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2013/14 Championship Previews: In their own words - Part 3

So parts one & two down, here's our third look at what the fans say about their chances (and Reading's) over the next 46 games - including a certain McDermott, B at Leeds.

Richard Heathcote

Ipswich

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(Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Susan from Turnstile Blues (@Turnstile_blue)

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

Certainly a season of two halves. With Paul Jewell, we underwent one of the most difficult periods that I can remember at Portman Road - difficult in many ways and most certainly difficult to watch. With his overdue demise and the arrival of Mick McCarthy, there was a dramatic turnaround. We had only gained 7 points from 13 games and were bottom of the league when Jewell went. Under McCarthy we finished in 14th place, 6 points from the bottom 3 with a game to spare. We ended with a great deal more hope than we dreamed we'd have during the dark days before Jewell left. If only he'd gone a little earlier.

How has the summer gone so far?

I think most supporters are quite pleased. Marcus Evans hasn't put his hand in his pocket but Mick's been astute in bringing in a number of players for very little outlay:
Gerken, Veseli, Berra, Tabb, Anderson, Skuse, Murphy, McGoldrick have all come in (some have been on loan here) plus a young player from Waterford, Jack Doherty who looks promising. I think the only transfer fee has been around £50K for Paul Anderson.

On the way out, Chopra has just gone to Blackpool. A relief to everyone concerned, I think it's fair to say.

Key player for you next season?

Difficult to say. My personal choice would be McGoldrick. I think he'll score goals, but I think Daryl Murphy may also be more prolific in this side too. Chambers and Smith will be key in defence.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Well, Doherty is young and an unknown quantity and may well be for the longer term, but certainly David October and Jack Marriott, who have been given one-year professional contracts, are getting glowing reports from people who watch the Academy players regularly.

Where do you think you'll end up?

In all honesty, I haven't felt this optimistic in years, but I'll try and be sensible and say between 10th and 7th place.

What do you make of Reading?

Some impressive names, like Drenthe & Bridge. I've always had a liking for Le Fondre, would have liked him to have come to us at one time, but I'm not sure there are any other Town fans who feel that way.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

I think they'll probably make the play-offs. So hard to predict in this division though.

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Leeds

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(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Tom from Through It All Together (@TIAT_LUFC)

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

Last year was miserable. Another year of failed promises from the board, the longest takeover in history and the possible relegation were enough for us to handle. The appointment of Neil Warnock didn't work although most of us thought it would and we need to move on and if possible forget about last season.

How has the summer gone so far?

Some high points and then again some lows. The signs from the boss Brian McDermott are good we look organised and more professional with his minor changes. We've spent £1million on a player (embarrassing I know) but it is progress and the small changes at the club are going down well. There's no more Ken Bates which you can imagine has gone down a treat and there's plenty of changes across the board.

What's your early impression of Brian McDermott?

Calm, understanding and sensible. Doesn't get carried away and he understands we as the fans want to know what is going on with our club. He's brought a togetherness style of management where everyone is on board or you're out and the fans are taking to him very well. Of course results is key so we can't get too carried away.

Key player for you next season?

I'm going to cheat here and go with two - Rodolph Austin and Ross McCormack. There's other key players who need a big year under the new boss and the spotlight will be on Sam Byram. BUT Austin needs a big year commanding that midfield and Ross is a key figure with his experience and he will be a big player if he's played in his best position.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

I need to cheat again because we really do have a few. Dom Poleon a striker can do well if played when needed. Pacey and raw power so could cause problems late on. Chris Dawson a tiny midfielder who showed his class in the under-18's last season and then Alex Mowatt another midfielder who looks to have a touch of class.

Where do you think you'll end up?

We don't have that real quality spine for me to challenge. We need wingers and one or two players that would walk into most teams in the division. I think this will be a transitional year with some youngsters coming in and McDermott building a platform for the next few years.

What do you make of Reading?

Great manager, was joint choice for me along with McDermott after Warnock left. Good squad that should do well but then again they said the same about Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton but the latter did eventually find their groove. Good club who needs to find consistency when they reach the PL, Adkins could be the man to deliver it.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

With the squad you have I'll have to with a top six finish at least. Adkins knows it very well and so do the players so to hell with it I'll say a second placed finish.

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Leicester

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(Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Leicester fan Dean Goodsell

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

To quote a famous footballing cliché, it was a season of two halves. First half of the season, we were looking like one of the strongest teams in the division. We were playing good football, getting good results against some of the division's top teams and were even challenging Cardiff at the top of the league. However, once January was over, we came plummeting back down to Earth. We went two months with only one win and only just made the playoffs by the skin of our teeth, to say we were lucky is an understatement. Despite our dramatic final leg in the playoffs leaving a rather bitter aftertaste, I'd like to think it gave our players the desire to push on this season and right the wrongs.

How has the summer gone so far?

It's been very quiet which, despite what some naysayers are claiming, could be a good thing. Over the past three seasons, we have undergone major upheaval. Changes in manager, changes in owner and an almost complete turnaround in playing staff. This year however, we have a group of players who know each other, who have an understanding of how each other play. This means we will not have to have the standard 'gelling' period at the start of the season and, hopefully, we can get some positive results early on.

Key player for you next season?

One player who showed real signs of improvement and progression by the end of last season was Matty James. Last season really ended too soon for James, after being in and out of the team constantly during the first half of the season he showed a determination to cement his place in the starting line up. He's still a young lad who will keep on improving and seems to be growing in confidence more and more. The pressure will be on him to continue his end of season form and, if he can, will be a vital part of our team next season.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Due to the new financial fair play regulations in place, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of our younger players given a chance in the first team next season. One such player is Liam Moore. With a noticeable gap in central defence, left by Michael Keane, we'll be looking for a player to make a statement and try and lay claim to that spot. With Whitbread's poor injury record and St Ledger allegedly being told he can leave the club, Moore may be just the person to partner Morgan. He has already played a few games for the first team and has started showing some potential as a Championship player but, with some regular games under his belt, I believe he can finally realise that potential.

Where do you think you'll end up?

The ultimate goal has to be promotion. We came close last year and I'm hoping we can show signs of progression and finally make that step up. It will be tough next year, there are some very good teams in this division, many of whom I wouldn't be surprised to see challenging at the end of the season, but I'm confident we have the ability to at least make the playoffs.

What do you make of Reading?

Reading have to be considered a serious threat next season. The core of your squad from last season has been left intact and your team has plenty of experience to cope with the Championship again. You also have a very capable manager in Nigel Adkins, who not only has experience of the Championship but also of guiding teams to promotion after relegation. If you are not competing at the top of the league again this year, I will be very surprised (although, giving us 6 points would be nice!)

Where do you think Reading might finish?

As stated above, I fully expect Reading to be in the top two come the end of the season. At the very least, finishing in the top half of the playofffs. Anything less will be very surprising.

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Middlesbrough

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(Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Middlesbrough fan Steve Welsh from Miniboro

@miniboro_dotcom

How has the summer gone so far?

It's been a bit cagey to be honest. Getting people like Scott McDonald off the wage bill was an absolute necessity, especially as he was the last of Strachan's "Scottish Experiment" which has continued to stifle progress even though Wee Gordon left the club in 2010. We've been adjusting to life in the Championship for quite a few seasons now, constantly pruning and resetting expectations, hopefully this is the last summer where are hands are tied by errors made in the past.

Key player for you next season?

In my opinion its Lukas Jutkiewicz, he's the only one we've spent any kind of money on recently (1.3m) so he really needs to step up and deliver this season, for me that equates to 15-20 goals minimum.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

I'm going to say the same name as I did last season... Curtis Main. He'll need Mowbray to put some faith in him and displace either Jutkiewicz or Emnes but I would love to see him get a good run in the team. He's strong, direct and a natural finisher and if he starts scoring regularly I get the feeling he wont stop.

Where do you think you'll end up?

Frantically clawing at the coat tails of the last play-off spot... and to be honest that's probably about right for us at the moment. Mogga might yet pull off some transfer magic and unearth a few gems, in which case who knows, but given our post Christmas capitulation last season (3 wins, 3 draws, 15 defeats) its impossible to call really.

What do you make of Reading?

They're one of the clubs that i'm a bit indifferent too really. The fact I struggle to remember any classic encounters between our two clubs over the years probably adds to that. The whole Nigel Adkins fiasco with Southampton was puzzling and I do think its your gain, but on the playing side there aren't many names that really jump out at me (you'll probably say the same of Boro though to be fair). That said, we do share the honor of watching Trevor Senior play for both our clubs so that's something I suppose ;)

Where do you think Reading might finish?

I think you've got the set up and manager to challenge, depends if the players are up for the fight or still licking their wounds. Speaking from experience bouncing straight back is a tough call, so i'll be interested to see how all the relegated clubs do. Mind you Adkins and Crosby do have a happy knack of getting teams promoted, so I'd say top 6 was a pretty strong bet provided your not carrying any baggage from relegation.

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Millwall

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(Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Lions ST holder Mark Dillon

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

Overly dramatic, with very little outcome. We started poorly, brought in Chris Wood on loan from WBA, powered towards the playoffs until January, when we lost him to January, plummeted down the league and flirted with relegation, only to stay up on the last day. Oh, and we had an FA Cup semi final to shake it up a bit more, with a minor scrap getting some attention.

How has the summer gone so far?

The above rollercoaster saw the end of long time manager Kenny Jackett, who has decided to jump from the south London frying pan into the Midlands fire and take up the stable job at Wolves, good luck to him!

Since then we've appointed a former West Ham captain from St Johnstone in Steve Lomas, which divided opinion. Since getting the role however Lomas has silenced many doubters with probably the best summer of transfer activity I can remember. We've brought in quality strikers in Steve Morison on loan from Leeds, and Scott McDonald following his release from Middlesborough where by all accounts he was the best finisher in the squad but simply didn't get on with Tony Mowbray (who originally sold him to Boro while in charge of Celtic for £3.5m), strengthened the midfield with the combative Nicky Bailey, and brought back Richard Chaplow on a free who impressed while on loan last season following his ‘mutual termination' from Southampton.

Lee Martin and Stephen Bywater have also been brought in, to add some quality in depth we've been missing for a while. He's also made the astute move of bringing back the all time leading scorer, and Millwall fans favourite Neil Harris to the coaching staff following his retirement from playing at the end of last season.

The optimism around the club at the moment is so far removed from the pessimism at the end of last season it's astounding to think it's been created by Steve Lomas!

Key player for you next season?

The key member of staff next season will be Lomas himself.

He's clearly an excellent salesman, having got himself the job and persuaded players of a much higher quality than we've signed in recent years to join the project. This will need to be translated into results though, with expectations now being heightened, and it's yet to be determined how tactically astute he'll be, and how he can manage his squad. On the playing side we struggled for goals outside of Chris Wood last season, who ended as our top scorer despite leaving in January! Morison and McDonald forming a partnership quickly will be key.

We're strong at the back, now have the extra level of ability in the middle, so it'll be down to the frontmen to make or break the season.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Last time I wrote for this blog, before my efforts were rudely cast aside due to Reading' promotion I tipped John Marquis to come through. He was promptly given the number 9 shirt, scored a goal in an FA Cup quarter final last season, and is now going out on loan this season having had the number 9 taken away and effectively put on the scrapheap with 1 year left on his contract. That kind of sums up the lack of progression of youth players under Jackett, who seemed adverse to giving youngsters games, with a preference of bringing in the like of Rob Hulse on loan rather than giving kids a chance. As a result we've kind of lost 2 years of production.

This season it's tough to know where the kids will come from. We have a few promising youngsters, but with the quality Lomas has brought in chances will be limited. Many of them have had no opportunities yet, so will likely find themselves on loan this season. Aiden O'Brien may see some action, and if he does should find some goals with his movement, but it's unlikely.

Where do you think you'll end up?

We're a much better squad than last season, where our league position was harsh considering our points total. Luckily the bookies are still underestimating, and there's plenty of value in us achieving a comfortable midtable position, possibly flirting with the playoffs.

Outside of the relegated sides, and Udinese B we probably have one of the better, more rounded, squads in the division now. 7/2 to finish top half is massive.

What do you make of Reading?

Ah Reading, welcome back! I see no reason you won't be going straight back up though. The firepower of Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak if you keep them both should be enough, and Drenthe should destroy this division in a manner similar to Taarabat 2 seasons ago. If he can get and stay fit. Adkins is an astute manager who knows the division and how to get out of it, and comparing the setup and the way you've gone about the summer to QPR leaves me confused as to how they're favourites to win the league above Reading.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

Automatic promotion, should probably win the league but it's not usually that easy in the Championship!

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Nottingham Forest

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(Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Semi-retired Forest blogger Winnits returns to lend us a hand (@Winnits)

How would you sum up your 2012/13 season?

How long have you got? New owners who initially seemed stable and progressive, around Christmas time started to look a bit Venkys but by the end hopefully seem to have returned to some kind of normality. The apparent slow and steady building approach they initially took was blown out the water when a reasonable-if-not-brilliantly performing Sean O'Driscoll was summarily sacked on Boxing Day only to be replaced by the walking disaster that is Alex McLeish. Fortunately this didn't last two long and paved the way for Billy Davies to return from his sabbatical away from management to take control of the club. Billy is undoubtedly popular with a large number of Forest fans but his abrasive nature can make some uneasy - initially a great run of results saw a late surge to the play-offs, and a customary weak finish saw us drop out on the final day to Leicester. Given what happened to them in the play-offs, if anything it was a relief!

How has the summer gone so far?

Cautiously optimistic. There isn't a lot in the way of transfer fees being spent so far in the Championship, we have recruited well for positions we need to fill - although we still have more key vacancies to fill in my view. There's a lot of talk of ambitious targets, but they seem to rarely follow through with real news - I'm not too bothered about big spending or statements of intent, but we do need to sign a centre half, a prolific striker and ideally another winger. And maybe a left back. And possibly a stopper in midfield. Not that I'm greedy.

Key player for you next season?

I'm hoping it will be an as yet unsigned striker - although Henri Lansbury, ridiculous haircut and all, should hopefully be a highlight in our midfield after a slightly injury hampered year last year.

One younger player who might burst onto the scene?

Hoping that Jamie Paterson from Walsall will fulfil his promise - pacey, tricky and useful with both feet and with an eye for goal - the kind of outlet we've lacked since we lost Garath McCleary.

Where do you think you'll end up?

Given there are so many clubs with business yet to do it's as difficult to predict as ever I think. Unless we do pull some unexpectedly good signings out the bag I'm not sure we'll have enough to push at the very top end of the table, I think it's more likely that we'll be in our customary sniffing-around-the-play-offs position.

What do you make of Reading?

Without having kept a massively close eye it would appear that Reading didn't strengthen enough to stay up, but have retained the core of what was already a very strong Championship team which if anything is stronger this time around.

Where do you think Reading might finish?

With the usual caveats of signings yet to be made, and not really knowing that much about many teams other than my own if I'm honest, I'd be surprised to not see Reading competing towards the top of the table. A quality squad, parachute payments to steal a march on others in regard to FFP and a proven manager like Nigel Adkins - the Royals have got to be contenders. And I suppose with the season virtually kicking off with the birth of a new Royal, maybe it's going to be your year!