2013/14 Championship Previews: In Their Own Words - Part 2

Mike Hewitt

So part one of our previews is in the books now we move on to our nexr batch, starting with a beaten play-off semi-finalist.

Brighton

Sam from The Seagull Love Review

@tslr

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

I suppose finishing 4th was good, but losing to our arch-rivals at home in the second leg of the play-offs more than took a shine off the whole thing. That's about as bad as it gets for an Albion fan, so it's still not nice looking back. We also had some in-house problems over the summer, so the whole end of the season eclipsed our highest finish in about 30 years.

How has the summer gone so far?

Well, it's all chilled out now and our pre-season results in Spain were really positive in beating a La Liga side and Segunda side. After we finally said adios to Gus everybody has been able to just calm down and look forward to the season starting, and the new guy Oscar is saying the right things (when he does talk). Just need to sign a few players now, including a quality left back. Cheers for that by the way.

Key player for you next season?

Liam Bridcutt, who is from Reading actually, is our best player and biggest asset He sits at the back of the midfield and dictates the middle of the park. Watch out for him when you play us, and maybe against England because he plays for Scotland now too.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

This is quite tough because we haven't really been bringing through many youngsters recently, though a £30m training complex which we're building will help with that long-term. Jake Forster-Caskey, an attacking midfielder and England u-20 regular, is our big hope and he may get some more time this season after spending half of last season on loan at Oxford United. Whether he'll play regularly though, it depends on what impression he makes on Oscar in pre-season. The fans would really like a youth product to come through, so fingers crossed.

Where do you think you'll end up?

Expectations are not as high as the previous 2 seasons, which is quite nice actually. I'm thinking 8th, but none of us really know what to expect from the new head coach. Last season the Championship was pretty random in terms of form and league placings, I'm not sure it'll be like that again this year, and I'm not sure that will benefit us.

What do you make of Reading?

Usual Reading, keep themselves to themselves. Bridge is a great signing.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

I think you'll finish top, and a lot of Albion fans think that. FFP makes that so. You're in the Premiership bubble now and you have a decent infrastructure unlike Wolves, for example, or Blackburn, bloody hell. Teams with a good set-up and money often do well, it's when there's money and lunatics in charge that things go wrong in the Championship.

**********

Burnley

Kevin Robinson from No Nay Never

@nonaynevernet

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

See-saw. The first half was all about the goals, while the second was drowning in yawns. Sean Dyche came in and shored up a far-too-leaky defense but we became ultra-boring to watch. The most excitement we had was the threat of a relegation battle but even that didn't materialise.

How has the summer gone so far?

Slooooowwwwww. We got rid of some deadwood - stars of the promotion season who had done nothing since - in McCann, Paterson and Jensen. But we lost our best player, Lee Grant to Derby. Since then we've signed about six-hundred goalkeepers and that's about it.

Key player for you next season?

Danny Ings. He's a young striker who hasn't yet had a chance to shine due to injuries. This season will be his big breakthrough. Charlie Austin might still be with us (for now) after his Hull move broke down, but Ings will be the star this season,

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Does Ings count? He's 20 but does have quite a bit of experience. If we're talking young young we have loads of really talented kids who should get a chance due to our small squad size. Cameron Howieson (http://nonaynever.net/16047/howieson-could-make-world-cup-in-brazil/) played in the Olympics and will probably head to the World Cup, so he's one to look out for.

Where do you think you'll end up?

12th. Too low to have any hope of promotion, but high enough to rarely feel the threat of relegation.

What do you make of Reading?

I think Burnley fans will have everlasting fond memories of Reading following our play-off triumph back in the day. You're a good club going about things in the right way. I sort-of see you as a rich man's Burnley.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

Play your cards right and you'll probably spend the next season fighting against a return to the Championship again.

**********

Charlton

Al from God, Charlton & Punk Rock

@algordon_cafc

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

The level headed amongst us were always going to be happy if we survived. A small minority had dizzy hopes of promotion, especially when you consider what the likes of Norwich and Southampton had achieved, but with relatively little cash floating around we knew we were in for a hard slog. The strong squadron like bond that Chris Powell has gelled our lads together with certainly paid dividends as they battled doggedly with passion and a belief in each other which ultimately gave us a highly respectable top ten finish.

How has the summer gone so far?

The pre-season friendlies have seen the squad reunite where they left off in May. With Richard Wood the only new face (our other signing Mark Gower was a loanee at the end of the last campaign) there was very little introduction needed. Goals have flowed in the friendlies for us while keeping a very tight ship at the other end. The lack of new faces wouldn't necessarily be an issue, as I said we've very little resources and I'm not one for buying for the sake of it, but three strikers have left the club this summer leaving Yann Kermorgant as our only established front man. Six days from the big kick off, the squad numbers have been released yet, as I write, our number nine and ten shirts remain vacant. On the plus side we haven't had to sell any of our assets over the break, despite continued interest in the likes of Chris Solly from Premier League clubs.

Key player for you next season?

Our big French striker, Yann Kermorgant. If we are to move onwards from last season he will need to stay injury free and goal hungry. Looking at our striking options I worry Powell will opt for a 4-5-1 formation more often than not, unfortunately as much as Yann is adored by the Charlton support ("we all dream of a team of Kermorgant's" as the song goes) I don't think he's ever going to be a twenty goal a season player. The big lad will win balls all day long but somebody needs to be there to pick them up, I've already seen his frustration at doing it all himself in pre-season. We'll certainly need skipper Johnnie Jackson to once again hit double figures from midfield.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Callum Harriott started to establish himself at the end of the last campaign and has been rewarded with the number eleven shirt this time. A fast tricky wide man he will run at full backs all day long twisting them this way and that with resounding success. This will be a big season for the youngster. Michael Smith, Jordan Cook, Joe Pigott and Ade Azeez are all young forwards that may well get a chance of first team football this season, any one of them could seize the moment and make a name for themselves. They may have to.

Where do you think you'll end up?

I think a mid-table finish once again looks on the cards. With a season's experience at this level under our belts, costly mistakes should be less evident although our home form needs to be carried over from where we left off before the break. We can't afford to once again make The Valley an easy away day on the calendar as it was for six months of the last campaign. Tightening up in all areas on the pitch should help counteract the deficits we have up front and the lack of funds available for strengthening. If the division is anywhere near as tight as it was last season though we could very easily make the play-offs, or even get relegated!

What do you make of Reading?

Reading have always been a good footballing side but remind me a little of West Brom from a few years back. Too classy for the second tier but maybe not quiet astute enough for the top flight. Your football is always pleasing on the eye and whilst it looks like a large number have left over the summer, Royston Drenthe has surely got to be a great signing for you. I've a lot of time for Nigel Adkins, he did so well at Southampton and was very unfortunate with how his time there ended, and he certainly knows how to get a side promoted!

Where do you think Reading might finish?

I think you'll go up as champions. I'm expecting Bolton and Forest you run you close, and as an outside bet Ipswich might surprise a few, but I think your class will prevail. QPR are going to have too many highly paid Premier League also ran's that won't fancy a trip to Yeovil or Doncaster, whilst Wigan's long season of Thursday night football will put pay to any serious promotion challenge. Besides which, I've a soft spot for The Royals. Elm Park was a great day out and I've a lot of wonderful memories of such a charismatic football ground. Then there was the greatest footballer I never saw. What's not to like?

**********

Derby

Eurosport journalist, Derby fan & Tilehurst End writer, Pete Odgers

How would you sum up Derby's 2012/13 season?

Overall I would say it was a positive one. And that is the first time I have said that since we last got promoted. The emergence of several young players into the team like Will Hughes and Jeff Hendrick, mixed in with a couple of decent summer signings like Richard Keogh and Paul Coutts allowed us to start playing football the right way. Whilst we still looked very fragile away from home, we were beginning to out pass teams, and out play teams at home. 10th place is a decent platform for a playoff push this season, even though we had less points than the year before. The way we played football has given fans a lot of confidence and belief we are finally moving in the right direction.

How has the summer gone so far?

I had written this first time around a few days ago saying it was a very good summer of excellent activity, exept for the lack of a centre back, I then mentioned how all that good work could change if we sold one of our best players, right back John Brayford. And low and behold, as if I tempted fate, Brayford was sold the next day to Cardiff. But Derby have since said they will replace the ginger haired wizard with a centre back, and a right back. These two players are expected to come from the Premier League. Derby in my opinion are lacking a great centre back partner for Keogh, and now only have one young right back on the books, so if these two supposed up-coming signings are decent it could actually be a deal that has benefited Derby.

Aside from the Brayford saga, there's been a buzz of optimism (a rare thing for Derby fans) about Clough's other business. We have lacked an out and out goal scorer for many seasons, but if pre-season form is anything to go by, Jonny Russel - signed from Dundee United - could be the answer, he certainly looks an exciting prospect. Elsewhere we have signed permanently two players who did well on loan for us late last season, Craig Forsyth from Watford, who seem to sort out our long term weakness at left-back. And Chris Martin-signed from Norwich City, a forward who links the midfield with our strikers. We have also signed experienced Championship goalkeeper, and former Ram, Lee Grant who will tie down the number 1 jersey.

So if a right back and centre back aren't found I would say it has been an average summer as we have strengthened attack significantly, but will be weaker at the back. But if these two promised players do arrive, depending on their quality, it could be a very good summer for the Rams. One things for sure there is more excitement about this upcoming Championship campaign than any other for some time.

Key player for you next season?

Key player will be Will Hughes. As a 17 year old he was our best player for half the season last year, controlling the play in the midfield. The only worry was that he seemed to burn out a little.

He does look a little frail, so if he strengthens up a bit he could and should be even better this year, especially with last year's experience to draw upon. I think many are hoping he will lead us to promotion this year as he is that good, although I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the big four swoop in for him in January.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

We already have such a young team, but Hendrick and Hughes are now established players, so with centre back being a weak spot, it would only take one injury at the moment to mean Valentin Gjokaj, an Albanian U21 international would have to step into the lime light. So far when he's played friendlies he's looked pretty decent. Mason Bennett, who made his debut for Derby a couple of season's ago at just 15 years old, and has represented England youth at pretty much every level could also burst onto the scene more this year, although with Derby now having a number of strikers on the books he will probably be sent out on loan. He is certainly an exciting prospect though.

Where do you think you'll end up?

Tough question, fans will be disappointed if we aren't at least challenging for the play-offs, I'm a little worried about one of our centre back positions so a lot may depend on who is brought in before the transfer window shuts. With such a young team it is hard to know, as they could lose confidence quickly with a poor start. But I think after last year's semi-success behind them they are primed for a push at the play-offs. As you well know the Championship is like a lottery, especially with it being so tight last year. I will say 7th, but hope for 6th.

What do you make of Reading?

It is amazing what is going on at Reading at the moment. You have signed some players with real quality, that are a real coup for a Championship side. You also have a manager who has been there and done it before, so in that regard you seem primed for a return to the top flight. I have two concerns though. 1. Is that it is often tough to tell how players like Royston Drenthe and Daniel Williams will react to the pace and ferocity of the Championship, as foreigners do tend to be a bit more of a gamble in the Championship. 2. You arrive in the league low on confidence after a difficult Premier League campaign, and the hangover can often last longer than people expect.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

The overall quality of the team, squad and manager will tell in the end, anywhere in the top 6 places for me.

**********

Doncaster

Lewis from DRFC Exiles

@Lewisward20

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

Last season was extraordinary. None of us could have predicted what was about to happen when the season started in August and it couldn't have been any more exciting. As the best team away from home in the country last year, and promotion a Champions, the 2012/13 season was a fantastic experience.

How has the summer gone so far?

The summer has been positive so far. We are yet to lose a friendly and the football Paul Dickov has the team playing is attractive. The fact that we are slow at making signings is worrying a lot of fans but we are in a better position compared to this time last year, and look where we finished in April.

Key player for you next season?

If David Cotterill can continue with his impressive form from last season, he could prove influential in our success in the Championship. As the player with the most assists in League One his role was crucial in ensuring promotion and the trophy.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

James Husband made his debut towards the end of our final Championship season and became a regular in the first team last season. As a left back, he offers a Gareth Bale type role with his ability to get forward and chips in with a few goals and assists. If he is given a chance in the Championship under the management, he could really turn a few heads and surprise many of his opponents.

Where do you think you'll end up?

The bookies have tipped us as a favourite to go straight back down but I honestly think we could be comfortable at the end of the season. With reports of a possible investment we could even surprise a few and people and finish mid table or even higher. Anything is possible in football and we have caused upsets in the past.

What do you make of Reading?

Reading are similar to Doncaster Rovers, both are good clubs with a good history. Reading have defied the odds to get into the top flights of English football and have caused shocks along the way. They seem like a proper football club with honest and true supporters who deserve every success.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

Reading have got to be expected to do well in the Championship next season. As a team full of Premier League class and experience they should be competing at the top of the table. Nigel Adkins proved that he is capable of achieving promotion from the Championship with Southampton and this is his chance to show his capabilities yet again.

**********

Huddersfield

The Eds from BarmyArmyUK

@barmyarmyuk

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

Nail biter in the end. After a positive start we lost our way which led to another change of manager. Needed the last match of the season to remain in the Championship (we at one point were down with record points!). But after the play off promotion the season previous, many will have regarded last season a success.

How has the summer gone so far?

I will answer this in May 2014!! Seriously though we have brought in a number of players including a number of strikers. Need them to gel quickly. Expect Mark Robins to achieve that.

Key player for you next season?

James Vaughan, striker.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Jordan Sinnott.

Where do you think you'll end up?

I think next season will be yet another of consolidation but expect it to be less of a rollercoaster than last season. We need to be more consistent. Keep more clean sheets. Have more confidence with the ball. Under Mark Robins I expect an improvement.

What do you make of Reading?

Good club, strong squad. Great manager, lovely stadium, well supported. Guess it will depend on how the entire club pulls together and manages the expectation.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

My tips for Champions.

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