CHAMPIONSHIP BLOGGERS 2018/19 SEASON PREDICTIONS PART 2 – Nottingham Forest thru WBA

CHAMPIONSHIP BLOGGERS 2018/19 SEASON PREDICTIONS PART 2 – Nottingham Forest thru WBA
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Billy Grant (@billythebee99) caught up with bloggers at all 24 Championship clubs up and down the country to find out their thoughts on their last campaign and how they feel their team will fare this season. 


Part 2  covers teams Nottingham Forest to West Brom. Part 1 (click here) covers teams Aston Villa through to Leeds.

Nottingham Forest

Adam, Forever Forest TV (@FOREVERFORESTTV)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

13th v 17th

How would you describe last season for your club?

I probably start to sound like a broken record but another topsy turvy season as always at the City Ground.  It started off promising with Warburton bringing in a number of players.  The football was nice on the eye and the fact he had faith in the youth was encouraging but the football then became predictable, there was no plan B and before you knew it, you were in a rut of form. 

Warburton was sacked and Karanka came in. He had to save us but luckily, we didn’t have a repeat of nerves from the season before.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

Promotion. It’s as simple as that.  We’ve invested heavily in the squad.  Even with the loan players with a view to permanent.  We’ve got a £60m front 4 and if they don’t perform then I think people will be pointing the finger and laughing. 

Look at what happened with Wolves.  Spent lots of money season before last and got laughed at pretty much but they went onto to storm the league last season.  We’ve skipped a few steps and gone all out in one go, we have to get promoted!   

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

10 new signings with the possibility of picking up another one whilst I type this answer.  Michael Dawson has made a return to his boyhood club and it’s great to have him back.  Hopefully he can help the younger players on and off the pitch. 

We made Tobias Figureido and Costel Pantilimon permanent signings following their loans from last season. Jack Colback has returned on loan.  Jack Robinson has joined us on a free from QPR.  Unknown quantity, Hilal Soudani has joined us from Dynamo Zagreb. 

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Lewis Grabban signed for a reported £6m from Bournemouth after scoring 20 goals across two loan spells at Sunderland and Aston Villa.  He will be pivotal to scoring goals this season and finish off the chances created by the three exciting prospects we have acquired.

Joao Carvalho has joined us for a record fee of £13m from Benfica along with his mate, Diogo Goncalves – valued at £20m.  We have him with a view to permanent.  This goes for the same with Gil Dias from Monaco (valued at £17.5m). These are the next lot of Portuguese prodigies that Jorge Mendes has managed to import in the Championship this season following his input to players with Wolves.

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We’ve loaned a few players out but sold Eric Lichaj to Hull.  Always enjoyed him as a player. Gave his all and I wish him all the best!

Who was your biggest hero last season?

I think for the whole of the season, I would have to say Matty Cash for me personally.  A lot of people won’t agree but he just gave his all.  He wasn’t always the best player but he tried to do something every time he got on the ball. He improved greatly and even found his scoring boots for the first time. I think he will come on leaps and bounds this coming season. I think the competition will only push him more.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Barrie McKay.  He started the season off amazingly – scoring around 5/6 goals and getting 7 assists in the first few months. Then people started to work him out. Put a tough tackle on him and he didn’t want to know. If a full back was getting the better of him, he would shy away from trying to beat him. He just lacked so much confidence after such a brilliant start and that’s why he disappointed me. There are probably worse players but for those reasons I give it him because he has so much potential!

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

Has to be Gil Dias, on loan from Monaco, I think. Not that I’ve seen much of the other two Portuguese lads but he’s scored a Messi esque goal v Malaga. Just think he’ll light up the league.  Assists and goals galore!

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

Stoke City.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Rotherham

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

Preston North End

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Apart from Derby, I think Sheffield United. There’s lots of history between the two clubs. Always a cracking atmosphere too.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Milwall

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

League Title.

Predicted league finish?

2nd

Preston

Sam Martin, Socially Sam (@SOCIALLY_SAM)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

I predicted 9th and we finished 7th so not too bad.

How would you describe last season for your club?

Tricky, disappointing but ok. We probably would have done better without the injuries we had. At one point I thought I’d get a game in defence if I’d  turned up with boots. Between nearly every first choice defender being injured and Maguire missing for 4 months, we did well to finish where we did. We had a good start to the season but once the injuries started coming thick and fast it all got very unnerving and we dropped too many points. By the end of the season we missed the play-offs by 2 points. 

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

We finally find a goal scorer and avoid mass injuries. I think we do have a strong squad this season and we should be aiming for no less than the play-offs.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

We’ve made a few signings but unfortunately we lost Cunningham to Cardiff. I think that could prove to be a big loss for us. We’ve brought in Graeme Burke from Shamrock Rovers, Ryan Ledson from Oxford United, Andrew Hughes from Peterborough United and goalkeeper Michael Crowe.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

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Probably Alan Browne. He’s becoming a very consistent player. Along with Ben Pearson, when he’s not getting booked.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

I think Horgan. He came to us with so much promise but didn’t do much last season and struggled to even get a place on the bench. As I said last season, when we sign all the League of Ireland players, it’s such a difference stepping up to the Championship and many won’t make it. Horgan has done well in pre-season so hopefully he can get his place back.

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?

Pearson. 

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

I think automatic will be Middlesbrough and I think Stoke could bounce straight back up 

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Bolton

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

This is going to be a tough league this year and I don’t think there will be many surprises. Bristol City might raise a few eyebrows this year. I don’t know if they are strong enough to push for a play off place but they might give a few teams a scare.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

We’ve got most of our local derby’s back now so Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan

What fans impressed you most last season?

Sheffield Wednesday always bring a lot. Obviously Leeds would have brought 5000 more 😉 And naturally Brentford for the sheer dedication of getting to Preston so early in the morning!

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

Keep the injury fairies at bay (however at the time of writing it is rumoured that Maguire is injured again already and likely to be out for a couple of months. This could however be a load of rubbish and just internet talk)

Predicted league finish?

I’ll go for 5th. That might be a tad adventurous but it’s an improvement on last season and the season before. 

QPR

Clive Whittingham, Loft For Words (@LOFTFORWORDS)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

19thv 16th

How would you describe last season for your club?

As expected. 

The positives- we reduced the size of the wage bill and the squad further, posted another improved set of financial results, remained competitive in the Championship while doing it and blooded a number of exciting kids into the first team.

At home we were pretty entertaining, with results on a par with Derby who finished sixth, and the scalps of a number of teams at the top end of the league including Wolves and Sheffield Utd in four days when they were the top two.

I enjoyed watching us at home last season. We were never remotely in trouble despite having our whole defence injured for several months in the middle of the season.

The negatives – the away results were appalling, with just three wins all season and two of those against poor Burton and Birmingham sides. There was a brief flash when we won at Villa and drew at Fulham, playing really well in both games, inside a week, but apart from that we were way too easy to play against on the road and showed little idea how we were going to change it.

Ian Holloway’s maddening tendency to chop and change the team to the tune of 3-6 changes a game bred inconsistency, infuriated supporters and left several players wondering what was going on having been dropped following good results and personal performances. The gap between our best performances and worst was massive, and that inconsistency continued throughout the season.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

Realistically it’s going to be more of the same, despite the change of manager and the arrival of Steve ‘Scshteve’ McClaren to replace Holloway. We have to continue to bacon slice the squad, the wage bill and the costs. We’re expecting a bigger loss to be posted in the accounts for 2017/18 when they come through and while they will be just about inline with the new FFP rules, our parachute payments are about to end so it will only be harder for a club with our stadium and training ground situation to get under that barrier without making further significant cuts.

I’d like to see a more consistent approach to team selection, a stronger backbone to the team away from home, and the continued progression of some of the club’s bright young players.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

We’ve sold our outstanding goalkeeper Alex Smithies very cheaply, £3m to Cardiff. That was the only bid on the table (Bournemouth had watched him but not bid) and we took it. You can probably tell what I think of that but the club’s position is we have two goalkeepers underneath him both ready to step up to the first team (Matt Ingram, Joe Lumley) and we’re in desperate need of money for at least two new centre backs with high earners Nedum Onuoha and Jack Robinson both moving on at the end of their deals this summer.

So far we’ve brought in a big angry German called Toni Leistner from Union Berlin who looks ideal, and there’ll be another before deadline – they’re trying hard for Australian Trent Sainsbury as I write this.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Well Smithies has been consistently brilliant for two and a half years and we would have been in a lot of trouble without him. Massimo Luongo won Player of the Year award, I went for Luke Freeman who led the league in assists bar a couple of the Wolves lads which was some achievement with our attack – though he did tail off towards the end of the season.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

The team in general away from home was a disappointment. They were too nice, too soft, too easy to play against, and it was blatantly obvious from the wildly rotating team selections that nobody knew what to do about it. This division is long and hard enough without making the away games such a total ballache.

Player wise, Connor Washington just hasn’t been able to get going at this level since moving from Peterborough and looks pretty bereft of confidence. Joel Lynch is a lethal combination for a centre half of somebody you can’t rely on to take the field each week, then can’t rely on when he does.

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

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A few of the young kids coming through are very exciting, particularly Northern Ireland’s Paul Smyth who scored on his full QPR debut and full international debut last season.

We’ve got a boy called Ebere Eze who’s a bit maverick, bit inconsistent, bit prone to drifting in and out of games, but looks to be some talent at this stage. Hoffenheim basically enquired about him there and then after our friendly last week and it could be a big break out year for him if he gets his head right.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

I would be surprised if Stoke don’t go straight back.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

I don’t see Rotherham surviving. It irritates the hell out of me that Bolton, one of the worst away trips in the entire league, won one away game all season, were terrible from the first game to the last, but managed to get just good enough, just long enough (four minutes of the final game of the season) to survive and relegate Burton Albion and their lovely town full of pubs. I expect they’ll go as well this time.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

Preston will go well in my view, though whether that’s a surprise or not I’m not sure. They’ll probably get relegated now I’ve said that, but then I’d be surprised, so it would still count as me being right.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why

Same as this and every other year – Nottingham Forest on December 22. Nice 4-0 defeat there last year made it 34 visits and no wins so we’ll all traipse back up there en masse just in case this is the time it finally happens.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Anybody who spends time and money travelling around watching this festering turd of a division impresses/worries me.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

A run in the FA Cup. And if I may be so bold for a second wish, a run in the FA Cup with some interesting draws.

We haven’t won a game without the aid of a replay since Trevor Sinclair’s bicycle kick. We haven’t been beyond the fourth round since then either and we’re almost always unceremoniously dumped out in a dreadfully dull third round tie with Blackburn, West Brom, Forest or MK bloody Dons.

Predicted league finish?

16th

Reading

Dave Harris, The Tilehurst End (@HANDBAGS82)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

11thv 20th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Appalling. Having confounded all expectations and finished an unconvincing 3rd the season before, the expectation was to solidify and improve. As it turned out we started as we meant to go on.

We were completely outplayed by QPR on the opening day and then only drew with Fulham the week after despite the Cottagers having Tomas Kalas sent off inside the first minute. To top it all off the equaliser was scored by Lucas Piazon, who chose to give it the big’un after receiving a bit of stick the season before for being one of the most gutless players to have ever pulled on a Reading shirt.

Having said that, the next match was the performance of the season for me, beating Villa convincingly with the quick, incisive play in tight areas that we had neglected to do over the previous year or so, and the hope was we had suddenly clicked. Not to be, as teams simply sat deep and allowed us to have the ball, which we kept passing side to side in front of the inevitable two banks of four and five before picking us off on the break. 

We had a short spell of form in November and early December where it again looked like we might have turned a corner with a run of one defeat in seven (to Wolves in a game we should have gotten something from – we had them on the ropes for long periods) but it all went to ratsh*t from there with two wins in 21 leading to Stam’s dismissal.

The writing was on the wall for Stam from early January really, after being horribly outplayed at Stevenage which led to a bit of a fans and player standoff. Supporters by that time had simply lost faith with Stam’s methods. In truth Stam should have gone two months before he did, but the club made the only call available to them in March if they wanted to maintain Championship status…and even then that came down to the last day under Clement who it must be said didn’t really improve performances.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

To be better than last season. If we plateau or recede, we’ll go down. The feeling is we’ve not really improved in attack and that is hugely concerning for supporters. Unless we can nail down a proven Championship striker, supporters will go into this season with an air of pessimism the like of which we’ve not really felt for 20-odd years. That air will begin to sweep down onto the pitch if we start off badly, and we’ve seen time and time again with too many of the players in this squad that when the going gets tough, they melt.

The Madejski was becoming an increasingly toxic place to play from December onwards last season, and if that starts to happen again then I think we’ll need divine inspiration to keep our heads above water. Make no bones about it, Paul Clement has a tough job on his hands, but with the climax to last season seeing us lose four from seven, concede 13 goals, score just four and having not yet won a single pre-season match with one to play against Palace, it’s proving increasingly difficult to get excited about the upcoming season.

Gut instinct? We’ll be involved in a season long relegation battle.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

We’ve been active, however the one position we haven’t filled with a genuine known quality is up front. Mark McNulty has signed from Coventry so hopefully he can make the step up after his 28 goal haul last season, although League 2 is a different beast to the Championship.

Andy Yiadom was earning good reviews last season as a standout player in a poor Barnsley side and we managed to snap him up on a free. Likewise the more recognisable faces of David Meyler and John O’Shea have joined.

I’m genuinely hopeful the signings solidify us at the very least and add a bit of backbone which was so sorely lacking last season. Still under contract was Joey van den berg but he has gone back to the Netherlands (NEC), while we released Yann Kermorgant, Deniss Rakels, Joseph Mendes, Jonathan Bond and Stephen Quinn amongst others. It’s hard to be overly optimistic about the changes, but let’s not be disingenuous to the new chaps – hopefully they do what we need them to do and lift us up the table.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Difficult one this as not many really stood out. Toss up between Mo Barrow and Jon-Dadi Bodvarsson, both of whom returned reasonable goal figures in a pretty abject team.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Sone Aluko. Spent big money on him (for us) but he simply didn’t deliver. Didn’t get into threatening areas often enough, often drifted deep and central, and when he did get into good areas all too often failed to provide the service a player of his calibre should have done. A big season for him at Reading this year, he should feel he has a point to prove.

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

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Mo Barrow. Had a decent season last year and in a better side who knows what he could do? Lightning quick, has started to find some consistency with his delivery and can finish as well. A genuine threat to all opponents.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

I got this right last season predicting Fulham so I’m on a roll! I think given the quality in their side it’s difficult to look past Stoke. They’ve kept the majority of their team together and have added genuine quality in Afobe, Ince, McLean and Federici.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

I predicted Millwall last season and got that one horribly wrong! Rotherham this time around – they won’t be anywhere near as bad as their 16/17 side but it’s difficult to see them getting the points required against so many hardened Championship teams.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

There’s a few you could choose from – Wigan will be strong under Cook, PNE will be competitive once again and with a bit of luck could sneak into the playoffs, Millwall will hope to carry on from where they left off last year. Ipswich though, quietly going about their business on a budget, but if Paul Hurst can emulate what he achieved at Grimsby and Shrewsbury then Ipswich will be more than ok.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Millwall – always love going to The Den, particularly when they’re doing well and have got something to play for. Their atmosphere is unique in English football and they really get behind their team…and on the backs of the opponents!!

What fans impressed you most last season?

Any one of the 730 Sheffield United fans that made the trip to the Madejski in late February. Snow everywhere, absolutely Baltic conditions…and they walked away with an easy win.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

Exciting football from a Reading side, something we’ve sorely lacked since the early days of McDermott. 

Predicted league finish?

16th

Rotherham

Chris Saxon, Axholme Miller (@AxholmeMiller)

How would you describe last season for your club?

Last season I predicted a 10th place finish League One. Finished 4th and won play offs.

Words almost fail me. Astonishing, Incredible, unbelievable! Yet, a truly dire pathetic exit from the Championship the previous season had many pundits, including many of our own fans, predicting successive relegations, how wrong they all were!

We didn’t start well, losing at Fleetwood Town and that early form continued to disappoint. turning point was a second half turnaround at Blackpool snatching victory from what looked like another defeat. A long unbeaten run then propelled us towards the play offs and we briefly threatened the automatic promotion places.

In the end we finished fourth, beat Scunthorpe over two legs fairly comfortably and secured a fourth trip to Wembley. Shrewsbury were our opponents. They’d amazed everyone by competing toe to toe with big clubs, Blackburn and Wigan before running out of steam by finishing third. Wembley proved to be one of those memorable days as we deservedly beat the Shrews and regained our Championship status after just one season away. That much talked about gap between the Premiership and Championship might also be true of the difference between the Championship and League One with Blackburn, Wigan and the Millers all regaining their status at the first attempt.

Hopes for season

Simply to survive. We’ve been here before and found to be completely out of our depth, especially that last time we were here. Looking at the fixture list, it hardly looks any less daunting. There is some reason for optimism though. Our manager Paul Warne, our former fitness coach appears to have instilled something of a real team spirit amongst his squad. He’s re engaged with the fans. He also has a knack of recruiting well despite our lack of funds. He’s surrounded himself with former colleagues to help coach the team and we might well surprise a few, especially at home. 

Transfer Market

Up to now, with the new season just a week away, I think it’s fair to say that we’ve hardly raised any eyebrows with our recruitment. A couple of players in from Blackpool and a defender released by Sunderland added to by three loans suggest our financial outgoings will not increase significantly in this transfer window. At least we haven’t parted with anyone, at least to date.

Biggest hero

After that amazing turnaround of our fortunes, there’s a few I could mention. Loan signing goalkeeper from Fulham, Rodak,  produced some great saves throughout. Will Vaulks struggled in the Championship but grew and grew in League One. Micheal Smith signed from Bury in January as a replacement for our loan signing from Ipswich, Kiefer Moore, who disappointingly decided on a permanent move to near neighbours Barnsley, despite our best efforts to persuade him otherwise.

Bury fans seemingly couldn’t wait to get rid of Smith, but what a player he’s proved to be and will surely be a hit in this higher division. Biggest hero award though goes to centre back Richard Wood, he almost left the club for neighbouring Chesterfield on a “free” at Christmas. Injuries meant we decided to keep him for the remainder of the season. What a good decision that proved to be. His goals in the play offs, the two goals at Wembley in particular, had us fans singing his praises and there’s even a song about him! I hope he gets a chance to prove himself in this season’s Championship.

Biggest Disappointment:

Not really anyone stands out. I was disappointed that local boy Jerry Yates failed once again to realise his potential. He was outstanding in our junior ranks but despite this has struggled to make the grade in either the Championship or last season’s League One. He’s now been loaned out to League Two Carlisle United, where I suspect he might remain.

Who to look out for

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Michael Smith up front is likely to prove a real handful. Matty Palmer, signed from Burton last season should do well at this level in midfield. Joe Newell is our best footballer, also in midfield, but can be a tad inconsistent, his style of running at opponents might well be better suited to their Championship where footballers have more time to play.

Team I’d put £100 on for promotion

Pundits seem to fancy Stoke, who’ve spent big. I’m not so sure as in my opinion they’ve not spent wisely. I’d go for one of the other relegated sides, West Bromwich Albion to win promotion at first attempt.

Team I’d lump £100 on to be relegated

Hm…one thing’s for sure, when all these fans predictions are completed I’d lump £100 that they are unanimous in forecasting our, Rotherham United, for an immediate return to League One! We shall see. My prediction is that Bolton will be relegated, they were fortunate last time around and have offered little to suggest anything being any different this season. Bolton to be relegated then!

Ian Holloway trophy winners. Surprise packet

Wigan Athletic might well surprise and even threaten those two automatic promotion spots. They have the funds to strengthen their squad and are ably led by Paul Cook. Who can forget their win over Man City in the Cup?
I’d also say that we, the Millers, will confound those pundits and finish above thE three relegation places.

Must go to match of next season

Aston Villa. I’ve seen the Millers there a couple of times recently and we’ve been beaten easily on each occasion, never remotely offering anything for us fans to get excited about. I’d be looking for a massive improvement this time around.

Fans that impressed me the most

Portsmouth, they travelled the long journey in huge numbers, watched an abject team performance and defeat but still cheered and sang long after the final whistle. They’re a big club and will surely be destined for promotion sometime soon.

If I could be granted one thing this season

That we not only retained our Championship status but did a “Brentford” and did so comfortably.

Predicted League Finish

Heart says 12th, head says 21st, so 21st it is.

Sheffield United

Ian Rands, Unitedite (@UNITEDITE)

 

Last Season Prediction v actual position

10th v 13th 

How would you describe last season for your club?

We made a great start and that carried us to a strong finishing position, which sort of felt disappointing when you consider the first 4 months of the season with the quality of our performances and the excitement generated.

Along the way there were some great performances; home and away victories against Leeds. Sizeable victories over Derby and Hull and, despite the result, the 5-4 defeat to Fulham.

The one that stood out the most was “The Day the Bouncing Stopped”.

A tremendous start at Hillsborough, with Fleck putting us one up with a free kick on three minutes. David Brooks, a surprise starter, was playing with freedom and confidence, leaving Jack Hunt with twisted blood. Leon Clarke put us two up on 15 minutes and the Blades were dominant. But conceding a goal in first half injury time changed the mood inside the ground.

When Joao pegged us back to 2-2 with 25 minutes to go Blades fans were fearing the worst. But within a minute of the equaliser and with their fans still celebrating, Mark Duffy halted their jubilation. “If you don’t f@cking bounce, you’re a Blade, if you don’t…….” The place was bouncing then the bouncing abruptly stopped as Duffy fired in from a narrow angle and the away end exploded. The videos of that day will never get old.  Leon Clarke sealed a 4-2 win and after being belittled for years and having heard all about how we would struggle in the Championship. That Sunday afternoon will live long in the memory.

Our form dipped as injuries and suspensions hit and Paul Coutts’ broken leg at Burton in mid-November was a real turning point. A 3-1 win put us top of the league, but most fans were dejected as they knew that maintaining form and results would be difficult from thereon. Suspensions for Fleck, injuries to Duffy and Freeman and a bout of glandular fever for David Brooks left us lacking creativity and our form was mixed for much of the rest of the season.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

It’s hard to see last season’s start being replicated, with a tough opening set of fixtures. A lot will depend on the final additions we make and the form and fitness of talisman Paul Coutts on his return from injury. 

As it stands we are lacking a striker, despite the form shown by Leon Carke and Billy Sharp last season and the goals of David McGoldrick in pre-season. Wilder also wants to add a creative midfielder/forward to play in the hole. A number of names have been mentioned; Martyn Waghorn, Sam Gallagher, Ben Woodburn and amongst others, but at the time of writing only the latter appears to have made it through the door, although Wilder remains hopeful of making the changes required.

What Wilder has done well in the past is keep his targets well under wraps so there may be a surprise before the window closes. A couple of quality additions, plus a full pre-season at the club for January signings Ryan Leonard, Ricky Holmes and Lee Evans, will leave us in a much stronger position than we were 12 months ago.

The big issue remains in the boardroom where the wrangle over ownership between co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah is heading towards the courts unless mediation settles proceedings in a couple of months’ time. Thankfully, the arguments over funding and the buyout options that have been exercised do not seem to have stopped Wilder’s movements this transfer window, although the down-payment on Brooks helped.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

Amongst the departures of several fringe players and promising youngsters on loan and permanent, we lost enigmatic, young starlet David Brooks to Bournemouth in a deal reportedly worth £12m. Whilst this was massively disappointing – Brooks was the most exciting prospect I have seen come through the Bramall Lane ranks in my lifetime – there were question marks as to how he fits in to our system and formation. He has shown some exciting glimpses of potential.

We have brought in young Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson, who impressed on loan at Shrewsbury last season. Initially we thought he was a guaranteed starter, however Simon Moore should provide healthy competition and has just signed a contract extension.

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John Egan you guys know all about and his signing has been welcomed as a sign of intent by all Blades fans. David McGoldrick as a free agent has the potential to be a cute addition if he remains fit. Hopefully the fact he will no longer driving from his East Midlands home to Ipswich will help with that.

At the time of writing the exciting Liverpool prospect Ben Woodburn looks set to sign and has been seen at the Lane today, this has really excited United fans who see a player of similar ability to Brooks.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Genuinely, they were all heroes. Our Player of the Season for me was John Fleck, closely followed by Jack O’Connell, but for that moment at Hillsborough and what it meant I will go with Mark Duffy.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Again, it’s hard to pick. I guess it was disappointing not to take advantage of a poor Wednesday side at Bramall Lane. The fact they celebrated a 0-0 draw so exuberantly and the players were throwing their shirts into the crowd at the end, shows how much they felt they had got away with it and how far United have come, given we were viewed as the pub team that was relegation bound by our friends across the city.

On the playing front I would say Ched Evans. We have invested far too much time and money in his return for little footballing return.

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

We are happy to get through the summer and keep hold of Jack O’Connell. You know all about him, but it feels as if how good he really is, is our big secret. Most Blades see him as a mainstay of our team for years and a future club captain.

Our most exciting youth prospect Regan Slater has gone out on loan to Carlisle.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 

I can’t see past Boro. Although Pulis has turned what should be an entertaining team to watch into a boringly efficient team that grinds out results.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Bolton Wanderers – lucky last season, hamstrung by ownership and money problems and I just don’t see them being good enough.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

Not that I think they will be challenging at the top of the table, but I suspect most predictions will have Rotherham as relegation candidates, whereas I think they will stay up. The more I see and hear Paul Warne I think there are similarities with Chris Wilder and they have similar approaches to man management and how they operate.

I can also see Blackburn being top half and maybe pushing a play-off spot if the momentum that took them up is maintained, as they have a good mix of experience and youth.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

It has to be a Sheffield Derby. I will be fine at Bramall Lane, but getting a ticket for Hillsborough will be a challenge, I missed out last year.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Millwall fans came in great numbers and backed their team excellently at the Lane towards the end of the season.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

A Sheffield Double would be very nice, a win at the Lane and a victory at Hillsborough. Just to keep the noisy neighbours quiet.

Predicted league finish?

10th

Sheffield Wednesday

James Marriott, The Wednesday Week (@TWWCast)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

Terry from ImpsOnline sorry OwlsOnline predicted 2ndlast season. Final position – 15th

How would you describe last season for your club?

It was pretty much a disaster. We were plagued by injuries on an unprecedented scale, but we were also generally rubbish. Carlos rightly moved on, and Jos came in to steady the ship. It was only in the last few weeks of the season we really hit any form, but that gives us hope for this season 

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

This season is the total unknown for us. We have the nucleus of a squad which made it to the play-offs twice, so a top six push can’t be ruled out, but with FFP kicking in, realistically it’s more likely to be a steady season. I would be happy enough with top half and maybe having a push towards the top six. Or winning the league, that would be nice.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

No incomings, and it looks likely we’re under an informal transfer embargo because of our FFP situation. Jack Hunt has gone to Bristol City, and Jordan Rhodes on loan to Norwich for the season. I’m expecting another departure or two before the window closes and our incomings to be largely loans.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

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Adam Reach was our most consistent player, but most Wednesday fans would probably point to the unlikely hero of Atdhe Nuhiu. He’d been out in the wilderness for a long time with our plethora of striking options, but got his chance due to injuries and ultimately scored the goals that kept us up. It would have been crazy to imagine him getting a new contract a year ago, or even at Christmas, but he well and truly earned it.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

There’s plenty of candidates to take this award. Perhaps Jordan Rhodes is the obvious choice as it was the season we needed him to do the business, but he never found any form. To be honest, probably our fitness and medical team as whatever we were doing didn’t work – the amount of injuries, and particularly recurrent injuries, was mind blowing

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

I have a feeling this could be the season Lucas Joao really comes of age. He’s a striker who’s had spells of form, but watch him for any length of time and you can see there’s real talent in there. He just needs to get his brain and feet a bit more in sync and he could tear it up

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 

Hard to see past the three relegated teams, particularly Stoke

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Bolton. Hard to see Rotherham surviving as well.

What team is going to win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

Bristol City should do well, but I don’t think that would be a huge surprise. Maybe Preston.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Brentford away of course – final visit to a classic stadium and a fantastic day out (you might even get another season out of Griffin Park you never know – Ed)

What fans impressed you most last season?

It was my first trip to Sunderland for a while and their fans were lovely, although understandably quiet during the match. Villa were good as always.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

A fully fit squad for the whole season pretty please

Predicted league finish?

8th

Stoke City

Anthony Bunn, Duck Fanzine (@DuckMagStoke)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

N/A

How would you describe last season for your club?

Like going in a brothel and asking for a hug. Relegation had been looming for over twelve months before we kicked off last August. We’d finished 13ththe season before but we’d totally lost our mojo, the manager had lost his bottle, and many Stokies knew we’d be in a relegation battle.

That we didn’t sign a striker in January 2018 signed our death warrant. We got Paul Lambert for some reason in January and as nice a bloke as he is, I bet he could not believe his luck when the phone rang and a Premier League club was on the other end. He had no chance – we had several utter wasters and chancers on the payroll and zero spirit.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

Well, all summer it seems that football has been coming home and I don’t know of one mate who isn’t dead excited about the season ahead. That’s not because we expect promotion, it’s because we get some great awaydays, renew acquaintances with a few clubs we’ve not played for a while, and it’s kind of a blessed relief to have a season away from the tedious, self-loving Greed League.

For the younger brigade, they’ll see that football exists and is often better outside the Premier League.

It might well be the richest league in the world, but a lot of the Premier League is massively beige and boring. If you’ve not been in it for a while or at all, it might seem the promised land. But we had a decade of it, and it’s like leaving that fit but boring-as-hell partner to go back out with one who is slightly less attractive but is loads of fun. And thank **** we won’t be on SKY Sports all the time, with their vacuous, gurning, yellow-tied tools telling us what obscene and immoral amount has been spent on transfers in January whilst clubs lower down the pyramid go to the wall for the sake of a Rooney weekly pay packet.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

Bought a few, lost a few. I’m sure Shoot or Google will suffice in you finding out who – but don’t fall into the habit of thinking we’re buying the league: we are a very well-run club who over the past few years (including this) have a low net spend and are financially prudent.

We also have in Jack Butland and Badou N’Diaye two players who very well may net us £40 million plus in the coming weeks. Many Stokies think we should have spent a lot more in recent years, so don’t chuck the ‘moneybags’ tag at us. We have local, minted owners who have built a club the right way: season tickets frozen for over a decade, free away travel, a superb City 7 scheme where every 7 year old in the city gets a free Stoke top/bank account/meets a player night etc…… We have soul.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Pretty hard to find a hero in a season where we finished comfortably below a Crystal Palace team who were practically relegated by October.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Mark Hughes turned into the Mark Hughes seen last at QPR. He turned an exciting, attractive football team on the threshold of silverware into complete sh**e. We were the width of a post in extra time away from beating Liverpool at Anfield and going to Wembley, then he wet the bed. With the squad we had in the last year or two it took some doing to get relegated. Sparky managed to do it though., fair play to him.

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On the pitch, Kevin Wimmer wobbled around the pitch like an alcoholic £18 million Kinder toy. We lost by a cricket score at Spurs and before Stoke fans had even left the ground he put on social media congratulatory messages to his old employees, the whopper. I’m hoping that Daniel Levy will name a stand in their new ground after Stoke as we’ve literally funded it by buying him and Palaciois off them for obscene amounts.

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?

Moritz Bauer is a modern full back. Pacey, gets forward and is fast becoming a fans’ favourite. Joe Allen runs around a lot and actually gives a s**t, whilst Bojan has the ability to rip the league apart when he’s fit and on form. When.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

West Brom if they keep Rondon and Rodriguez.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

It could go all Sunderland at Swansea City. Hopefully Derby though.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

It’s a surprise package, folks. Or is that the surprise? Wigan may have a decent season.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Bristol City and Norwich. Both massively underrated cities. And as we love a London away, Brentford.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Ours. Stuck with the team even on the day we went down. The week after, we packed out the away end at Swansea in a real show of unity/strength.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

Health and happiness for my family. And DUCK magazine selling out every issue. And Karma Kaffe nightclub in Norwich playing Joy Division, New Order, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, dance classic etc all night as they did a few years ago the night before our game there. We didn’t see too much of the game the next day though. Luckily.

Predicted league finish?

5th.

Swansea

Steven Carroll, SOS Fanzine (@SoSFanzine)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

N/A

How would you describe last season for your club?

Awful to be honest. In the last three seasons I’ve enjoyed hardly any games, we moved away from our footballing philosophy and sold our best players who were then replaced with mediocre ones. Relegation had been coming. We got away with it the year before but not this time. 

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

To reshape the squad and to go back to seeing good football every week. These things take time though and I’m not expecting us to go back up this season. 

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

It’s been slow so far. Lukasz Fabianski is a huge loss and at seven million he’s a steal for West Ham. The others like Ki Sung Young and Andre Ayew are no great loss but we lost one on a free and the other is on loan so financially we’ve taken a hit.

Players coming in have been few and far between but we seem to be going for young and hungry players which I think is a better route than last few seasons. Hopefully the likes of Yan Dhanda and Joel Asoro will help us improve. But we need to ship more out and strengthen before the window closes. 

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Fabianski. Without him we would have been down with a whimper. 

Who was your biggest disappointment?

A few spring to mind but it’s got to be Renato Sanches. He was the type of player a club like us can only usually sign on Football Manager. He was horrendous though, nothing sums his time up at the club more than when he passed the ball to an advertising hoarding away to Chelsea. 

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?

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Scottish international Oli McBurnie. He did well on loan at Barnsley in the second half of last season and I’m expecting him to be our main goal threat this term. 

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

I definitely wouldn’t put it on us! Stoke are my favourites. Benik Afobe and Tom Ince are brilliant signings at this level and they’ve somehow managed to persuade Joe Allen to sign a new deal.

I’d be amazed if they didn’t at least get play-offs but they should be aiming for top two. 

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Hard question for me to answer as we’ve been out of this league for so long. But I’ll say Rotherham because they were awful when they went down 2 seasons ago. 

What team is going to win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

Not sure if they class as a surprise package but Forest have been poor for a few years and there now seems to be a feel good factor there again and the manager has experience of promotion with Middlesbrough. They could do well this term. 

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Brentford away and that’s not because it’s you asking the questions. It’s been nine long years since I was last on a terrace. Therefore I can’t wait to be on one again. I was gutted Burton went down for the same reason. 

What fans impressed you most last season?

Huddersfield at their place were brilliant. 

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

To start enjoying games again rather than watching crap football every week

Predicted league finish?

Hard to call but I think I it’ll be mid table so I’ll say 13th 

West Bromwich Albion

Nathan Carr, UpTheBaggies.com (@NJCarr_)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

N/A

How would you describe last season for your club?

In a word: dreadful. Not only because of what happened on the pitch, but because of all the shenanigans that went on off the pitch as well.

We started relatively well, heading into the first international break undefeated. But the negative football employed by Tony Pulis soon took its toll and he was deservedly sacked, only for Alan Pardew to come in and make matters even worse, before club hero Darren Moore helped restore at least some pride and dignity for the final six games.

What are your hopes for the 2018-19 season?

I hope that we achieve promotion back to the Premier League (although this isn’t the absolute be-all and end-all). I hope that Darren Moore is given enough time in the job to implement his style and that the fans get behind him and the team, which I’m sure will be the case. I hope that the summer signings hit the ground running and that some of our talented youngsters from the academy are given an opportunity to showcase their abilities in the first team.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

At the time of writing, we’ve offloaded six players – Boaz Myhill, Gareth McAuley, Claudio Yacob, Jonny Evans, Ben Foster and James McClean – and signed five players – Sam Johnstone, Jonathan Bond, Kyle Bartley, Harvey Barnes and Connor Townsend.

I’m happy that we’ve brought in younger, hungry players with a point to prove and subsequently lowered the average age of the squad. But with the futures of Craig Dawson, Nacer Chadli, Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon not totally certain, I still think we may need strengthening in defence and attack before the deadline.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

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It would have to be Darren Moore for the way in which he lifted spirits around The Hawthorns and got the team playing with confidence and winning games again in such a short period of time. We won just six times in the Premier League all campaign and half of those victories came under Moore which tells its own story. Chris Brunt also deserves a mention for showing more passion and desire than most of his teammates, despite missing most of the season prior to Christmas.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

It’s hard to narrow it down to just one player as there were so many disappointments, but Grezgorz Krychowiak arrived on loan from Paris Saint-Germain with a glowing reputation and unfortunately never hit the heights that were expected of him.

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?

I believe that our record signing Oliver Burke – who was signed to RB Leipzig from Nottingham Forest a few seasons ago and we bought for £15m last season – could cause real damage this season if he’s given a consistent run in the side. He struggled to hold down a place in 2017/18 due to injury and different managers picking the team, and he’s still raw, but his pace is incredible and that could be a very useful asset for us.

It’s also worth looking out for our new goalkeeper Sam Johnstone who was one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship last season.

Other than your team (of course), what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

Stoke. It pains me to say it, but they’ve invested well in their squad over the summer and I rate Gary Rowett as a manager.

What team would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Rotherham. Sorry, Millers fans.

What team is going to win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise package this season?

Norwich. Although I don’t think they’ll go up, I can see them having a strong season and potentially qualifying for the playoffs.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

Aston Villa at Villa Park in February. It’s always nice to get one over on your rivals. Believe it or not, the last time we beat Villa at their place, a certain Saido Berahino (who also played for Brentford before being given his marching orders by Uwe Rosler) scored the winner.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Huddersfield. I was impressed by the noise they generated and the banner they displayed at their home game against Manchester United.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

For there to be no major off-pitch issues surrounding the club. That would be nice, especially after last season.

Predicted league finish?

3rd. We’ll go up through the playoffs.

Wigan

Barry Worthington (@LaticsSpeyk)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

N/A

How would you describe last season for your club?

A brilliant campaign which saw us dominate the league for most of the season, never in any danger of not hitting one of the two promotion spots, highest scores, best defence, most clean sheets, great attacking football and an FA Cup run which saw us defeat three Premier League clubs – including Man City – on route to the ¼ finals.

A season to cherish, crowned Champions, up there in my top five best ever seasons.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

A big step up in class going into the Championship. We do have a decent squad though and I hope we can be competitive in the games this season.

We are close to finalising the takeover by new investors. The Whelans are passing on the club to some seriously wealthy people. Just a pity it couldn’t all have been sorted about five weeks ago to give us some financial clout during the transfer window.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?

As mentioned previously the sale of the club is currently being finalised and this has hit us a little, though we have brought in an exciting 19 year old from Peterborough, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes.

Importantly we haven’t lost any of our big performers from last season – Dan Burn, Will Grigg, Nick Powell etc. I think January will be interesting in the market for us. Hopefully the squad is good enough to keep its head above water until then. 

Who was your biggest hero last season?

The manager Paul Cook without a doubt, he was like a breath of fresh air. Got the lads playing attacking football whilst stay defensively strong. Great to watch and he instilled a fantastic team ethic and galvanised the club. Top manager.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Hard to have any disappointments following a season like we had, I was hoping that someone would break through from the youth set-up but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?

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Dan Burn is a giant (literally) in defence, solid and can play a bit too, very much loved by the fans, ‘Dan Burn is Superman’

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?

Stoke City

What team would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Rotherham United

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?

I have a feeling that PNE just might push into the playoffs this season, good manager in Alex Neil, I can see them being a surprise package.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?

One for the diary. 2nd Feb QPR at home, why? It’s my birthday, not just any birthday either but a real milestone one, I may have a little drink that day and it could get a bit messy!

What fans impressed you most last season?

AFC Wimbledon, a game late in April, we were top, they were in the bottom 4 and odds on to go down. We know they don’t get the biggest home gates but they brought a good few to the DW, never stopped singing throughout the game, gave their team real support and had a bit of banter with the home crowd too. Yeah Wimbledon for me, great support. Very impressed.

Game ended 1-1 and they avoided relegation, just shows what getting behind your team can do.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?

A season of – consolidation some call it – mediocrity. No traumas, dramas or end of season heartbreaks, just plodding along mid-table and getting our house in order for what will hopefully be a bright future.

Predicted league finish?

14th

Check out how the presenters and guests of the Beesotted Brentford podcast felt their team would get on this season(click here).

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About The Author

BillytheBee Grant

Following Brentford for 30 years plus now .. write .. blog .. videoblog .. podcast ... photograph ...eat .. sleep .. Brentford .. am known to attend the occasional England match too (12 tournaments now) so am hardened to failure ... On the board and national council of the Football Supporters Federation. ... organised husky dog racing for a living back in the day ... as you do .. You don't wanna go up!!

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