DF Previews…

This time it’s my turn. I take a look at MY teams upcoming season.

Stoke City

Manager: Nathan Jones

Last season: 16th   

key player 

Peter Etebo – It is paramount that we manage to keep hold of the Nigerian midfielder for the upcoming season. He showed glimpses last season of the class midfielder that he is and in my opinion the best since Steven N’Zonzi left for Sevilla in 2015. If he can perform more consistently he can be a real force from the central midfield and probably chip in with a few important goals.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

We have made 7 signings so far and all very shrewd. Liam Lindsay cost the club £2million and following him were Lee Gregory, Jordan Cousins, Adam Davies, Nick Powell and Stephen Ward all on free’s from there respective clubs.

At the time of writing our most recent signing is former Huddersfield Town captain Tommy Smith. With a much smaller financial outlay on players this season we look more clued up about what to expect this season.My favourite signing so far has to be Nick Powell, a real talent when he is on his A game. If we can keep him injury free he could be a key cog in Nathan Jones’ preferred diamond formation providing and scoring goals.

Who TO SIGN

Has to be Dwight Gayle. Showed his true form for West Brom last season and what a real asset he can be in the Championship. Perhaps £20million is a fee to be scoffed at but if he brings 20+ goals he will be worth every penny in our promotion bid season.

EXPECTED FINISH

Top six is a minimum this season. Last season was disastrous and I definitely expect us to be at least challenging for promotion if not the league title. On paper we easily have the best squad in the league.

EXCITING GAME

The visit of Luton to the bet365. Luton fans have a real hatred for Nathan Jones since he left the League One champions back in January for the job with us. Much like Rowett and Derby last season I expect the atmosphere will be electric.

TROPHY?

I never expect Stoke to win a trophy, it’s just not how I’ve been bought up, but, I’d love us to win the league. I’ll settle for the play-off final though!

@JDawsonFootball on Twitter.

DF Previews…

Matt previews his teams upcoming season.

QPR

Manager: Mark Warburton

Last season: 19th   

key player 

No player really excites me however it was good to see Angel Rangel resign for another year and I’m interested to see these 2 highly rated youngsters signed from Man City and Spurs, Matt Smith and Luke Amos respectively. We have had good success over the years with younger players breaking through on loan, the most notable one in recent years was Andros Townsend so I’m hoping these two can create a similar kind of magic.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Matt Smith, Dominic Ball, Luke amos, Yoann Barbet, Conor Masterson, Lee Wallace, Liam Kelly and Angel Rangel.

Who TO SIGN

At time of writing, Geoff Cameron, Stokes loss would be our gain. Im perplexed as to why Stoke would be prepared to lose one of their most consistent and versatile all rounders last year but his addition last season made a big difference. His injury cost us massively midway through the season and id love to see him back. (Turns out Matt got his wish as Cameron has now been announced as a QPR player!)

EXPECTED FINISH

Relegation, or certainly bottom 8, not enough experience or quality and too many untested young players.

EXCITING GAME

QPR V Stoke, living in Stoke ensures theres plenty of banter leading up to the game every season.

TROPHY?

QPR will be lucky not to be relegated based on current signings.

DF Previews…

James previews his teams upcoming season.

Nottingham Forest

Manager: Sabri Lamouchi

Last season: 9th   

key player 

Key player for me has to be João Carvalho (other fans may say Joe Lolley). Club record signing last season at €15m, he had a fairly inconsistent season last year which felt largely due to the fact Martin O’Neill who took over in January didn’t seem to fancy him. Feel now he has settled into English football this could be a much stronger season for him.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Yuri Ribiero

Tiago Silva

Sammy Ameobi

Alfa Semedo

Arijanet Muric 

Albert Adomah

Currently a struggle to pick a favourite as we’ve only played a handful of preseason games and there is very little to judge the lads that have come from abroad. Arguably I’d have to say Adomah but he’d need to rekindle the form of old to have an impact.

Who TO SIGN

No specific players as such but I feel with the players who’ve gone or are expected to leave in the near future, we could still do with another CB, CDM and Striker.

EXPECTED FINISH

I expect top 10 again and would love to see us push on but we’re in a relatively unknown period here with a new manager and a fair few new signings. It’s pretty clear the club owner Evangelos Marinakis expects promotion.

EXCITING GAME

Derby. It’s a brilliant occasion for both sets of fans, firmly believe the East Midlands Derby should be a top flight fixture.

TROPHY?

It’s been a long while, so I’ll reluctantly say no!

@Jiminy_Bob on Twitter

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Vinny previews his teams upcoming season.

Middlesbrough

Manager: Jonathan Woodgate

Last season: 7th   

key player 

It could be a number of players, we we have a new manager all the players need to impress to become a key player in Woody’s team.

Britt Assombalonga was scoring well in the AFCON and scored a hat trick in pre season so I’m excited to see if his big transfer fee will eventually pay off under an attacking manager.

George Saville and Jonny Howson both showed flashes of good football but we need constancy from the pair. 

But with Woody insisting he wants to move towards giving youth the nod, I could see Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher being key, fans loved their pace and energy in stages of last season. With the addition of Robbie Keane to the coaching staff, I can only see that being a positive for the younger players going forward. It’ll be good to see as the season goes on. 

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Tomas Mejas, Marcus Browne and Marc Bola have all transferred to the Boro, but we have also had a few additions from the youth ranks.

The returning cup keeper and penalty saving specialist will return to warm the bench nicely just behind Darren Randolph. 

Marcus Browne and Marc Bola look to be what boro need, young and energetic players who are hungry to play. It’s early days but if Marcus Browne hits the ground running he could be a key player to the Woody regime, with his direct style of play. 

Hayden Coulson could be exciting to see this season too, playing every pre season game this season I could see him being a surprise first teamer. It’s great to see the academy graduates signing up and doing well, especially solving that George Friend cover problem we’ve had for a number of seasons now; potentially even replacing our club captain.

Who TO SIGN

We need more additions, with rumors of some more young and hungry players alike to Browne and Bola it could be an exciting season for Boro. We need new recruits in the shape of cover in a number of positions and I’d like at another winger to improve our offensive game. Fingers crossed they’ll come in the form of pacy technically strong players, as that would complement the reasonably strong spine of the team. 

I’m confident with the sales of Braithwaite and Flint, combined with a few of the younger lads leaving the club, this has freed up a little bit of money for these players to come in. 

EXPECTED FINISH

After strengthening the side with new additions; I can see top 6. 

Without new additions; I can’t see any higher than last seasons finish in 7th place and realistically it’s going to take Woodgate a few months to implement his ideology so maybe 11th, 12th would be the realistic finish. 

EXCITING TIMES

Two words: Attacking Football! 

Woodgate has vowed that the fans will see a return of attacking football in the form of a smoggy tiki-taka 4-3-3, stepping in the right direction away from the Tony Pulis mesozoic era. 

I grew up with Juninho making the invincibles look like a lower league side, Viduka’s and Yakubu’s beautiful first touches, Hasselbaink showing the Etihad some real talent, with a Stewart Downing in his prime, putting the ball on a plate for all of them week in week out. I just want to see goals. 

TROPHY?

I really wouldn’t complain if I saw one, but I’m a Middlesbrough fan, let’s be realistic – no. 

@VinnyRay2 on Twitter

DF Previews…

Richie previews his teams upcoming season.

Everton

Manager: Marco Silva

Last season: 8th   

key player 

Andre Gomes, he ran almost every game he played in last season, including the Derby at Anfield, best footballer I’ve seen in an Everton shirt for years. Never looks under pressure and has a nasty streak so he’s not shy putting his foot in. Absolute bargain at £22 MM.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Gomes, Delph and Lossl 

Have to say Gomes again. £22MM is nothing these days and for someone who would get into most teams midfield, it’s an absolute snip. I think Delph is a great signing too and again a proper bargain. £9MM for someone who has captained England, played for the Champions regularly and who’s attitude and experience will be so valuable .

Who TO SIGN

Although I rate Calvert-Lewin very highly I don’t think he will score enough goals to push us on to the next level.

That said, if we are going to buy a striker then it has to be a proven Premier League goal scorer like Diego Costa, not pay over the odds for someone who ‘might’ do ok. I would still keep Calvert-Lewin involved though as he offers so much more than just goals.

EXPECTED FINISH

I think it’s a massive opportunity for the likes of us, Leicester, Wolves and maybe even West Ham to push for a top 6 and maybe even a top 4 finish.

Man Utd need players, Arsenal only have 2 players I’d take and Chelsea have took a gamble on Lampard. It’s a huge opportunity and one I hope that we can take.

EXCITING GAME

Liverpool at Anfield.

I love and hate this fixture in equal measure as the derby is the only game that makes me nervous, plus the fact we haven’t won there since the nineties will make it even better if we do.

TROPHY?

FA Cup or Carabao Cup.

I expect to win one of these. We need to go all out to win something as it’s been too long. We should field a full strength side in every game, winning games and having a cup run can only breed confidence which would hopefully then run on into the league form.games and having a cup 

DF Previews…

Burnley

Manager: Sean Dyche

Last season: 15th   

key player 

Arguably our biggest asset at the moment and potentially one of the most underrated players in the division, Ben Mee, is a critical player for us. He featured in every league game last season and his natural willingness to defend at all costs played a major factor in the club securing European football, just two seasons ago.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

It has been a quiet market in many respects with only two first team additions. The arrival of Erik Pieters is a good thing, he will definitely provide added competition alongside Charlie Taylor at left-back. Although, our second signing has to be my favourite. The return of the prodigal son, Jay Rodriguez. Having left for Southampton to fulfill his potential, now he’s home, where he belongs. Another signing we’ve made is a rather low key one, Ryan Cooney has joined the U23 setup, but he actually featured quite regularly last season at first team level for Bury. I’d keep an eye out for him!

Who TO SIGN

We’ve been linked with various players in recent weeks, some reported to be wide of the mark, but one of the names I personally am intrigued about a name doing the rounds, is Joakim Mæhle, who is a Danish right-back. He currently plays for Genk in Belgium and at just 21, he’s rated as one of the better players in the division.

EXPECTED FINISH

Most of the bookmakers have us down for another tough season, which is fair enough to be honest. Although, in all fairness the core base of the team heading into next season did predominantly feature in 2017/18 on our way to a 7thplace finish. There is clear ability in the squad. 

EXCITING GAME

Liverpool at home, August 31st, promises to be a good match. The Champions of Europe at Turf Moor, what more could you hope for?

TROPHY?

Realistically no. It would be nice to have a good run out in the cup and potentially get a look at some of our youth, particularly in the opening rounds, the likes of Ali Koiki and Jimmy Dunne maybe. However, the added fixture could prove too much for us.

@burnleh_chat on Twitter

DF Previews…

David previews his teams upcoming season…

West Ham

Manager: Manuel Pellegrini

Last season: 1oth   

key player 

Many will say Felipe Anderson who can be a match winner, however, key player could be A Yarmolenko who was just beginning to settle in English football last season when unfortunately, was injured and side lined for the entire campaign. Fit again should bring goals, pace and skill to the side.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Matt Smith – Forward from QPR

Pablo Fornals 

Roberto

David Martin 

Sebastien Haller 

Having signed two goalkeepers to replace the outgoing Adrian both of whom will be squad players and back up to Fabianski the highlight could be either Fornals or Haller both of whom could have a major impact on the team. Hammers have a disappointing list of Strikers for many seasons so here is hoping that Haller can finally be the signing to get the goals. 

Who TO SIGN

We needed a Striker and that box is ticked (hopefully), however, one further Striker is required I would have taken a gamble on Daniel Sturridge but possibly we could take Danny Welbeck for nothing. A Left Back is needed as cover and/or to replace Aaron Cresswell. 

EXPECTED FINISH

Expect to finish in the Top 10 again, however, see no reason why the team cannot push for 7th or 8th place finish. Why? We have a very good Manager and have many talented players within the squad they just need to improve on consistency and travel better. The Top 6 will remain as is potentially for the foreseeable future, however, 7th down is up for grabs for about 10 of the remaining 14 teams. 

EXCITING GAME

Look forward to every game but probably Tottenham Hotspur is one of the highlights of the season. 

TROPHY?

West Ham never expect to win a trophy!! Once you get to the latter stages of the Cup it becomes available to anyone you just need a bit of luck or the right draw. We will take the League Cup!! 

DF Previews…

The Tilehurt End preview their teams upcoming season.

Reading

Manager: Jose Gomes

Last season: 20th   

key player 

Andy Rinomhota, an all-action central midfielder who can both break up opposition attacks and start some of his own with powerful forward runs. His presence balances out the side a lot and allows the more naturally creative players to express themselves properly, not to mention protecting the defence. Plus, as an academy graduate, he’s extremely popular with the home crowd. 

SIGNINGS SO FAR

At time of writing it’s just Joao Virginia, a 19 year-old goalkeeper from Everton on loan for the season. It’s a big ask to use such a young guy as our new first-choice ‘keeper, but he’s certainly got the talent to excel at this level – shot-stopping, command of his penalty area, and the ability to play out accurately from the back. 

Who TO SIGN

A deep-lying playmaker. Without one, our midfield badly lacks creativity and the ability to dictate the tempo of a game, so recruiting someone to sit in front of the back four and spray passes around is crucial. We had that last season with Lewis Baker, and replacing him (or bringing him back) will be a big boost to this side. 

EXPECTED FINISH

Around 14th. We should still be able to bring in first-team quality to improve what’s currently a very young, inexperienced side, but even then it’ll be a big ask to get into the top half of the table. That said, we’ve got a much better manager, squad morale and fan connection than this time last year, so should be able to steer clear of the bottom three by May 2020. 

EXCITING GAME

Wycombe Wanderers away in the League Cup. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a derby match in a competitive game for at least 15 years – even if more animosity is reserved for lower-league sides Oxford United and Swindon Town. It’s bound to be an entertaining cup match under the lights in August. Charlton Athletic- A noisy sell-out against our South London rivals and normally a win!!

TROPHY?

Bar a shock run in the FA Cup or League Cup, no. The closest we’ve come to winning either trophy was getting to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1927 and 2015, but I don’t see us getting any further any time soon.

@TheTilehurstEnd  on Twitter

DF Previews…

Leeds United

Manager: Marcelo Bielsa

Last season: 3rd  

key player 

Kalvin Phillips.  He’s been the most improved player under the current manager and has become un-droppable and dictates how we play.

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Jack Harrison (Loan), Ben White (Loan) and Helder Costa as well as Rafa Mujica initially to join the U23 squad. Costa is the most promising so far. First class with Wolves at this level.

Who TO SIGN

I’d like a centre half just because we are short in that area, and a 20 goal striker. Although injury free seasons for Bamford and Roofe could see either of them reach the mark.

EXPECTED FINISH

Where do you expect to finish and why? Top 2. Close last year when unexpected and I think every player has bought in to the managers ideas and now know what is required.

EXCITING GAME

So many Yorkshire derbies in the Championship so bragging rights in all of those would be good

TROPHY?

I think we can win the Championship but the domestic cups will be out of reach

@dlturner4 on Twitter

DF Previews…

Paul previews his teams upcoming season.

Millwall

Manager: Neil Harris

Last season: 21st   

key player 

Jake Cooper-  Strong and resilient centre back who is very dangerous at set-pieces.  Steven Gerrard has tried to sign him for Rangers!

SIGNINGS SO FAR

Matt Smith – Forward from QPR

Alex Pearce – Centre Back from Derby

Frank Fielding – Goalkeeper from Bristol City

Jon Bodvarsson – Forward from Reading

Connor Mahoney – Winger from Bournemouth

Connor Mahoney excites me most. He looks like an exciting young prospect who creates chances and has had a good schooling at Bournemouth.

Who TO SIGN

I think our business is done but we still need to strengthen the squad. A quality ball-playing midfield is a must, any other acquisitions would be very welcome.

EXPECTED FINISH

Hopefully mid-table , but this is all dependent on the new players clicking and someone reaching 15 goals for the season.

EXCITING GAME

Charlton Athletic- A noisy sell-out against our South London rivals and normally a win!!

TROPHY?

No chance , but hopefully we will have another cup run and knock out a premier league side again!

@paulfields197 on Twitter