The Football League Championship 2010/11 Season Preview
The Football League Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. Many teams have lost their position in the Premiership and thought that a swift return to the big time was on the cards, but have come down to earth with a very big bump.
However, with good organisation, a dash of good football, and a bit of luck, anyone can raise to the top of the pile and challenge for promotion in the most competitive division in world football. The Premier League gets all the plaudits but it is the bread and butter Football League that is the most open to all comers in English football.
Last season's playoff winner Blackpool can testify to the openness of the Football League Championship, but who will be the dominant forces this season and who will be the whipping boys?
Last season - 18th
Diego Arismendi- On Loan Stoke City
James McEveley- Free Transfer Derby County
Jason Shackell- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Goran Lovre- Undisclosed Groningen
Liam Dickinson- Undisclosed Brighton and Hove Albion
Robert Kozluk- Free Transfer Sheffield United
O'Neil Thompson- On Loan Hereford United
Daniel Bogdanovic- Free Transfer Sheffield United
Simon Heslop Free- Transfer Oxford United
The Tykes' Mark Robbins will be glad that he has managed to secure the services of Argentinian Hugo Colace for the upcoming season. The influential midfielder pitched in with eight goals last season. Colace had left the club to join Crystal Palace at the end of June 2010 but resigned with the Tykes by July 20.
With the loss of Daniel Bogdanovic to local rivals Sheffield United, the South Yorkshire club will be hoping that new signing Liam Dickinson from Brighton and Hove Albion can make the step up to Championship football, but after scoring three goals in nine appearances for Peterborough in a loan spell with the Posh at the tail end of last season, the big striker has shown his pedigree.
Last season - 10th
Kalifa Cisse- Undisclosed Reading
David James- Undisclosed Portsmouth
Paul Hartley- Free Transfer Aberdeen
Lee Trundle- Released
Frankie Artus- Free Transfer Cheltenham Town
Steve Collis- Loan Expired Torquay United
Bristol City's new manager Steve Coppell will be hoping to build on the experience he has gained with Reading to win promotion for the Robins. Since their appearance in the Championship playoff final in 2007/8, where they lost 1-0 to Hull City, they have not fulfilled their potential after finishing in 10th place for the last two seasons under Gary Johnson.
Coppell will be hoping that French born Mali central defensive midfielder Kalifa Cisse from Reading will give the Robins the steel they have been missing in recent seasons. The surprise addition of England international keeper David James has certainly had a "Wow" factor for the long suffering Bristol City fans.
The Robins will be happy that they have managed to stave off attempts to lure away star striker Nicky Maynard who was the clubs top scorer last season with 25 goals from 38 appearances.
Last Season - 18th Premier League
Lee Grant- Undisclosed Sheffield Wednesday
Ross Wallace- Undisclosed Preston North End
Dean Marney- Undisclosed Hull City
Chris Iwelumo- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Robbie Blake- Free Transfer Bolton Wanderers
Steven Fletcher- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Joey Gudjonsson- Free Transfer Huddersfield Town
Brian Laws ineffectual tenure at Turf Moor continues with the Clarets back in the Championship. Can Laws who managed to turn a decent Sheffield Wednesday team into relegation candidates turn the famous old clubs luck back to winning ways?
With the loss of goal scoring machine Gary Fletcher making the summer switch to Wolves and rumors of dressing room unrest last season, Burnley could struggle to be the team that won promotion to the Premier League only two seasons ago.
The addition of energetic midfielder Dean Marney from Hull City, Chris Iwelumo from Wolves who has been a very good striker at this level he may have found a good replacement for Fletcher.
The Clarets will be glad that they have not lost Brian Jensen. The influential keeper was outstanding in an under performing team last season and they will need the big shot stopper to be at the top of his game if they are to stand any chance of making a return to the top flight at their first attempt.
Last Season - 4th
Daniel Drinkwater- On Loan Manchester United
Tom Heaton- Free Transfer Manchester United
Mark Kennedy- Undisclosed Ipswich Town
Warren Feeney- Free Transfer Oldham Athletic
Darren Dennehy- Free Transfer Barnet FC
Joe Ledley- Free Transfer Celtic
Josh Magennis- Released
David Jones won't be scratching his head too much next season if his Bluebirds can perform anywhere near as well as they did last season. The Welshmen played some very good football and have brought in a couple of good young prospects from Manchester United.
The loss of want away winger Joe Ledley to Celtic Jones maybe wondering where the creative spark for the team may come from, but with a proven goal scoring partnership in Peter Whittingham and Michael Chopra leading the line for Jones they will certainly frighten most of the Championship's defenses.
Last Season - 19th
Clive Platt- Undisclosed Colchester United
Lukas Jutkiewicz- Undisclosed Everton
Lee Carsley- Free Transfer Birmingham City
Roy O'Donovan- Free Transfer Sunderland
Gary McSheffrey- Free Transfer Birmingham City
Clinton Morrison- Free Transfer Sheffield Wednesday
Elliott Ward- Free Transfer Norwich City
Aidy Boothroyd's appointment will have been a breath of fresh air for the Sky Blues. The experienced Championship campaigner will be looking to change the fortunes of the under performing Midlands outfit.
Boothroyd has made some very good summer signings with Lee Carsley and Gary McSheffrey from Birmingham and Roy O'Donovan from Sunderland. O'Donovan, the Eire international winger will be hoping that he can finally kick start his career after a number of loan spells as he tried to break his way into the Sunderland first team.
Last Season - 21st
Andy Dorman- Free Transfer St Mirren
Adam Barrett- Free Transfer Southend United
David Wright- Free Transfer Ipswich Town
Danny Butterfield- Free Transfer Southampton
Ryan Hall- Free Transfer Southend United
George Burley will certainly have his work cut out for himself at Selhurst Park. The cash strapped club only managed to survive relegation after a 10 point deduction for going into administration on the final day of last season.
Brurley has not had much money to play with during the summer and will probably have to call in favors to bring in loan players. However, he has managed to bring in three players on free transfers. Burlay will be hoping that Adam Dorman the Welsh international can replicate his form with St. Mirren for the Eagles.
Last Season - 14th
James Bailey- Undisclosed Crewe Alexandra
John Brayford- Undisclosed Crewe Alexandra
Tomasz Cywka- Free Transfer Wigan Athletic
Gareth Roberts- Free Transfer Doncaster Rovers
James McEveley- Free Transfer Barnsley
Gary Teale- Free Transfer Sheffield Wednesday
Lee Croft- On Loan Huddersfield Town
Paul Connolly- Free Transfer Leeds United
After another lackluster performance by the Rams last season, Nigel Clough will have to be on the top of his game if he wants to see his team challenge for promotion.
He has not managed to bring in much in the way of talent due to financial constraints on the famous old midlands club, but will be hoping that ex-Polish Under 21 international Tomasz Cywka can start to show the promise that he showed as a youth.
However, it is veteran defender Gareth Roberts that he will hope can fortify his defense that was guilty of serious lapses in concentration last season, and was the ninth worst in the division.
Last Season - 12th
Josh Payne- Undisclosed
Billy Sharp- Undisclosed Sheffield United
George Friend- Free Transfer Wolverhampton Wanderers
John Spicer- Free Transfer Notts County
Paul Heffernan- Free Transfer Sheffield Wednesday
Sean McDaid- Free Transfer Carlisle United
Lewis Guy- Free Transfer Milton Keynes Dons
Gareth Roberts- Free Transfer Derby County
The highly regarded Sean O'Driscoll will be hoping for improvement on last seasons superb 12th position, but after the raft of players leaving the club during the summer he will seriously have his work cut out.
He will be hoping that new signing Billy Sharp can replicate the great goal scoring exploits of last season when he was on loan from Sheffield United. However, the loss of veteran defender Gareth Roberts to Derby County could be a huge loss for Donny.
Last Season - 19th Premier League
Nolberto Solano- Free Transfer Leicester City
James Harper- Free Transfer
Boaz Myhill- Undisclosed West Bromwich Albion
Kamel Ghilas- Loan Arles-Avignon
Geovanni- Cancelled Contract
George Boateng- Contract Ended
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink- Contract Ended
Dean Marney- Undisclosed Burnley
Stephen Hunt- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Steven Mouyokolo- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Bernard Mendy- Cancelled Contract
New manager Nigel Pearson certainly has his work cut out for his first season in charge at the KC Stadium. After relegation the cash strapped Tigers have been forced to off load many of their highest earners, from their two year spell in the top flight.
Pearson has still got a gifted young set of players to form a cogent attempt on a swift return to the Premier League for Hull City. He has only brought in two new players, with Peruvian international Nolberto Solano, who was with Pearson at Leicester City last season, and the talented James Harper from Sheffield United.
The Tigers will be hoping that they can bring in a quality striker if they want to make a serious bid for promotion. After relegation with one of the poorest attacks, they have lost a number of their first string strikers in Altidore and Vanegoor of Hesselink the main names. With Caleb Folan, Craig Fagan, Daniel Cousin, and youngster Mark Cullan the only strikers at the club goals will be at a premium for Pearson's Tigers, and he will be hoping that he can get his defense to gel quickly as his Tigers are likely to have little bite up front.
Last Season - 15th
Mark Kennedy- Undisclosed Cardiff City
Edward Upson- Free Transfer Yeovil Town
David Wright- Free Transfer Crystal Palace
Much was hoped for when Roy Keane was appointed at Portman Road but with a very tight budget, the Irishman has struggled to get the Tractor Boys back to where their fans believe they should be.
The loss of influential defender David Wright to Championship rivals Crystal Palace is a big blow to a defense that was the eighth worst in the division last season.
However, bringing in Mark Kennedy from Cardiff will be a great fillip for the Norfolk side as they try to slowly climb back up to the top end of the Championship, and make a claim for a playoff berth.
Last Season - Second League One
Lloyd Sam- Free Transfer Charlton Athletic
Neill Collins- Undisclosed Preston North End
Federico Bessone- Free Transfer Swansea City
Paul Connolly- Free Transfer Derby County
Billy Paynter- Free Transfer Swindon Town
Kasper Schmeichel- Free Transfer Notts County
Tom Elliott- On Loan Rotherham United
Casper Ankergren- Released
Rui Marques- Released
Paul Dickov- Free Transfer Oldham Athletic
Jermaine Beckford- Free Transfer Everton
Simon Grayson has made some very big changes at Elland Road after winning Promotion as runner up in League One, this despite being favorites to run away with the division. Grayson will know that a serious challenge for the Championship crown will be a different proposition.
The Leeds faithful will undoubtedly be heaping undue pressure on their fledgling Championship side, but Grayson will be well aware of the difficulty of the task at hand.
Leeds have lost their prolific striker, Jermaine Beckford to Everton on a free transfer, but he will find the Premiership defenses a much harder challenge to the third tier ones he has been facing with Leeds.
Grayson has managed to bring in a number of good solid Championship level players that should be able to consolidate their position in the most open division in Europe.
Last Season - Fifth
Yann Kermorgant- On Loan Arles
Alex Cisak- Free Transfer Accrington Stanley
Harry Worley- Released
Nolberto Solano- Free Transfer Hull City
Wayne Brown- Free Transfer Preston North End
After a fantastic first season back in the Championship under Nigel Pearson, Leicester City owner Milan Mandarić decided that it was time for a change at the top, much to the dismay of the long suffering Foxes fans.
Pearson's replacement, the ex-Portuguese international midfielder Paulo Sousa will be hard pressed to replicate the success of the much admired Pearson. However, he was not unsuccessful himself in his short time with Swansea City, where he got the Swans to within a whisker of a playoff berth last season.
At this time he has not brought anyone in, due to the financial restrictions put on him by Mandarić, but has lost a number of influential Championship players which could be a major blow to Leicester's attempts to build on last season's fifth place.
Last Season - 11th
Tarmo Kink- Undisclosed Gyori ETO FC
Kevin Thomson- £ 2,000,000 Rangers
Stephen McManus- £ 1,500,000 Celtic
Nicky Bailey- £ 1,400,000 Charlton Athletic
Kris Boyd- Free Transfer Rangers
Andrew Halliday- Undisclosed Livingston
Emanuel Pogatetz- Free Transfer Hannover 96
The division's big senders, has seen Gordon Strachan bring in some big names from North of the border. The signing of Kris Boyd from Glasgow Rangers is a major coup for the Smoggies who had a very undistinguished season by their high standards.
Strachan will be hoping, that now he has been able to build his own team, he will be able to make an impression on the Championship. The acquisition of the Scottish Premier League's top scorer for the past four season in Boyd and Stephen McManus from Celtic as the club's new Captain will make the Smoggies a different prospect to last seasons inconsistent side.
Last Season - Third League One Playoff Winners
James Henry- Undisclosed Reading
Steve Mildenhall- Undisclosed Southend United
John Sullivan- On Loan Yeovil Town
Jason Price- Free Transfer Carlisle United
League One's Playoff winners Millwall will find the Championship a tougher task then England's third tier, but Kenny Jackett will feel he is more than capable of building on last season's success.
The signing on a permanent basis of James Henry who was on loan at the New Den last season will have been a big relief for Jackett, and the acquisition of Steve Mildenhall from Southend to after the loss of John Sullivan to Yeovil Town will be a good signing for Jackett.
Last Season - First League One
Simeon Jackson- Undisclosed Gillingham
John Ruddy- Undisclosed Everton
Andrew Surman- Undisclosed Wolverhampton Wanderers
Andrew Crofts- Undisclosed Brighton and Hove Albion
Elliott Ward- Free Transfer Coventry City
David Fox- Undisclosed Colchester United
Rhoys Wiggins- Undisclosed Bournemouth
Damon Lathrope- Free Transfer Torquay United
Cody McDonald- On Loan Gillingham
Tom Adeyemi- On Loan Bradford City
David Stephens- Undisclosed Hibernian
Gary Doherty- Free Transfer Charlton Athletic
Danny Kelly- Free Transfer Barnet FC
Major changes have happened this summer at Carrow Road for Paul Lambert after winning promotion to the Championship as League One Champions.
The signing of young goalkeeper John Ruddy from Everton, and young midfielder Andrew Surman from Wolves will give the Canaries some much needed quality for their first season back in the Championship.
Lambert will be hoping that Elliott Ward will be able to replicate some of the talent saw him the point of speculation from a couple of Premiership sides two seasons ago before falling down the pecking order at Coventry City.
Last Season - Third
Joe Garner- On Loan Huddersfield Town
Mark Byrne- On Loan Barnet FC
James Perch- Undisclosed Newcastle United
Billy Davies has not dabbled much in the transfer window so far but the loss of James Perch to Newcastle United will be a bit of a blow to Forest's Championship promotion credentials.
However, so far they have been able to keep hold of key players such as England Under 21 Dexter Blackstock, despite much speculation about a move to a number of Premier League clubs.
Key to next season for Davies will be the fitness of prolific striker Rob Earnshaw who scored 17 goals for the Tricky Trees last season.
Last Season - 20th Premier League
Ibrahima Sonko- On Loan Stoke City
David James- Undisclosed Bristol City
Papa Bouba Diop- Undisclosed AEK Athens
Nadir Belhadj- Undisclosed Al-Sadd
Florent Cuvelier- Undisclosed Stoke City
Luke Wilkinson- Undisclosed Dagenham & Redbridge
Lennard Sowah- Free Transfer Hamburg
Antti Niemi- Released
Times are tough at Fratton Park. New Pompey boss Steve Cotterill will certainly have is work cut out to keep the Solent's finest in the Championship. Having lost a string of top players, the cash strapped club will have to rely on loans and free transfers to stand any chance of survival.
The steady head of Ibrahima Sonko from Stoke City on loan is the only player brought in so far by Cotterill, to shore up the Pompey back four. Sonko spent last season with fellow Premier League relegation rivals Hull City, but spent much of his time clicking his heels in the reserves after failing to win a first team berth. He will be hoping that he will be able to start a fresh with Pompey and get some first team football.
Preston North End
Last Season - 17th
Andreas Arestidou- Free Transfer Shrewsbury Town
David Gray- Free Transfer Manchester United
Wayne Brown- Free Transfer Leicester City
Craig Morgan- £ 400,000 Peterborough United
Michael Hart- Free Transfer Hibernian
Neill Collins- Undisclosed Leeds United
Eddie Nolan- On Loan Scunthorpe United
Ross Wallace- Undisclosed Burnley
Neil Mellor- On Loan Sheffield Wednesday
Darren Ferguson will be hoping to build on last season which was less than a successful season for the Lillywhites. When he took over the league's oldest club in January 2010, they were sitting in 17th place, the same spot they finished the season.
Despite losing some old stagers, Ferguson has brought in some much needed steel at the back with Wayne Brown from Leicester City, who has been a proven promotion winner with both Hull City and Leicester City.
He has also called in a favour from his Dad with the signing of David Gray from Manchester United. The young right winger has not made the grade at Manchester United but may find his level at the Lillywhites as they try to improve on last season.
Queens Park Rangers
Last Season - 13th
Matteo Alberti- On Loan Lumezzane
Angelo Balanta- On Loan Milton Keynes Dons
Neil Warnock has not delved into the transfer market this summer so far, but will be hoping for a more consistent season than last. After taking over in March he could not raise the Hoops performances drastically and saw their season peter out to a mediocre mid-table spot.
Warnock who has been a proven Championship manager for many years may well be the catalyst for the Hoops to move on from their current funk that has seen them fail to challenge for the playoffs for a number of seasons.
Last Season - Ninth
Andy Griffin- Nominal Stoke City
Marcus Williams- Free Transfer Scunthorpe United
James Henry- Undisclosed Millwall
Kalifa Cisse- Undisclosed Bristol City
Marek Matejovsky- Undisclosed Sparta Prague (Cze)
Oliver Bozanic- Free Transfer Central Coast Mariners
By Readings high standards the the Royals had a poor season finishing in ninth place, three shy of a playoff place. But for Brian McDermott the ex-chief scout of the Royals it was a great season after taking over the club in 20th place in December.
However, will journeyman midfielder who gained his managerial breaks with Slough and Woking be able to take the club further. He has shown that, at least in the short term, he he is capable but with only a couple of lesser name players coming in and a number of lesser players leaving it should be business as usual for the stoic McDermott, and the Royals, as they take further steps toward promotion to the Premier League.
Last Season - 20th
Eddie Nolan- On Loan Preston North End
Michael Collins- Undisclosed Huddersfield Town
Chris Dagnall- Free Transfer Rochdale
Gary Hooper- Undisclosed Celtic
Ian Morris- On Loan Chesterfield
Josh Lillis- On Loan Rochdale
Grant McCann- Free Transfer Peterborough United
Marcus Williams- Free Transfer Reading
Nigel Adkins has worked wonders at Glanford Park but with the loss of Gary Hooper to Celtic where will the Iron's goals come from? After a yo yo existence over the past few years the North Lincolnshire side will be hoping for some much needed consolidation from Adkins' team.
However, the expectation heaped on the shoulders of Chris Dagnall from Rochdale will be the big question mark for the Iron. In his time at Rochdale the 24-year-old striker has scored 51 goals from 135 games. No mean feat but will life in the championship be so rewarding for him? The Iron's faithful will be hoping so.
Last Season - Eighth
Nyron Nosworthy- On Loan Sunderland
Robert Kozluk- Free Transfer Barnsley
Simon Walton- On Loan Plymouth Argyle
Steve Simonsen- Free Transfer Stoke City
Leon Britton- Free Transfer Swansea City
Daniel Bogdanovic- Free Transfer Barnsley
Glen Little- Free Transfer Aldershot Town
Kyel Reid- Free Transfer Charlton Athletic
Billy Sharp- Undisclosed Doncaster Rovers
Gary Naysmith- Free Transfer Huddersfield Town
Ian Bennett- Released
Justin Haber- Released
Derek Geary- Released
Jonathan Fortune- Released
Henri Camara- Released
James Harper- Released
Major changes are happening at Bramhall Lane for Kevin Blackwell's Blades. A host of players are coming and going in South Yorkshire. Most notably the highly regarded James Harper to old rivals Hull City and Gary Naysmith to Huddersfield.
However, Blackwell has brought in some very good replacements to bolster his squad, in an attempt to go the extra mile in their attempt to get back to the Premier League. The signing of prolific goal scorer Daniel Bogdanovic from neighbours Barnsley is a major signing for the Blades who were short on goals last season.
Last Season - Seventh
Scott Donnelly- Undisclosed Aldershot Town
Neil Taylor- Undisclosed Wrexham
Federico Bessone- Free Transfer Leeds United
Leon Britton- Free Transfer Sheffield United
Swansea have been part of the Championship merry-go-round with Brendon Rodgers the last in a line of managers to be appointed through Hull City taking Nigel Pearson from Leicester City. Rodgers will be hoping that lightening doesn't strike twice and he has a season like his last at Reading, which lead to dismissal midway through his first season with them.
With his appointment coming late in the summer the dealings have been limited for Rodgers but loss of Federico Bessone to Leeds and Leon Britton to Sheffield United are big boots for Rodgers to find replacements for.
Last Season - 16th
Juanjo- On Loan Racing Santander
Rene Gilmartin- Undisclosed Walsall
Tom Aldred- Undisclosed Carlisle United
Lewis Young- Free Transfer Burton Albion
Jure Travner- On Loan St Mirren
Mat Sadler- On Loan Shrewsbury Town
Jordan Parkes- Free Transfer Barnet FC
Will Hoskins- Free Transfer Bristol Rovers
Malky Mackay, and Watford have made some good potential signings this summer, with Juanjo, on loan from Spanish club Racing Santander the biggest coup for the club. However, the changes so far have been superficial for Rodgers with not major coming and going from the club's leading names.
So how will the season play out for the Championship. There are no real stand out teams this season. Middlesbrough have spent heavily during the summer and Strachan has made some very good signings, that will make Boro a very hard team to outscore.
The teams that have come down from the Premiership are at sixes and sevens. Hull City and Portsmouth are having serious financial difficulties that will probably mean that a mid-table finish for both of them would probably be a great season.
However, I think that unless Pompey can stem the tide of money leaving the club they could end up with more penalties and a second relegation. The Tigers have a core of good young players and a manager that could be the difference between mid-table mediocrity and a playoff berth.
Burnley have not had the same problems but have lost their main goal threat, and their manager has never had much success at any level, so will probably not be as good as the team that won promotion to the Premier League through the playoffs.
The teams that have come up from League One will find the Championship a much tougher challenge than League One. Norwich were well organised and should be fine for the season. Leeds have made major changes but with the loss of Jermaine Beckford their main weapon is not longer there. Millwall as the playoff winners are the team that would ordinarily be talked about as the team to struggle this season, but for huge periods of last season they sat comfortably in the automatic promotion spots, so they should consider this season a season of consolidation and that would be a great success.
2. Nottingham Forest
3. Cardiff City
4. Sheffield United
5. Bristol City (P)
6. Hull City
23. Leeds United
24. Scunthorpe United
So who will win promotion, and who will not survive the most open league in European football? Let me know your opinions.