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Town End 2022/23 Preview: Blackpool, Bristol City, Cardiff City

Will it be another bottom-half finish for these clubs in 2022/23?

Cardiff City v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Cardiff City FC/Getty Images

You can find Up The Mighty Pool on Twitter @utmp_ and their website here.

How would you sum up last season?

Last season was about what we expected, despite being written off as relegation favourites by most neutrals and the media. We were well-drilled out of possession and only outclassed in a handful of games. It was a shame to end on a bad run after looking like we might make the top half. Got to be happy for a first season back at this level.

What are your general expectations for this season?

Losing our manager came as a complete shock and has made the fanbase realign expectations. Given the big investments coming off the field, we would be happy just to stay at this level for the next couple of years having potentially dreamt of higher under Neil Critchley.

Neil Critchley leaving to join Aston Villa as assistant coach came as a surprise. What was the general reaction from Blackpool fans?

The loss of Critchley was a huge surprise - we all thought very highly of him and expected him to eventually leave us for a Premier League job - very few would’ve expected him to go as a number two. It was underwhelming and frustrating, something which was amplified by his silence since, and he’s never said goodbye or thank you to the fans who he said were “the best in the country” when signing his five-year contract just six months ago, so it’s safe to say he’s not got many friends left on the Fylde coast.

Are fans pleased with the appointment of Michael Appleton as his replacement?

Initially, Appleton was an underwhelming appointment to say the least. His playing career with PNE, as well as the fact he walked out on us after six weeks 10 years ago, were front of people’s minds. He’s managed to win people round by speaking well in the media and his intentions for us to be on the front foot more in games, as well as continuing the coaching and development of our squad which is something Critchley was hot on. To be successful, he must attract the best young talent on loan and play an attractive style, so we’ll know quite soon how well it’s going to go.

Who’s your player to look out for?

Sonny Carey is the one to watch. Signed from King’s Lynn last summer but had a bad injury last season just as he was becoming a regular starter. Critchley liked to play two defensive midfielders in a 4-4-2 so he will benefit from Appleton’s new formation in an advanced midfield position. He’s destined for the very top if he can find a run of games and keep his fitness.

A younger name that could break through?

Young player to break through would definitely be Carey. If I were to look outside of the obvious, then perhaps Rob Apter might start to have an impact on the squad having played a lot of minutes in preseason and not looked out of place. He can use both feet and play on either side on the wing, as well as filling in at full-back. Potentially one to watch and did well at Chester last season - maybe he can get a loan higher up the pyramid in January.

Where will you finish?

We’ll finish above the relegation places. 18th would be my guess but you never know with a new manager - it could go horrifically and we get sucked into the relegation battle, or we could also do a little better and flirt with the top half again!

You can find The Exiled Robin on Twitter @TheExiledRobin.

How would you sum up last season?

It was a strange one as we entered it with very little expectation and wondering how Nigel Pearson would approach things. Summer transfers had an old-boy feel about it as former Foxes Matty James, Andy King and Danny Simpson were brought in to plug gaps to limited levels of success, other than James.

For the first half of the season we were a bit slow and ponderous, lacked a real zest or any obvious style of play, but around Christmas, Antoine Semenyo came back from injury and almost single-handedly helped to change our style of play. We started to play in a more positive manner, counter-attacking at pace and he, alongside the prolific Andi Weimann and Chris Martin, started threatening teams across the front line.

Ultimately, we were rarely out of the spots between about 16th-19th for much of the season and finished there, comfortably clear of trouble and showing signs of promise with a number of young players making an impact.

What are your general expectations for this season?

Mostly tempered, but with much more positivity than this time last season. We should be progressing to be challenging for a top-half finish, and the signings of Klose, Kane Wilson and Kal Naismith in particular have bolstered the ranks significantly. Slotting them in alongside the team that played last season - we’ve lost no-one of significance as yet! - and there are all the signs we should move forward.

Andreas Weimann had the season of his life last year, scoring 22 goals. Did that come as a surprise and how vital is he to this Bristol City team?

Uh, yes absolutely, to everyone I think, including him and the boss! He’d come off a bad ACL injury and had barely played the previous season, so to appear in every match and play almost every minute, scoring with a regularity that has never been his persona, was a welcome surprise!

But you have to give a lot of credit to Pearson, who played him centrally or in a fairly free role for much of the season, and paired him alongside two other forwards in Martin and Semenyo, and they worked tremendously well as a team, all contributing goals and assists for each other on a game by game basis.

What are fans’ general opinions of Nigel Pearson as he begins his second full season in charge?

It’s a big season for him. Arguably the first one you can truly judge him on given he’d only had a few months this time last year and clearly needed reinforcements to play the style and formation he wanted to. But now he has to deliver, and as I said I don’t think that’s a real stretch, but we need to be challenging top half rather than looking over our shoulder.

He’s clearly worked wonders with some (the forwards in particular) and has introduced a whole string of young players to the team, adding energy to our play, but we conceded a crazy number of goals last year, especially from set-pieces and in the last minutes of games, so that’s got to be improved upon and that’s his job. Now it’s about building on that and securing more in terms of results too.

Who’s your player to look out for?

Semenyo and Alex Scott are the young players being touted for higher moves. Semenyo has already had interest from Chelsea and Forest, whilst some of the big London clubs are looking at Scott, especially after some starring performances for the European Championship-winning England under-19s this summer. He’s going far and we just hope we get a full season of him playing for us this season.

A younger name that could break through?

If he doesn’t go out on loan, I really like the look of Tommy Conway, a young forward with plenty of key attributes, plus he appears to know where the goal is. Could be a good opportunity to make his name with extra subs allowed this season.

Where will you finish?

As suggested above, we should be pushing top half in my view and I’m going to plump for 12th, on the proviso we hold on to both Semenyo and Scott. If Semenyo especially were to leave, I think it would be nearer 14th-15th.

You can find Dan Lewis on Twitter @Daniel_Lewis92.

How’s Steve Morison getting on so far?

Last season was an underwhelming one for Cardiff, with the lows – losing home and away to Swansea City for the first time ever in a league season being the nadir – outweighing the odd high point. Morison had a difficult task on his hands when taking over from Mick McCarthy and, like all managers, he deserves time to put his spin on things. He’s got his work cut out to win over the entire fanbase, but a positive start to the new campaign will go a long way to achieving that.

Cardiff have been the busiest team in the division for new signings this summer - was a squad overhaul required?

Absolutely. A number of first-team regulars moved on at the end of last season, with 12 new players – and counting! – coming in. That is no bad thing given how stale things have become over the past few seasons, though of course it remains to be seen just how quickly the newbies will adapt.

How would you sum up last season?

In a word: boring. After a bright start (which I’d admittedly forgotten all about come the end of the season!) a run of eight losses in a row, and no wins in 10, brought an end to McCarthy’s tenure. Between matchday 10 and the conclusion of the season on matchday 46, we were never higher than 18th and never lower than 20th. If nothing else, at least a bit of relegation jeopardy made for a nice change!

What are your general expectations for this season?

As ever when a new squad is put together, it’s pretty much impossible to predict. I’m more excited than I was this point 12 months ago, with some promising-looking players being brought in and Morison being given a full pre-season to work with the squad. I’d like to think we can challenge for the play-offs, but realistically we’re likely to hover in mid-table.

Who’s your player to look out for?

Gareth Ba... ah wait, was that all just a dream? There are plenty of unknowns in the squad and some with points to prove. Rubin Colwill doesn’t really fit into either of those categories, but I think this is the season that he will truly make his mark. Already capped six times by Wales, the 20-year-old is an incredibly exciting talent and is now ready for regular starts.

A younger name that could break through?

Given Colwill has already made the breakthrough, I’ll go with Jack Leahy. Previously part of Brighton and Hove Albion’s youth set-up, he has showed good promise in pre-season and may get a chance to shine in the first team once the serious business gets going.

Where will you finish?

12th - you cannot get any more mid-table than that.