marshall nicely on the flanks.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

There aren't any players I'd be happy to see Nigel Pearson get rid of - there's a very good balance overall and any players who may be considered surplus will be useful to provide depth.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

I think Wes Morgan is a fantastic choice of captain and will be a great leader for the Foxes. However, Ben Marshall has the potential to make a huge impact for Leicester this year. His keen eye for goal really impressed fans last season.

Fans favourite?

Everybody loves David Nugent's never-say-die attitude. Once perhaps considered more of a wanderer between clubs, he seems settled at Leicester and it'll be interesting to see who starts alongside him up front this season.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

Jermaine Beckford has been scoring a few goals which is great to see. The majority of fans didn't take to him last season, although he still managed fifteen goals in all competitions - and it was his first season in the Championship. If Pearson can get him to focus a little more and bring out his true potential, Leicester will be a difficult side to defend against.

What is your manager Nigel Pearson like?

No nonsense. He tells it like it is, yet gives nothing away. He's not afraid to make changes if something isn't working. He works hard and expects his players to do the same for him.

What advice would you give to Pearson?

Get promoted. Unfortunately, he'll probably only be given one whole season to get Leicester into the top flight. While he certainly has the potential to do that, it must be at the back of his mind.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

The financial backing is great, but the ever-trigger-happy nature of the Chairman makes it difficult to think too far ahead. The same applied to Milan Mandaric when he had control of the club. Stability is the key to getting out of this division.

Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh are fantastic people to have among the backroom staff - they have a real eye for talent.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

The obvious answer would be Nottingham Forest, Derby and Coventry because they are our Midlands rivals. However, I'd love us to go away to Cardiff City and win. They have been our bogey team ever since our play-off loss to them in 2010.

Any opposition player you admire?

Cardiff's Craig Bellamy is an excellent football player - probably the best in the Championship. He'll make Cardiff a better side and be very tough to play against. Blackpool's Matt Phillips is good too.

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

I think Bolton will be there or thereabouts this season, provided they maintain a strong core of players. I also think Charlton have the potential to finish strongly after winning League One last season. That being said, the Championship is very strong, and there are a number of teams who could finish among the playoff places. I'll go with Leicester City, Blackpool, Cardiff and Burnley.


Middlesbrough finished just outside the play-offs but just 6 wins in 2012 will have alarmed Tony Mowbray. He has kept star striker Martin Emnes despite attraction from Premier League clubs and has brought in midfielder Grant Leadbitter who can score goals from midfield and if he can keep Jonathan Woodgate fit then they have a good defender despite his age. In come Grant Leadbitter (Ipswich, free), Stuart Parnaby (unattached), Emanuel Ledesma (Walsall, free), George Friend (Doncaster, undisclosed), Christian Burgess (Arsenal, free), Jonathan Woodgate (Stoke, free), Mustapha Carayol (Bristol Rovers, undisclosed), Jayson Leutwiler (free).

Last Season - 7th - Top Scorer - Martin Emnes (14)

Prediction - 10th
Boro on paper could have one of the best defences in the league but they lack up front with only Emnes the most likely to score.

Fans view with Steve Goldby at

How did you fare last season? Best moment, worst moment etc.

We exceeded expectations. Nobody expected us to be challenging for a play-off place but we held our own for most of the season, against all the odds.

Best moment was the mighty front we put up against Sunderland in the FA Cup. We nearly had them.

Worst was the home defeat to Leeds. We just didn't show up that day and I for one lost faith in our promotion hopes after that.

Who was your best and worst performer last season?

Best: Rhys Williams, Matthew Bates, Barry Robson, Nicky Bailey - Robson overall due to Williams and Bates missing games.
Worst: Joe Bennett

How do you think you\'ll do this season? Hopes, final position?

The Championship is tougher than last season but I actually think we'll do slightly better and achieve a play-off place this time round.

What's your squad like, new signings, etc?

It's better than last season's. Tony has improved it on meagre resources. We've resigned Johnny Woodgate and Stuart Parnaby and brought in George Friend which gives us one of the strongest defences in the league, Woody's fitness and availability pending.

Midfield looks strong with Leadbitter and Ledesma coming in and we've got a new striker, Carayol, up front. We've got rid of some dead wood too and I really like the look of this squad. Could be our best since we were in the Premier League.

Which player would you happily get rid of?

I put this question out to our Message Board and it was uninamously Scott McDonald because he hasn't delivered on his potential at all but he's admitted this and stated clearly that he is out to make up for lost time.

Which player do you think will make the biggest impression in your team this season?

Woodgate and Ledesma. Probably the latter as he will play more games.

Fans favourite?

Once again the Message Board users got this question and the overwhelming choice was Nicky Bailey.

Any player impressed you during pre-season?

Cameron Park.

What is your manager Tony Mowbray like?

He's forged from Teesside steel and he's the only man for this job. He led us out at Hartlepool in 1986 after we rose from the ashes of bankruptcy and he's a local hero. What he's achieved with hardly any resources since he took over from Gordon Strachan is nothing short of amazing. We were heading to League One and he turned it round very quickly and made us contenders last season. I hope he sees out the rest of his career with us. He belongs at Boro and Boro belongs to him. I can't speak highly enough of the man.

What advice would you give to Mowbray?

Don't listen to advice from people who are not involved.
Tony doesn't need advice from outsiders. He's doing great, end of.

Are you happy with the Chairman/Backroom staff?

Steve Gibson is a legend and always will be. Yes, he's made mistakes over the last four years but he's putting them right and if you look at the big picture of what he has done over the last twenty-five years, then you can't complain at all. A lot of clubs would love a local guy in charge who is a genuine supporter. We will rise again under Steve's chairmanship.

Which team do you want to beat the most and why?

Leeds. Because they are Leeds.

Any opposition player you admire?

Kevin Davies, Wilfried Zaha, Rueben Rochina

Predict your champions and runner up, the four Play-Off teams and the three to go down

Leicester City, Bolton
Middlesbrough, Blackpool, Brighton, Watford

Relegated: Millwall, Bristol City, Barnsley


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