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Championship Preview In Their Own Words: Part 3

As Limp Bizkit would say, let's keep rollin, rollin, rollin through the Championship as our latest group of guest writers profile the prospects of their teams this for 2016/17

Stu Forster/Getty Images

You can catch up with all of our Championship previews so far by heading here.


Andrew from our SB Nation chums Cottagers Confidential@CottagersC

How would you sum up last season for Fulham?

We didn't get relegated, so there's that. Other than that. It was pretty miserable. If there was one positive it appears we might finally have a good manager. But there were quite a few people who might have said the same thing going into last year.

What's been your main summer transfer business so far?

So far so good. Fulham have brought in 8 players, and you'll probably see at least 2 more come in. Of course if Ross McCormack is sold, you might see even more movement. All the players brought in make sense and it's hard to fault any of the signings at this time.

How have fans taken to manager Slavisa Jokanovic?

They pretty much love him. We're still in the honeymoon period to a certain extent. However, in all the pre-season games so far; Fulham have only given up 2 goals. One was a 45 yard chip, and the other was a penalty. For a team that had a historically bad defense last year, that's a huge positive.

What are expectations like heading into the new season?

I think Fulham fans are ready to temper their expectations after two bad years. If the team is challenging for a top six spot in the second half of the season, I think most supporters will see it as a positive season.

Name one player who could stand out?

Ross McCormack is the best player in the division and has been for two year. He probably will be for a third year. The question will be is if he's at Fulham.

And one younger player who might make a name for himself?

If he plays, the one to look out for is Ryan Sessegnon. He's only 16, but is very talented. You'll probably here his name a lot in the coming years.

Where do you expect to finish up?

If I had to guess I'd say top 10, probably 7. Just close enough to the playoffs to get our hopes up.


Huddersfield Town

Terriers fan Scott Castle - @Terrier1987cas

How would you sum up last season for Huddersfield?

Progress. The first quarter of the season under Chris Powell was depressing - results weren't good enough and performances were even worse. Once we appointed Wagner in November things improved drastically. 5 wins in Wagner's first 10 games gave us a huge lift and even more pleasing was the new philosophy immediately put in place. Our form dipped towards the end of the season but the foundations were laid for more progression over the summer.

What's been your main transfer business over the summer?

It's been a huge summer for us in terms of transfers. Joel Lynch was the only notable departure while there were plenty of incomings. Our defence has been awful for as long as I can remember and this summer we seem to have attempted to completely rebuild it. We broke our transfer record signing centre back Christopher Schindler, while Michael Hefele and Jon Stanković will also compete for that position. Chris Löwe came in at left back, midfielder Ivan Paurević came on a free transfer, while loanees Elias Kachunga and Aaaron Mooy finished off our foreign imports. Domestically, Jack Payne was signed from Southend while Danny Ward and Kasey Palmer arrived on loan with decent reputations from the Premier League. So yeah, a lot's changed this summer and expectation levels have increased as a result.

How do fans feel about David Wagner?

Pretty much everyone at the club, from the chairman to the fans, 100% supports Wagner and what he's trying to build. The chairman has backed him by bringing in a multitude of new players, breaking our transfer record and reducing season ticket prices to just £179. The fans have backed him by buying into what he's building and buying close to 15,000 season tickets.

What are the expectation levels heading into the new season?

I think it's key that fans keep their expectation levels realistic, but it really is difficult not to get carried away. I'm hoping for a mid-table finish, which I think is okay given our expenditure this summer. I wouldn't be disappointed however if we were to finish further down the table as long as we aren't in a relegation battle, which would be a bitter disappointment. The main thing for me is that we continue to play the style of football we have under Wagner so far. I'd much rather stay up playing good football than stay up playing like we did under Powell.

Name one player we should keep an eye out for

Of the new signings, Aaron Mooy has impressed me, although admittedly I've seen little of our pre-season matches. I'm also expecting big things of our new left-back Chris Löwe. Of our existing squad, Nahki Wells was our best player by a distance last season, and despite presumed interest from bigger clubs at the moment he's still a Town player. Given the increase in quality supporting Wells I'd expect an improvement on his tally last season, which would be very impressive.

Plus one younger player who might make a name for himself down the line.

Phil Billing. At one point this summer he was linked with a £5m move to West Brom but I'm not sure there was anything to it. At well over 6 feet tall he's a physical presence, whilst also a natural athlete and very technically gifted footballer. He's 20 now so if he's going to make the breakthrough this should be the season. He seems to be a key part of Wagner's plans so if he stays fit and fulfills his potential this could be his first season with us as a first team regular, and probably his last.

Where do you expect to finish?

I'll go for a comfortable mid-table finish, just inside the top half. 12th.


Ipswich Town

Susan from Turnstile Blues - @Turnstile_blue

How would you sum up last season for Ipswich?

In a word? Disappointing. I was expecting good things from the side McCarthy had put together, but long-term injuries to players like Ryan Fraser, McGoldrick and Hyam put paid to that. I also became increasingly frustrated by the dour style of football we were playing. There may be an argument for relying on your defence to win matches, but only if you have a superb defence.

What's been your main transfer business over the summer?

Erm.... There hasn't really been any! Some peripheral players out, Tabb, Touré, Varney and we appear to be relying on our youngsters this year - which may well be a good thing. I'd rather try them out than bring in a few superannuated players from other Championship clubs.

Mick McCarthy is the league's longest serving boss but how do Town fans feel about him?

I think he still has the support of most fans, including me. However, that doesn't mean we won't be questioning his squad selection and tactics. It's fairly obvious that Mick isn't being backed by the owner in terms of money to spend on players and is having to "make do and mend." He's done a great job until now but, as he once said himself, he's not a magician. I only wish he'd had the money his two predecessors had. At the very least, we would have been able to judge him fairly.

What are the expectation levels heading into the new season?

I'm surprised people are so optimistic, to be honest. We do have a few very talented players coming through, but the skeleton of the team is very much the same as last season. Maybe people are forgetting the teams that have come down from the PL. A good start, and a win against Norwich early on, could do wonders, so I hope the optimists aren't disabused too quickly. In fact, I hope they're right and I'm proved wrong. I'm also really hoping we'll player a better style of football. To me, a team that's easy on the eye is as important as a team that can win promotion.

Name one player we should keep an eye out for.

It's got to be André Dozzell, who is so much more than just the son of an Ipswich Town legend. I doubt he'll be ours for long, but I'm going to enjoy him while he is.

Plus one younger player who might make a name for himself down the line.

Well, as above. But Teddy Bishop is still only 20 and in my opinion he's a very classy player. He missed last season, and an England U19 call-up, through injury and whether he can come back from that quickly will make a lot of difference to our season.

Finally, where do you reckon you'll finish?

I was wildly optimistic last season, and I think I predicted we'd be promoted. How wrong I was! This year, I feel quite the opposite. I'm going for the lower end of mid-table mediocrity - but I don't think we'll be relegated or anything that bad - and I will be quite happy to look a complete fool next April/May.


Leeds United

Johnny Wakefield from our SB Nation chums Through It All Together

How would you sum up last season for Leeds?

Disappointing, per usual. We started off hopeful, with Uwe Rosler taking the helm and promising "a new era" at Leeds, but as usual, our owner didn't give him nearly enough time to develop his squad and he was sacked early on. Steve Evans brought a... loud new voice to the manager's position, but the ups and downs of the season had us fearing relegation one minute and hoping for a top 10 finish the next. A middle of the table result is about what we deserved, and his sacking wasn't a surprise to anyone either.

What's been your main transfer business over the summer?

Lots of new additions with the new boss, and one hurtful loss. We added goal-scoring potential in Swede Marcus Antonsson and youngsters Kemar Roofe and Hadi Sacko, two former Swansea lads in Matt Grimes and Kyle Bartley, and a famous name in goal in aging, former England international Rob Green. Antonsson and Roofe in particular have impressed in the preseason, but no number of additions will be able to distract our fanbase from the loss of Young Footballer of the Year Lewis Cook to Bournemouth. That one hurt.

How do fans feel about new boss Garry Monk?

All positive things. I haven't heard a single complaint about the manager role since he was brought on; he's young, determined, and most of all, incredibly well-spoken and professional, in stark contrast to Steve Evans. He brought along his friend Pep Clotet, and it's the most excited I've been about a manager in awhile. Now if our owner would get out of his way and let him do his job.

What are the expectation levels heading into the new season?

High, but tempered. I think our fan base has been through enough (through it all, together, if you will) to not expect to win the league, but after multiple middle-of-the-table seasons in a row, we're hopeful for a top ten spot and dreaming of a play-off spot. Expectations are high with Monk in charge, but he needs players on the pitch to work with, and we're not sure he has enough just yet.

Name one player we should keep an eye out for.

Kemar Roofe is the easy answer here. The new addition from Oxford United scored 18 goals last season in leading them to promotion to League One, and he scored the game winner in the final preseason match on Saturday against Atalanta. He's speedy, has a goal scorer's touch, and if he can work with Wood and Antonsson up top, could be a huge addition to the squad. And he's only 23.

Plus one younger player who might make a name for himself down the line.

See above. :)

Finally, where do you reckon you'll finish?

I want to say we'll finish in playoff position. A top 6 finish could happen if Monk can bring some of his Swansea success to Yorkshire. But the squad has definite holes as of today, and Massimo Cellino will need to open his checkbook (or sell to China) and add a bit of quality to make that a reality. If I had to pick based on today's squad, I'd say we finish 9th or 10th... but I'm hopeful he does sign another defender and another midfielder in time and we finish 6th. From there, who knows, right? Leeds United: champions of Europe 2019.


Newcastle United

Mark from Newcastle's The Mag@NUFCTheMag

How would you sum up Newcastle's 2015/16?

A bit like the previous relegation in 2008/09, everything that could go wrong - did, whilst at the same time having too many to count self-inflicted wounds. Last season saw Newcastle set even more records, having the highest paid and most expesively assembled squad ever to go down. It takes some doing.

Any worries about Rafa Benitez managing in the Championship?

Bit of a strange one this, have seen the question asked by various people and you would think Rafa was suddenly having to put the nets up on a Sunday morning managing a pub team. Like most successful people, who get more and more lucky the harder they work, Rafa Benitez is a workaholic and will have Newcastle United fully prepared. No guarantees of success of course but with the Spaniard in charge we are very confident, without him it could have been proper meltdown.

Last time you were down here you steamrollered your way to the title, is there that same optimism again?

I think there is an expectation that Newcastle will be competitive but don't think many Newcastle fans would go along with the odds-on view of the bookies for NUFC to be promoted. Ironically, last time Newcastle were unfancied at 8/1 to win the Championship and did it very comfortably. Asking our writers the question, there seems to be a consensus that in 2009/10 the first 11 was a bit better but this time there is a stronger squad.

You've made some big signings by Championship standards, happy with the moves so far?

With the relatively daft money Newcastle are spending, no doubt you would/will sound like a spoilt bastard asking for more. The increased parachute payments for relegated clubs do make a mockery of any claim that it is a level playing field in the second tier. However, yes happy with the signings so far but would like to see more, especially creative and goalscoring options, you can never have enough of them.

Name one unexpected name who might impress this season?

If you mean one of our players then I would say Rolando Aarons is maybe the lesser known player who has to seize his chance this season, a young skilful winger who has had trouble with injuries and form, he really has to start his career now. If you meant an unexpected club then you could pick half of the Championship - it has a history of surprise clubs pretty much every season.

Where do you think you'll finish?

With the best paid manager and players, biggest transfer spend and almost certainly the most talent - Newcastle United have got all of the advantages, at least on paper. There should be an expectation of winning the title and missing out on promotion would have to count as a major failure. However, history tells us this is one of the most competitive leagues of all and money means nothing if your players don't apply themselves.


Thanks again to our latest guest writers and we'll be back with part four tomorrow.