Date: 3rd August 2016 at 8:52pm
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With the 2016/17 Championship opening day soon to be with Barnsley, here`s a quick look at the thoughts of our fellow Site Editors here on Vital Network ahead of the new season.

With transfers hotting up, and of course August being the final month of the summer transfer window and who knows how manic that will get again this year, plans for all clubs are well on track for the year ahead with players long past the gruelling fitness work and pre season friendlies now behind them, well in short, fans of each club are seeing how their sides will set up for the coming year, which youngsters seem to have the nod and impressed and who already is showing ‘ambition’ in the market as their manager builds a group he believes can achieve success.

Just five simple questions to our colleagues around the network, and with thanks to those who had time to take part and those contributors who stepped in, and a jealous eye to those who couldn`t as they were working on their tans (or their beer bellies) whilst the rest of us were in front of a keyboard and monitor – here were the answers.

Vital Barnsley’s answers to those questions were.

1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
Promotion back into the Championship, when it looked for a while like we might drop out of League 1 last season, was brilliant. Promotion again would be a dream but consolidation at Championship level would be a good thing and I’ll settle for that.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Not a fear as such but instant relegation wouldn’t be ideal would it!

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
The fact that Paul Heckingbottom has managed to keep so many of the best players that helped get us to the Championship when other clubs have looked on, including our former boss Lee Johnson looking on from Bristol City, has been good but I’ll say Tom Bradshaw’s potentially a great signing but being able to keep first-team coach Tommy Wright was the best thing as if we had lost him to the Robins that wouldn’t have been good.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Hard to overlook the business Newcastle have done, and probably will continue to do but maybe it’ll be Wolves that catch the eye before August is done with the Chinese money they’ll now have?

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I’d like to say us, and hope we’ll hold our own as teams that get promoted carry that momentum. I’ve got a feeling Wigan could do well if they carry forward the form they showed in all but the opening months of 2015/16, I’d say only they had better form than the Reds.

So to the wider network, and alphabetical order for ease (in reality just so we can put Aston Villa top for Jonathan Fear as it`s been so long since they were top of anything) here`s how everyone else answered.

Vital Villa
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
I hope to see more departures from those who appear to have had more lives than cats and are toxic to this fabulous club. Then I hope to see the team spirit return along with the fight. There is SO much right about this club, now we have to see it out on the pitch and with time I think Roberto Di Matteo can deliver as long as he is given the correct tools for the job. I hope for promotion.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
I fear we can`t get rid of the few who I believe to be totally toxic, disinterested and a bad influence. I also fear it might take Roberto more than one season to re-build, all that will depend on how brave we are in the transfer market and that will tell us a lot about the intentions of the new owner along with the question marks over his wealth.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Hard to say yet really as I would be amazed and worried if we don`t bring in a few fairly large signings. Tommy Elphick though looks like he could be a leader and goodness knows we need those on the pitch, they`ve been sadly lacking for several seasons. There are a few key departures we could do with as well, there are a few that would push me to get my claret and blue buntings out to celebrate! The new keeper looks a promising prospect as well.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
No mate, I will be honest, I find it depressing and a disgrace that a club of our stature has had to sink to this league and then you see the likes of Guzan move back to the Premiership despite his woeful efforts for us last season. So no, nothing is catching my eye other than rage and contempt at our no effort lot.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
Not sure it will be a surprise but think that any team coming to Villa Park will either get overawed by it`s brilliance or raise their game. That might well surprise a few of ours who seem to believe they are too good for the Championship. We have to hit the ground running, no reason why we can`t be up there with Newcastle and Norwich fighting to win the league, however there are a few in our squad who will have to put a massive effort in to do so and to try to win back the fans they let down so very badly last season.

Vital Barnsley
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
Promotion back into the Championship, when it looked for a while like we might drop out of League 1 last season, was brilliant. Promotion again would be a dream but consolidation at Championship level would be a good thing and I’ll settle for that.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Not a fear as such but instant relegation wouldn’t be ideal would it!

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
The fact that Paul Heckingbottom has managed to keep so many of the best players that helped get us to the Championship when other clubs have looked on, including our former boss Lee Johnson looking on from Bristol City, has been good but I’ll say Tom Bradshaw’s potentially a great signing but being able to keep first-team coach Tommy Wright was the best thing as if we had lost him to the Robins that wouldn’t have been good.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Hard to overlook the business Newcastle have done, and probably will continue to do but maybe it’ll be Wolves that catch the eye before August is done with the Chinese money they’ll now have?

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I’d like to say us, and hope we’ll hold our own as teams that get promoted carry that momentum. I’ve got a feeling Wigan could do well if they carry forward the form they showed in all but the opening months of 2015/16, I’d say only they had better form than the Reds.

Vital Blackburn
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
Rovers have had the taste of the Premier League, more than once of course and we’ve won it!! However, in recent years the money involved has often brought bad things with it including our current owners Venky’s who I sometimes feel have been good and others bad!! Ultimately they’ve been in it for the money and if we return to the Premier League again they’ll be rolling in it!! As a club Rovers could do with this return, however, I’m torn on wanting this so I’m not saying I wouldn’t want promotion but not sure I’d want it either!!

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Relegation into League One!! That would be a near disaster for Rovers and when Paul Lambert left, not that I was a fan of his, I worried about what this meant for our future. Owen Coyle, far from my ideal appointment too but is someone who is saying and doing the right things, has a squad that should be more than capable of staying in the Championship now with those fears eased over the summer.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Danny Graham being signed on a permanent basis was a surprise but should be a good FREE transfer arrival as it Anthony Stokes if he can replicate his Celtic form. However, I’d say our best would yet come if we’re able to fend off interest in Shane Duffy and keep him after losing captain Grant Hanley to Newcastle United.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
I’ve honestly not really paid that much attention to what anyone else has been doing over the summer, admittedly sometimes taken my eye of what Rovers have done too as the fallout from the Venky’s tenure at Ewood Park has taken something away.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
If you look at the clubs in the Championship if those expected aren’t there or thereabouts it’ll be the only real surprise in my mind, maybe some will think it’ll be a surprise if Rovers are able to challenge for automatic promotion or at least the play offs??

Vital Brentford
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
With a good and strong finish to the 2015/16 season, seven wins from April onwards with only one loss and one draw as we finally seemed to find some real consistency under new head coach Dean Smith – hopes are very simply to build on the ninth place finish from last season and close the nine point gap that Sheffield Wednesday held at that time, as they took the final Play Off spot.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
That 2016/17 sees the return to the inconsistent form we had under Dean Smith until the turn of April. Fears that the run we had was the blip as opposed to the run of losses. I don’t think that will be the case but the run and momentum built up has certainly pushed expectations up and that in itself could be a danger.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
For me personally, I’m thinking Daniel Bentley. The headlines he created at Southend and the clean sheet runs and records – especially for a goalkeeper of that age – well it’s rare in the current game in reality with the average consensus seeming to be a goalkeeper has to be 27 or so before they can be relied upon regularly. I think the lad has a massive future, and whilst I expect him to shine for us, if we don’t find ourselves in the top flight in two to three years I could very easily see him moving on. With that said, Romaine Sawyers seems to have exactly the same career path, and either of them could well be the difference next season for us.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Barnsley snagging Tom Bradshaw. I know for Brentford – whilst not the same type of player in some ways – we have Scott Hogan who is destined for bigger things if he can remain injury free after the serious problems he’s had since coming into us, but I really thought one of the smaller Premiership sides would take Bradshaw with his natural eye in the penalty box.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
There are plenty of sides you’d expect to be fighting for promotion this year, especially those relegated last term, but there’s something about Burton. They’ve just ticked along quietly for the last few years – managerial changes don’t seem to stop them from working their way up the tables, and although I’m not saying for a second I see them gaining promotion – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they somehow just seem to be in the mix until the final few weeks.

Vital BHA
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
After last season’s double disappointment of missing out firstly on one of the automatic spots, and then missing out via the Wembley Play Off route as well – obviously gaining promotion by whatever means necessary is the hope and finally getting ourselves into the Premier League after so many years of trying and coming close.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
There have been a number of well known departures this summer, and whilst I don’t think there are many fans who aren’t pleased with the incoming business we’ve done – mix that old core departing along with a potential real hangover from last season’s disappointments – that the players bottom out and we can’t hit the form we know we are capable of.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Glenn Murray for me so far. The bloke is a goal machine as Brighton fans know well, and if he’s anything near the success he was first time round, then nobody will hold the Crystal Palace move over him anymore.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Maybe this is obvious from a Brighton perspective given our defensive injuries at the moment, and the genuine possibility of losing Lewis Dunk to one of the top flight boys – but Aston Villa picking up Tommy Elphick, especially at that price, could be one of the signings of the season. Again his time at Brighton leaves fond memories, but everyone can see what he helped Bournemouth to as well.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
As above, I hope we remain involved in the mix and grab one of those automatic spots, but Nigel Pearson moving to Derby County could now be the difference between them being a perrennial nearly/maybe and finally clinching promotion themselves. He could easily have gone in as answer to No 4, but there’s something about him and whether you think that’s good, bad or Donald Trump, he knows how to get teams ticking.

Vital Cardiff
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
Last season saw an unlikely final push for the Play Offs and whilst it was semi enjoyable, very few actually thought it would happen – and of course that’s how it ended up. Few this season would expect a Play Off push as well to be honest, more than anything what fans hope for is a more entertaining style of play that makes supporting Cardiff fun again and some consistency in performances and results to at least allow us to dream we are back on track again after recent years.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
The newly found Welsh buzz following the European Championships disappears once the season kicks off. Head coach Paul Trollope played his part in the run to the Semi Finals and we are adopting the Welsh system this year and trying to foster into that buzz, but in some ways that may have set the bar a little too high for some and Trollope probably needs longer to stamp himself on the club.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
The main piece of business for Cardiff once again could in fact be that we keep goalkeeper David Marshall at the club. It seems he’s been linked with a move away to Premier League sides for more years than I can imagine, and despite links again this summer so far nothing has thankfully come of it.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
I haven’t really paid attention to other transfers, so I won’t do a quick Google just to provide an answer.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
Having pipped us as expected to the Play Off spot last season, I think Sheffield Wednesday could well go a step further this year – or at least get into the Play Offs again. As a reverse surprise with Brighton missing out on both automatic and then Play Off promotion, I think the hangover might be too much for them this year and whilst I don’t think they’ll go down, just watching them as best I could in the final weeks of last season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them around the 18th mark.

Vital Huddersfield
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
With a marked improvement in performances and entertainment levels since the arrival of David Wagner, with the squad knowing his desires better and with the squad featuring his players now in the main following his summer’s dealings, the hope for Huddersfield is simply to continue our improvement on the pitch and although few I guess would genuinely think of a Play Off push for the 2016/17 season, finishing solidly around the midtable mark in the Championship would definitely be tangible growth for the club.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
That the hope and renewed faith disappears only on in the season and the improvement we saw last year doesn’t come through again. With a number of new players, whilst the bulk of the group know what to expect now, there is still a bedding in period and that period could be a worry.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
There are a number of new signings so far this season, but 24 year old Elias Kachunga certainly seems to have settled in well and the striker has already found the net and looked very lively, especially with Nahki Wells carrying a knock, so I’ve kind of got my eye on him. Manchester City Loanee Aaron Mooy could also prove to be huge for us as well this year.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Newcastle United picking up Dwight Gayle is one that stands out to me. His form in front of goal is probably well known by everybody, but he really could be the difference between them going straight back to the Premier League this year.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
As above, I’m hoping it will be Town as honestly put, going from where we’ve spent the last few years in the Championship into a good solid 10th place finish would be a remarkable turn around in fortunes and I’m not alone in hoping for that to happen.

Vital Ipswich
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
At best play-offs. At worst relegation.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Relegation!

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Only one so far and that is centre half Adam Webster.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Too many to mention but none of them headed to Portman Road!

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
Ipswich Town if they do better than I have suggested!

On hols at time of replying!

Vital Leeds
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
We have been reasonably active in the transfer market but we have lost one of our key players in Lewis Cook. The club have gone out on a limb with the season ticket offer. If we do not finish in the top six then fans will receive a 25% refund on the purchase price. If we sell 15,000, something we are close to doing, then those who purchased one before the end of May will receive a 50% refund. The pressure is on for a top six finish. I believe the three teams that came down from the Premier League will be in the top six, so that only leaves three play-off places. We need a decent start and if we can get one, I can see a top eight finish.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
A poor start – With the pressure mentioned above and our owners ability to sack a manager fairly quickly, a poor start will see Gary Monk quickly heading for the job centre. If that happens, we will be back to square one and most probably battling to avoid the bottom six.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
The signing of Kemar Roofe is very interesting. He was the League Two Player of the Year last season and he certainly looks a good player. The question will be, can he step up to the championship. I was glad to see a number of players go this summer. Scott Wootton was released and we have offloaded a number of players who haven`t done much since signing for the club in Giuseppe Bellusci, Tommaso Bianchi and Casper Sloth.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle joining Newcastle United. Great when you get a parachute payment!

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I think Blackburn Rovers have done some good business this summer and could surprise a few people.

Talk of the Tyne
This is actually harder than it seems considering we are the shortest favourites in history. Anyway, here goes and my Newcastle views probably dont reflect the majority up here but what the hell.

1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
The obvious answer is the title or a promotion back into the top league but they dont come near for me. To be a fan of this club for over 40 years and to see the heart and soul ripped out of it by a combination of late 20th and early 21st century corporate/media greed or decision plus Mike Ashley, the shock introduction of Rafa Benitez has rocked us to our core. We were dead as a club, support not dwindling in number but vocally we were dead. So apathetic that we were just existing without any direction as to where to go. Forget boats that have lost their paddles, at least they float. We were pointless. With Rafa, it has sparked life back into the team, back into the club and more importantly to the area. It has single handedly reinvented the whole meaning of footballing life and a life where we dare to dream. It’s an unexplainable feeling on the back of a relegation that didn’t hurt. With this feeling that we thought we’d lost forever back on board, everything else has the feeling that it will follow suit like a nerveless confidence.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
The main fear is that Ashley will somehow cock up the biggest piece of luck he will ever get in his life because a Newcastle team and city all singing off the same page will not only see us succeed in whatever challenge comes our way but we become a danger to the other clubs pinching the limelight around the country. For some reason, the national media has a strong interest in us, whether that be by sharing the bad news or spreading lies about what ambitions we have or how deluded we are. We just all share the same passion in wanting the team to represent us in how we see ourselves and how we’d perform if given the chance of wearing the shirt. 100% and nothing less. Other fears stem around us not performing to the best of our ability although in theory that shouldn’t happen but injuries do.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Plainly and simply. Rafa Benitez staying for many reasons. Not only for the catalyst that it has become but because he is a world class manager that demands instant respect. On the playing side, the fact that Benitez has rid the dead wood and is signing players for the needed positions instead of potential profit signings. Mentioning individuals, Jesus Gamez promises to be a shrewd signing for his quality and experience plus Dwight Gayle threatens to pick up the batten that has been left on the ground since Craig Bellamy dropped it a few years ago.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Not being cheeky or over confident but there hasn’t been a signing for once that I’ve been left asking ‘why didn’t we sign him?’. This has been the case for many years.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
If we didn’t finish in the top 2 then that will surprise many people around the country and I’m tempted to say us mind for no particular reason but the doom and gloom factor that has surrounded me for years. Being completely left field and making a daft prediction I’ll say Wigan will make the play offs.

Vital Norwich
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
It has to be promotion, one way or the other. Having been promoted via the play-offs last time, I can tell you it’s a great way to go up. Having said that, I would rather lead the Championship from the first weekend and stay there till the end and go up as Champions, it’s far less stressful!

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
That we don’t get promoted! There are plenty of doomsayers in the Canary nation that seize on any move by the club and talk about it negatively. There is an underlying feeling that Delia Smith and husband Michael (co-owners) are not able to take the club to the next level, which is to establish the club in the Premier League. Finance is needed for that and although they are wealthy people, they are not Russian or UAE wealthy – far from it. We desperately need a proven goal scorer, it’s why we were relegated and they cost a lot of money, so investment is required.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
As we’ve only signed one player (at time of writing), that would have to be Sergi Canos from Liverpool. He’s been bought as a replacement for the departed Nathan Redmond. He is a real talent and is a very exciting signing.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Dwight Gayle to Newcastle. The lad will score a hatful for the Magpies and we should’ve been in for him. We agreed a fee with Palace for him last summer but on the proviso that they could replace him. They didn’t have enough time to do that and he didn’t become a Canary – all because we left it too late in the window, which was poor judgement from the board.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I’ll plump for Bristol City. They’ve got an ambitious young manager in Lee Johnson who saved them from relegation and they are being ambitious in the transfer market too. They were in for Sergi Canos but luckily he chose Norwich, they’ve also signed Gary O’Neil on a free from us and believe me, he is still a very good midfielder. If they can hold onto Jonathan Kodjia then they could be a serious threat to the established teams.

Vital Forest
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
For the takeover to actually happen, for Forest to be better run off the field and for the latest ‘new’ manager to be given more than 9 months! League position – top half would be an achievement at present.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Another year flirting with relegation, embargo and administration. That and unrealistic fan expectations of a team that has just exited embargo with ongoing long term injuries.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Like the manager, Montanier – Forest`s first ever foreign manger, all 5 of the signings made are largely unknown and at present, it would appear likely that some of our better players are likely to be sold or we will be lucky to keep hold of them.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
None yet – but, it`ll be interesting to see if Ross McCormack goes to Norwich. Personally, I think the window should close for all prior to start of season – as the team that starts first game in August is often very different come 1st September!

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
Villa, Newcastle & Norwich are clear favourites for top 2 – so, the rest are fighting for a playoff spot. So many have changed managers too, so a much harder league this year. Could Burton complete their very own fairy tale?

Vital Preston
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
This has to be promotion doesn’t it. Preston have gone close to the ‘promised land’ in the past but it hasn’t been for a while. If PNE can build on last season why shouldn’t a play-off push be achievable?

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
Relegation! Had to be the fear of any club doesn’t it, especially with the financial rewards on offer so the further you slip from the Premier League the less a club can benefit financially. Therefore as much as relegation in itself isn’t a fear the fear of not being able to compete as a result is.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Simon Grayson is a fan of loan players, who usually turns those loans into permanent transfer with him doing that with several players this summer and still looking to do this with others. I like most of those he’s brought in but Tommy Spurr has plenty of experience about him so his arrival on a free from Blackburn could add something we lacked. Jermaine Beckford being full fit will make him like a ‘new signing’ this season too!

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Fulham have been doing a lot of business, moving players on (including Ben Pringle, who we signed) and bringing quite a lot in as Slavisa Jokanovic starts to put his mark on the squad. He’s proven himself at this level so most of the signings he makes are made for a reason so caught the eye collectively.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I’ll also say Fulham, even if a club with the recent history they’ve had shouldn’t be a surprise challenging. But it goes without saying I’d like to think if we can build on last season and turn more of those draws into wins why shouldn’t we move closer to the play-offs!

Vital Rotherham
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
That we finish half-way or above.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
That by April we are on our third Manager and hanging on by our fingernails again.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
At the time of writing we’ve only signed one player (more or on the way we are told). But our best piece of business, in my eyes, is getting Kirk Broadfoot to sign a new contract. He’s definitely one of our best, if not our best defender.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
I think Tommy Elphick will be a good signing for Villa while Isaac Hayden’s move to Newcastle is probably one to look out for too as he had Championship experience with Hull last season.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I actually think Barnsley will do better than a lot of people think.

Vital Wednesday
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
I’d like to think given that we only fell at the final hurdle last season that we could go one better and secure at return to the top flight of the English game. Given the division this year seems harder on paper given that Newcastle, Villa and Norwich have all come down with big financial clout and the likes of Derby, Brighton and ourselves have all strengthened it looks set to be a cracking season. Despite what many Wednesdayites and some bookies think and have said that they see the Owls to be amongst the Championships frontrunners. I edge on the side of caution and believe that we’d be better suited to the playoff places. The majority of the squad have been kept together with only bit part players Lavery and Price opting to leave for pastures new, and last seasons loanees returning to their parent clubs. Last season`s experience should help the the squad going forward and if we’re back at Wembley that as well as those talented players should be able to carry us over the line.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
A return of inconsistency particularly away from Hillsborough could see Wednesday slip in mid table obscurity, that won’t be good enough given that the expectations have been raised during the ‘Chansiri` era. The owner has put his money where his mouth is and spent, a few years ago it would be unheard of to see a Wednesday team sporting the likes of Forestieri, Hooper, Bannan and Westwood each week. Those players and the summer squad additions coupled with last season’s adventure mean a mid-table finish will be looked on as a failure. It’s also likely to cost Carlos his job before the season ends.

3 – Your Team’s best signing or BEST piece of business?
At time of writing this, Wednesday have only bought four players, although more are expected by August 31st. Former Blackburn and Norwich keeper Jake Kean has been added as back up to Kieren Westwood. Along with the return to the club after being almost ever present last season whilst on loan is left back and Czech Republic international Daniel Pudil, Scottish international Steven Fletcher who has scored goals wherever he’s played looks to be a top quality addition. But, lastly and my pick as our best signing is Almen Abdi, who has cost the Owls circa £4 million and is a full Swiss international in his own right and looks set to bring a bit of ‘nouce` to the centre of the park given he’s been there before and succeeded with Watford. I’ve haven’t read or heard a bad word about him from any Hornets fan and he did make over 30 Premier League appearances last season, so that fee could be exceptional value. He should allow Barry Bannan, Fernando Forestieri and Kieran Lee to venture forward in their little triangle and allow them to supply and assist forwards Gary Hooper and Steven Fletcher in the final third.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
I’ve been impressed by the additions that both Bristol City and Huddersfield Town have secured over the course of the summer. Both teams have very different managers in David Wagner and Lee Johnson, but they both are young managers and share big ambition for their clubs and have made some almost unnoticed quality additions. I hope they are left to do their respective jobs without the threat of joining the managerial roundabout that seems to have a grip of the Championship. I’m sure most comings and goings at Newcastle have caught the eyes of many, and every Championship club was put on notice when Rafa Benitez (check spelling) opted to stay on at the Magpies. But, I’m going to go for the signing of Kemar Roofe who scored 32 goals in 65 games for Oxford United. He’s made a big money move to our Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, partnered with Chris Wood at Elland Road they may surprise a few folks. At only 23 as well, I hope he does! But not against the Owls of course.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I think most will pick Burton here, but I think every Championship club fan, knows that they’ll be fighting in every game and will make matches tough for the ‘bigger` clubs and make them earn the points on offer. However, I suspect our South Yorkshire neighbours, Barnsley may surprise a fair few this season. An amazing run of form that started under Lee Johnson was seamlessly carried on by Paul Heckingbottom last season. It saw the Reds go from the League One relegation places all the way to a very comfortable Playoff Final victory over Millwall that assured them of a return to the Championship. With a young talented squad, that hasn’t got any ‘superstars` or ‘known` names. Meaning that they will be set to go into most games as underdogs, they are my pick to be a surprise package in a very competitive Championship this coming season. The Reds may well even have an affect on the playoffs if last season’s momentum can be continued.

Vital Wigan Athletic
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
A season where we can push for a play off place at least and keep our interest going to the final day, it is a must to build on last season’s title winning momentum to keep the club moving forward, we have a superb season ticket offer (£179 adults under 16s FREE) hopefully this will generate 15,000+ gates each home game. We need Will Grigg to still be on fire!

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
That we bomb out! The Championship is a step up in class from League One, we won the league at a canter last season and although we did look real quality at times we have a totally different side from the one that was here last time and it is difficult to judge if we have a squad that will compete rather than struggle.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Nick Powell is a great signing, we had the former Man U youngster on loan a couple of seasons back and his qualities were there for all to see, if he can form a good link with Wildschut and Grigg then we will be a real force in the final third and cause opponents lots of problems going forward.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Matt Ritchie to Newcastle, £12m is a lot of money for a Championship club to spend on one player but the Geordies will be hoping that he can help carry them back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, a quality player that shone in the Premier League at times last campaign.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
Apart from us? I think that Barnsley will surprise a few people, they play fast attacking football, Paul Heckingbottom proved from Christmas onwards that he has what it takes to succeed in the managers seat, he sets them up well and in Sam Winnall they have a goal scoring striker, yep Barnsley my tip to surprise (again) this season.

Vital Wolves
1 – 16/17 HOPES for your team?
I don’t think it would be possible for Wolves to spend a season in the Championship where the hope wasn’t to get promoted and this season will be no different. Although given how many seasons we have spent over the last 30 years outside the top flight you would have thought the aspirations might have moderated by now. The big thing now of course is that the club have been taken over by billionaires which means only a handful of teams in England have richer owners. Money isn’t everything in football but it should surely help. I am sure Fosun will want to get the club to the top flight as soon as possible and have said they will bring in 5 to 8 players in August and that money is not a problem. So far we have a full back from Athletico Madrid and a midfield player and a winger from Benfica. Surely having played at that level those players should be able to make a good impression in the Championship. So promotion is the hope again, if not this season then next.

2 – 16/17 FEARS for your team?
There are two real concerns about whether this revolution will work. Firstly the CV of Zenga does not read that well. Flitting fairly unsuccessfully between clubs in Italy and the Middle East does not look as good on paper as the first guy they offered the job to, Lopetegui, who has been appointed manager of Spain. So there is a concern about whether Zenga is a good choice or not. Secondly the club are taking players on the advice of agent Jorge Mendez and they look like being mostly, and maybe entirely, from foreign sources. How good will they be? How well will they settle to English football? Time will tell.

3 – Your Teams best signing or BEST piece of business? (new contract, player released?)
Wolves played last season with a squad that was barely good enough for the Championship and one that was further hampered by a large number of injuries. That same squad turned out in a pre season friendly against Swansea on Saturday and were hammered 4-0 at Molineux and looked ill prepared to improve on from last season. Only 4 fit defenders, no fit senior striker so the squad needs a major overhaul. Best signing so far looks like Helder Costa who was a regular on the left wing for a Monaco team that finished third in La Ligue. But we need more good signings to be competitive at the right end of the table.

4 – Other Championship signing that ‘Caught your eye’?
Newcastle are certainly the team to beat in the Championship this season and the additions of Ritchie and Gayle to what they already have makes them deserved favourites.

5 – Who’ll be the surprise Championship team in 2016/17?
I’d like to think that would be Wolves who were 14th last season and are 16/1 in the betting this season. Odds may tumble in the next few weeks if there’s truth in some of the transfer rumours. Otherwise I see Preston are 21st in the betting but I think Grayson is a decent manager at this level and I could see them finishing above half way.

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Whether the actual season will play out and reflect the confidence, and lack thereof, above for some remains to be seen but there are a couple of clubs that clearly plenty are looking at for potential success this season.

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