Fixture Release Day has come and gone, with clubs finding out their 2018/19 schedule on Thursday 21 June. Managers and players have been reacting to the fixture lists, and we've taken a look at what they had to say.
Queens Park Rangers
Steve McClaren is ready and raring to go in the Championship after taking the reins at Queens Park Rangers back in May, his first managerial role since departing Derby County last year.
Speaking to the QPR media team on Twitter, McClaren voiced the importance of the first match of the season: “Everything’s about Preston, it’s about the first game. Getting back into pre-season — I can’t wait for Monday when the players come back, just to see their mentality.”
Rotherham look to make an impression as they return to the Championship after a year out in League One, and Paul Warne’s side have an interesting start to the season with a lot of close clashes to look forward to. After taking on Brentford and Ipswich Town in their first two, there will be two all-Yorkshire affairs against Leeds United and Hull City.
Speaking to Sky Bet live on Fixture Release Day, Warne is hopeful for a good start in the opening games: “It is a kind set of fixtures in the Championship, it’s brilliant for us. We’ve got a lot of local games to look forward to, to get our teeth stuck into.”
The Millers manager also spoke fondly about the second game of the season against the Tractor Boys, where he’ll come up against Paul Hurst once again — his former team-mate and the man he got the better of in May’s Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final:
“To play Hursty in the first home game of the season is probably written in the stars. When we played him at home last time, I tried to not make it too much of a big deal about playing a Rotherham legend. He’ll know a lot about my team — I’ll have to do some research on his.”
Bristol City were in the Play-Off mix for much of last season, eventually falling away to 11th place, and Lee Johnson knows things will be just as difficult — if not more so — this time around, with the likes of the world-renowned Marcelo Bielsa and England legend Frank Lampard taking their seat in the dugout.
Speaking to Sky Sports News, the Robins boss explained: “The margins are so fine and there are some fantastic managers coming into the league — it just goes to show the level of competitiveness now in the Championship.
“The fixtures bring that buzz and excitement. We want to have a better season, improve on last year’s performance and go again.”
Newly promoted Wycombe Wanderers are looking their voice heard as they set up for the upcoming season in League One, with manager Gareth Ainsworth telling Sky Sports News that he is keen for his team to make an impact: “We just want to make a noise in League One. How big that noise is, let’s find out, but we’re really looking forward to it.
“We’ve kept the majority of the squad and added a couple to it – I’m sure there will be a few more.”
Wycombe will host Blackpool in their opening match of the League One season.
Manager Karl Robinson is looking forward to the season ahead after the release of Oxford United’s fixtures. Talking to the club’s official website, he expressed his enthusiasm for the upcoming games: “It’s an exciting start for us. We kick off with three away games against former Premier League sides which will be a great experience.
“Overall we have to be pleased with the way the fixtures look and now we can’t wait to get started again next season.”
Oxford travel to Barnsley, Portsmouth and Sunderland in the opening set of fixtures, amongst home games against Fleetwood Town and League One newcomers Accrington Stanley and Burton Albion.
Tranmere are ones to watch after securing promotion to League Two last term, and goalkeeper Scott Davies caught up with local radio to discuss leaving the National League behind and the upcoming fixtures.
“It [promotion] probably sunk in fully when the fixtures came out,” he told Matt Jones on Radio City Talk. “To look this year and to be going back to your Swindons and the proper football clubs… it’s what the club, fans and us as players deserve.
“We’ve got our eyes firmly fixed on going upwards. History tells you that teams have kicked on and gone again — we have to make sure we’re one of them and ride this wave we’ve created.”