Firstly though, it’s important to hold realistic expectations. The Championship is a strong league with some big spending established teams, who will settle for nothing less than promotion. We’ve seen Norwich City and Southampton sail through the league in securing back to back promotions. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ll follow suit. Reasonable expectation should be a top half finish, with an outside play off chance. I’m confident we won’t be involved in the dog fight to stay up.
When we got promoted in 2005 the main emphasis seemed to be on staying up. If you aim low you tend to achieve the same, and that season we just about managed to stay in the division. There’s a different feel about this promotion. Paul Sturrock will go down in history for his achievements with our club, but Dave Jones is a class above. He’s won promotion out of this league and come close on several other occasions. If anybody can get us out of the division in the right direction he can, but he may need more than one season.
There is a real good vibe around the club at the moment. There’s no debt like the last time we were in this league. We’ve got some momentum from a long unbeaten run which came with our promotion. We’ve sold 6000 tickets for our opening trip to Pride Park and it’s important we get off to a positive start if we are to have a successful campaign.
We’ve signed new players, whilst others have departed. The arrival of Michail Antonio is a key. He we will want to prove he can cut it at this level having had his appearances restricted at Reading. Chris Kirkland and Anthony Gardener have had injury plagued careers, but if they can be on the pitch more often than not their signings could be crucial. It is also interesting to see us scouring Europe to find affordable talent. Slovenian playmaker Nejc Pečnik looks like he has talent and it will be interesting to see if he can adapt to the English game following his arrival from Portugal. I think we are still short of a striker and central midfielder, especially after the huge blow of losing Chris Lines long term with a groin injury. With loans from Premier League clubs more likely over the coming weeks, I’m sure we’ll see the squad further strengthened.
I don’t know why we predict things as you tend to end up with egg on your face, but as things stand my prediction is that we will finish in 8th. However if I’m wrong and it’s higher, I’ll be content.
Up the Owls!
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