Championship scouting report: Middlesbrough to romp the league

Marley Watkins was linked with a host of Championship clubs before signing for Norwich City. Picture

Marley Watkins was linked with a host of Championship clubs before signing for Norwich City. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

We have got the inside track from the reporters who will cover all 24 Championship clubs this coming season. This is part one of their scouting reports from around the country.

Tom Adeyemi joined the Blues this summer. Photo: ITFC

Tom Adeyemi joined the Blues this summer. Photo: ITFC - Credit: Archant

• Aston Villa

Joseph Chapman Birmingham Mail

Main signings: John Terry, Sam Johnstone, Glenn Whelan, Ahmed Elmohamady, Chris Samba.

Main departures: Libor Kozak, Jordan Veretout, Carlos Sanchez, Carles Gil, Aaron Tshibola.

Fulham's Tom Cairney was one of the stand out performers in the Championship last season. Picture: N

Fulham's Tom Cairney was one of the stand out performers in the Championship last season. Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

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Fans’ expectation: In a word, promotion. That was the expectation last season, so Steve Bruce’s first full campaign in charge will be greeted with even greater levels of pressure.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Fulham, Aston Villa.

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Relegated: Millwall, Ipswich, Burton.

John Terry was an eye-catching signing for Aston Villa chief Steve Bruce. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wi

John Terry was an eye-catching signing for Aston Villa chief Steve Bruce. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

• Barnsley

Doug O’Kane Barnsley Chronicle

Main signings: Lloyd Isgrove, Ethan Pinnock, Liam Lindsay, Jason McCarthy, Joe Williams, Stevie Mallan, Cameron McGeehan, Ike Ugo

Main departures: Marc Roberts, Josh Scowen, Marley Watkins

Fans’ expectation: It is very hard to tell because more than half the squad are new signings and they have never played at this level before. Barnsley have had a lot of recent success with signing players from the lower leagues. I think most fans would take 21st place right now.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Villa.

Relegated: Burton, Millwall, QPR

• Birmingham City

Joseph Chapman, Birmingham Mail

Main signings: David Stockdale, Marc Roberts, Cheikh Ndoye.

Main departures: Andrew Shinnie, Greg Stewart, Viv Solomon-Otabor, Diego Fabbrini, Kerim Frei, Reece Brown

Fans’ expectation: While Blues fans can be forgiven for getting a bit excited with Redknapp’s recruitment so far, it could be a case of enjoying the ride this coming season. Stability at least is key after last season’s near miss with relegation.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Fulham, Aston Villa.

Relegated: Millwall, Ipswich, Burton.

• Bolton Wanderers

Marc Iles

The Bolton News

Ground: The Macron Stadium

Manager: Phil Parkinson

Main signings: Adam Le Fondre, Jem Karacan, Mark Little, Stephen Darby, Adam Armstrong (loan), Will Buckley, Sammy Ameobi.

Main departures: Jay Spearing, Lawrie Wilson, Conor Wilkinson, Dean Moxey, Mark Davies, Liam Trotter.

Fans’ expectation: Considering Bolton have been in a transfer embargo for nearly two years, last season’s promotion was a miracle. Stability on and off the pitch is desperately craved by the Wanderers faithful.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Derby County, Aston Villa.

Relegated: Millwall, Burton and Barnsley.

• Brentford

Tom Moore


Main signings: Henrik Dalsgaard, Luke Daniels, Kamo Mokotjo, Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Marcondes

Main departures: Alan McCormack, Jack Bonham.

Fans’ expectation: With the squad Brentford have at the moment, a promotion challenge is a realistic expectation for the Bees this season. The last three seasons have seen the club finish in the top 10 so that is the minimum expectation.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford.

Relegated: Bolton, Millwall, Burton.

• Bristol City

Gregor MacGregor Bristol Post

Main signings: Eros Pisano, Famara Diedhiou, Nathan Baker

Main departures: Mark Little, Lee Tomlin

Fans’ expectation: The fans will hoping for year on year improvement, especially given that the club has broken its transfer record this summer. Avoiding another relegation battle would be hoped for at least, though what happens before the end of the transfer window may influence that.

Promoted: Birmingham, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough.

Relegated: Millwall, Bolton, Barnsley

• Burton Albion

Joshua Murray

Burton Mail

Main signings: Matty Lund, Liam Boyce, Stephen Warnock, Jake Buxton, Luke Murphy, Hope Akpan

Main departures: Jon McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan, Lee Williamson, Phil Edwards, Callum Reilly

Fans’ expectation: Brewers supporters know that their team upset all the odds and pre-season predictions to secure their Championship safety last term – and they’ll have to prove the doubters wrong all over again if they are to thrive again this season, given their resources in comparison to many of their second-tier rivals. If they start the season with the same quality as 12 months ago but can be more ruthless in front of goal, though, they have every chance of pushing on from 2016/17.

Promoted: Aston Villa, Fulham, Middlesbrough.

Relegated: Millwall, Barnsley, Bolton

• Cardiff City

Paul Abbandonato


Main signings: Neil Etheridge, Lee Camp, Callum Paterson, Loic Damour, Nathanial Mendez-Laing, Lee Tomlin, Danny Ward

Main departures: Peter Whittingham, Rickie Lambert

Fans’ expectation: There is a real buzz amongst Bluebirds fans that this could be their year again. The club has been divided for so many years, but with Warnock in charge everyone is pulling as one again. Warnock and Cardiff City seems a perfect fit, a sense of battling against the establishment. Watch the crowds soar in South Wales again.

Promoted: Aston Villa, Cardiff, Middlesbrough.

Relegated: Burton, Bristol City, Bolton.

• Derby County

Steve Nicholson

Derby Telegraph

Main signings: Curtis Davies, Andre Wisdom, Tom Huddlestone

Main departures: Will Hughes, Tom Ince, Cyrus Christie, Abdoul Camara

Fans’ expectation: Challenging for a top-six finish is what is expected. Finishing ninth last season was hugely disappointing and quite simply not good enough. Derby must improve on that and they have a manager in Gary Rowett who can spark an improvement.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Norwich City.

Relegated: Millwall, Barnsley, Bristol.

• Fulham

Ryan O’Donovan


Main signings: Marcelo Djalo, Ibrahima Cisse, Tomas Kalas

Main departures: Scott Malone, Lasse Vigen Christensen

Fans’ expectation: Fulham fans will be hoping the club can go one better than last season and gain automatic promotion this time around.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Derby, Fulham.

Relegated: QPR, Burton, Barnsley

• Hull City

Will Jackson

Hull Daily Mail

Main signings: Ola Aina (loan), Fraizer Campbell, Kevin Stewart, Ondrej Mazuch, Michael Hector (loan)

Main departures: Alex Bruce, Curtis Davies, Harry Maguire, Josh Tymon, Shaun Maloney, Tom Huddlestone, Eldin Jakupovic, Ahmed Elmohamady, Andy Robertson

Fans’ expectation: Work is still to be done in the transfer market if Hull are to be considered contenders this season. With the club bitterly divided optimism amongst the fanbase is unfortunately in short supply.

Promoted: Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Wolves.

Relegated: Preston, Barnsley, Burton

• Ipswich Town

Stuart Watson

East Anglian Daily Times & Ipswich Star

Main signings: Joe Garner, Emyr Huws, Bersant Celina (loan), Dominic Iorfa (loan), Tom Adeyemi

Main departures: Tom Lawrence (loan expired), Christophe Berra, Brett Pitman, Jonathan Douglas.

Fans’ expectation: Few expecting more than mid-table, but increased entertainment value is demanded. It wasn’t so much last season’s 16th place finish (worst in 58 years) which grated, rather the utterly forgettable footballing fare.

Promoted: Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Wolves.

Relegated: Millwall, Bristol City, Bolton.

• We will have part two of the pundits’ scouting report on Thursday

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