The return of the EFL is just two days away! To mark Season Launch Day, here’s a rundown of how each Sky Bet Championship Club is looking ahead of the new campaign.
After four years as an Assistant Manager at Queens Park Rangers, John Eustace steps up to the top job at the Blues for his first managerial role in the EFL. He’ll be looking to improve on the Club’s recent Championship record, which has seen them finish 17th or lower for each of the past six seasons.
Rovers narrowly missed out on a Play-Off berth last season and have experienced a summer of transition, following the departure of long-serving boss Tony Mowbray. Former Champions League winning striker Jon Dahl Tomasson is the new man in the dugout, having led Malmo to back-to-back Swedish Allsvenskan titles.
After a six-year absence from the Championship, Blackpool enjoyed a solid 2021/22 campaign, finishing 33 points above the drop zone in 16th position. New head coach Michael Appleton has been assigned the task of building on that momentum as he takes over from Neil Critchley.
Having recorded consecutive bottom-half finishes, Bristol City will be hoping to rise up the standings in Nigel Pearson’s second full season in charge. Sky Bet League Two Player of the Year Kane Wilson is an exciting addition, while free signing Kal Naismith experienced a Play-Off push with Luton Town last term.
It’s been a summer of upheaval at Burnley after their six-year Premier League stay came to an end two months ago. Since then, Manchester City legend Vincent Kompany has taken the reins and despite several high-profile departures, acquisitions such as Josh Cullen, Samuel Bastien and Sky Bet League One Player of the Year Scott Twine offer hope of an immediate return to the top flight.
Cardiff City have been the busiest of all Championship Clubs during the transfer window, with 12 new signings at the time of writing. After registering their first bottom-half finish in the Championship since 2006/07 last season, Steve Morison’s new-look team will be aiming for a much better showing this time around.
Led by the fifth-longest serving manager in the EFL, Coventry City are a model of stability, with few changes to a squad that sneaked into the top half of the 2021/22 table. Retaining the services of Callum O’Hare, Gustavo Hamer and Viktor Gyokeres will be vital if Mark Robins’ side are to build on last season’s promising return to the second tier.
Two months on from Play-Off Final despair, things look a lot different for Huddersfield Town. Danny Schofield is at the helm after the shock departure of Carlos Corberán, while Lewis O’Brien and Harry Toffolo have also moved on. The Terriers will hope that talented trio David Kasumu, Jack Rudoni and Tino Anjorin can hit the ground running.
Hull City might have lost homegrown favourite Keane Lewis-Potter in a big money move to Brentford, but there is an air of cautious optimism following an active transfer window. Shota Arveladze has identified a handful of foreign imports, while Jean Michael Seri adds know-how at this level, having helped Fulham win the Championship in 2021/22.
Last season’s surprise package, Luton Town have swooped for 10 players this summer in a bid to strengthen the depth of their squad. Having fallen just short at the Semi-Final stage of the Play-Offs in May, Championship Manager of the Year Nathan Jones will be determined to lead his team back in the mix for promotion this season.
Middlesbrough finished five points adrift of the Play-Off positions at the conclusion of the 2021/22 campaign and will expect to be challenging once again in Chris Wilder’s first full season with the Club. Five new signings have arrived at the Riverside so far, with more potentially on the way after cashing in on full-back Djed Spence.
An impressive run of results down the stretch saw Millwall move into Play-Off contention towards the end of last season. The Club has showed its intentions to take the next step by breaking their transfer record with the purchase of Zian Flemming from Fortuna Sittard, while they have strengthened further with the additions of experienced pair Benik Afobe and George Honeyman, plus young Leeds United duo Charlie Cresswell and Jamie Shackleton.
Norwich City have been the frontrunners in both of their last two Championship campaigns, securing the title in 2018/19 and 2020/21. In pursuit of a hat-trick, the Canaries splashed the cash on talented Brazilian midfielder Gabriel Sara from Sao Paulo and, at the time of writing, have kept hold of key players like Max Aarons and Teemu Pukki.
Preston North End
After showing promising signs following the apppointment of manager Ryan Lowe in December, Preston North End have displayed plenty of intent in the transfer market. The Lilywhites fought off significant competition to persuade promising youngsters Troy Parrott and Alvaro Fernandez to arrive on loan. Elsewhere, goalkeeper Freddie Woodman provides plenty of Championship experience between the sticks, while Robbie Brady was part of AFC Bournemouth's promotion-winning squad last season.
Queens Park Rangers
Michael Beale's first role in management comes at Queens Park Rangers, with the former Aston Villa assistant facing the task of improving on an 11th place finish last season. Although star performer Chris Willock looks likely to miss the start of the season through injury, the Rs have bolstered their attacking options with the loan signing of Tyler Roberts, while Jake Clarke-Salter will replace the departed Yoann Barbet at the back.
Eleven years after leaving for pastures new, Shane Long is back at the Madejski. The Republic of Ireland international is one of three incomings with vast top-flight experience, rejoining his former employers alongside Jeff Hendrick and Tom Ince. The Royals will be striving to rise up the table under Paul Ince after completing 2021/22 fourth from bottom.
It was a tough start to the summer transfer window for the newly promoted Millers, with top scorer Michael Smith and established defender Michael Ihiekwe leaving the Club. However, boss Paul Warne has recruited some experienced performers to fill the void as they attempt to avoid a fourth successive relegation at this level.
Paul Heckingbottom's side will be more eager than most to get the new campaign underway after a summer to reflect on what could've been, following their agoinising penalty shoot-out defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Play-Off Semi-Final. While standout contributor Morgan Gibbs-White has returned to parent Club Wolves, the Blades will try to replace his output with the loan signings of Reda Khadra and Tommy Doyle, while Anel Ahmedhodzic and Ciaran Clark provide an upgrade in defence.
Stoke City have been stuck in mid-table obscurity since falling down to the Championship four years ago, so will be striving to make a challenge at the sharp end this season. Michael O'Neill has sought after experience to achieve that objective, securing the signatures of Aden Flint, Dwight Gayle and Josh Laurent, while young loanees Gavin Kilkenny and Will Smallbone could also make an impact in midfield, although a lot will depend on the fitness of talisman Nick Powell, who is currently sidelined with a knee issue.
Head Coach Alex Neil lost just one of his 18 matches in the Sunderland dugout to guide the Club to Play-Off glory at Wembley Stadium just over two months ago. After a four-year absence from the second tier, the Mackems have improved their defensive options by recruiting centre-back pair Aji Alese and Daniel Ballard, while forwards Jack Clarke and Leon Dajaku have both joined on permanent deals after impressing on loan last term.
Following two successive Play-Off campaigns, Swansea City took a backward step in Russell Martin's first season in charge, dropping into the bottom half of the table. The Swans did secure a first league double in the 110 years of the South Wales derby, and will now be expecting to move in the right direction after swooping for highly-rated defenders Nathan Wood and Harry Darling, as well as bringing experienced Welsh international Joe Allen back to his boyhood Club.
It's the start of another new era for Watford, with Rob Edwards the latest man to take the helm at Vicarage Road. Despite plenty of speculation, attacking duo Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis are still yet to be moved on and could be major assets at this level. Meanwhile, the Hornets will be hoping that Vakoun Bayo and Rey Manaj can make instant impacts following their summer switches.
West Bromwich Albion
Last season started with a lot of promise for West Brom as they spent the first five months vying for an automatic promotion spot. However, a difficult second half of the season saw the Baggies slide down the table. Manager Steve Bruce has four promotions to the Premier League on his CV – more than any other manager – meaning they will surely be one of the favourites to challenge at the top.
Fresh from claiming the Sky Bet League One crown, Wigan Athletic have been fairly quiet in the transfer market, with Ryan Nyambe currently being the only first-team addition on a free transfer. However, they boast plenty of second-tier experience in their ranks, with star defender Jack Whatmough one of just a handful of players in the squad yet to play at this level.
Three long-term knee injuries put a significant strain on @JackWhatmough3's mental health.— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) June 27, 2022
Now in a good place mentally and physically, the @LaticsOfficial defender reflects on his emotional plight and stresses the importance of seeking help.#EFL | #SkyBetChampionship