Championship Preview 2013/14

Huddersfield Town story posted by Sean Makin on 01/08/2013
With the Championship 2013/14 season starting in 2 days time we thought we'd go our own league preview. Remember football is a game of opinions.Championship Preview 2013/14

Last Season: 21st
Manager: David Flitcroft.

Players in: Dale Jennings (Bayern Munich, £250k), Chris O'Grady (Undisclosed, Sheff Wednesday), Christian Dibble (Bury, Free), Wade Joyce (Sunderland, Free), Lewis Nyatanga (Bristol City, Free), John Cofie (Manchester United, Free) Jean-Yves M'Voto (Oldham, Free).

Players out: Marlon Harewood, Matt Done, Rob Edwards, Stephen Foster, John Rooney, Lukas Lidakevicius, Toni Silva (all released)

Key Man: Jacob Mellis.

Verdict: David Flitcroft took over halfway through last season and managed to steer Barnsley away from relegation when things looked grim. There is optimism around Barnsley this season and the cause has been boosted by bringing back Chris O'Grady on a permanent basis after impressing on a loan spell in the latter part of last season. Flitcroft so far has brought in a blend of youth and experience in the transfer market this summer but I fear another relegation scrap for the Oakwell side.

Birmingham City
Last Season: 12th
Manager: Lee Clark

Players in: Andrew Shinnie (Inverness, free), Olly Lee (Barnet, free), Darren Randolph (Motherwell, free), Lee Novak (Huddersfield, free), Neal Ardley (Blackpool, free), Tom Adeyemi (Norwich, free), Kyle Bartley (Swansea, loan), Dan Burn (Fulham, loan), Matt Green (Mansfield, free), Scott Allen (West Brom, loan), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle, loan).

Players out: Keith Fahey, Morgaro Gomis, Pablo Ibanzez, Adam Rooney (all released), Stephen Carr (retired), Curtis Davies (Hull, undisclosed), Steven Caldwell (Toronto, free), Deqwon Ebanks (Tamworth, free), Nathan Redmond (Norwich, undisclosed), Jack Butland (Stoke, undisclosed), Akwasi Asante (Shrewbury, loan).

Key Man: Chris Burke

Verdict: Birmingham have lost the nucleus of the squad in Jack Butland, Curtis Davies and Nathan Redmond who have all moved on to pastures new but old Terriers boss Lee Clark has been quick to move in the transfer market bringing in hungry young players and the signing of Andrew Shinnie from Inverness after an impressive season in Scottish Premier League could be interesting. An overhaul of the squad might require a bit of time for City to get going but a play-off push is possible but I'm going for top half finish.

Blackburn Rovers
Last Season: 17th
Manager: Gary Bowyer

Players in: Chris Taylor (Millwall, free), Simon Eastwood (Portsmouth, free), Alan Judge (Notts County, free), Todd Kane (Chelsea, loan), DJ Campbell (QPR, free), Alex Marrow (Crystal Palace, free), Matt Killgallon (Sunderland, free), Tommy Spurr (Doncaster, free).

Players out: David Goodwillie (Dundee United, loan), Micah Evans, Osayamen Osawe, Chris Dilo, Jamie MacLaren, Reece Hands, Peter Wylie, Ryan Humphreys, Danny Laverty, Nuno Gomes (all released) Martin Olsson (Norwich, Undisclosed),

Key Man: Jordan Rhodes

Verdict: A season to forget for Rovers fans with the constant bickering in the boardroom and the overhaul in managers contributed to Rovers finishing a disappointing 17th position had it not been for Jordan Rhodes' goals it could have been a lot worse. Gary Bowyer has been left to pick up the pieces and managed to steer Blackburn away from the Championship trap door and has made some shrewd moves in the transfer market in the likes of DJ Campbell, Matt Killgallon and Alan Judge who had been a star performer for Notts County for the past couple of seasons. If Rhodes is again on fire automatic is not out of the question but a play-off push is a real possibility.

Last Season: 15th
Manager: Paul Ince

Players in: Gary MacKenzie (MK Dons, undisclosed), Bobby Grant (Rochdale, undisclosed), Michael Chopra (Ipswich, free). Stephen Davies (Bristol City, £500,000).

Players out: Paul Bigot, Alex Addai, Gerardo Bruna, Matt Challoner, Adda Djeziri, Tiago Gomes, Elliott Grandin, Jamie Menagh, Curtis Thompson (all released), Kevin Phillips (Crystal Palace, free), Neal Eardley (Birmingham, free), Ashley Eastham (Rochdale, free), Chris Kettings (York, loan) Ian Evatt (Chesterfield, free), Alex Baptise (Bolton, free), Stephen Crainey (Wigan, free), Ludovic Sylvestre (Caykur Rizespor, free)

Key Man: Tom Ince

Verdict: Blackpool have lost some key players to clubs in the same division but they have a massive boost in keeping hold of Tom Ince after he turned down a move to Premier League new boys Cardiff City. A 15th place finish last season and it could be a long struggle this season for The Seasiders to avoid the Championship trap door.

Last Season: 7th
Manager: Dougie Freedman

Players in: Marc Tierney (Norwich, free), Hayden White (Sheff Wednesday, compensation), Conor Wilkinson (Millwall, free), Rob Hall (West Ham, free), Alex Baptiste (Blackpool, free), Gary Fraser (Hamilton, free).

Players out: Adam Blakeman, Joe McKee, Lewis Fielding, Ben Hampson, Ben Dennis (all released), Sam Ricketts (Wolves, free), Kevin Davies (Preston, free), Jack Sampson (Morecambe, free), Alex McQuade (Shrewsbury, free), Rob Lainton (Bury, free), Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, undisclosed).

Key Man: Chris Eagles

Verdict: Bolton just missed out on the play-offs last season after a late season rally following a disappointing start to the season that saw Owen Coyle lose his job. They have Dougie Freedman in charge who is rated as one the best young managers in the game and has brought in some Championship quality in the transfer market in Marc Tierney, Alex Bapiste and Jermaine Beckford. If Wanderers manage to keep Beckford fit they have a goalscorer on their hands. An automatic place are a real possibility.

Last Season: 2nd in League One
Manager: Eddie Howe

Players in: Elliott Ward (Norwich, free), Ian Harte (Reading, free), Mohamed Couilbaly (Grasshopper Zurich, free), Andrew Surman (Norwich, loan)

Players out: Stephen Fletcher (retired), Jon Meades (released), Charlie Sheringham (AFC Wimbledon, free), Frank Demouge (Roda JC, free), Dan Strugnell (Havant & Waterlooville, free), David James (released), Matt Tubbs (Rotherham, loan).

Key Man: Brett Pitman

Verdict: Eddie Howe returned to Bournemouth in October last year after a short spell at Burnley and transformed The Cherries' fortune guiding them to 2nd place in League One. Has a hungry young squad and has added some experience in Ian Harte and Elliott Ward which might keep Bournemouth just out of reach of the trap door.

Last Season: 4th
Manager: Oscar Garcia.

Players in: Matt Upson (Stoke, free), Adam Chicksen (MK Dons, undisclosed).

Players out: Stephen Dobbie (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Ryan Harley (Swindon, free), Gary Dicker, Marcos Painter, Vicente (all released).

Key Man: Liam Bridcutt

Verdict: Finished in the play-offs last season and it all looked good until a late collapse in the 2nd leg against Crystal Palace. What transpired was a rather messy affair in the sacking of manager Gus Poyet and his staff whilst Poyet was live on television doing work for the BBC covering the Confederations Cup. Brighton quickly moved to replace Poyet will an unknown Spaniard Oscar Garcia. Poyet progressed with Brighton every year so it could be a step back for Brighton this season. Mid-table finish.

Last Season: 11th
Manager: Sean Dyche

Players in: Tom Heaton (Bristol City, free), Joseph Mills (Reading, free), Alex Cisak (Oldham, free), Nick Liversedge (Whitby Town, free), Ryan Noble (Sunderland, free), Scott Arfield (Huddersfield, free), Daniel Nizic (Sydney FC, free).

Players out: Brian Jensen, Jon Stewart, Aryn Williams, Josef Jackson (all released), Alex MacDonald (Burton, free), Wes Fletcher (York, free), Lee Grant (Derby, free), Chris McCann (Wigan, free), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield, free), Adam Evans (Inverness, free), Shay McCarten (Accrington, free), George Porter (AFC Wimbledon, loan), Dane Richards (FK Bodo/Glimt, free).

Key Man: Charlie Austin.

Verdict: Burnley must have thought Christmas had come early when Charlie Austin failed his medical at Hull City but whether they can keep hold of him until September at least is another question. Signed a good goalkeeper in Tom Heaton to replace the departed Lee Grant. Another mid-table finish for The Clarets if they can keep Austin.

Charlton Athletic
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Chris Powell

Players in: Mark Gower (Swansea, free), Richard Wood (Coventry, free).

Players out: Ricardo Fuller, Danny Haynes, Salim Kerkar, Yado Mambo, Matt Taylor, Bradley Wright-Phillips (all released), John Sullivan (Portsmouth, free), Scott Wagstaff (Bristol City, free), Michael Smith (AFC Wimbledon, loan), David Button (Brentford, undisclosed).

Key Man: Johnnie Jackson

Verdict: Impressive 9th placed finish for Charlton after coming up from League One the previous season. The Addicks have had to cut their cloth accordingly which meant Ricardo Fuller was released as well as others and with little money for Chris Powell to spend he has only been allowed to bring in two players on which were both frees. Other teams around are spending money and bringing in quality players so Charlton might be looking over their shoulders this season.

Derby County
Last Season: 10th
Manager: Nigel Clough

Players in: Lee Grant (Burnley, free), Chris Martin (Norwich, free), Johnny Russell (Dundee Utd, undisclosed), Craig Forsyth (Watford, undisclosed), John Eustace (Watford, free), Adam Smith (Spurs, loan).

Players out: John Brayford (Cardiff, £1.5m), Gareth Roberts (Bury, free), Frank Fielding (Bristol City, undisclosed), Ross Atkins (Alfreton, loan), Conor Doyle (DC United, loan).

Key Man: Jamie Ward

Verdict: A strong 10th place finish last season just seven points off the play-offs but manager Nigel Clough has gone out and strengthened his side in the transfer market bringing back loanee Chris Martin and the highly-rated Johnny Russell from Dundee United. John Brayford is a key player to lose but Adam Smith will fill that gap Brayford has left. Jamie Ward and Connor Sammon will look to kick on so a play-off place could be on this season.

Doncaster Rovers
Last Season: 1st in League One
Manager Paul Dickov

Players in: Marc De Val Fernandez (Real Madrid, free), Harry Forrester (Brentford, compensation), Dean Furman (Oldham, free), Mark Duffy (Scunthorpe, undisclosed), Luke McCullough (Manchester United, free), Bongani Khumalo (Tottenham, loan).

Players out: Jordan Ball, Patrick Mullen, Gary Woods, Martin Woods, Neil Sullivan (all released), Lee Fowler (Kidderminster, free), Tommy Spurr (Blackburn, free).

Key Player: James Coppinger.

Verdict: A dramatic day on the end of the season saw Doncaster win the League One title. Brian Flynn moved upstairs and Paul Dickov has taken over the hotseat at the Keepmoat Stadium. A potential takeover from an Irish consortium have hampered some deals in the transfer market but Dickov has managed to poach Dean Furman from his former club Oldham and young talent in Forrester, Duffy and McCullough. Dickov though has never managed at this level; it could be a season of struggle for the South Yorkshire side.

Huddersfield Town
Last Season: 19th
Manager Mark Robins

Players in: Jon Stead (Bristol City, free), Adam Hammill (Wolves, undisclosed), Martin Paterson (Burnley, free), James Vaughan (Norwich, undisclosed), Jonathan Hogg (Watford, undisclosed), Cristian Lopez (free).

Players out: Lee Novak (Birmingham, free), Scott Arfield (Burnley, free), Chris Atkinson (Tranmere, loan), Tom Clarke (Preston, free), Alan Lee (released).

Key Man: James Vaughan.

Verdict: Huddersfield survived the Championship trap door on the final day of the season but things had looked bleak at one point until Mark Robins managed to steady the ship with key goals in key games from James Vaughan and former loanee Jermaine Beckford. Robins has been quick to sort out the goalscoring problem by bringing in 4 strikers one being the permanent signing of Vaughan which has given the club a boost. Town conceded far too many goals last season if they manage to not ship goals for fun a mid-table finish is on.

Ipswich Town
Last Season: 14th
Manager: Mick McCarthy

Players in: Cole Skuse (Bristol City, free), Jay Tabb (Reading, free), David McGoldrick (Notts Forest, free), Paul Anderson (Bristol City, swap deal), Dean Gerken (Bristol City, free), Frederic Veseli (Manchester United, free), Christophe Berra (Wolves, free), Daryl Murphy (Celtic, free), Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United, loan)

Players out: Arran Lee-Barrett, Jason Brown, Jack Ainsley, Cormac Burke, Ronan Murray, Joe Whight (all released), Andy Drury (Crawley, free), Lee Martin (Millwall, free), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Bristol City, swap).

Key Man: David McGoldrick

Verdict: Ipswich finished a respectable mid-table under Mick McCarthy after a disastrous start to the season saw Paul Jewell lose his job. McCarthy has vast experience at managing at this level taking both Sunderland and Wolves into the Premier League from the Championship. A play-off push could be possible but I think a respectable top half finish is more likely.

Leeds United
Last Season: 13th
Manager: Brian McDermott

Players in: Matt Smith (Oldham, free), Luke Murphy (Crewe, £1m), Noel Hunt (Reading, free).

Players out: Leigh Bromby, Paul Connolly, Paul Rachubka, David Somma, Paddy Kisnorbo, Habib Habibou, Monty Gimpel, Sanchez Payne, Patrick Antelmi, Jordan Snodin (all released), Steve Morison (Millwall, loan).

Key Man: Ross McCormack.

Verdict: Another disappointing season for Leeds saw Neil Warnock replaced with former Reading manager Brian McDermott. There isn't a lot in the treasure chest at Elland Road with the club saying they may have to sell before they can buy but Luke Murphy looks a promising prospect. Expect to mount a play-off challenge but a top half finish looks more realistic.

Leicester City
Last Season: 6th
Manager: Nigel Pearson

Players in: Zoumana Bakayogo (Tranmere, free)

Players out: Conor Brennan, Steven Smith, Karlton Watson, Jide Maduako (all released), Joey Jones (Yeovil, free), Jermaine Beckford (Bolton, undisclosed), Ritchie Wellens (contract terminated).

Key Man: David Nugent

Verdict: Another play-off heartache for The Foxes last season and throughout the season Nigel Pearson's job was under question from the Leicester owners. The newly introduced Financial Fair Play appears to be hampering the club with only one signing this summer but have offloaded two big earners in Jermaine Beckford and Ritchie Wellens. The club have kept hold of Kasper Schmeichel and Wes Morgan despite interest from other clubs but the pressure is on Pearson to succeed this season but it could be another play-off finish.

Last Season: 16th
Manager: Tony Mowbray

Players in: Jozsef Varga (Debrecen, loan), Dean Whitehead (Stoke, free).

Players out: Julio Arca, Andre Bikey, Kieron Dyer, Stephen McManus, Merouane Zemmama (all released), Nicky Bailey (Millwall, free), Scott McDonald (Millwall, free).

Key Man: Marvin Emnes

Verdict: I bet most Middlesbrough fans couldn't wait to see the season end after a disastrous 2013 that saw Boro drop from 2nd place in the table at the start of the year to 16th by end of the season. Boro have a decent squad but they've had to cut their cloth accordingly and had to let both Nicky Bailey and Scott McDonald leave on free transfers. The supporters will be expecting a play-off challenge but I'm afraid it could be another season of mid-table mediocrity.

Last Season: 20th
Manager: Steve Lomas

Players in: Jermaine Easter (Crystal Palace, undisclosed), Stephen Bywater (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Steve Morison (Leeds, loan), Lee Martin (Ipswich, free), Richard Chaplow (Southampton, free), Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough, free), Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough, free).

Players out: Chris Taylor (Blackburn, free), Steve Mildenhall (Bristol Rovers, free), Tamika Mkandawire (Shrewsbury, free), Shaun Batt (Leyton Orient, free), Conor Wilkinson (Bolton, free), Thiery Racon, Maik Taylor (released).

Key Man: Richard Chaplow

Verdict: Steve Lomas has to win over the Millwall fans due to his connections with rivals West Ham. Some are predicting Millwall to fail this season but I think they will keep their heads above water as they've made some shrewd moves in the transfer market in the likes of Richard Chaplow and Nickey Bailey both Championship quality midfielders on frees. Bringing back fans favourite Steve Morison is a boost and he and Scott McDonald should have goals in them.

Nottingham Forest
Last Season: 8th
Manager: Billy Davies

Players in: Darius Henderson (Millwall, free), Gonzalo Jara (West Brom, free), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa, free), Jamie Paterson (Walsall, undisclosed), Dorus De Vries (Wolves, free), Jamie Mackie (QPR, £1m), Jack Hobbs (loan), Djamel Abdoun (Olympiakos, £1.55m).

Players out: David McGoldrick (Ipswich, free), Josh Thomas, Elliott Ackroyd, Eurico Sebastiao, Jordan Palmer-Samuels (all released), Matt Regan (Tamworth, free), Lewis McGugan (Watford, free), Dimitar Evtimov (Nuneaton, loan).

Verdict: Billy Davies came back in to Forest in February and carried on from where he left off almost sneaking in the play-offs by the end of the season. Davies has got the Forest train moving so play-off finish this season could happen but don't write off Forest to finish in the automatic places.

Last Season: 20th in Premier League
Manager: Harry Redknapp.

Players in: Danny Simpson (Newcastle, free), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa, free), Karl Henry (Wolves, undisclosed).

Players out: Tal Ben Haim, Radek Cerny, Freddy Champion, Adam Francis, Rob Hulse, Louis Parmenter, Tommase Trani, Jay Bothroyd, Djibril Cisse (all released), DJ Campbell (Blackburn, free), Troy Hewitt (Walsall, free), Chris Samba (Anzhi Makhachkala, £12m), Jamie Mackie (Notts Forest, £1m), Jose Bosingwa (Trabzonspor, free).

Key Man: Adel Taarabt

Verdict: QPR unquestionably have the squad and a manager that can get them to bounce back at the first attempt but actions speak louder than words. They have some real talent in their squad such as Adel Taarabt but will they be up for the fight away at such places as Yeovil and Doncaster? Going to be an interesting season for The Hoops I'm going for a play-off finish.

Last Season: 19th in Premier League
Manager: Nigel Adkins

Players in: Wayne Bridge (Man City, free), Royston Drenthe (Alania Vladikavkaz, free), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim, undisclosed).

Players out: Nick Bignall, Charlie Losasso, Angus MacDonald, Nicky Shorey, Joshua Webb, Brett Williams, Simon Church (all released), Noel Hunt (Leeds, free), Joseph Mills (Burnley, free), Jay Tabb (Ipswich, free), Ian Harte (Bournemouth, free), Nick Arnold (Wycombe, loan), Josh Shama (Oxford, free), Mikkel Andersen (Randers, free), Ryan Edwards (Perth Glory, loan), Daniel Carrico (Sevilla, loan).

Key Man: Adam Le Fondre

Verdict: Reading have kept the nucleus of the squad after relegation from the Premier League and added some quality into an already good squad. Nigel Adkins will be keen to bounce back at the first attempt and they have the squad capable of it. Adam Le Fondre is an out-and-out goalscorer who can fire Reading into the automatic places.

Sheffield Wednesday
Last Season: 18th
Manager Dave Jones

Players in: Jacques Maghoma (Burton Albion, free), Jeremy Helan (Man City, undisclosed), Atdhe Nuhiu (Eskisehirspor, free).

Players out: Julian Bennett, Nejc Pecnik, Nickk Weaver (released), Bastien Hery (Rochdale, free), Chris O'Grady (Barnsley, undisclosed), Stephen Bywater (Millwall, free), Hayden White (Bolton, compensation), Chris Lines (Port Vale, free).

Key Man: Michail Antonio

Verdict: Sheffield Wednesday was looking at the trap door last season but a late revive saw avoid the drop and a last day win over Middlesbrough ensured Championship status for another year. The Owls are another club with a limited budget so expect another season of looking over their shoulder.

Last Season: 3rd
Manager Gianfranco Zola

Players in: Uche Ikpeazu (Reading, free), Lewis McGugan (Forest, free), Iriney (Granada, loan), Almen Abdi, Marco Cassetti, Cristian Battocchio, Gabriele Angella, Marco David Faraoni, Diego Fabbrini, Javier Acuna, Joel Ekstrand (all Udinese, undisclosed), Daniel Pudil, Ikechi Anya (Granada, undisclosed), Reece Brown (Man United, free).

Players out: Mark Yeates (Bradford, free), Prince Buaben, Piero Mingoia, Aaron Tumwa, Stephen Hamilton-Forbes (all released), Chris Iwelumo (Scunthorpe, free), Jack Bonham (Brentford, free), Stephen McGinn (Sheffield United, free), Craig Forsyth (Derby, undisclosed), Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield, undisclosed)., Britt Assombalonga (Peterborough, undisclosed), Carl Dickinson (Port Vale, free).

Key Man: Troy Deeney.

Verdict: Watford has signed all of the loan players they had in their squad last season but have not brought back last season's top scorer Matej Vydra. Even with Vydra missing expect Watford to be there or thereabouts again this season.

Last Season: 18th in Premier League
Manager: Owen Coyle

Players in: Chris McCann (Burnley, free), Stephen Crainey (Blackpool, free), Thomas Rogne (Celtic, free), James Perch (Newcastle, undisclosed), Scott Carson (Bursaspor, free), Grant Holt (Norwich, £2m), Juan Carlos Garcia (Olmpia, free), Marc Antoine Fortune (West Brom, free).

Players out: Antolin Alcaraz (Everton, free), Franco Di Santo, Albert Crusat, Adrian Lopez, Ronnie Stam, Filip Orsula, Callum Morris, Ryan Watson (all released), Maynor Figeuroa (Hull, free), Arouna Kone (Everton, £6m).

Key Man: Callum McManaman.

Verdict: Newly appointed Owen Coyle has a lot of in plate managing the FA Cup Winners with an expected promotion push at the first attempt as well as juggling playing in the Europa League. Coyle has added some quality to the squad and Grant Holt has still got goals in him but as of yet they've managed to keep hold of star players such as James McArther and James McCarthy. Europe could be a distraction but still expect a play-off finish.

Yeovil Town
Last Season: 4th in League One
Manager: Gary Johnson

Players in: Joel Grant (Wycombe, free), Sam Hoskins (Southampton, free), Joey Jones (Leicester, free), Kieffer Moore (Dorchester, undisclosed), Michael Ngoo (Liverpool, loan), Billy Clifford (Chelsea, loan), Dan Seabourne (Southampton, free), Liam Davis (Oxford, free), Alan Tate (Swansea, loan).

Players out: Richard Hinds (Bury, free), Gavin Williams (Woking, free), Dominic Blizzard (Plymouth, free).

Key Man: Paddy Madden.

Verdict: Yeovil Town defied the odds last season by winning the League One play-offs but Yeovil's chances of survival will depend if last season's top scorer Paddy Madden can fire in the goals at this level. Yeovil are punching well above their weight with the budget the club has they will put up a fight but the quality of the Championship maybe too much for them.


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