Birmingham City by Shane Ireland
- Birmingham were the first ever English club side to compete in a European competition when they played in the inaugural Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1956. The Blues reached the semi-final and were knocked out by Barcelona who won a 2-1 replay after the teams had drawn 4-4 on aggregate. They also became the first side to reach a European final courtesy of the same tournament, losing out to Barcelona in the 1960 Fairs Cup Final before finishing runners-up the year after too when Roma beat the 4-2.
- The Blues sold English football’s first ever £1 million player when club legend Trevor Francis moved to Nottingham Forest in 1979. Francis made his St Andrew’s debut aged just 16 years and 139 days in a Second Division match nine years earlier and remains the club’s youngest ever first-team player. Interestingly, Brian Clough actually shelled out £1,150,000 when taking the player to the City Ground, as the Football League received 15% commission.
- Lee Clark set an unwanted club-record of 18 consecutive league home matches without a win last season. Birmingham triumphed in just two Championship games at St Andrew’s during the 2013/14 campaign, ironically both matches ended in convincing wins (4-1 against Sheffield Wednesday on 21st August and 4-0 against Millwall on 1st October). The Blues will look to end this run when they play Brighton in a couple of weeks.
- Last season’s 21st place finish was Birmingham’s lowest in exactly 20 years, when the Midlands club ended up in 22nd place in the First Division (Championship) in 1994. Had Paul Caddis not scored in injury time on the final day at Bolton in May, Lee Clark would be preparing for a season in League One. The club also saw their lowest average attendance since 1994 which stood at 15,457 last year.
- Jordan Rhodes has scored an incredible 51 Championship goals from his 89 league games for Blackburn. The best strike rate of any player in the division at better than a goal every other game.
- Gary Bowyer is set to take charge of his second full season in charge of Rovers. The last man to take charge of a second season at Ewood Park was Steve Kean, although he resigned in September of the 2012/13 season. Bowyer will be hoping for a successful second season and take Blackburn back to the Premier League.
- At present Blackburn are yet to spend a single penny in the transfer market. So far four players have joined on loan and Chris Brown joins from Doncaster on a free transfer.
- Blackburn’s Indian owners Venkys have been heavily criticised by the fans of the club for their poor management, although it now seems they are leaving Gary Bowyer to manage the team and this could be a successful formula for the coming season.
- Blackburn remain the only side to have won the Premier League and also been relegated from it. Memories of the 1994/95 season are a distant thing of the past for most fans with current hopes being just a return to the top flight.
Blackpool by Josh Cason
- Blackpool have had the worst possible pre-season out of all the Football League teams. The Seasiders have only had two pre season friendlies meaning that the team lacks match fitness. It has been well reported that the Tangerines do not have a full squad, they have had to field several of trialists as owner Karl Oyston does not want to spend money on the football team.
- One of the few signings Blackpool have made is World Cup star, Jose Miguel Cubero. He was a regular starter in the Costa Rican team that had a magnificent World Cup. Blackpool fans are expecting big things from the midfielder. Cubero is already a fans favourite with his social media comments about the club and Blackpool fans think he could be the light at the end of the tunnel.
- New manager Jose Riga is the club’s first ever foreign manager. Riga has won over the fans, as he is challenging chairman Karl Oyston over transfers. Blackpool are now in the ‘Riga Revolution’ and fans hope the Belgian can make the team play attractive football as they did when Ian Holloway was manager. As of yet Riga has not spoken to the press about the situation at Blackpool.
- After the past two terrible seasons for the Seasiders, the number of season tickets that have been sold has gone down. Last season the club managed to sell 11,000, but this season that number has gone down to 8,000. Most have not renewed in protest at Oyston and some fans are only going to away games as they are not willing to see their money go to Oyston’s back pocket.
Bolton Wanderers by Blake Berry
- Bolton Wanderers start the 14/15 Championship season with 9 players from their last Premier League squad with 3 of them being the trio of Lee Chung Yong, Mark Davies and David Wheater.
- Going into the upcoming season Dougie Freedman has a win percentage of 35.23% from 88 games as manager of Bolton Wanderers, a statistic he would like to improve on if the club aim to achieve promotion.
- Of Bolton Wanderers top goalscorers in the league last campaign: Jermaine Beckford, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Andre Moritz, all of whom had 7 league goals each, Jermaine Beckford is the only one remaining at the club with Lukas Jutkiewicz joining Premier League side Burnley and Andre Moritz released by the club as of 1st July 2014.
- In the last 2 Championship campaigns Bolton Wanderers have struggled in the 1st halves of both seasons only managing 15 wins out of 48 games while slightly improving in the 2nd halves of the seasons with 16 wins out of 44 games. This is definitely Dougie Freedman and his team will look to improve upon in their third Championship campaign if they wish to return to the Premier League.
- New signing Callum Wilson cost the Cherries a rumoured £3million which smashes there previous transfer record. He will have the task of filling the boots of Lewis Grabban who scored 22 goals last season, which earned him a move to Norwich.
- From his 89 games in charge in his second spell as Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has a win percentage of 50.56%. The highest of any manager who has been in their current post for more than one season.
- Last season was Bournemouth’s highest ever finish and only their 3rd ever in the second tier. Can they improve on 10th place this season?
- Bournemouth have sold a record number of season tickets for the coming season. Over 6,500 fans have purchased a seat for the 2014/15 season, amazingly this figure alone is higher than what the Cherries averaged 2 years ago in League 1.
Brentford by Benjamin Cook
- Next season will be Brentford’s first ever in the Championship and their first in the second tier since 1992. They have sold in excess of 5000 season tickets which is a new club record.
- Last season’s top scorer, Clayton Donaldson, has left for Birmingham. However, the Bees have brought in Moses Odubajo from Leyton Orient for a fee of £1million. This is a new club record which beat the £750,000 they played for Hermann Hreiöarsson. They have also brought in last season’s Conference top scorer Andre Gray from Luton for £600,000 and if he can step up to Championship level, he will be a great signing.
- Mark Warburton took over the reins at Brentford on December 10th and was the first Brentford manager to win his first 4 games. He ended up going 12 games unbeaten before losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 22nd. He currently has a 63% win record as the Brentford manager.
- Brentford won the most home games in the Football League last season, taking 3 points from 19 of their 23 games at Griffin Park.
Brighton & Hove Albion by Shan Gambling
- Brighton have a new training ground that opened in June costing £30 million. The facility is state of the art and features 14 outdoor football pitches. It has a distinctive “Y” shaped two storey building which contains an indoor pitch, changing rooms, swimming pool, gym, medicine facilities, physio rooms and offices for clubs analysts. The sort of facility fit for a side in the Premier League.
- Leonardo Ulloa’s transfer to Leicester for £8 million rising to £10 million with add ons is the most Brighton have ever received for a player. Brighton have signed Chris O’Grady as a new attacking option and with Craig Mackail-Smith returning to fitness like a second new signing.
- The Brighton youth academy is now level 1 which is the highest level in country alongside the likes of Arsenal and Southampton.Brighton are developing into a side that will have a long term future of home-grown talent and on the field success.
- Since the opening of AMEX stadium in 2011 the Seagulls have seen a rise in record breaking attendances from 20,000 in 2011 to 27,000 at the end of last season. They have boasted the highest home attendances in Championship for there last 3 years since they return to second tier.
- Cardiff have fond memories of the Championship with their last campaign in the second tier resulting in the league title and promotion to the Premier League. They return after just one season in the top tier.
- Plans are in place for an immediate return, however, with some big signings made throughout the summer. Strikers Adam Le Fondre and Federico Macheda join from Reading and Manchester United respectively and have plenty of experience at this level.
- There have been some big exits for the Bluebirds; Frazier Campbell, Steven Caulker and Jordan Mutch have moved to Premier League sides and rumours grow over David Marshall and Gary Medal.
- The Cardiff City Stadium has seen developments over the summer with the Ninian Stand having a second tier added taking the total attendance to around 33,000. You can not miss the expansion with bright red seats in place in line with Vincent Tan’s mission to literally paint the town red.
- The door has been fixed open at the Valley this summer as their is a complete overhaul of the squad. With 12 players coming in and 16 going out it is hard to predict how the Addicks will do this saeson.
- The unknown Bob Peeters will be in the dug-out for Charlton this season after Jose Riga departed after securing Championship status for the club last season. Peeters who had a two-year spell as a player at Millwall has only previously manager in his home country, Belgium.
- One man who remains at the club is captain Johnnie Jackson. The talisman penned an new deal towards the end of last season and will need to lead the troops from the front if Charlton are going to gel into a well organised and effective unit.
- In their four Championship seasons Charlton have alternated between a top half and bottom half finish. With the Addicks finishing 18th last season maybe things look good for Charlton this season.
Derby County by Matt Jones
- Derby County aim to bounce back from their play-off disappointment this season with a lot of pressure sure to be on 25 goal striker Chris Martin. Although Craig Bryson chipped in with a huge amount of goals from midfield, if Martin was to become unavailable it would leave the Rams lacking a lot of fire-power. The free transfer from Norwich will need to continue his imperious form to help Derby go one better than last season.
- Last season’s 3rd place finish was the highest the Rams have managed since their relegation to the Championship in 2008. Nigel Clough managed to steady the ship after relegation and Steve McLaren took on the mantle and transformed Derby into a promotion chasing team again. McLaren has a win percentage of 60% over his time at Pride Park. Something along those lines next season will see Derby become a Premier League team once again.
- Derby have to date sold in excess of 20,000 season tickets for the forthcoming campaign. This again is the highest number since their ill-fated Premier League season of 2007/08 when the club sold out the maximum available 23,500 season tickets. This number is rising all the time as the fans sense something special brewing under the stewardship of McLaren alongside Sam Rush and John Vicars.
- The signing of George Thorne in the transfer window goes to show the level of ambition shown by Derby in recent times. He joins Derby on a 4-year deal for a fee believed to be around the £3m mark. This makes him Derby’s joint second most expensive signing in their history, behind only Lee Morris and Robert Earnshaw. Derby fans will certainly be hoping his Derby career is more successful than the aforementioned duo. Unfortunately Throne ruptured his ACL in his first pre-season friendly for the Rams and is set to miss most if not all of the 2014/15 season.
- This season will be Fulham’s first back in the second tier for 13 years after their run in the Premier League was ended in a turbulent campaign that saw three managers at the Cottage after a change of ownership last summer.
- Felix Magath suffered his first relegation as a manager last season as he took over the sinking ship in February. As a manager in Germany he has been in charge of all the top sides and won three Bundesliga titles (2 with Bayern Munich and 1 with Wolfsburg).
- The £11m transfer fee for Ross McCormack was a world record fee for a side outside the top division of a country. It is obviously excessive, but if McCormack’s goals can fire Fulham back to the Premier League and the riches that come with it the fee will be well worth it.
- With adult season tickets from £199 and children from £99 the relegated London club offer one of the best value for money deals in the division.
Huddersfield Town by Seb Avery
- When Huddersfield Town signed Nahki Wells from Bradford City for a rumoured club record £3m in January, he became only the third player of Bermudan nationality to play in the second tier of English football. Wells, who started off in English football at Carlisle United, follows in the footsteps of Shaun Goater who made 43 appearances for Reading (03-05) and six for Coventry (loan 04/05). Reggie Lambe was the other Bermudan, spending two years with Ipswich Town (09-11) and making 2 appearances. After a short spell with Bristol Rovers and Toronto FC in the MLS, Lambe now plays in the third tier of Swedish football for First Division side Nyköpings BIS.
- Current Huddersfield manager Mark Robins had previous managerial jobs at Barnsley and Coventry. However he may be more well known to some for his playing career, in which he scored the infamous ‘goal that saved Fergie’s job’ in the 1989/90 season. Man United were on a poor run of form and suffering the prospect of a relegation battle in the old First Division (what is now the Premier League), with fans calling for Sir Alex to be sacked. However Robins scored a header to seal a 1-0 away win in the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest, which ultimately meant Ferguson kept his job. They went on to win the FA Cup that season, the first of Ferguson’s 33 trophies with United. Red Devils fans should thanks the Huddersfield manager, because without his goal, the last 25 years at Old Trafford could have been very, very different.
- Huddersfield Town number 1 Alex Smithies was the only ever present for Huddersfield Town in the 2013/14 season. He appeared in all 46 league games, plus both FA Cup matches and all 3 in the League Cup, making 9 clean sheets in the process. He will face stiff competition this season however with the arrival of experienced Republic of Ireland stopper Joe Murphy from Coventry.
- If recent success is anything to go by, Huddersfield Town could have an influx of youngsters stealing a march on the first team after their U18 side won 2 trophies last season. The 2013/14 season saw their Under 18 side crowned League 2 North champions, before beating Crewe Alexandra 6-5 on penalties in the Professional Development League 2 North Play-Off Final on Saturday.
- Ipswich have lost their star man from last season in Aaron Cresswell who has joined West Ham. They have been busy with comings in though signing five players and bringing in a further three on loan.
- Manager Mick McCarthy has claimed the Championship title twice in his managerial career. Once with Sunderland and once with Wolves. Although Ipswich are not among the favourites for the division under McCarthy they are well in the mix for the play-offs.
- David McGoldrick is set to be in the squad for the opening game of the season. The striker twinned well with Daryl Murphy as the pair scored 18 goals in 22 games before McGoldrick tore the medial ligament in his knee in February and was out for the remainder of the season.
- This season is Ipswich’s 13th successive season in the second tier. The are part of the furniture and have not made the play-offs since the 2004/05 season where they finished 3rd just 2 points away from automatic promotion. Ten years on can the Tractor Boys finally return to the Premier League?
Leeds United by Edward Wade
- Massimo Cellino has already taken a hands on approach, ordering all of the players to live in the city and that before home games the team must eat together, stay together and travel to Elland Road together. Cellino also bizarrely caused controversy by allegedly having goalkeeper Paddy Kenny dropped because of his birthday. Although some fans may appreciate their chairman having such a strong interest in the team, others are worried that demands like this may cause clashes down the line with current manager Dave Hockday.
- There is no doubt that the sale of Ross McCormack will benefit the Whites in the long term. £11 million pounds for a striker who has never played in the Premier League seems like a sound piece of business. United will obviously miss the Championship’s top scorer last season having netted 28 goals. With the money available from McCormack’s sale and the youngsters coming through the ranks, Leeds will be able to build on their mid-table finish last season. Hockday has already made bringing in some defensive reinforcements a priority, with only two senior central defenders in the squad. 19 year old Chris Dawson scoring is a promising youth player; he netted a hat-trick against Glenavon.
- With the new Championship season kicking off next weekend, United must realistically assess their aims for the season. For most fans this season is going to be one of transition with problems behind the scenes being sorted out. When a new regime starts, with a new chairmen, manager, backroom staff it is imperative to get off to a good start. With this in mind Leeds could have a strong season and possibly finish in the top 10. There is no real fear of relegation
- Jason Pearce is set to become club captain for the upcoming season. With Ross McCormack leaving for Fulham, Pearce is set to take on the role six months after being narrowly overlooked by former manager Brian McDermott. Pearce who moved from Portsmouth in 2012 is one of the only two remaining senior central defenders at the club. Hockday praised the defender for leading by example before the match against Dundee.
Middlesbrough by James Cumiskey
- In 1986 the club was doomed to liquidation but was saved with 10 minutes to spare by local business man and current chairman Steve Gibson.
- In 2004 the club earned it’s first piece of major silverware by beating Bolton 2-1 in the Carling Cup final. Just 128 years after the club was founded. They will have to cause a few shocks if they are going to claim a second trophy this season.
- Boro’s record signing is Afonso Alves, costing the club £12.7 million from Dutch side Heerenveen. He failed to live up to the price tag in a more physical league, scoring just 10 goals in 42 appearances. Since their spell in the Premier League Middlesbrough have had to cut the costs with an emphasis on using the club’s youth system.
- Current manager, Aitor Karanka, is the first non-British manager to take the reigns at Boro in the club’s 138 year history. The likeable Spaniard was Jose Mourinho’s right hand man during his three year tenure at Real Madrid. Boro fans will hope that Karanka will lead them to promotion in his first full season at the helm at the Riverside.
Millwall by Jay Robertson
- Unlike many sides in the Championship, the Lions have looked further afield for new signings. It is fair to say that Millwall have taken a gamble in the transfer window in signing Lee Gregory from non-league Halifax Town for £250,000.
- Last season, Steve Lomas took charge of the Lions, but his tenure at The Den didn’t last long. After losing 18 out of his 24 games in the managerial position, he was sacked on Boxing Day.The former West Ham player had a tough job getting the fans on side and it was not meant to be for the Irishman at the Den.
- Millwall looked certain to go down up until April last season, but, Ian Holloway managed to pull the team together and graft out an 8 game unbeaten run to secure safety for the South London club. Can they hope for a better season this time around?
- Holloway has implemented his well known style of play on the Millwall players and they’ve taken it in their stride. After having an impressive pre-season, the Lions could be the surprise package of the Championship and will be certain to cause a few upsets over the next nine months.
Norwich City by Jack Edwards
- Norwich City head into the new season having been relegated from the Premier League. City struggled last season under Chris Hughton as they only managed to muster up a 21.1% win ratio in their 38 games.
- One of reasons that saw Norwich struggle last season was their shyness in from of goal as they only managed to net 28 times with Gary Hooper and Robert Snodgrass sharing the top scorer title as they each bagged 6 goals.
- Robert Snodgrass has left the club bringing in record transfer fee – a reported £8 million – which beats the previous £7.25 million received for Dean Ashton in 2006.
- In the hope that they become more potent in front of goal as their summer recruitment campaign has stretched no further than the front line as they bring in two new strikers – Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban for a reported joint fee of £6 million.
Nottingham Forest by Lewis Thorpe
- Nottingham Forest fans got their dream after the appointment of club legend Stuart Pearce this summer. He will be hoping to get his managerial career back on track after disappointments at Manchester City and the England U21s. What better place to do it than Forest, the club which he spent the majority of his career at, but will it work out?
- An influx of new signings at the City Ground has given Reds’ fans new hope for the upcoming season, but last season’s disastrous finale will be fresh in the minds of fans and players alike. With 9 signings at the time of writing there is plenty of new faces in the squad and they will be looking to dispose of those memories and kick on this year.
- Goalkeeper Karl Darlow and defender Jamal Lascelles are set to join Newcastle for a fee around the £7m mark. Speculation continues to grow around Henri Lansbury although Forest do have Darlow and Lascelles on loan from Newcastle for this season.
- Owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi has had many critics over his first two years in Nottingham but his spending power cannot be questioned. Stuart Pearce has been allowed to sign who he wants this summer so will have no excuses on that front, but the reported sales of Darlow and Lascelles has angered the Forest boss..
Reading by Kieran Ruffle
- This summer has seen a Thai consortium taking over at the Madjeski and with a desire to invest money into the club, hopefully fans will see Reading being very active in the upcoming transfer windows.
- At present the Royals have a very little squad it’s a chance for the youth players to step up and take there chance in the first team, how well can they do? Only time will tell.
- Reading have completed all of their pre-season games and can take confidence as they are going into the 2014/15 season in good form recording 2 wins 2 draws and 1 lose respectively.
- The new season sees Reading begin their second season back in the Championship and under new captaincy with central midfielder Jem Karacan being selected by Nigel Adkins to takeover following the departure of Jobi Mcanuff. Will Karacan be able to lead Reading back to the Premier League?
- Rotherham are set to play their first season in the second tier since 2005. That season inevitably ended in relegation with the Millers finishing bottom with just 29 points from their 46 games.
- Last season’s play-off success led to back-to-back promotions for the club with an automatic promotion from League 2. Could Rotherham achieve an incredible third promotion in a row to secure a place in the Premier League?
- Manager Steve Evans has a very impressive record and his eccentric style often divides opinions. You can not deny that he gets results, however, with a win rate of 50.44% for Rotherham and just below that at 48.1% in his 5 year spell at Crawley.
- Just 1 of the last 19 sides to gain promotion via the League 1 play-offs was relegated the following season. That was Yeovil from last season and this stat reads well for Rotherham in their plans to cement themselves as a Championship regular.
Sheffield Wednesday by Connor Thorpe
- Not only did results drastically improve when Stuart Gray took up the Hillsborough hotseat, Wednesday also became a much more aesthetically pleasing team. Gray implemented a more attacking style not long after he was appointed as the Owls’ head coach, which has gone down well with a crowd.
- At the time of writing Gray’s plans for the season are in limbo due to the ongoing takeover situation, in the upcoming weeks Wednesday might have a decent amount of money to throw around, if Hafiz Mammadov’s proposed takeover of the club is ratified by the Football League. Deals are in the pipeline with the rubber stamp from the Football League being the only factor holding them back.
- At present Wednesday do not have enough depth in their squad to cope with the rigours of Championship football. With only three centre-backs and two fit strikers on their books it is pivotal that the Yorkshiremen don’t pick up any more injuries, although they’ve already been cursed with plenty of them this summer. A win against Notts County in the Capital Cup will lead to 7 games in 21 days, testing the squad to its limits.
- The Steel City outfit do have a number of players that have improved with more exposure to Championship football. Striker Adthe Nuhiu showed that he is adapting to English football towards the end of last season after a tricky start to his first year in this country, and he proved that he can be a real handful for defenders in the second tier. Jacques Maghoma will hope to really kick on this year after getting a season of Championship. He showed glimpses of the quality that prompted Dave Jones to sign him last year. Striker Coalan Lavery is also a player that has shown flashes of brilliance and will hopefully develop into a consistent goalscorer for Wednesday.
- Watford have been busy again in the transfer market with 11 players coming in to Vicarage Road and 13 going the other way. The loan signing of Matej Vidra on loan from Udinese. Vydra returns after previously spending the 2012/13 season with Watford scoring an impressive 20 goals from 41 league games.
- Last season Watford’s hopes of a top six finish were ended by a 10 games winless run in the winter and ending the season with 4 straight defeats.
- The current Watford squad has just 5 Italian players, proving many cynics of their link with Udinese wrong. The squad also includes 9 English players.
- Since he took over in December, Giuseppe Sannino has looked to change the style of the Watford side with a focus on a solid defence in contrast to previous regimes where the focus was on all-out attack. Under Sannino last season Watford had 9 clean sheets.
- With Europa League commitments, an FA Cup run to the semi-final stage and the Community Shield last season Wigan played no fewer than 62 games. This is 14 more than the minimum number played with 46 league games and the two cup competitions.
- Uwe Rosler has the impressive record of a top six finish in his two season’s as a manager in England. Both were unsuccessful play-off campaigns with his Brentford side losing in the 2013 League 1 final against Yeovil and his Wigan side losing to QPR in the semi-finals of last year’s Championship play-offs.
- Wigan scored just 61 goals from their 46 games last season and the club’s top scorers were Jordi Gomez and loanee Nick Powell who both scored just 7 league goals.
- Wigan have an incredible record in the FA Cup in recent years. The Latics have not lost an FA Cup game in 90 minutes since January 2012.
Wolverhampton Wanderers by David Johnson
- In the last three seasons Wolves have had two relegations and one promotion. Fans would probably settle for a comfy top half finish this season but if is only to be one year in the Championship they will be praying it’s going to be an exit through the top door not the trap door.
- Wolves have a number of high paid players they are hoping to offload before the end of the current transfer window. Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward, Roger Johnson, Jamie O’Hara, Razak Boukari, Tongo Doumbia, Georg Magreitter, Bjorn Sigurdarson and Anthony Forde have not been given squad numbers for 2014/15.
- Wolves have only bought in two transfer signings so far this summer, both on free transfers. Former Peterborough man Tommy Rowe and Dutch winger Rajiv Van La Parra join the squad that dominated League 1 last season. They are hoping for 2 or 3 more new faces by the end of August with a striker and a centre back the priorities. Crewe forward Max Clayton is currently training at the club on a trial.
- The men from Molineux have a testing start to the new season as three of the first four games are against teams two divisions above them last season. Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff are all early opponents along with fellow promoted team, Rotherham.