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Championship Previews In Their Own Words: Part 4

We're getting towards the rear end of the Championship but do fans of these teams expect basement action or top flight dreams?

Alex Morton/Getty Images

Welcome to part four of our team-by-team Championship previews! You can find parts one through three right here.

Norwich City

Much like their team did to their fans last season, Norwich have let us down in the pre-season preview stakes. Not to fear, we'll do our best to fill in the gaps.

How was last season for Norwich?

Any season that ends in relegation has to be considered a failure, as Norwich slid back into the second tier after just one season back in the big time. Only losing twice in their first seven games suggested they'd be able to mix it with the best but a run of only three wins from their last 18 games saw the Canaries relegated from the Premier League.

So what have they done this summer?

Surprisingly little really. Norwich seem to the bridesmaids of this transfer window, as they've been close to a host of targets including Aaron Tshibola and Ross McCormack only to fail to get the job done. Sergi Canos is the only major name to arrive at Carrow Road so far, a player you might well remember him from scoring an utter stunner while on loan to Brentford from Liverpool against us last year. On the plus side they've kept most of their squad together, with Nathan Redmond's £10m move to Southampton the only noticeable departure.

Who are the men to watch out for?

Canos should only get better while if they keep hold of them, Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady are both very capable performers at this level. A good defence is their best asset as players like Steven Whittaker, Russel Martin and England goalkeeper John Ruddy are all very solid on their day. Don't bet against Cameron Jerome also turning it on at second tier level, the 29-year-old bagged 21 in Norwich's promotion campaign of 2014/15.

So where should we expect them to finish?

Norwich have been the most quiet of the relegated trio but they were competitive in the Premier League for large periods of last season and have kept that squad largely intact. I'd expect as top six tilt as a minimum and if the window closes without too much drama a top two place is certainly possible.


Nottingham Forest

Forest fan Sean Hockett from

How would you sum up last season for Forest?

Well, at times it wasn't pretty, but is was effective. The falling attendances and downright apathy towards Dougie Freedman's "football style" tells its own story. And there was no surprise when our twitchy Chairman pressed the "big red eject button" on his tenure. It was all so predictable, and generally disappointing. Freedman was hamstrung by FFP, cut his cloth to suit and got the team to grind out some good results - away wins at Middlesbrough and Leeds, and a good draw at Burnley among them. I was disappointed when he got the boot and a flirtation with relegation proved - once again - that a managerial change when your team is doing OK is never really the best option.

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

A few ins and no outs at the moment. That "Greek connection" with the club has (no doubt) been behind the signing of former Everton striker Apostolos Vellios. Saw him in the Notts County pre-season friendly - immobile, ponderous, the kind of thing we saw in a Forest striker last season. To add to that, there's Finland's Thomas Lam from PEC Zwolle (probably the Lars Veldwijk connection), Damien Perquis - a 32 year-old centre half released by Toronto FC, Stephen Henderson who made 22 appearances in goal for Charlton last season and the season-long loan signing of Benfica B team player Hildeberto Pereira.

How do fans feel about new boss Philippe Montanier?

Initial reactions have been positive. We've gone for a more Continental setup this time (that Greek connection again?). There's a Director of Football in the shape of Pedro Pereira (formerly of Braga and Fiorentina) and Montanier as Head Coach. While we're expecting good things, I'm also hoping the Notts County friendly wasn't an indication of his football ethos. That performance could be described as "Freedman-esque" and that won't go down well with the fans. We wait to see.

What are the expectation levels heading into the new season?

To avoid relegation would be tremendous. Anything else is just frosting. Realistically, I'm expecting mid-table. If you meet a Forest fan who expects us to make the play-offs, you're going to need to check if he or she have taken their medication.

Name one player we should keep an eye out for

The obvious answer is Britt's back! After over a season out injured, will he come back as the goalscoring machine we all hope he is/was? A not so obvious answer could be our loan signing from Benfica. He's only 20 and looks like he's got a lot of pace. I can't see him ousting Eric Lichaj from the right back berth, so will he be used as a right-sided winger? And will he be very exciting or Ryan Mendes in disguise? Sorry, that's two names.

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

Once again, the obvious answer would be Oliver Burke. He's got pace to burn, the physique of Michail Antonio and broke into the senior Scotland squad last season at the tender age of 18. But he needs to kick on now and show he's not just about beating the man. Personally, I'd like to see Jorge Grant get an extended run in the first team. At 21 he's had nowhere near the number of first team opportunities as Ben Osborn, who's the same age. He had a great game in the FA Cup against Watford last season - looked totally unfazed about playing against Premier League opposition and was comfortable on the ball. Oops, two names again, sorry.

Finally, where do you reckon you'll finish?

I'll go with 9th. There you go, I've managed to give you a short answer.


Preston North End

Steve Cowell, Preston fan

How would I sum up last season?

How would I sum up last season? In a word: quality. We struggled a bit early doors but once the lads discovered they had nothing to fear we kicked on. Finishing 11th was just reward for all the hardwork everybody at the club put in to last season

What's been your main summer business so far?

We've been quietly going about our business during the summer adding experience and quality to the squad. Anders Lindeguard and Chris Maxwell, two good keepers, will keep each other on their toes along with promising young keeper Matt Hudson. Ben Pringle added to the midfield quartet will give us a different option in that area of the field. Big Simon Makienok from Charlton will give us another option up front. Tommy Spurr an experienced defender from Blackburn Rovers will give us strength in that department. We've also made permanent signings of lads who were on loan last season in Calum Robinson and Eion Doyle. Plus we have young Liam Grimshaw and Jermine Beckford coming back from long term injuries they will also feel like two new signings.

How do the fans feel about Simon Grayson?

The first thing he did when he came in was to pull everybody together as one setting an example that many other clubs could do well to fellow. In the final league game against Leeds last season both sets of fans were shouting his name at the same time. Leeds have never been in a higher position than they were when they parted with his company and we were singing his name cause he had taken us to 11th in his first season in the championship.

What do fans expect from this season?

Our expectation levels are the same as last season! our aim to make sure we maintain our championship status once that is achieve we will take it from there.

Name one player who we should keep an eye out for?

Difficult one that, we have loads of lads who have grown in confidence after spending a full season in the championship. Our strength is our team ethic but like I say any one of them at any one time could step out the shadows and give the opposite something to think about so beware.

One younger player who could burst on to the scene?

There are a few young lads aiming to make an impression this season; Ben Davies, Clive Smith, Adam Robinson, but the young Irish lad Alan Brown who as a bit more first team experience than the other lads, could be the one to make an early impression on the championship.

Where will you finish?

If we hit the ground running then anything is possible with this team but making sure we survive is our main aim. But any PNE fan would like a stab at the play offs. Could this be a dream season for us?



Simon Skinner from QPRNet@simonskinner76

How would you sum up last season for QPR?

Last season was billed as one of consolidation with the uninspiring Chris Ramsey at the helm. Then when we couldn't shift our big earners the chairman made promotion the aim. Before the season I thought we'd end up mid table and we were slap bang in the middle come May.

There weren't many tears shed when Ramsey left and although JFH hasn't won everyone over yet, I was happy enough with his appointment and with the steps that have been made back end of last season and this pre season.

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

Business has been impressive. The days of opening the cheque book and outbidding all-comers have gone and rightly so. Jordan Cousins has come in from Charlton and will bring desperately needed athleticism to midfield. Ariel Borysiuk, a Polish international, has also arrived to shore up central midfield. Joel Lynch has come in from Huddersfield and we have managed to scoop up Jake Bidwell from Brentford so the back four has also been improved.

We could still do with a striker and wide man but I think we might have to dip into the loan market to plug those gaps.

We've also managed to shift high earners Matt Phillips and Leroy Fer for good fees. If anyone wants a clapped out Brazilian that's incapable of completing 90 minutes more than three times a season we can flog them Sandro!

How do fans feel about Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink?

I would say feelings are mixed. He didn't make us any easier to watch when he arrived but he certainly made us harder to beat. For me that's the foundation for anything.

As I mentioned earlier I am happy with how things have gone this far. With a solid if unspectacular pre season under his belt he will have been able to further mould the team into the one he wants

What are the expectation levels heading into the new season?

I am looking for an improvement on our 12th place from last season. Anything more than that is stretching it too far for me. Let's keep consolidating, let's get this team playing how the manager really wants and then let's see where we can take it from there.

Name one player we should keep an eye out for

I am excited about Jordan Cousins. He has come in from Charlton and within ten minutes of his friendly debut at Northampton you could see exactly why we signed him. Box to box, pacy, physical. Three things we lacked in midfield last season. I think he will be a huge player for us this year.

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

A young winger called Olamide Shidipo. He's as raw as an onion at the moment but he seems to have taken the managers eye in pre season and looks like he'll be around the squad. He has electrifying pace and a decent delivery. He has much to learn but given the opportunity he could break into the team.

Finally, where do you reckon you'll finish?

I reckon we'll end up around 10th. Maybe a brief flirt with the play offs at some stage, depending on how things pan out, but ultimately mid table with a slight improvement on last season.


Thanks once more to today's guest writers and we'll round up our Championship odyssey tomorrow.