A new Championship season – part I
Being a bit of a nervous nellie I’ve spent probably all of my Charlton-supporting life looking over my shoulder, in a league table sense, so I thought it would be apt to start my review of the new season with the teams that I hope will spend most of their season’s looking at our backs.
The Championship is stuffed full of the ‘used to haves’ and ‘want to haves’ so I welcome Doncaster and Yeovil to the league, two clubs that will be considered as fighting above their weight. The Glovers and Donny’s sole ambition will be to stay in The Championship this season.
Addicks that got soaked in the west country a few years back will know what a tricky place Yeovil is to get a result from. For boss Gary Johnson the Glovers home form will be key. Paddy Madden hit 25 goals last season and this is his first opportunity at a higher level. He will be joined by Sam Hoskins and 20-year old Liverpool prospect Michael Ngoo…. there’s a chant there somewhere. Yeovil begin the season at The Den.
Doncaster start the campaign with a new manager after Brian Flynn moved back upstairs. The diddy Welshman did a terrific job guiding Rovers back into The Championship after Dean Saunders moved to Wolves, a move that Saunders may be regretting.
Donny spent just one season in League One and did what very few team are able to, and returned at the first time of asking and won the title to boot after that crazy last game of the season at Brentford.
Paul Dickov took over as manager after leaving Oldham during last season, and it could be a tough introduction for the Scot who like another manager I know has had trouble bringing new players in during the summer. Nonetheless the signing of Marc de Val from Real Madrid may be worth keeping an eye on.
Barnsley stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season, thanks mostly to the work of David Flitcroft. The Tykes were also fortunate the season before only surviving because of Portsmouth’s 10-point deduction. Barnsley have on the face of it added quite well to their squad in the summer. It’ll be interesting to see how Dale Jennings gets on after his spell with Bayern Munich. Chris O’Grady made his move permanent from Sheff Wed and Man U academy graduate John Colfie also signed.
Barnsley supporters maybe a little over-confident after the run they had in the second half of the season but if Flitcroft can carry on the good work there may be less stressful days ahead for the Tykes. They start the season at home to Wigan.
Huddersfield were another last-day survivor and Mark Robins might have his work cut out to push Town into a more elevated league position. Adam Hammill whose career has been bumpy to say the least since leaving Liverpool joined from Wolves and Jon Stead was signed from fellow droppers Bristol City. I’ve always like Martin Paterson and he signed also, from Burnley.
I definitely think that the Terriers are in the anything but relegation group, but they are not alone, and they have a challenging looking opening set of fixtures.
When I started thinking about this post I had Blackpool pinned as a team with less cash than us, but in the last couple of days they have signed Michael Chopra, who I am sure was impressed with Blackpool’s array of casinos and more impressively Bristol City’s Steven Davies. The Tangerines have lost a host of players though including Alex Baptiste, Stephen Crainey and Kevin Phillips.
I’ve never been convinced by Paul Ince though, althoug he has maanged to ground his son and one of the best player’s in the league until at least the January transfer window. Fortunately Blackpool are not renowned for sacking managers otherwise I’d have Ince on my early sack list.
The underated Sean Dyche did a fine job steadying the Burnley ship after Eddie Howe did a moonlight flit back to the south coast and this summer he has taken to his squad with a scapel. 9 players left including ‘keeper Lee Grant and the long serving Chris McCann.
However the numerous incomings don’t knock me over, Tom Heaton being the most recognisable signed to replace Grant in goal. I think Burnley may struggle this season four years after they were relegated from the Premier League and who are in their last season of parachute payments. Oh what Charlton could do with £8m.
Millwall who, probably because we are closer to it, have surprised us all by splashing the cash this summer. Owner John Berylson no doubt does not want another last day flirtation with relegation and let’s face it, they were lucky to survive and did nothing to help themselves.
A new manager, one with a lot to prove, and plenty of new blood including good Championship level strikers Steve Morison and Scott McDonald are a lot better than those that have moved on. Old ginger nut Nicky Bailey is there too, hopefully taking the penalties.
Lomas will be in need of a good start though, the locals as we know don’t take long to get restless. The Lions have also added some serious wageroll to the finances. Yes, they did have a good cup run but Tamika Mkandawire was earning nowhere near what McDonald is.
To be fair, we’re a little jealous aren’t we, and if Millwall can treat the lesser games in the same way as they treat games against the likes of Cardiff, Leeds and oh little Charlton, then they may well prove to be a handful but Lomas will need a good start.
Our opening opponents Bournemouth are a lot of people’s tip of dark horses. Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall performed a minor miracle after taking back the Cherries reigns in October and proceeding to go on a couple of long unbeaten runs to eventually win promotion.
The Championship is a different mustard though and despite a rich benefactor they will be relying mostly on the players that got them promoted including Simon Francis and Harry Arter. There is a buzz around the Cherries with Howe, who in the same vein as Chris Powell, is the heartbeat of the club. New signing Mohamed Coulibaly has looked good in pre-season though and they also have dead ball specialist Ian Harte, the 35-year old signing from Reading.
Finally in this section I’m going to add Middlesbrough. Money is tight on Teeside and wageroll has been shed by Tony Mowbray as he looks to plug some gaps. They ended the 2nd half of last season in relegation form and I think that hangover may continue into this.
Stoke’s Dean Whitehead should provide a calming hand and Mustapha Carayol will only get better, but with attendances dropping and a lot of negativity around The Riverside I can see Boro being one of the ‘big boys” playing the survival game in 2013/14.