Welcome back to the madhouse!
WE’VE had our summer break, we’ve recharged our batteries – and we’re eager to get stuck into what promises to be an exciting season.
There is no doubt that the Championship is increasing in profile and prestige with every passing season. And you only have to look at the size of the clubs in it this season to see that there will be plenty of heavyweight clashes.
Aston Villa have captured Chelsea legend John Terry, while Middlesbrough and Wolves have broken the bank to sign striker Britt Assombalonga and midfielder Ruben Neves respectively.
Villa and Boro are highly favoured to come out on top, but the likes of Fulham, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday, to name just a few, aren’t going to make it easy for them.
In League One, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan will be eager to bounce back to the Championship at the first time of asking, while Portsmouth will be keen to press on again after winning League Two last term.
Steve Evans will be determined to guide Mansfield to glory in the fourth tier, while the likes of Luton, Coventry and Swindon will be out to stop them. And what of EFL newcomers Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers? Don’t expect them to just make up the numbers.
Other developments? There will be goalline technology – long overdue – in the Championship, the ABBA penalty format (see p43) will be trialled in EFL competitions and the League Cup has become the Carabao Cup.
Whether your team got off to a dream start this weekend or fell flat on their face, it’s wise to keep a cool head. After all, Newcastle lost their opening two Championship games last term but went on to win the title in dramatic style.
The main thing is that football’s back, so stick with us on your club’s road to glory – or glorious failure…