Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday August 8 2014
It is always exciting on the eve of a new season, optimism is high in the camp and we will hopefully go the full distance this campaign and clinch promotion in May.
Looking at the squad it is understandable why so many pundits have us down as the favourites to go up, we have added with experience in Andrew Taylor and Don Cowie, players who have been here and done it before, brought in exciting young talent in James Tavernier and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and up front managed to capture a striker in Oriol Riera that could fire the goals that we were so sadly lacking last season.
We still have the backbone of a quality side with McArthur, Maloney, McManaman, Ramis, Boyce, Perch and two excellent keepers, add to this both Chris McCann and Ben Watson to come back from injury and we are looking very good indeed.
After last season's false dawn when opening day victory away at Barnsley had us all crowing, it is important to stay focused, but Rösler is a very different animal than Coyle, for a start he knows what he is doing, the players look much better prepared, I don't for one moment envisage us going on the pointless, goalless runs of last Autumn, but again it is important to stay focused.
Our challengers for the top two automatic spots will also be feeling optimistic, the three relegated sides will all fancy their chances, big budgets with the increased parachute payments and all three have been signing players, though I don't think any of Fulham, Cardiff or Norwich will fill any of the top two spots, their biggest failing for me is the lack of experience that their managers have in the Championship, it is a completely different kettle of fish from the Premier League as we found out last term.
Derby County will be there or there abouts, a good squad and a tactically astute boss in Steve McClaren, without a doubt they will be pushing for an automatic spot, as will their bitter rivals Nottingham Forest, there has been activity in the market down at the City Ground and with the addition of Assombalonga for a hefty £5.5 million they will be hoping that he can fire the goals to build a promotion push on.
My outside tip for the top two is Middlesbrough, they have a good manager in Aitor Karanka and made good signings in James Husband and Adam Clayton along with Real Mallorca winger Nsue.
Whatever is going on at Blackpool? No money and struggling to have enough players on board to send a full squad to their opening day game at Forest, one thing is for sure though, they'll give us a hard game as always.
It all starts tomorrow (Saturday) and before we know it we'll feel like we've never been away and wonder where the summer went, we`re in for a good season, another big dose of excitement and undoubtedly there will be twists and turns before it's all over, but like the pundits I expect us to gain an automatic spot and finish the season in a blaze of glory, it's what dreams are all about.
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Date:Friday August 8 2014
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