Championship Bloggers 2017/18 Season Predictions Part 2 – Leeds thru Wolves

Championship Bloggers 2017/18 Season Predictions Part 2 – Leeds thru Wolves
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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. 

In Part 2 we get the views of bloggers from Leeds, Middlesborough, Millwall, Norwich, Nottingham Forest, Preston, QPR , Reading, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wolves 

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 where Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Brentford, Bristol City, Burton, Cardiff, Derby, Fulham, Hull and Ipswich fans give us their views (click here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy P, The Square Ball (@ArcticReviews)
Leeds United

Last Season Prediction v actual position .
Last season I said we would finish 10th-14th. Actual finish was 7th.

How would you describe last season for your club?
Very Leeds! We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as usual. Football was poot but the results were by and large great. Uncertainty over Garry Monk’s position and the buyout of Massimo Cellino were factors that caused some instability, and we blew it. 

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?

For the first time in 15 years we have genuine off field momentum. New owner Andrea Radrizzani has brought in a whole new management team, made plans to relocate the training ground back in the city, set up an international scouting network, and is making great strides forward on a number of other fronts.

It’s an exciting time. That said, we have an inexperienced coach and effectively a whole new team so immediate success isn’t guaranteed. After last year, it’s easy to say play-offs should be achievable. But this I think will be the hardest season from which to achieve promotion.

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

Seem to be doing ok – 10 new faces in, mostly from Europe. Our best buy though was our home, Elland Road – a snip at £20m. On the downside, we lost Charlie Taylor to Burnley but that was more than made up for by cancelling the contract of Giuseppe “The sh!t house” Bellusci – the most poisonous twat we’ve had at Elland Road in decades.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Chris Wood – we didn’t create many chances under Monk but he thrived as the lone striker.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Missing out on the playoffs, especially as the four teams who made it were proven to be so medicore. 

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
Hard to say at the moment as we’ve brought so many in but the winger Ezgjan Alioski seems to be pick of the bunch so far.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
Such a hard question in this league. You’d say probably Boro, Villa maybe. But I don’t see a team running away with it this year.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Millwall (Fingers crossed).

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
I think you lot might surprise a few people – if you can keep hold of your best players.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Middlesborough, to offer my thoughts on his departure to Garry Monk.

What fans impressed you most last season?
Reading. They were absolutely the most delusional.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
Decent cup run – we haven’t been to a semi final in decades.

Predicted league finish?
8th

Rob Nicholls, Fly Me To The Moon Fanzine (@fmttmboro)
Middlesborough

Last Season Prediction v actual position .

My prediction was comfortable safe finish – reality was comfortably relegated.

How would you describe last season for your club?
A total disaster – after seven years of trying we gave up our Premier position with a whimper. Hardly won a game (just five), hardly scored any goals (27), lost so many games, lost the manager but the fans did not lose the faith.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
We are shooting for an immediate return to the top flight- new manager, Garry Monk and lots of new players led by Britt Assombalonga. We have the financial advantage and most season ticket holders renewed again so we will have the support. It won’t be easy but we hope we can emulate Newcastle United and Burnley the season before and bounce straight back at the first attempt.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
Spent very big indeed, signings right through the side from Darren Randolph on goal, Cyrus Christie right back, Jonny Howson midfield, Assombalonga and Braithwaite up front and not finished yet. We have lost a few but largely by choice. We may still lose Ben Gibson though.

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Ben Gibson. Local lad who really made good in stepping up in style to the Premier League and graduating deservedly to the full England squad. Hence why it might be hard to keep hold of him this transfer window.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Gaston Ramirez – he should have really made his mark on the Premier but he went beyond flattering to deceive as he downed tools and then helped undermine everything. 

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
We haven’t seen the new signings yet and are not sure how everyone will shape up in the team. I think flying left back George Friend will be eager to make up for an injury blighted and relegation haunted Premier campaign. Patrick Bamford is determined to signal his return to regular first team action and realise his potential.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
£100 – not sure about that. Sunderland are building well with a good manager but how will they cope with unfamiliar territory. It could be Fulham, they have settled down and looked strong at the end of last season. But I am not risking £100 on Fulham.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Financial Fair Play tends to work in this league and the clubs that are worst run invariably struggle to survive. Will Hull drop right through or will their owners see sense and steady the ship? Maybe Millwall will drop straiht down again. 

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
Could it actually be QPR? Ma lord..

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Away to Brentford – fantastic atmopshere before and after as well as during the game at a wonderful traditional football ground, Griffin Park. It is always a very difficult, competitive game at Brentford. If you win it you know you are in a good position to achieve.

What fans impressed you most last season?
Maybe Bournemouth, they travelled in numbers, posted on social media how much they enjoyed Baker Street and Bedford Street, our independent and micro pbu zone so liked by Brentford fans and then welcomed us to the south coast with soaring temperatires and blue skies.. but a big hammering for Boro.

It was great to have regular travelling armies of 2000 rather than 200 coming to the Riverside. 

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

Promotion

Predicted league finish?

1st Middlesbrough. 2nd Fulham. 3rd Sunderland. Fingers crossed rather than fingers burned like last season.

James Blewett, Millwall Half Way Line (@millwalljdb)
Millwall

How would you describe last season for your club?
A strange season of contrasting fortunes. Ultimately a euphoric end with promotion at Wembley and we also had a great unbeaten run and of course got through to the ¼ finals of the cup having beaten three premiership teams. However much of the season we were unconvincing and heavily dependent on Gregory and Morison up front. With 8 minutes to go at Bristol Rovers on the final day we had even slipped out of the play off places and were saved with a late winner

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
While it is always tempting to dream survival is our realistic hope. I would be delighted if we go one better and get into mid table. Individually it would be great to see some of our youngsters like Archer, O’brien, Romeo and Onyedimna establish themselves in the championship

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

No significant losses (fringe players) and we have brought in 6 (possibly 7). They were mostly top league 1 performers (McLaughlin, Elliot, Meredith) along with a couple of (we hope) underachievers from Wolves (Wallace and Saville). This fits our budget and we have been stung in the transfer market before with high profile recruits under Holloway and Steve Lomas. There is a question as to whether we have recruited enough quality though

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Steve Morison. The old war horse was a colossus

Who was your biggest disappointment?
No real disappointments. The weaker players were as expected….weak

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
Wallace, Gregory and hopefully a last hurrah from Morison 

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
Middlesborough are going to fly or implode given their outlay in the transfer market but I rate Monk. Also rate Bruce so Villa too

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Apart from obvious (Burton, Barnsley, us) I reckon Forest couple implode

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
Don’t mention that clown’s name to Millwall fans!! Reckon Brentford could come through this year after a decent season last year

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Leeds at home is always lively but I think Holloways return to the Den is the one to savour (if he survives that long)

What fans impressed you most last season?
Fleetwood fans who came to millwall midweek

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

Predicted league finish?
17th    (hopefully)

Ed Couzens-Lake (@EdCouzensLake)
Norwich City

Last Season Prediction v actual position 
I predicted we would finish 6th and we came 8th

How would you describe last season for your club?
I’ve enjoyed seasons when we’ve gone down more than the one just passed when we made the most god-awful cock up of trying to go up and failing in some style. Who to blame? Some of the players, certainly. A few who, clearly didn’t want to be here, a few more who couldn’t face the 46 game slog required again and went through the motions – something you don’t do at any level and no matter who you are.

Then there was the manager who arrived, full of vim, vigour and courage but who grew muddled in his thinking and put all three of those aforementioned qualities to one side. If Alex Neil digs them out again at Preston, they’ll finish in the top 6. No question. He, like us, blew hot and cold throughout. When we were good (Forest, Reading) we were bloody good .When we were bad (Rotherham, Burton, Brighton), it would have been nice to have been horrible but we were worse than that.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
Hope that the very obvious and welcome new philosophy that is being imbued throughout the football club and at all levels is starting to pay off. I also hope that if we don’t start well, and I don’t think that’s a given by any means, the more recent additions to our support, those bred on Premier League games and splashing of cash (on mostly inferior players) don’t lose their heads and start demanding anyone and everyone be sacked, again

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

Lots coming in. Mario Vranic will be known to a lot of people by the end of the season, even if he is an unknown now. Ditto Angus Gunn, son of Bryan. I’m also hopeful that our crop of up and coming Bundesliga II players, for example, Marcel Franke, will rise to the challenge ahead of them and prove to be far more worthwhile captures than the host of big money purchases who arrived here in recent years and, in some cases, were a disgrace to their profession with their attitude towards and in games.

A few have gone. Jonny Howson has gone home ditto Dorrans whilst Newcastle have given us a good price for Jacob Murphy who, I very much hope, does well for them. But he’ll find St James Park a lot more demanding of him than Carrow Road.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Russell Martin. He gets far too much stick. 99% of it unwarranted but, despite all that, never hides and always man’s up for interviews and facing the public and media after games. Delighted that he has signed a new deal – an invaluable asset to the club. Some will disagree with me on that I know but I’m not going to argue about it. My conviction in him and his value to our club is unshakeable. He’s a good player as well but, as a ball playing centre half is always – by the nature of the position and the way it is played – going to get caught out sometimes.E  Especially if players meant to support him and fill in for space around him go missing.

David Luiz is similar but everyone just laughs it off and says what a character he is. Yet he is often at fault when Chelsea and Brazil concede. People will now say I’m comparing Russ with Luiz. I’m not, of course-don’t be daft!

Russ is a much better player….

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Alex Neil. He’ll come good but, after indicating he was a reactive manager/coach early on in his time with us, he became rather passive and predictable. As I’ve already said, he was full of self-confidence and a swagger that put you in no doubt that he was the boss. With bad results, he began to lose that swagger, the confidence ebbed away and he became vulnerable. Only one end result comes from that.

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

Once he is fit, Alex Pritchard. An outstanding talent who can boss a game. Also a young left back, Jamal Lewis.

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

I’m not sure I’d put £100 on us to get promoted! Has to be Derby County. Too many near misses in recent years but Rowett will make them solid.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
 
Hate to say it but might be the end for Burton Albion.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
Cardiff City. Warnock has a promotion left in him still.
Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Fulham away. Good atmosphere, great day out. And as we always lose there, result doesn’t really matter!

What fans impressed you most last season?
None stood out really-grounds get quieter and quieter every season.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
We end the season with the manager who started it still in charge. Have a lot of time for Daniel Farke. And time is what he needs most although it’s the commodity that he’ll be given very little of before folk become twitchy and start pining for Lambert again.

Predicted league finish?
5th

Wiklo and Wetton (@ForeverForestTV)
Nottingham Forest

Last Season Prediction v actual position .
I predicted we would finish 12th but we ended up in 21st place

How would you describe last season for your club?
A catastrophe. It looked like it was going be a roller coaster with lots of attacking flair, plenty of goals but it just went from one extreme to another. The late arrival of Philippe Montanier plus the signings of some woeful players got us off to a great start.

The first few games went alright then the sale of Oliver Burke completely changed our season in all honesty. Behind the managers back, it was sour. The supporters had finally lost it with Fawaz and the atmosphere was non existent. The failure of selling the club to US-based consortium led by John Jay Moores was a particular turning point for everything. 

Fans completely lost their heads.  We went through 3 managers. Obviously still got Warburton now and thankfully he did enough. It just wasn’t good enough.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
Honestly, just hoping for mid table and something to build upon.  We survived on goal difference on the final day of the season and I hope fans remember that and where we’ve been the last 5 years.  The new regime has a lot to sort out both on and off the pitch and thankfully, the first few weeks have been great.  We’ve sold more season tickets than ever in our history I believe. We’ve got one of the best academies surely outside the Premier League. We gave more minutes to anyone under 23/24 I believe and more minutes to academy graduates than any other club. It’s just a shame that we can’t keep all of our young prospects as money turns heads so easily.

Just I’m hoping to be steady but more solid, have an identity and give Warburton time to work with the team. They need to give the hierachy of the club time to settle and sort things out and build. 

Oh and beat Derby County and finish above them for the first time in a long time.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
Everyone will know we’ve just lost one of the best goal scorers in the league in Britt Assomablonga to Middlesbrough and he’s a big player.  But to get £15m for someone, who’s played around 70 games and suffered a horrendous injury, is good business. Gives a chance to comply with FFP and strengthen other key areas of our squad.

We’ve bought two young prospects from Scotland in Jason ‘Cumdog’ Cummings and Barrie McKay from Hibs and Rangers.  I think the only other players we shall be losing are deadwood really.  Forest are on the verge of signing Darryl Murphy from Newcastle as I write this and there are murmers that we are after Jackson Irvine from Burton but unsure how true that is.
 

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Hard to say as it was such a dire season but we had a few. Jordan Smith and Joe Worrall broke through last season and did themselves proud.  Worrall spoke out after a loss v Wolves at home and was very honest and wore his heart on his sleeve.  Smith produced one of the best saves I’ve seen at 0-0 v Ipswich last game of the season, which could have swung the game had that gone in.

David Vaughan and Osborn were generally okay but surprsingly a big hero was loanee, Hildeberto Pereira.  He was so passionate and loved the club and we loved him yet he didn’t really belong to us.  The guy was incredible but was always played in the wrong position and then not used once Warbs came in unfortunately.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Fawaz and Pajtim Kasami. Fawaz because everyone knows why and thankfully he’s long gone. Pajtim Kasami looked brilliant opening game then just disappeared after that.  Couldn’t pass a ball 5 yards, bottled tackles. Was generally awful and my eyes and didn’t care. Waste of space.

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

We shouldn’t really talk about him because there’s this secret club we have at Forest but Ben Brereton has something special about him.  I wish we had him and Burke for this season because we would terrify teams.  Brereton is tall, athletic and has no fear.  Won the Euro U19s with England this summer.  Works hard, can score goals, selfless and only 18.  Thankfully, he’s signed a new 4 year deal so if we sell him, we get good money but would love him stay here and develop like Ben Osborn has.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?
Aston Villa.  Signing John Terry will do them wonders.  Putting players like Jack Grealish on the right track will help him develop.  Just being a winner and a leader in the dressing room will make Villa lift their game by 10%.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Us hahaha.. just kidding.  We thought Barnsley and Burton would struggle last season and did very well but honestly think Millwall will struggle.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
We always fancy you boys (Brentford) but also think Sheffield United could be weirdly enough.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Not going to say Derby as that’s too obvious to say.  I think Aston Villa. Both games we had with them last season were brilliant to watch. I think it’ll be just the same this season. Hopefully take 6 instead of 4 points off them this season haha!

What fans impressed you most last season?
Wednesday.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
A late charge into the play offs and win it at Wembley v Derby.

Predicted league finish
13th

Sam Martin, (@Socially_Sam)
Preston

Last Season Prediction v actual position .
Think I was ok with us just staying up v 11th 

How would you describe last season for your club?
Lucky. We started badly, then had a good spell, then ended really badly. If it wasn’t for that good spell we would have been in trouble. Luckily there were some bad teams in that league last season that kept the relegation places warm for most of the season

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
We should be aiming for top 6 but, it’s going to be a strong league, teams who have spent a lot of money, and we’ve just got a new manager. My heart says top 6, my head says mid table.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
Not too bad. We’ve made some good signings, keeping the Irish contingent strong still. Maguire is a great player, if he can avoid burnout given he’s already played 26 games this year in Ireland with no break before starting the season with us. Obviously the Irish lads that have come over from Cork will take some adjusting to the Championship. It’s a far cry from League Of Ireland so it might take a few games for them to start showing what they’re made of. Harrop should be a good player too. We missed out on McGeady, but I’m not all that bothered about that. He’s always been a hit and miss player for years now and he came with a hefty (for North End) price tag and large wage demands. Yes, he can be good, but he’s not consistently good. Towards the end of last season teams had figured out how to close him down and by the time we played Rotherham they didn’t give him any space at all to do anything. Rotherham of all teams! 

We seem to be hanging on to our better players, but the transfer window is still open so let’s not jinx that one.

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Ohhhhhhh, that’s a tough one. McGeady was good, but not all season and not consistent. He had moments of greatness but not consistent enough to make him a hero (for me that is). Greg Cunningham was strong, consistent and reliable every game. Well apart from when he broke his leg, then tried to run it off, but then had to give in to the breakage and miss the last few games of the season. He was missed. Tom Clarke, again strong, reliable, consistent every game, until he got injured. And we definitely will miss him this season. Ben Pearson, great player, sometimes entertaining for probably the wrong reasons, and gets far too many bookings, but the type of player you know will fight for your team (often quite literally though). For me there wasn’t that one stand out player but a few good, consistent players. 

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Ohhhhhhh another tough one. I think Lindegard, probably because he should have been a good signing, but it just didn’t seem to click for him. Also, Beckford. But more to do with his behaviour. From someone that had been a club hero in the play-offs to go to absolute zero with his actions was very disappointing for a lot of fans. 

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
I can’t tell you that!!!!! 

As above with last seasons heros and our new signings. Our Irish contingent make up half the team now so hopefully they will all gel well together. Obviously I’m also not biased with the Irish connection. Honestly 😉 

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
Fulham (sorry). They were the strongest side we played against both home and away last season. Although I like it as an away day. But I also think that this has to be Sheff Weds year. We also play them first game so I’m glad we’re getting that out of the way early.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Probably Burton. As much as I’d like to see them do well, it’s going to be a tough season and a very strong league

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
That’s another tough one but maybe QPR although I’d like one of the smaller teams to do a Huddersfield, like Barnsley or yourselves

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Sunderland. Obvious reasons. But I also like the nicer London clubs for away days 


What fans impressed you most last season?
Newcastle because there’s so bloody many of them and they have a really long way to travel to most away games, so I admire their dedication. Also Huddersfield, but that’s more down to what they do there and the fan involvement in the club. They’ve created a great community and I think other clubs need to look closely at what they do there. 

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

That the injuries stay away and we get Tom Clarke back sooner rather than later. Oh and that the transfer windows pass without any exits. 

Predicted league finish?
Eeekkkkkkkk……… I’ll go slightly better than last season and say 9th. Or can I just be vague and say mid table?  

Clive Whittingham, Loft For Words (@LoftForWords)
QPR

How would you describe last season for your club?
Disappointing, disheartening, dreary – not quite catastrophic but not far off. As usual we started with a strategy and a manager and tore all that up halfway through and got rid of him. The plan to buy from lower leagues and Europe, build steadily under a director of football system, hire an up and coming young manager to coach the team was abandoned and we appear to have gone back to the model where the whole thing hangs on whatever the manager wants at that particular moment in time.

The football under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was boring, no bones about it, and he was basically a dead man walking after the 6-0 home defeat to Newcastle. He didn’t really make the step up from League One to Championship, albeit in a very difficult job. The theory was we had a better squad of players than was being shown on the field, if only they were let off the leash a little bit more often. Ian Holloway was brought back to lift the mood, “work with what we have” and “rub off on them a bit” and the hope was, if nothing else, we’d get a little short-term lift.

Instead he started by losing six straight, and finished the season with seven defeats from the last eight – only a win in the final home game kept us up in the end. The “rub off on them a bit” was quickly ditched in favour of blowing six players out in January and bringing in another six to replace them (of which only Luke Freeman has been a success, two have already left and one looks miles off first team standard). We looked good through March, played some nice stuff, topped the division’s form table, but then it all collapsed again through April and May amidst some wildly fluctuating and utterly unfathomable team selections.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
It’s fair to say optimism is in short supply. I hope we can see more of what we saw in February and March and a lot less of what we saw in December, January, April and May. Expectations being low might actually work in our favour because we’ve been quite an impatient crowd in recent years.

I hope Holloway will stop trying to prove what a brilliant, intelligent, tactical manager he is by making six changes every match and rotating the team through three or four different systems during every 90 minutes – this is the Championship not Serie A circa 1994, it’s basic stuff, keep it simple. As we stand today, three weeks before the start of the season, a comfortable mid-table finish would represent a substantial success and something of a surprise.

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

We’ve picked up Josh Scowen on a free from Barnsley who looks a tidy little signing but that’s it. Tommie Hoban is likely to arrive on loan from Watford once he’s fit to try and shore up a leaky defence although his injury record to this point, and the fact the deal has been held up because he’s injured now, doesn’t fill me with much confidence.

The chickens are coming home to roost after the ruinous Hughes and Redknapp eras. We’re having to hack into the wage bill and shift players before we can bring them in – operate like a club of our size should do basically, after years of giving it the Bertie Big Potatoes routine. The FFP penalty from Redknapp’s disgusting £100m Championship squad of 2013/14 is due any day. If we can trick Celtic into hauling Steven Caulker out of the players’ bar that will free up significant money for some new arrivals.

There’s a mixture of panic and anger among the QPR Twitterati that we’ve only signed one player. Only a few seem to notice that QPR make loads of signings every window and never get any better. Nobody seems to care that players like James Perch, Joel Lynch and Jake Bidwell come to QPR and play worse than they did for their previous club, while their previous clubs replace them for less money, often with better players (Rico Henry at Brentford, Hefele at Huddersfield etc).

They just want more signings. More signings, presumably, because they believe they’ll definitely work this time and without them we’re definitely screwed. And if they don’t settle immediately and play brilliantly they’ll be written off, sometimes after just half a dozen appearances (Ben Gladwin, Nasser El Khayati), and another signing is demanded to replace them. A club of QPR’s size, trying to get its house in order, should not be thinking about signing more players when it’s got half a dozen players on first team salaries left at home from the pre-season tour because whoever happens to be the manager at that point doesn’t rate them.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Alex Smithies. Without our brilliant goalkeeper the general consensus is we’d have gone down.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Take your pick. Ravel Morrison was one of the six January arrivals, much to the baying mob’s delight after 18 months of gormless “announce Ravel” bullsh!t. Massively overweight, played about twice, couldn’t turn up on time to training, behaved like a dickhead – who would have thought eh? Ravel Morrison turns out to be a knobhead. Knock me down with a feather I didn’t see that one coming.

Along a similar theme Jay Emmanuel Thomas is now two years into a ridiculous three-year contract and hasn’t played for us at all for the best part of 18 months. He was so good on loan at League One strugglers Gillingham last year that they sent him back early – even though a season long deal means they had to keep paying their contribution towards him and he couldn’t play for anybody else they decided they’d rather pay not to have him around. He spent the summer as the “VIP” guest in dodgy Miami nightclubs advertising “international footballers” present at their graveyard shifts.

Joel Lynch arrived from Huddersfield to replace Clint Hill as our commanding centre back but proved to simply be an extra turnstile for the ground. You know about Jake Bidwell’s regression. I was sad to see Seb Polter leave, likewise Tjaronn Chery who Hasselbaink rather flogged to death.

And I’ve been disappointed with Holloway. Disappointed that he went away from the “work with what we have and rub off them a bit” so quickly, disappointed that we’ve happily gone along with it, disappointed with the style of play and the results, disappointed that we didn’t even get the short term lift I thought he’d supply, disappointed we seem to be going back to a club basing its whole squad building and transfer strategy on the whim of one manager again, disappointed with how certain (mostly foreign) members of our squad have been so quickly written off and bombed out – in the cases of Ariel Borysiuk and Mide Shodipo that seemed to happen after just one appearance for Holloway and he’s publicly criticised Idrissa Sylla on three occasions despite him being our top scorer in his first season in the country.

I’d have been tempted to replace him at the end of last season and start again then with a whole summer to do it – instead we’ll probably do our usual trick of sacking a manager in mid-October, basically p!ssing the whole season away again.

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

Ryan Manning came from nowhere in January to win a first team place and I like him – great work rate, the odd moment of violence, bits of quality with the ball. Knives are already out for him though among the Football Manager and Fifa experts. Luke Freeman was a genuine success after arriving from Bristol City, I’ll be surprised if he maintains such a high level of performance but if he does he’s great to watch.

Pawel Wszolek our Polish winger has that little bit of extra quality. We were hoping that Yeni Ngbakoto, an occasionally explosive but mostly inconsistent and anonymous winger, might benefit from a season finding his feet at this level and kick on next season but Holloway seems keen to bomb him out as well now.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?
Middlesbrough top this year I reckon.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
In the quest to find three worse teams than QPR we’ve mentioned Burton, Millwall, Bolton and Ipswich. Maybe Barnsley too having lost so many players though I’m impressed with the signings they’ve made.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
If they can replace Abraham’s goals and the stories about half their defence going to Leeds turn out to be false I fancy Bristol City to go ok. I think Warnock will get Cardiff going as well.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
Nottingham Forest away. We’ve never won there in 33 attempts so we all have to go every year just in case this is the one.

What fans impressed you most last season?
I don’t know, Villa always bring a lot and make a lot of noise I guess. Frankly I’m impressed/concerned by anybody who gives up their time and money to sit through Championship football every week. Talk about size of support and noise made is just dick swinging.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
A team that plays with width and pace. This “deep, tight, narrow”, 4-2-3-1, isolated-striker-up-front-by-himself dirge that’s infested our game in the top two divisions makes it unwatchable for long periods of time. The League Two play-off semi-finals were the best matches I saw in the whole of last season because all four teams just decided to go for it.

Predicted league finish?
19th

Dave Harris, The Tilehurst End (@handbags82)
Reading

Last Season Prediction v actual position.
I predicted we would finish 14th and we ended up an astonishing 3rd

How would you describe last season for your club?
2016/17 went well over and above our expectations. We hoped for a safe season, finishing mid-table, the Thais had banked on an upper mid-table finish, around 7th to 10th so to finish 3rd was an excellent return from Jaap Stam’s first season in charge. Having said that, the sometimes unconvincing nature of our performances, particularly away, was always a concern. Many results were plucked out of the bag thanks to ruthlessness in front of goal, particularly at home, but although we won nine away matches last season, many of the results were heavy three and four goal defeats (and seven). That needs to change.

Off the pitch, from around November onwards things got somewhat tetchy as the Thais went very quiet. The Chinese bid for the club was a bit of a surprise and worry, but they have now been accepted as majority shareholders and the vibes from within the Madejski are positive. Certainly the infrastructure is being looked at, with a brand spanking new pitch and progress on the new training ground being made, and hopefully some more astute signings will be made to strengthen the squad that in some places is now threadbare.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
Provided we sign well between now and the end of August, and we sort out the away performances, I believe we’ll be ok. Realistically I can’t see us matching last season’s finish, particularly given the strength of the division but we’ll be a match for anyone. The likes of Villa, Derby, Norwich, Birmingham, Cardiff and Wolves surely can’t be as underwhelming as last season, and with Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United etc entering the division who will almost certainly be strong contenders, consistency will be absolutely critical. If you can maintain a high degree of consistency in performance and get the results needed off the back of them, you give yourselves a strong chance. Sadly for us, that is one element that was missing last season, and the second season is where the honeymoon ends – life gets harder. I think it’s fair to say this is the strongest I have ever known this division, so for me a mid-table season beckons again. We’ll win as many as we lose.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
The ratio of outs to ins is heavily in favour of out, with 17 players leaving at the end of last season and only three in. Those in are Vito Mannone (from Sunderland), Jon-Dadi Bodvarsson (from Wolves) and Pelle Clement (from Ajax).

Most notable departures include Ali Al-Habsi (Al-Hilal), Danny Williams (Huddersfield) and Dominic Samuel (Blackburn), with some previously highly rated youngsters also departing such as Tarique Fosu, Jack Stacey and Aaron Kuhl.

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Hard to pick out just one. Liam Moore, Ali Al-Habsi, Jordan Obita and Yann Kermogant all had fine seasons, while the likes of Chris Gunter and Garath McCleary performed admirably throughout. My opinion is Yann Kermogant, who hit form at exactly the right time and ended the season with his best goalscoring return in English football.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Probably, for me as someone who loves wingers, Adrian Popa, who arrived from Steaua Bucharest in January but despite looking lightning quick and very skilful, was given very little game time. A Romanian international with Champions League experience, I’d have hoped for more. Maybe this season…

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
Liam Kelly. Stam loves him, the fans love him, an excellent player with the ball at feet who would be able to play in the Premier League without a problem. The only thing that goes against him is his size, he is diminutive so needs the protection of a physical presence alongside him.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
Fulham. They’ll consider themselves unfortunate against us in the playoffs but, provided they’re consistent and don’t drop too many silly points like they did last season, they’ll end up in the top two.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
There won’t be any walkovers this season, but Millwall’s direct and physical approach won’t be cute enough for this division I feel. They’ll be a tough nut to crack but I can’t see them picking up enough wins to be able to cut it in such a strong Championship.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
I said Brentford last season, and they ended up a slightly disappointing 10th. I’m going to plump for Brentford again though, simply because you seemed to find a formula towards the back end of last season after the Scott Hogan transfer to Villa.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why?
None for me that really stand out hugely, but if I have to attend one then it would probably be Millwall. Always nice to put one over them.

What fans impressed you most last season?
Newcastle and Leeds in terms of numbers, but pretty much every one of the 156 Rotherham supporters who cheered their first ever goal at the Madejski Stadium in mid-April (at their seventh attempt – 2-0, 3-0, 0-0, 1-0, 3-0, 1-0, 2-1) are worthy of particular attention.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
Excitement. Too often last season performances were static, with oodles of passing around the back line. Space creation and mobility are what’s required.

Predicted league finish?
11th.

Ian Rands, Unitedite (@unitedite)
Sheffield United

How would you describe last season for your club?
A combination of joy and relief and probably one of my favourite seasons watching the Blades. So many great days, good goals and a feeling that the club is truly United for the first time in a long time.

I don’t think any Sheffield fan expected us to remain in League One for six years and, after the ineptitude of Nigel Adkins reign, many thought Wilder had a big re-building job on his hands, me included. That set expectations suitably low, but after 4 league games with 1 point gained and an abysmal defeat to Crewe in the League Cup, things under Wilder looked little better and we were all wondering where that first win would come from.

However, the manager quickly got to grips with the situation, living up to his own comment of “not fannying about”. He dropped some of his own signings, changed formation and made some astute signings at the end of the window. Just 3 league defeats followed and some of the football played was superb.

Memories of the last few games; from sealing promotion at Northampton, party days at Port Vale and MK, the lifting the Trophy after beating Chesterfield will live in the memory for a  long time.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
More of the same please! 

Realistically I think this is a season where the focus is safely staying in the Championship and building a platform to push for the play offs in future seasons. For some fans this is not ambitious enough, but I think it is a sensible and pragmatic way of looking at our current squad and capabilities. Whilst success on a relative shoestring like Huddersfield is rare, it shows that you don’t have to spend big on named players for success.

As Wilder himself has said “you don’t get medals for spunking money”. Our spirit and momentum from last season will carry us so far, it is then a case of how many of the players step up to the challenge when losing more than the odd game is a reality.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
Wilder is not afraid to make changes and, although on paper it looked hard to let players go after a title winning season, Wilder’s ruthless streak was straight to the fore. Several of the successful squad were made available for transfer including some of his signings from the previous summer who had not made the grade.

Incoming the targets are talented players from the lower league, sometimes former Premier League academy products, but those with a point to prove. Whilst this approach disappoints some fans who want to see money splashed out on proven Championship players, Wilder’s approach has proved fruitful so far and not upsetting the collective spirit and close bond of the existing squad is key to his decision making on any signing. George Baldock from MK Dons, John Lundstram from Oxford and Enda Stevens from Portsmouth are players I can see making a positive impact.

Probably the exceptions to the rule are Richard Stearman from Wolves, who will bring some much needed Championship and Premier League experience and strength to the back line, and Ched Evans, whose return created plenty of conjecture regarding whether the manger had much input into his return. The sense is Wilder is very much his own man and won’t be dictated to on signings so he clearly feels he can add something when fully fit. Until then we may be a little light up front, pending any further signings before the window closes.

Who was your biggest hero last season?
You would have to say Wilder.  From fan to ball boy. Apprentice to first team player and now manager. He has brought something to his club that many fans (me included) doubted him capable of when he was appointed manager last Summer. There is a feeling around the club and fanbase similar to when Dave Bassett was in charge (and when Wilder was a player). Whilst the football is a different style, there is a closeness of players and fans and a unity long missing from Bramall Lane.

The turning point of last season came four games in, after a last minute away defeat at Millwall thanks to a last minute penalty given away by ex-Bees player Jack O’Connell. Sensing the players were down, after what he considered a positive performance, Wilder got the coach driver to pull over at an off licence, bought £100 of beer for the players and left it at the front for the players to come and take. Cue a few uplifting words from his skipper Billy Sharp and the players responded. An old school approach, but it showed it can still paid dividends in the modern game.

What you see is what you get with the manager. Chest pumping, badge kissing, straight talking, all from the heart.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
It is hard to pick a disappointment in such a successful season. Maybe that we just couldn’t keep playing on and that those last few weeks couldn’t continue ad infinitum. Although the livers of many Blades fans would think otherwise.

Which of your player should we most be looking out for?
He may well be used off the bench, but David Brooks is the latest hot prospect off the Blades Academy conveyor belt following Phil Jagielka, Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, Harry Maguire and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. A tricky and direct midfielder who could equally play the number ten role, he was Player of the Tournament in the Toulon Youth Tournament this Summer.

Realistically, we may not see much of him this season as he will be Premier League bound for sure, with Everton already reportedly sniffing around. I only hope we get something resembling his true worth in return.

Of those likely to start, the Fleck and Coutts combination in midfield conducted things last season and hopes are high that they will continue this season, whilst ex-Bee Jack O’Connell was outstanding at the back. 

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?
Middlesboro – Strong team with some excellent additions made over the Summer. I am glad to be playing them second game of the season, hopefully catch the m relatively cold early season, as when they get going they will take some stopping I think.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Bolton Wanderers. To my mind they were lucky to come up last season, aided by the capitulation of Scunthorpe. Your typical 1-0 team that eke out results and lack the real quality to compete at a higher level. Their situation will not be helped by financial challenges and a transfer embargo. The fact that their reserve teams in pre-season friendlies have comprised up to 10 trialists speaks volumes.

Barnsley, shorn of several good players, will be down there as will Burton. Their manager can only work his magic for a season, as we know to our cost.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
I would love to say us, with a bit of momentum brought forward from last season and a great team ethos and unity you never know.

Looking elsewhere Forest might be an outside bet for the play offs under new ownership and with a more settled club and strong support.

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
It has to be the Sheffield Derby games. A match that you can love and hate in equal measure. It is as much about not losing as winning, but you can guarantee a tremendous atmosphere full of intensity and passion. Oh and a £50 ticket to get into Hillsborough! 🙁

What fans impressed you most last season?
Northampton fans were welcoming and supportive at the match where we clinched promotion, probably helped by the fond memories they had of Wilder taking them to the League Two title twelve months previous. The  post-goal and post-match pitch invasions were friendly and the number of fans who congratulated us both before and after were numerous.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
A Sheffield Double – That’s two wins over the other lot, so two things really, but I can lump them together….can’t I?

Predicted league finish?
13th – but not unlucky for the Blades.

Terry Hibbard, Owls Online (@owlsonline)
Sheffield Wednesday


Last Season Prediction v actual position
Last season I predicted 4th and we came 4th

You got your prediction spot on for last season. How would you describe last season for your club?

Last season was very much an anti-climax. Expectation levels ramped up after the previous seasons playoff final exploits but in truth it was all a bit of a damp squib. We never really got going at all. We got a better finish in the table that the season before but you could ask any Wednesday fan, it wasn’t exciting. 

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
Two hopes… A more attacking outlook in terms of performance from the team, a little more like the 2015/16 season. AND promotion.

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

So far it’s been very quiet, only George Boyd has come in and of the players who aren’t here anymore, only Jose Semedo is one which people would miss a little. We’ve not sold anyone of note but like the incomings, I expect the revolving door turning quite a bit before August is out

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Sam Hutchinson was the man last season. He just epitomises everything fans want in a player, maximum effort, decent with the ball and he dragged us through some of the games. Our home game against Barnsley was a game which he dominated and just further cemented his status as a cult hero. 

Who was your biggest disappointment?

It’s hard to say it but for me, Fernando Forestieri, the whole incident at the start of last season seemed to shroud the club in a dark cloud for much of the first half of the season. He’s a fantastic player and I’m so glad things have sorted themselves out now though. He’s HUGE for us, and this season I’m hoping like the performances of the team in general, his performances are back to 15/16 levels. 

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
I really think this season is the one for Jordan Rhodes. He stuttered through his first dozen or so games in our shirt, scored a few, but he’s scored a few in pre season and looks hungry for more. We know he can do it, we’ve paid the money for him, let’s get counting the goals!!!

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion? 
I’ll plump for Boro. Garry Monk proved last season with Leeds he’s not a bad manager, they’ve already got some decent players in, I think it’ll be them up there like Brighton and Newcastle were for the majority of last season

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Preston. Now Simon Grayson has gone to Sunderland, and they got Alex Neil in I think they’ll sink. Neil did nothing with Norwich who had a MUCH better squad.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
A surprise package in the Championship isn’t as much of a surprise these days as the fancied sides go right down to maybe to top 10-14 now it’s so competitive. But I do think that Wolves COULD finally match their potential if they start well, although the pressure on them must be huge with the money they’re throwing about!

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
It has to be the return of the Sheffield derby. We’ve not had one in five years since we left them behind. I can’t wait!

What fans impressed you most last season?
Most club’s fans impress me these days, with the amount it costs to go to football it’s a commitment and a half to trek around the country every week. The fans who I remember most are those who just don’t seem bothered, Reading, or those who just steal everyone elses chants…. Derby County

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
Promotion. Without question.

Predicted league finish?
I got it right last season, I hope I’m right this time round…. A good start and I think we’ll do it this year. But I can’t decide if we’ll better last season and make a proper fist of it in the playoffs or go straight up. But I’m confident. I have to be!!! …. Ok….. Here goes…..

2nd.

Patrick Hollis, A Love Supreme (@ALS_Fanzine)
Sunderland

How would you describe last season for your club?
Last season was dreadful for Sunderland fans. We were poor for 99% of the campaign and relegation was exactly what we deserved. We’d had about three ‘great escapes’ however last season was different. Not just because we finally dropped out the league. It’s because throughout the season there was no optimism or hope whatsoever. We couldn’t have had a more depressing, lack-lustre manager than David Moyes who told the fans to expect a relegation fight after just the second match of the season.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
I’d hope for stability and to see a side who will work hard for each other and the fans. We need at least two seasons in the Championship just to sort out the mess created over the last few campaigns. Hopefully, under Simon Grayson, we will be a harder team to beat and made up of players who want to play for the shirt.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
The transfer market began pretty slowly, with two big departures being the first action. Jordan Pickford and Jermaine Defoe moved back into the Premier League, which was inevitable. Pickford got the big money move which his performances last season deserved whilst Defoe was given another campaign in the top flight as he returned to Bournemouth. We also lost Seb Larrson whose contract was not renewed and more recently another one of our keepers, Vito Mannone, was sold to Reading.

We have had some new faces come through the door, however. Aidan McGeady is probably the most interesting of these, hopefully, he still has plenty of class to give to us. James Vaughan, Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning have joined him at the club. We need a lot more new additions but it’s a start, at least.

Who was your biggest hero last season?
The biggest hero from last season is a close call between two players who have now left, Jordan Pickford and Jermaine Defoe. Both played with so much passion and commitment, they deserved to be in a much better team. Pickford will go on to be a top class keeper in the Premier League and Defoe will easily notch 10-15 goals next campaign. It was sad when they left but it’s what they deserve.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Probably an easier question than it should be. Adnan Januzaj is one of the worst players I’ve seen play for Sunderland. When he first joined, it’s fair to say many Sunderland fans were quietly optimistic. He had never quite fulfilled his potential, perhaps he would with Sunderland? Oh dear, how wrong we were. He is a lazy, gutless player who showed no passion and very little ability throughout the season. He summed up last season for us, far too many players who just didn’t want to be there. The fact that he has joined a new side for £9 million is revolting.

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

Pre-season has given many of our younger players a chance for some game time. Lyndon Gooch looks to be an exciting prospect in centre midfield. Joel Asoro and Josh Maja are also players to look out for. They are two attacking players who aren’t afraid to get in the faces of opposition defenders. It will be great to see more of this trio throughout the season.

Other that your team (of course) what team would you put £100 on for promotion?
Aston Villa should be quite a safe bet to go up. They had a solid first campaign back in the championship and this season they could have the strongest squad in the division. In Steve Bruce, they have a manager who knows how to get teams into the Premier League and that’s exactly what people will do.

What team is going to be win the Ian Holloway trophy and be the surprise packet this season?
I’d hope Mr. Holloway agrees that Barnsley will be an interesting team to watch. They always exist within their limits. They will be tricky for any side to play against and if they can add a bit more quality to their squad then there is no reason why they cant challenge for the playoffs.

What team has would you lump £100 on for relegation?
Birmingham. I can’t see them improving much on last year and they’ll most likely be down there most of the season I think 

Which match is your must-go-to match of the season and why
There are a few games next year which will be good to get to, but the main one which caught the eye was Derby County away on Good Friday. It will be a great atmosphere and we will take down thousands of fans. The IPro Stadium is a cracking venue and it will make for a fantastic match under the floodlights.

What fans impressed you most last season?
Judging from what I’ve seen on TV, Derby and Leeds fans stood out. Obviously they are teams who always have a good following, but their fans always get behind their sides and both home and away. Im sure in all four games against these sides the atmosphere will be fantastic and it will be a nice change from the many libraries within the Premier League.

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
My one wish is a simple one really. Id just love to have a team of players who will get stuck in and play with some pride. The winning feeling has been missing for a long time now, especially at the Stadium of Light with our last victory on home turf coming in December.

Predicted league finish?
It would be great if we could challenge for the play-offs but to be honest it would be best for us if we didn’t go up, not that I think we will. A nice solid season would be good, so I can see us finishing between 12-15th in the table.

I’ll plump for lucky 13th

Dave, Wolves Fancast (@wwfcfancast)
Wolves

Last Season Prediction v actual position
We predicted we’d finish 7th but the horse came in 15th

How would you describe last season for your club?
A season of transition hopefully. There were some memorable moments, but we were far too inconsistent to achieve anything above mediocraty

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?
A potential promotion push. A feel-good factor around Molineux and a little more imagination from the players. So not much.

How are you getting on in the transfer market? Bought or losing anyone?
We broke the club and league record fee on Ruben Neves from Porto (£15m plus) and seemed to have made a couple of astute signings at the back. No major first team players have left yet. The club are more in need of clearing some deadwood to lean the playing squad

Who was your biggest hero last season?
Helder Costa. Without a doubt. His talents far exceed this league and single-handedly won us game last year at times.

Who was your biggest disappointment?
Probably Dominic Iorfa. He was fantastic when he burst onto the scene 3 years ago, but has dropped off and was replaced at right back by a centre midfielder who hadn’t played there competitively until last season. He’s on loan at Ipswich for the season so hopefully our former manager Mick McCarthy will sort him out.

Which of your players should we most be looking out for?
Costa, honestly oneof the best players I’ve seen in a Wolves shirt

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

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

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

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

What fans impressed you most last season?
Leeds always travel well

If you could be granted one thing this season, what would it be?
A striker who can at least get into double figures in the goal tally

Predicted league finish?
An optimistic 5th

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 where Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Brentford, Bristol City, Burton, Cardiff, Derby, Fulham, Hull and Ipswich fans give us their views on the forthcoming season (click here)

 

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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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