Friday, 17 August 2012

2012/13 Championship: Season Preview

With eyes firmly fixed on the Premier League beginning this weekend, we turn to the Football League and the Championship. All 72 teams begin their seasons this weekend and will all be aiming for a good start. Cardiff and Huddersfield kicked off the season on Friday night where the Bluebirds clinched a late goal to claim their first three points.

Hector Rodas Martin Petrov (R) of Bolton is put under pressure by Hector Rodas of Levante during the pre season friendly match between Bolton Wanderers and Levante at the Reebok Stadium on August 05, 2011 in Bolton, England.
We begin with the three relegated clubs from the Premier League. All of them will be big  favourites to make an instant return. Bolton Wanderers failed to stay up last season, failing to get a needed win against Stoke on the final game of the year. Owen Coyle's men look big favourites to go up having kept the likes of David N'gog and Martin Petrov in their ranks. The signings of Matt Mills and Keith Andrews will add further strength to the squad. Blackburn and Wolves will also look to make an immediate return, with Rovers boss Steve Kean adding Danny Murphy, Nuno Gomes and Leon Best to his squad. Since finishing bottom of the Premier League, Wolves brought in new boss Stale Solbakken who will look to regain the players confidence for the new season. Newly promoted Huddersfield Town made the jump via last seasons play off's having beaten Sheffield United in a close penalty shoot out at Wembley. Striker Jordan Rhodes looks set to remain with the Terriers and after scoring 40 goals last season, his goals will be important if they are to remain in the Championship. Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday join Huddersfield in the Championship having gained automatic promotion from League One last year. Wednesday boss Dave Jones had brought in a wealth of players including injury plagued keeper Chris Kirkland from Wigan, and defender Anthony Gardner who made the move from Crystal Palace. 

The chase for the play off's will be hotly contested this season with a number of clubs eager for one of the four places up for grabs. Cardiff City will be amongst the positions as will the likes of Leicester City and Leeds United. Nottingham Forest have been recently taken over by new investors and immediately brought in a new boss and new players. Defenders Greg Halford and Danny Collins made the move and were joined by West Brom striker Simon Cox who will add to their strikeforce, who last season struggled to find the net. New boss Sean O'Driscoll will be eager to get off to a good start as they begin their campaign against Bristol City. Watford are another side who have new owners as they were taken over by Italian Giampaolo Pozzo. He immediately brought in new manager Gianfranco Zola, who has since brought in a number of players including former Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia.

Down at the bottom of the division, the relegation battle with be contested by a number of clubs. Bristol City and Barnsley escaped last season and will once again become favourites to go down. The newly promoted sides will also find themselves down at the bottom, if they don't get a good start to their campaign, As mentioned, Jordan Rhodes will be critical to Huddersfield if they are to stay up and with Charlton, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips will also need to be hitting the net regularly if the Addicks are to remain a Championship side. Having finished in a very respectable 18th place last season, Peterborough United will want to improve their position this season. The Posh were relegated straight away the last time they achieved promotion, but boss Darren Ferguson brought in experience and quality to his squad meaning they comfortably stayed up second time around. Despite being placed on the transfer list, key players Paul Taylor and George Boyd will begin the season as Posh players, and alongside experienced midfield man Grant McCann, Posh will continue to be difficult opponents, especially at home.

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