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LiveScore's 2022-23 Championship preview: Birmingham to Cardiff
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Matthew Hill
LiveScore
Troy Deeney will be a key figure if Birmingham are to avoid a tough campaign
Troy Deeney will be a key figure if Birmingham are to avoid a tough campaign

LiveScore's Matthew Hill speaks exclusively to journalists and podcasters from all 24 Championship clubs ahead of the new 2022-23 campaign. We kick things off with Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bristol City, Burnley and Cardiff.

Birmingham

Gabriel Sutton, EFL guru/Blues fan (@GabSutton)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Birmingham?

There was certainly promise early on. We won 5-0 at Luton, showed some good form and there was even a bit of play-off chat which all seems very fanciful now looking back.

Up until around November we were able to keep a consistent XI in place but beyond that, we suffered a lot of injuries and suspensions and struggled from that point onwards.

On the coaching front Lee Bowyer has obviously departed and been replaced by John Eustace.

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

I actually think Eustace is quite an exciting appointment as he has a great reputation in the coaching scene, though he certainly has a lot of work on his hands.

He's going to have to help develop some of the youngsters coming through the club's academy very quickly because the squad certainly looks on the thin side as things stand.

Then there are off-field issues to contend with too, which makes for a bit of a concerning picture.

How is the mood around the club in general?

The ownership situation continues to dominate affairs with Paul Richardson and Maxi Lopez poised to take over.

However, I'm very concerned by reports suggesting they intend to bring Matt Southall on board. He has a very dodgy reputation from his time at Charlton and Rochdale and I'm not sure he should be near a football club again if I'm honest.

I'm hopeful that Eustace can work his magic on the squad but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about the season ahead.

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

I'm excited to see Jordan James push on. He's a really exciting all-round midfielder who is capable of a strong campaign.

Nico Gordon is an exciting prospect who has risen through from the academy, while the leadership of influential forward Troy Deeney is going to be key to holding things together in the dressing room.

Blackburn

Chile star Ben Brereton Diaz's goals will once again be crucial for Blackburn in 2022-23
Chile star Ben Brereton Diaz's goals will once again be crucial for Blackburn in 2022-23

Rovers Chat, Blackburn podcast (@roverschat_)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Blackburn?

You'd have to say it didn't. We lost top scorer Adam Armstrong in the summer but we responded well with Chilean sensation Ben Brereton Diaz becoming the talisman. 

Unfortunately, despite challenging for the top two at Christmas, we finished outside the play-offs.

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

I'm expecting a season of transition under the new manager Jon Dahl Tomasson. 

It'll be one where we see Rovers adapt to a new style and also new players come into the club and they'll need time to get used to it. I'd take anything around 15th.

How is the mood around the club in general?

It's mixed. Everyone is positive about the appointment of Tomasson and they're excited at the thought of new ideas and a fresh start, but the lack of transfers (at the time of writing) is worrying and fans are becoming concerned and a little disgruntled.

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

As mentioned before, Brereton Diaz will have expectation on his shoulders after last season, although he may still be sold. 

Lewis Travis will captain the side and he is a tough tackling midfielder, whilst fellow academy graduate Scott Wharton will be a big influence at centre-back.

Blackpool

Michael Appleton has returned to former club Blackpool after Neil Critchley's unexpected departure
Michael Appleton has returned to former club Blackpool after Neil Critchley's unexpected departure

John Aspinall, Seasiders Pod podcast (@SeasidersPod)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Blackpool?

I’d say most Blackpool fans were pleasantly surprised by last season, actually. 

A mid-table finish, sitting highest out of all the promoted League One teams was better than we all expected going into the campaign.

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

Expectations are not that high since boss Neil Critchley walked out on the club, with our player recruitment over the summer also virtually non-existent. 

As things stand, a season avoiding the drop is all I am hoping for. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised!

How is the mood around the club in general?

The mood is a bit 'meh' considering the lack of activity in the transfer market and losing Critchley. 

His replacement Michael Appleton was not the manager anyone really wanted, so if we make a poor start to the season, I expect him to be under a lot of pressure. 

The jury is out but he will be given a chance to show what he can do.

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

Wide man Josh Bowler is our standout player and a world beater on his day. 

Meanwhile, Shayne Lavery is also one to watch. I'm expecting plenty more goals from our raw Northern Ireland striker this term.

Bristol City

Andreas Weimann enjoyed a stunning campaign for Bristol City in 2021-22
Andreas Weimann enjoyed a stunning campaign for Bristol City in 2021-22

Gregor MacGregor, South West football journalist (@GeeMacGee)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Bristol City?

No, definitely not. 

Nigel Pearson's first full season in charge was not expected to result in a relegation battle. And it didn't, but the Robins flirted with being dragged into one. 

Their defence conceded the third most in the division but they did score plenty of goals — only the top six scored more.

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

For improvement, chiefly when it comes to keeping the ball out of the net. 

The squad is slowly becoming Pearson's and the club looks to have done some good business this summer. 

That is despite having little money to spend and navigating through financial measures following a hefty loss announced in the last club accounts.

How is the mood around the club in general?

Positive. To be fair to the new manager, it was always going to take some time to bring in the players he wants, change the culture and to get things happening the way he wants them to. 

There were positives last year, as well as negatives, and fans will expect progress into mid-table at least.

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

Andi Weimann was the joint third Championship top scorer last season, while only Dominic Solanke and Aleksandar Mitrovic registered more goal contributions (goals and assists combined) than his total of 32. 

Meanwhile, Antoine Semenyo could be key for the Robins if he can stay fit and will be expected to improve on eight goals and 12 assists from last year.

Burnley

Vincent Kompany's arrival has created plenty of intrigue around Burnley this season
Vincent Kompany's arrival has created plenty of intrigue around Burnley this season

Chris Boden, Burnley Express sports editor (@BodenKnights)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Burnley?

Pretty much. Sean Dyche worked another miracle to keep Burnley up the season before, and while there was some much-needed surgery on an ageing squad, it was too little, too late. 

It took 10 games to claim a first win, with the second only arriving in February. 

Defeat at bottom side Norwich was the final straw for Dyche and interim boss Mike Jackson gave the Clarets hope of survival, but ultimately the side weren’t good enough to stay up.

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

It’s hard to say really, going back into the Championship for the first time in six years. 

Burnley have only lost 10 of their last 95 games at this level, but it is a long time since the players with any experience of the second tier have played there. 

There is expectation ahead of a fresh start after a successful decade became stale, while there is excitement around Vincent Kompany’s appointment and trust in youth — but can the side gel?

How is the mood around the club in general?

The fans are generally upbeat and looking forward to a new era. 

They worshipped Dyche, but most accept things had run their course and it was time for a change of personnel and playing style. 

Supporters are happy to see players being bought with potential. However, those exciting prospects have big shoes to fill following the departures of Nick Pope, Ben Mee and James Tarkowski.

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

Dwight McNeil would've been capable of lighting up the division but has now departed for Everton. 

In terms of fresh faces, there is excitement about League One player of the season Scott Twine, who was Kompany’s first signing at Turf Moor.

Cardiff

Steve Morison turned Cardiff's fortunes around last term
Steve Morison turned Cardiff's fortunes around last term

Rob Phillips, BBC Wales football correspondent (@RobPhillipsHere)

Did 2021-22 go the way you expected it to for Cardiff?

No, it was a huge disappointment. 

The second half of the previous season had been encouraging with the arrival of Mick McCarthy at the turn of the year. But he had a desperate start to the 2021-22 campaign and after a dreadful run of eight defeats, he departed at the end of October. 

When the club promoted Under-23s boss Steve Morison, relegation was a real possibility but the former Wales striker engineered a turn in fortunes. 

What are your expectations heading into 2022-23?

It seems a step into the unknown. There has been a massive overhaul of the playing squad with stalwarts like Aiden Flint, Marlon Pack, Will Vaulks and others departing and being replaced by 13 (and counting) new recruits. 

Morison quickly introduced more pace and energy into the team, with more youth, too. He is also trying to evolve a new passing style with retention of possession much more important. 

Cardiff’s fortunes will depend on the newcomers gelling very quickly as a unit and the addition of more firepower in the forward line before the end of the summer window. 

Until the squad is finally settled, an improvement on last season would be a start.

How is the mood around the club in general?

Supporters are pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent incoming this summer. There has long been a general realisation the squad needed transforming while trying to reduce the wages. 

The number of signings and the emergence of some promising youngsters has sparked plenty of interest and some optimism but results will, of course, dictate how long that sunny outlook will last. 

Which players should LiveScore users be keeping a close eye on?

Rubin Colwill already has plenty of admirers, not least in the Wales national team set up. 

The 20-year-old has already scored for his country and had the experience of being in the squad at last year’s delayed Euros. 

He appears to be the best talent Cardiff have produced in some years and has the added incentive in the coming months of looking to book his place on the plane to the Qatar World Cup finals as part of Rob Page’s Wales squad. 

Tags

ChampionshipBirminghamBlackburnBlackpoolBristol CityBurnleyCardiff City
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