CHAMPIONSHIP BLOGGERS 2018/19 SEASON PREDICTIONS PART 1 – Aston Villa thru Norwich

CHAMPIONSHIP BLOGGERS 2018/19 SEASON PREDICTIONS PART 1 – Aston Villa thru Norwich
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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 1 covers teams Aston Villa through to Leeds. Part 2 covers teams Nottingham Forest to West Brom (click here)



Aston Villa

Ryan Pitcher, Heart of the Holte (@HeartOfTheHolte)

How would you describe last season for your club?

Very similar to our pre-season in fact, a real mixture of emotions. Throughout the season much of our football was actually quite tepid barring the 5-0 thumping of Bristol City, 4-1 victory over Wolves and a 4-0 battering of Ipswich near the end of the campaign. I feel that our final standing as third highest goal scorers in the division really did flatter us, what with our laboured brand of football, and without those trio of freak results then we’d have been more towards the figure that I had anticipated. As well as this we were defensively stout.

After that monumental effort against Wolves in early March we’d given ourselves a real shout of the automatic promotion places with just 10 matches to go, we were seven points from Nuno’s men and four off of Cardiff. Prior to that result we’d gone to Hillsborough and bagged four goals there and at Sunderland we’d scored three. Confidence appeared to be high among the players and the fans were lapping it up and then we just seem to crash and ended up picking up just a solitary point in the next three (QPR, Bolton & Hull). Game over.

One can only apologise to all you Bees fans for that play-off final showing against your nearest and not so dearest. The way in which we set our stall out to play that fateful afternoon simply exemplified Bruce’s ‘tough to beat’ philosophy. It’s rare for a team to win these one-off matches where the stakes are of a biblical level when approaching it so negatively. Even when up against 10 men we failed to throw the kitchen sink, we didn’t even fashion a chance. Heartbreaking.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

Up until a week or so ago my only hope was that Villa would be able to complete the upcoming season having staved off a winding up order! It’s strange how quickly the narrative can swing in such a small space of time in football. With the introduction of our new billionaire investors Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens we have achieved everything that I had wanted prior to a ball even being kicked!

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As we all know, what we hope for and what we expect are two very different things. I hope for a really positive season, one in which we’re competing for the top two slots in order to avoid the lottery of the play-offs, however, what with having to comply to the constraints of FFP and having Bruce at the helm I just can’t see it happening.

There’s a real divide among the supporters in terms of Steve Bruce and I think it’s obvious where I sit with regards to this topic. For as much as I admire the man for continuing to guide the club during a time in which he lost both of his parents in such a short space of time, I just can’t help but feel that he’s not the man for us. 

We were packing a lot of high-earning deadwood when we came down from the Premier League and then Roberto Di Matteo was given a pot of money to squander. But when I compare the acquisitions under Bruce I see little difference to what came in before and yet there is still a large proportion of the fan based who talk-up the supposed ‘stability’ that he has given us. 

Casting my eye of a sample of Bruce’s signings: Hogan, Lansbury, Hourihane, Bjarnason, Taylor and Whelan. These six players cost us just shy of £200k-a-week in wages. Of these six we have a striker that we shelled £9.5m on that (when fit) is just not compatible to Bruce’s playing style, a midfielder on a reported £40k-a-week who spends most of his time on the bench, another central midfielder on around £30k-a-week whose legs have gone and a left-back that turns backwards every time an opposition player comes within 10 yards of him. For as much as I hold our former majority shareholder Dr Tony Xia accountable for bringing the club to it’s knees, both Bruce along with RDM before him were naive in thinking that this level of wastage could ever be sustainable. 

If Bruce couldn’t do it with the squad that he had assembled last season, with players such as Terry and Snodgrass at the club as well, then I have little to no confidence that we’ll be up there challenging this time around.

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

At the time of writing we had only been able to acquire one signing so far and that’s Andre Moreira, a young goalkeeper on loan from Atletico Madrid. 

As I touched upon above we’ve lost two big players what with Snoddy returning to West Ham and JT hanging up his boots. It remains to be seen what other business will happen between now and the 9th August. 

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The key thing for me is keeping hold of Jack Grealish and James Chester. Despite feeling that we still need to strengthen in order to compete towards the top, keeping hold of these two had to be the primary focus. I sense that if we were to be able to keep them both then we have enough in us to at least remain competitive but long-term, will that be enough to keep them at the football club? Probably not. Especially not Jack.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Once he got himself fully fit then it was ‘Super’ Jack. But in terms of being a rock throughout then James Chester. I think JT got in the Championship ‘Team of the Year’ on name alone. Anyone who watched Villa regularly last season bore witness to just how solid the Welsh international was at the heart of the backline. Albert deserves a special mention too!

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Pretty much anyone that played up front. It’s an area of the pitch that we’ve struggled to nail since Kodjia’s heroics in 2016-17. It has been swapped and changed around so much and going into this season I’m still not sure as to who will get the nod. 

Despite scoring a few goals in pre-season Kodjia still doesn’t appear to be the same specimen he was prior to his injury hell. Hyperthetically, young Keinan Davis and Scott Hogan should work well as a big man/small man combo but Bruce doesn’t like to play two up top. 

And we’ve lost Lewis Grabban who was very much hit and miss in his short spell with the club. 

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

At just 19 years of age Jake Doyle-Hayes looks to be a good prospect, he’s got the physique of a player who could turn into a real marauding midfield general. That said my pick for who to ‘look out for’ goes to Andre Green, a quick-fotted winger whose now back after far too much time in the treatment room. Having him back is very much like a new signing for us and I just feel that if he stays fit then he could come good for us this season. Having lost Snoddy he just has to step it up.

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

I fancy Stoke to go straight back up but the best price you can get for that is 2/1 and I feel that although short it’s a fair price. But my outside money would be on Nottingham Forest to go up. Aitor Karanka is a solid manager and they’ve bought well this summer with 10 new arrivals and there’s still time for some more. We saw the Portuguese light up the division last season for Wolves and I expect a few of their lads will try and emulate that. They’ve brought in a strong blend of solidness, experience and flair. 4/1 does feel a little light though.

What team would you lump £100 on for relegation?

It wouldn’t be a surprise for me if Reading were to struggle this season. Although I actually quite like Paul Clement, I look at that Reading squad and it just doesn’t really do much for me. I think that they are fortunate that there will be at least three teams worse off than them but team like Rotherham and Bolton are far too short of a price for me to part with my hard-earned. Based on fan discontent and the potential to implode then I’d be tempted to stick the money on Hull City. Although I’d love it to be Blues!

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

This is such a tough one! I’d say Derby County. I’m very intrigued by the appointment of Frank Lampard as manager and it’ll be very interesting to see how he gets on. They could end up being there or thereabouts come the end of the season. I feel that Harry Wilson whose on loan from Liverpool could be one of the stand-out players of the Championship this season, he looked really menacing and a top prospect when on loan at Hull for the second half of last season.

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

C’mon Billy! You can ask me this every year and for as long as we’re in the same league as our Second City neighbours then the answer will always be the same! It’s the first fixture I look out for.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Leeds always make a racket and so I’d probably say them.

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

Promotion

Predicted league finish?

Well I was close last season, wasn’t I? I mean a lot does depend on the next week or so and whether we keep certain players and whether or not we stregthen. 

My prediction is that Bruce will be gone by the end of the season, quite possibly even by the turn of the year. I think that Villa will finish 9th this season

Birmingham City
Dan Ivery (@AlMajir)

Last Season Prediction v actual position .

8th v 19th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Started off disastrously under Harry Redknapp. Went into no hope territory under Steve Cotterill before Garry Monk saved us.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

That Monk sticks around and we’re allowed to sign some players

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

LOL. Embargoed. Can’t register the one player we have signed and the club are saying nowt.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Garry Monk. Did a huge job turning around a team that was dying on its arse and keeping it up.

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Who was your biggest disappointment?

Steve Cotterill should come with a government health warning

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

It could be all about kids for us this season, so in addition to Wes Harding who looked ace in the run in, I hope to see Charlie Lakin given a run in midifeld – he’s got a wand of a left foot apparently.

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

If Stoke don’t go up with that team Rowett should be shot.

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

Rotherham. Can’t see them staying up, sadly

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

Tough one, with so many teams spending money, I think Millwall were well organised last season and they could be an interesting prospect again

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

The mob from across the expressway (Villa). They tried their hardest to outdo our clownish summer but failed in the end.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Not a question I can answer sadly, I was in Poland last year.

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

A CEO who knows that the flip he’s doing.

Predicted league finish?

19th again, sadly.

Blackburn
Mikey Delap (@MikeyDelap)

How would you describe last season for your club?

Reinvigorating, heart warming and potentially a turning point.

People mock, laugh and guffaw at League One and it’s apparent barren wasteland of mediocrity but it was truly a memorable short stay for Rovers as it served as a clean slate and a fresh chance to refocus after a devastating relegation the season before. 

Only 6 defeats all season and an automatic promotion was a dream scenario and it was a richly deserved reward for those who kept the faith after all the dross served up the 8 years prior.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

To see the momentum. I’m under no illusions it’s a much bigger challenge for Rovers this season but we arrive back in the Championship in better shape than when we left it under the steady, often skilful leadership of Tony Mowbray.

I don’t see us challenging at the top, but I think we can give ourselves a platform from which to build upon with a steady campaign back in the second tier.

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

So far we haven’t lost anyone which is ideal really given the thoroughly likeable and hard working squad assembled last season are currently used to winning and deserved to be rewarded for their efforts last term.

The big players for Rovers have all signed new deals and that should see us do OK.

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As far as incomings go, it’s been a frustrating and difficult market to manoeuvre within. So far we have two in – Jacob Davenport from Man City/Burton and Joe Rothwell from Oxford. Both midfielders but we’re still majorly short of numbers further forward.

Kasey Palmer appears to be joining the ranks in due course mind. But two/three more are badly needed.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

League One’s best player – Bradley Dack.

Struggled to start with for a cemented spot in the side, as soon as he found one he was pure gold and a supporters dream. A fine footballer by any yardstick.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

There weren’t many but Peter Whittingham.

Signed to some fanfare as a bit of a coup, but the legs of gone and his ability to impose himself a game like his Cardiff prime has long deserted him. Shame.

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

Aside from the obvious mentioned above – keep an eye out on David Raya the goalkeeper. The less kicking he does the better but he’s a shot stopper far better than anything League One has to offer.

Also Charlie Mulgrew, set piece specialist, owner of a fine beard and our captain.

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

You won’t get me putting £100 on us getting promoted but if I was that was inclined I’d struggle to see my money any better invested than Stoke City.

All the relegated sides should be handy but they’ll be strong, powerful and will take some stopping I’d say. The Nigerian midfielder Etobo they signed looked mighty impressive in the World Cup too.

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

Bolton. Out of sorts and all over the place at the moment and scraped through last time out at the expense of Burton and master clogger of cloggersville Hope Akpan.

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

To me there seems a LOT of teams who should in theory be quite decent – Forest, Derby, Villa, Norwich etc –  but a break from the expected  possibly might come in the form of Ipswich.

Their new manager Paul Hurst did a splendid job of overachieving with Shrewsbury last time out so repeating the trick a division higher seems a possibility.

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

I’m a Rovers fan living in Sheffield so either of the Sheffield sides is a given – the mocking will be cruel should we lose, the abuse I shall dish out will be glorious if we win.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Our away fans actually – and no I’m not being biased (sort of). Always travelled in great number and made a racket, all the more surprising given we haven’t always been that way inclined.

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

Another smile on the faces of Rovers fans. 

It should be cheaper to buy this season but after all the garbage and turbulence since Venky’s took over we’ve a few happy karma cheques to cash yet. Here’s hoping…

Predicted league finish?

12th. As stated above, I doubt we’ll be so good to truly worry anyone at the business end, but given the core of last seasons squad is still intact I expect us to do well enough to stay away from the looming danger below.

Bolton
Eddie Skelly, Lion of Vienna Suite (@LionOfViennaSte)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

21st v 21st

How would you describe last season for your club?

A rollercoaster of emotions. It was horrendously glorious. To have had the start we did, taking just two points from our first eleven games, it looked inevitable that the season was going to end with relegation.  It didn’t, and we stayed up in the most amazing way. To be three minutes away from relegation and then to score twice to stay up was just incredible. The name Aaron Wilbraham will live long in the memory of Bolton fans.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

I’d love for Wanderers to push on and maybe finish mid-table, though I would be so happy if we managed to just stay up again.

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

We had more than a dozen departures at the end of last season, so Wanderers needed to strengthen their side with a few players. So far, there have been six new signings, with at least five/six more expected by the end of the loan window. The likes of Erhun Oztumer and Yanic Wildschut can hopefully make huge impacts this season.

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Who was your biggest hero last season?

Probably Ben Alnwick, who was named as the club’s Player of the season. He kept his place throughout the season as Wanderers’ number one choice goalkeeper, and some vitally important saves at key points during the season. Without his form, Bolton would have ended up losing points & would have definitely been relegated. I’d also say Karl Henry made a huge impact when he arrived in September. His leadership and masterful ‘shithousery’ in midfield was just what Wanderers were missing in their first few games.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

I’d have to say Adam Armstrong. The Newcastle United striker arrived on loan with plenty of expectation and something to prove, after a mixed season at Barnsley. Sadly, whether he was playing out wide or up front, Armstrong never really got going, and only scored for Bolton three times.

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

Erhun Oztumer is a player I’m really excited to see in a Bolton shirt. If he can replicate the sort of form that earned him a place in last season’s League One PFA team of the year, then he’ll be a great signing for Wanderers.

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

If you put £100 on Bolton to be promoted, then you’ll be losing £100! I’m going to say West Bromwich Albion. I think they might be the best equipped of the three relegated Premier League teams to make an instant return.

What team would you lump £100 on for relegation?

Rotherham United. I think they might struggle on their return to The Championship.

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

Derby County. With Frank Lampard as manager, they’ve managed to sign highly sought-after players Mason Mount and Harry Wilson. I think they might surprise a few this season.

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

Blackburn Rovers or Wigan Athletic away. It’s been a couple of seasons since we’ve played each other, so those are the games to look forward to.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Sunderland, purely for the fact that anyone actually showed up to watch their team. What an awful season it was for Sunderland.

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

New investment, something the club needs desperately.

Predicted league finish?

19th.

Brentford
Billy Grant, Beesotted (@Beesotted)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

4th v 9th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Exciting but also frustrating.

We were still in with a shout of promotion two games from the end of the season. 

Exciting

But ultimately, we were scuppered because we failed to win one of our first 8 matches despite pretty much playing all those teams off the park.

We created the most chances in the division (possibly in the league) but were called ‘energetically wasteful’ by @experimental361 as we squandered loads and loads of chances whilst playing beautiful exciting football.

We thought Harry Redknapp swiping three players (Harlee Dean, Jota and Maxime Colin) from under our noses to sign for Birmingham (a team we have a bit of history with going back to the 90s) on deadline day would hurt us. But as it goes, we just got on with it, used the £12m they gave us wisely and ended up smashing them 7-0 on aggregate over the season.

That was karma – especially after Harlee Dean told the Birmingham TV channel the Blues team he had just joined was 10 times better than the Brentford team that had got to the Premier League playoffs a few seasons ago.

Needless to say, we had a lot of fun with that.

We had some fresh blood with striker Ollie Watkins signed from Exeter scoring 11 goals in his 1stseason in The Championship whereas Maupay – who we signed from St Etienne and is still learning the tricks of the trade in this division – scored 13.

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We also had our first major B-team graduate gain a regular first team place with Chris Mepham stepping up from playing for our B team against QPR’s second string team to playing against QPR’s first team, rooming with Gareth Bale and starting for Wales in front of an 80,000 crowd in the Pasadena Rose Bowl – all within 12 months.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

A top ten finish would really confirm that we are a solid Championship team. Especially as we have the 5thlowest budget in the league.

Once you are Top 10 anything can happen. There were 6 points between 10 and 6 last season.

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

Winger Said Benrama from Nice looks unreal. Have only seen him play once but he looks well useful

Central defender Julian Jeanvier won the French Div 2 title with Reimes last season.  He’s meant to be a tody ball-playing centre back

We lost Florian Jozefzoon (£3m) and captain John Egan (£4m) but many fans will argue that – as much as we respected them when they were at the club and they gave us good service – we are more than happy to move on and bring in what we feel are players who will step us up a gear.

People are sniffing around Ryan Woods. He was fans’ player of the year last season and would be a big miss if he goes

We also signed highly-rated central defender Ezri Konza from Charlton

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Neal Maupay to fend off the haters and score 13 goals  – especially after he got torn to shreds on social media and by the pundits for missing that open goal up at Cardiff. He’s a fighter. And hopefully this season, he’ll score 20 goals – as soon as we can get him fit

Who was your biggest disappointment?

I’d say Sergi Canos. Only because we know he could be brilliant. He didn’t really knock down walls last season. He was his usual enthusiastic self. But this season, Im hoping he really steps up a gear.

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

This is a hard one. But I’m excited about Said Benrama after seeing him play 60 or so minutes against Watford.

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

Tough. Probably Stoke

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

QPR

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

Rotherham. Only because everyone has them as relegated already

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

I always love a trip to Boro with our diversion to microbrewery land (you know where you are).

Stoke and West Brom are must do trips as well although I’ve been to them both

It’s a shame Fulham have gone. We used to enjoy a trip to the Cottage every season, take the place over and get a result. They must be glad to see the back of us.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Millwall at The Den were pretty fierce

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

That we could convert the plentiful chances we create. Seaon would be all over by Xmas.

Predicted league finish?

I’ve cut back on the port this season and gone with 8th. With a 10% tolerance that could mean we could end up anywhere between 5th and 12th in reality

 

Bristol City
Paul Binning, The Exiled Robin (@TheExiledRobin)

 

How would you describe last season for your club?

Five months of fun, pace, goals, joy, excitement and real belief, followed by five months of what-might-have-beens, frustration, defensive lapses, throwing away leads and disappointment.

We had played a fast brand of football, attacking with freedom and pressing with tons of energy high up the pitch, and it had borne results. Having beaten Man Utd in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals in the run-up to Christmas, at half-time on December 30th,we were leading ten-man leaders Wolves 1-0 at Ashton Gate and looking at the prospect of getting within five points of them. Momentum was really building and we had a golden chance.

Then Frankie Fielding had a rush of blood to the head, raced out of his area but arrived too late and brought down their lone attacker. A red card followed, teams were level and Wolves grabbed a 93rdminute winner. Their celebrations – and Nuno Santo’s in the stands (he’d also been sent off) told you what we all knew.

They’d ridden out a challenge from a close rival and were going up from that moment. We, on the other hand, went into a tailspin and fell away so dramatically even the play-offs were out of reach with two games of the season to go.

Confidence drained quickly, energy levels dropped and, a glorious first 45 minutes at the Etihad aside, from that point on we looked a shadow of the team that had taken Derby apart and beaten Fulham, Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, as well as four Premier League teams in the cup run.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

This season is a real unknown. Can we be the team that started last season so brightly, or will we continue our end-of-season form, which was summed up by a 5-5 draw at home to Hull City late in April?

There remain serious questions about Lee Johnson’s ability to organise his teams defensively and stop long winless streaks – he’s suffered eight-game losing runs three times now in his career already – and the lack of defensive organisation in conceding a two-goal lead at Elland Road, a three-goal lead at home to woeful Sunderland and those five goals conceded at home to the already-safe Tigers showed up a lack of leadership on the pitch. You assume his signings have been pieced together to help stop that happening again.

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

The transfer market has been busier than usual for us. We’ve lost the Duracell bunny and 20-goal Bobby Reid to Severnside rivals Cardiff City (yuk!) and talismanic goal-scoring centre-half Aden Flint to ‘Boro. That’s nearly 30 goals to find in replacement and a lot of headed clearances for someone else to make. I also still expect to lose Joe Bryan before the early transfer deadline. That would give us over £20m in fees received to spend on replacements.

Our recent transfer policy of signing 20-24 year-olds with potential has been rightly tweaked upwards to seemingly become 23-27 year olds with reasonable Championship experience, and ex-Ipswich ball-playing centre-half Adam Webster, former Owl, Jack Hunt, Marley Watkins and Andreas Weimann once of Villa and Derby will be expected to bring along the younger members of the squad and add some knowhow.

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We’re also still on the lookout for an improvement between the sticks with Frankie Fielding’s long-term future at the club in some doubt.

Any new GK could join Nathan Baker, Webster, Hunt and youth team product Lloyd Kelly in a new-look backline so it will be key to see how they can organise themselves and knit together early on. There is a feeling we’re still missing a terrier-like ball winner in the middle of the park and Josh Brownhill may move more centrally to compete with Korey Smith for that role.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Local-boy-come-good was Bobby Reid, a genuine revelation after being moved further forward from his usual midfield position. He’s always had a lot of ability and quick feet but struggled to carve out a position in an often four-man midfield. He clearly bulked out a bit over the summer and the extra space in the forward line benefitted him massively.

Lee Johnson deserves a lot of credit for realising all the attributes he was scouring the transfer market for were right in front of him and Reid’s relentless running helped the team defend from the very front, often pressurising defenders into errors and rushed clearances.

These are traits which appeal to Neil Warnock’s natural team style at Cardiff. What will be fascinating to see is how he fits into his system of more direct football and whether he can find similarly quick-footed players to play his quick passing game with and whether he can consistently repeat the troubles he gave the likes of John Stones and Marcus Rojo in the cup run.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Harsher critics than I would say the whole squad for their end of season slump but I still can’t help but feel that was more down to general exhaustion rather than “giving up” as some have labelled it. We played a whole three games more than any other club in the already crowded fixture lists of late December-mid January, and that has to have an effect. Eight long-term injuries meant rotation was near-impossible even though those playing week in week out were visibly tiring in front of our eyes and in the end we paid the price.

The true villains had to be our incoming loans in January – those brought in to bolster our ailing promotion challenge but who barely caused a ripple of impact. Lois Diony came in from France – with us clearly hoping to replicate the success we had in signing Jonathan Kodjia and Famara Diedhiou from that league – but he seemed to spend more time Instagramming his way around Bristol and London’s cafes and restaurants than playing football on the pitch. A striker who did absolutely nothing of any use, the most telling statistic was that the team didn’t score a single goal whilst he was on the pitch and he has instantly cemented his place in people’s minds when it comes to naming our worst ever players.

Ryan Kent was brought in with a big reputation from Liverpool but frustrated and was so ineffective we chose to pay a substantial fine to Liverpool for not giving him enough game time rather than keep him in the squad. It will be interesting to see if Steven Gerrard can inspire him to greater things following his loan move to Glasgow’s current second club.

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

He won’t necessarily be eye-catching in the way a goal-scoring striker or the precocious Ryan Sessegnon was, but local lad Lloyd Kelly is an England under-20 international regular who could be the biggest beneficiary from a Premier League move for Joe Bryan. If he can come in and secure the defensive spot his apparent talent suggests he should, he could quickly become one of the first names on our team-sheet.

Callum O’Dowda would be the other one for the notebook – the young Irish winger could become our star man in attack with another half season’s experience under his belt (he was one of those long-term injuries).

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

Stoke City have acted well in the transfer market – bolstering their squad in a manner similar to the Newcastle approach from a couple of seasons ago (quality signings who have ‘done it’ in the Championship) whilst ‘losing’ a couple of their more enigmatic foreigners who probably wouldn’t have fancied a long slog in the Championship. They’ve got to have a real chance.

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

Hopefully it’s not us! I think Rotherham will be everyone’s pre-season favourites for the drop, although they’re pretty much guaranteed at least three points from us if recent history is anything to go by…

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

Last year I selected Cardiff as my wildcard (40/1 for the title and 8/1 for promotion) and won a nice sum of cash at the bookies for doing so, so this year I’d probably pick Brentford who impressed me every time I saw them last season, not least early on at Griffin Park where we stole an undeserved draw in what seemed to be about the 147thminute!

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

Well, living in South Wales and having lost my ten-minutes-down-the-road derby clash, it would have been Swansea away but I can’t make that which is super annoying! So I’ll plump for a New Year’s Day trip to Stoke to rekindle a rivalry which was intense in the 90’s and 2000’s before they pipped us to Premier League promotion in 2008 with a controversial penalty right at the end of the season.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Wolves were superb but you’d expect that from the league leaders coming down the M5 in the Christmas period. I’d probably plump for Sunderland who – as always – travelled a long way in large numbers at a time in the season when the Fat Lady was doing her warm ups.

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

For us as a club, not to have a long winless run.  It would be nice to have a season without the vitriol and arguments that naturally causes and have a nice, straight-forward, settled season.

Predicted league finish?

I think I predicted 10th-14th last season and we finished 11th– just not necessarily in the manner we’d have hoped for! I’ll nudge down expectations this season a tad, given the loss of Reid, Flint and probably Bryan, and settle for a nice, solid, no-frills 13th place.

Derby
Ollie Wright, Derby County Blog (@DerbyCountyBlog)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

7th v 6th 

Not bad, if I say so myself!

How would you describe last season for your club? 

Gary Rowett managed to last for the entire season (kind of a big deal, in Derby terms) and got us to the play-offs, despite a particularly painful and acute episode of Derby’s apparently perennial late meltdown.  So, a positive story in the face of it.  But promotion eluded us again.  Rowett dropped the Championship’s golden boot winner, Matej Vydra, for the second leg of the play-off semi-final and after defeat at Craven Cottage, left us in the lurch – walking away as soon as Stoke City came sniffing. 

As we famously learned when he brought his team to your place for that ridiculous 1-1 draw, Rowett’s tactics and instincts are essentially negative, which makes him a very hard manager to love, even if he’s getting adequate results.  I think it’s fair to say that few Derby fans were particularly sad to see him go (although there was a brief panic when the initial bookies’ favourites to replace him included Big Mick McCarthy). 

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season? 

A younger team with more energy, being coached to keep the ball, rather than surrender it – and of course for Frank Lampard to see the season out without getting the hook!  The early signs are all positive and, without spending as wildly as they did in previous seasons, Derby have strengthened their attacking options considerably – so there are definitely grounds for optimism. 

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

That’s all kicked off in the last week or so. Two very promising loanees arrived in Mason Mount (Chelsea) and Harry Wilson (Liverpool), plus FloJo (Brentford), who you know much better than me and, as I write this, last season’s League 1 top scorer, Jack Marriott, has just been announced. 

A few outs will definitely be required to help balance the books and the expectation is that Vydra will go, as he is the one player on the staff who could reasonably be expected to command a decent fee. 

Who was your biggest hero last season? 

It might be an odd shout given that Vydra was the division’s top scorer, but I’d go for Curtis Davies. He emerged as a real leader and never hid, even in the season’s most difficult moments. Credit to Rowett – nicking Davies from Hull for about £500,000 after their relegation was a very smart move. 

Who was your biggest disappointment? 

Rowett. 

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

Mount, Wilson and Marriott are all promising, but Marriott, so prolific at Peterborough last season, is a particularly exciting signing. 

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

Stoke City, unfortunately. 

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

Bolton Wanderers have doom written all over them, sadly. 

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

I usually plump for you lot, but a competitive campaign for Brentford is no surprise any more, so I’ll nominate Sheffield Wednesday – but for a high-profile flirt with relegation, rather than success.

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

Stoke at home, purely for the theatre of seeing Rowett’s return.  Win, lose or draw, the atmosphere will be particularly charged that day. 

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

Promotion. 

Predicted league finish? 

I’m optimistic of an improvement on last season, so I’ll go for 5th.

Hull City
Rick Skelton (@HullCityLive)

 

Last Season Prediction v actual position .

8th v 18th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Tumultuous. More acrimony between the fans and owners off the pitch, inconsistent performances on it and a squad full of loan players and big-earners whose contracts were running down. We scored and conceded seventy goals, had a 5-5 draw at Bristol City, hammered Birmingham, QPR, Bolton and Burton (twice) and got walloped ourselves by Derby and Sheff United. It was a crazy season that offered promise one week and misery the next.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

I hope the relationship between the owners and the supporters improves with the use of our actual name and the reintroduction of concessions. On the pitch, it’s impossible to predict. We’ve signed young, hungry players for small fees and that can work with the right management like Millwall last season but it often doesn’t.

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

We’ve lost an entire team, again, including Allan Mcgregor, Michael Dawson and David Meyler who were our longest servants and most experienced players. Reece Burke from West Ham looks a very good signing and Eric Lichaj (Forest) is experienced but the rest are gambles.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Jarrod Bowen who came through our U23 side having signed from Hereford as a kid broke through and scored 15 goals. I’ve watched him come through the ranks and knew he was good but not that good. Harry Wilson was amazing on loan from Liverpool too.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Almost everyone we signed last summer. Chelsea loanees Michael Hector and Ola Aina were poor, Stephen Kingsley was injured all season, Jon Toral never really got going, Nouha Dicko didn’t score enough. It was almost as if our last minute recruitment policy wasn’t sensible!

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

Markus Henriksen signed from AZ with some fanfare and never really got going but midway through last season he started to repay the faith shown in him. He’s a tall, elegent midfielder, only 25 years old and now real captain material. He could be special for us.

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

Stoke.

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?

Can’t think of many who’d actually be a surprise so will go for Blackburn.

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

Not feeling inspired by the Championship this season. It has a very bland feel. A trip to one of the newer lower league sides in a cup would be nice.

What fans impressed you most last season?

As much as we despise them, Leeds.

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

New owners!

Predicted league finish?

15th

Ipswich Town

Ben Groom, Blue Monday Podcast (@BlueMondayITFC)

Last Season Prediction v actual position

10th v 12th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Not a fun experience a lot of the football was tedious but the last few months was dominated by our previous manager reshaping the narrative about himself before walking out a month or so before the season ended – complete reboot ahead!

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

A reunited fan base, a better relationship between manager and fans, a clearer philosophy on the pitch and a happier supporter experience.

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

Ok but we won’t know truly until the window closes – the policy has switched to bringing in young lower division players like Edwards and Harrison, with Webster leaving for Bristol City and Waghorn possibly going to. Some fans are worried about not leaving enough Championship experience in the squad.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

A joint effort between Bialkowski and Waghorn

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Bersant Celina, a wonderfully talented Kosovan winger on loan from Man City. Spent the first few months trying to get into the team and being told to ‘do the ugly stuff’ and was then oddly used as a political tool by the previous manager to have a pop at the fans. Never properly given the freedom or responsibility to be a leading figure despite our goal of the season competition being dominated by his strikes.

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

André Dozzell – son of Jason had last season curtailed in day one by injury, hopefully a breakthrough season this year.

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

Boro – Pulis plus money equals a lot of 1-0 home wins.

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

Ipswich – then if the worst happens at least I can have a nice meal out and some drinks.

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

No idea!! Have a soft spot for Tony Mowbray so I’ll say Blackburn to outperform their low spend.

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

Norwich…it’s the hope that kills you.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Millwall

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

A miraculous play off campaign

Predicted league finish?

11th

Leeds United

Andy P, The Square Ball (@ArcticReviews)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

Said 8th, finished a miserable 13th.

How would you describe last season for your club?

Great for about 8 weeks. Then mostly dross. Thomas Christiansen looked out of his depth and his successor Barnsley Paul looked even less capable. We finished it all off with a trip to a dictatorship to help our owner get a TV deal. Great.

What are your hopes for 2017-18 season?

After the last two seasons, who knows. It’s been a bewildering mess. The club are publically talking up the play offs again but without two or three more quality signings it looks like yet another pipe dream.

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

Ok. Rumours were we’d spend big this summer but we seem to be looking at about a net spend of ten to twelve million, relatively modest. Three loans, one perm is the story so far but I expect that to change before kick off. We haven’t lost anyone we needed, for a change.

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

Some decent kids came through last season such as Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tom Pearce and Ryan Edmondson and at youth level the club is in very decent shape. We don’t appear to have a marquee first team signing as yet although getting Wolves left back Barry Douglas looks like superb business.

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

Stoke look handy on paper. Boro’s robots will challenge again. 

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?

I think it’s a really open league this year. My dark horses (And bear in mind I picked Cardiff last year as well as Brentford) would be Preston.

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

Leeds fans come from many places and have many different outlooks so every answer would be different, but personally I always enjoy our games with Sheffield United. Well, mostly.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Probably Sunderland for turning up at ER in reasonable numbers and giving their relegation bound side a good send off. 

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

Not to lose to f***ing Millwall

Predicted league finish?

10th

Middlesborough

Rob, Fly Me to The Moon (@fmttmboro)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

1st v 5th

How would you describe last season for your club?

Very disappointing and yet we almost pulled it out of the fire at the very last gasp.

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

While far more realistic than going into last season I think we will be well organised, difficult to beat and definite play off contenders once more.

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

Fans are beside themselves in losing crowd favourite Patrick Bamford and hoping againast hope Adama Traore doesn’t follow him out of the door. Flint and McNair look like solid signings. Hopefully Martin (Foghorn) Weghorn will soon join them.

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Adama Traore was so exciting. Speed off the mark and sheer attacking talent brightened up even the direst match in a moment.

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Who was your biggest disappointment?

We hoped for so much more from big money siognings Ashley Fletcher and Martin Braithwaite – at the time of writing they might have a second chance having arrived back from loan spells.

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

Adama Traore is he stays could well tear the league apart but can we tie him to the Riverside? If not a youngster like Marcus Tavernier, Lewis Wing or Daekl Fry could well setp forward into the spotlight.  

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

Stoke City – well run club and have made shrewd signings, should bounce back to the topflight. But then that is what we thought this time last season.

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

Hmm.. Rotherham and Wigan both bounce up and down. But am not sure at all that Swansea might not do a Sunderland. I will go for Rotherham.

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

I wonder whether plucky Preston North End might just surprise a few this season. Always strong at home gthey have a few more than usueful players and are constantly underated.

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

Leeds away is the game we are always drawn towards but invariably we have a player red carded and lose.

What fans impressed you most last season?

Burton fans – even after a season at the bottom of the league they turned out in force and really got behind their team hoping to inspire an Easter revival by beating Boro atthe Pirelli. 

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

Promotion

Predicted league finish?

2nd – I hope.

Millwall

James Blewitt, Millwall Half Way Line (@MillwallJDB)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

17th v 8th

How would you describe last season for your club?

We had a cracking season last year that was a hugely pleasant surprise to lions fans. Having recruited well in both windows we turned promising early season performances into very strong results post-Christmas. We play a fast paced direct style that is unusual in the championship but it would be wrong to dismiss it as long ball. Having said that when we came up against the top teams toward the end—Fulham and Middlesbrough we ran out of steam

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

I think most Millwall fans are wary of second season syndrome and think we will struggle to match last years overall performance. Other teams will know what to expect and some of the transfer fees flying around the championship have been both eye watering and more than slightly mad. What we do have though is stability and the Den which is the proverbial fortress. Gates were up 35% and we have sold record season tickets. With a number of clubs looking very unstable (and some in a complete mess) there is just a little bit of hope that we might surprise people again 

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

Our major achievement has been not losing anyone –Jake Cooper has been subject of a series of unsuccessful big money bids from Rangers. It has to be aid though that in a stagnant transfer market our recruitment has been underwhelming and we have a worry lack of depth and options up front. We are hoping for a flurry of last minutes signings

Who was your biggest hero last season?

Hard to choose—Hutchison Saville, Wallace, Gregory were all great but the old war horse Steve Morison represented everything that was good about Millwall last season

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Our goalkeeper Jordan Archer can occasions look like a fantastic young keeper but had another season in which there were some error strewn games and undermined some otherwise very strong defensive performances 

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

Jed Wallace has looked on fire pre season

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

Middlesbrough—Pulis factor

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

Bolton look like they are going to really struggle

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

Hmm I think Ian Holloway is not a label to use with lions fans….however in terms of surprise packages I think Preston could have another strong season

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

Leeds away was our performance of the season last season…..and I missed it so that’s a top one for me this year

What fans impressed you most last season?

Standing in the away end at Bramall Lane is always an experience

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

The uncertainty surrounding the Den and the compulsory Purchase order still hanging around in the background to finally be cleared up

Predicted league finish?

15th

Norwich

Claire, The Little Yellow Bird Project (@ClareBearThomas)

Last Season Prediction v actual position 

I am informed that my predecessor predicted a 5th place finish- rather more optimistic than I would have been, and way off the reality of our lowly 14th. Things were so bad we even failed to beat Ipswich to the coveted ‘Pride of Mid table’ trophy.

How would you describe last season for your club?

We were warned it would be a season of transition, and it most definitely was; the Premier League money had run out and, without exceedingly rich owners, we needed to make some drastic changes. What followed was a massive turnover of players and staff in the summer, and a whole new playing philosophy along with it.  It was a strange season really; we went from 2016/17’s exceptional home form, terrible away form, scoring and letting in goals freely, to the complete opposite. Our defence definitely improved-we broke our record for consecutive clean sheets- but scoring goals became a challenge. All too often we relied on GoldenBalls II,  James Maddison, to dig us out. I would describe it as a mediocre season interspersed with glimpses of promise.  

What are your hopes for 2018-19 season?

Last season the mantra was patience, and for the large part the fans abided by that and allowed Daniel Farke some leeway. But this season we expect a lot more, Farke is no longer a novice in the Championship and one suspects that if he doesn’t deliver the goods then the patience will run out. However things look promising; we have bought well in the summer and the team looks much more balanced than it did. Early signs during pre-season are positive and some fans have gone as far as to say we have one of the best squads in years. Time will tell, but we are certainly expecting much more than 14th.

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

We may have lost two of our best players-and 99% of our goals- in Maddison and Murphy, but the £33million softened the blow and has allowed the manager to bring in quite a number of new players. Selling our jewels early on has also meant we have been able to focus on bringing players in without the threat of more departing.

We have gained experienced Championship players such as Jordan Rhodes and Ben Marshall, alongside some good quality foreign players such as Temmu Pukki, Felix Passalack and Moritz Leitner. Angus Gunn was also a big loss for us this summer, his subsequent £13m move from Man City to Southampton proving what an exceptional keeper he was for us on loan last season-his first full season as a no.1. However, his replacement comes in the form of Timm Krul and if we get the pre-injury version that Newcastle had then that is one very good deal.  

The fans are excited. Until 5pm August 4th, anyway. 

Who was your biggest hero last season?

James Maddison; a young player with the world at his feet. He had an exceptional season, one which we knew would mean his time at Norwich would be short and sweet, and we enjoyed him while we could. He is quite simply one of the most talented players ever to pull on the yellow and green, and we wish him nothing but success at Leicester as he takes the next step. A special mention must also go to Wes Hoolahan, who left after 10 years at the club- last season was not his best but he is a true hero in every sense.

Who was your biggest disappointment?

Nelson Oliveira. An opening day spat with the manager got him off to a bad start, and he produced very little all season, apart from more petulance. All very tiresome- he has the talent but not the mentality.

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

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Moritz Leitner spent the second part of last season on loan with us and looked a class above; and with Maddison and Hoolahan now departed he is more than capable of filling the void. Young players such as Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell look ready to put in good seasons at this level. I also think Ben Marshall will stand out from the pack.

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

Stoke, if only because they will be capable of putting in a shift on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke. 

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

Rotherham. Perenial yo-yo’ers.

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

Birmingham. When Garry Monk came in they looked a different side.

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

It has to be Ipswich, even though I also hate it!! We are now 10 games unbeaten against them- last time leaving it until the 95th minute to preserve our unbeaten streak!

What fans impressed you most last season?

I’m going to say Brentford to make you guys happy and because half my family are Bees fans! They brought a fair few to Carrow Road on an evening near to Christmas,  and the atmosphere at Griffin Park is always excellent. 

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

Beating Ipswich twice and making it 10 whole years unbeaten in the derby.

Predicted league finish?

An optimistic 6th. On paper it’s possible; our manager is more aware of the trials of the Championship now, and if we keep our players fit and they all perform to their potential, then we *could* have a great season. 

Unfortunately, football isn’t written on paper and we could just as easily finish 14th again!

 

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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