The Championship guide: Part one

3rd June 2018
Club

Swansea City are preparing for their first second-tier campaign since 2010-11.

With nine weeks to go until the new Championship season kicks off, we take an early look at the clubs the Swans will be up against as they plot a promotion challenge.

In part one of our club-by-club guide, we check out the clubs from A to M.

 

ASTON VILLA

How did they get on in 2017-18? Villa are getting set for their third straight season in the Championship having come close to returning to the Premier League last term, losing out in the play-off final to Fulham.

Who’s the boss? Steve Bruce. He knows his way out of the Championship, having won promotion to the Premier League on four previous occasions.

Do the Swans like facing them? In recent times, very much so. In 10 Premier League meetings between the clubs, Villa won only once.

Any other business? Former Swan Neil Taylor could face his old club for the first time next season, as could ex-Villa man Jordan Ayew.

 

BIRMINGHAM CITY

How did they get on in 2017-18? After losing to the Swans in pre-season last summer, Birmingham endured a difficult campaign which saw them employ three different managers. It ended well, though, as they avoided the drop.

Who’s the boss? A man who needs no introduction to Swans fans – Garry Monk. The former Swans skipper and manager took charge in early March and led Birmingham to survival.

Do the Swans like facing them? Their last league encounter was a goalless draw a decade ago. There were two cup ties in 2013-14, though, with the Swans losing out in the League Cup and winning in the FA Cup at St Andrew’s.

Any other business? Monk is not the only familiar face at the Blues. Pep Clotet, James Beattie and analyst Ryan Needs are all on his staff having previously worked with Monk at the Liberty.

 

BLACKBURN ROVERS

How did they get on in 2017-18? It went well. Rovers were relegated from the Championship in May 2017, but bounced back at the first time of asking by finishing second in League One.

Who’s the boss? Tony Mowbray, who won the Championship with West Brom a decade ago.

Do the Swans like facing them? Not especially. Their most recent league meeting, in April 2012, ended in a 3-0 Swans win, but Brendan Rodgers’s team lost the reverse fixture 4-2. The two clubs met in the FA Cup in 2015, with Gylfi Sigurdsson seeing red as the Swans went down 3-1 at Ewood Park.

Any other business? Ex-Swans striker Danny Graham scored 17 goals last season to help Rovers to promotion, but his contract is up and as things stand he has not agreed a new deal.

 

BOLTON WANDERERS

How did they get on in 2017-18? It was not great but ended superbly. Bolton looked set for a return to League One as they trailed Nottingham Forest 2-1 with four minutes of the season remaining. But David Wheater and Aaron Wilbraham struck in the dying moments to preserve Wanderers’ second-tier status.

Who’s the boss? Phil Parkinson. The former Reading player has three promotions on his CV and led fourth-tier Bradford to the Capital One Cup final in 2013, which they lost to the Swans.

Do the Swans like facing them? They haven’t played too often in recent years. There were three meetings in 2011-12, with the Swans banking four Premier League points against the Trotters but losing in the FA Cup.

Any other business? Darren Pratley has made more than 200 appearances for Bolton since leaving the Swans to join them in 2011. His contract is up this summer, though, and it remains to be seen whether he will stay on at the Macron Stadium.

 

BRENTFORD

How did they get on in 2017-18? The Bees finished a comfortable ninth in the Championship.

Who’s the boss? Former Leyton Orient and Sheffield Wednesday centre-back Dean Smith, who won praise after starting his managerial career at Walsall and has continued to impress during two-and-a-half years in West London.

Do the Swans like facing them? Yes. The Swans have not lost in their last six meetings with Brentford, although they were all a while back. Shaun MacDonald scored twice in the two clubs’ most recent encounter, in the League Cup a decade ago.

Any other business? After a quiet stint at the Swans – one of many loan spells away from parent-club Chelsea – Josh McEachran has found a home at Brentford.

 

BRISTOL CITY

How did they get on in 2017-18? Finished 11th in the Championship, although for a while the play-offs seemed possible, and also had a sparkling run to the League Cup semi-finals.

Who’s the boss? Lee Johnson. Once part of the Yeovil team who so often sparred with the Swans in the lower leagues, Johnson’s reputation as a fine young manager is growing after stints with Oldham, Barnsley and the Robins.

Do the Swans like facing them? Recent results against the Robins have been pretty good, with the clubs’ last encounter, in February 2011, ending in a 2-0 away win at Ashton Gate thanks to a double from Darren Pratley. And there was that remarkable 7-1 triumph in 2005, of course.

Any other business? Bristol City stole headlines with their brilliant goal GIFs on social media last season. The Swans won’t want to witness too many of them in 2018-19, however.

 

DERBY COUNTY

How did they get on in 2017-18? For a while they looked like automatic promotion contenders, but they ended up losing out in the play-off semi-finals to Fulham, the team who went up.

Who’s the boss? Frank Lampard. The Chelsea legend will take his first steps in management at Pride Park having landed the job this week.

Do the Swans like facing them? Results in recent encounters have been a mixed bag. Derby beat the Swans last time out, in March 2011, thanks in part to a memorable Ashley Williams own goal.

Any other business? Martin Olsson could come face to face with an extremely familiar face when the Swans take on Derby – namely, identical twin Marcus.

 

HULL CITY

How did they get on in 2017-18? Finished up 18th, which may not look great considering they had just dropped out of the Premier League, but the good news for Hull was that they avoided a second successive relegation.

Who’s the boss? Nigel Adkins, who took over midway through last season following Leonid Slutsky’s departure. The former Bangor keeper had considerable success as Scunthorpe boss and led Southampton to back-to-back promotions earlier in his career.

Do the Swans like facing them? The Swans have lost their last four games against Hull, but there was more joy for the Liberty club in their early Premier League days. And there was a fairly significant win in 2003, too.

Any other business? Sam Clucas could come up against his former club when the Swans face Hull, as could Tigers defender Stephen Kingsley.

 

IPSWICH TOWN

How did they get on in 2017-18? Ipswich finished 12th in the second tier, with Mick McCarthy ending his six-year tenure at Portman Road shortly before the end of the season.

Who’s the boss? Paul Hurst. The former Rotherham defender started out as a manager in non-league football, leading Grimsby Town to promotion from the Conference and then impressing at Shrewsbury. Took the Ipswich job after the Shrews were beaten in the League One play-off final.

Do the Swans like facing them? Yes. The two clubs’ last six meetings were in the Championship between 2008 and 2011, and the Swans did not lose any of them.

Any other business? Llanelli-born Emyr Huws, a former Swans youngster, could line up against his old club in 2018-19 as he closes in on a return from a long-term knee injury.

 

LEEDS UNITED

How did they get on in 2017-18? Having come close to reaching the play-offs under Garry Monk in the previous season, Leeds finished a disappointing 13th. They will hope for better in 2018-19.

Who’s the boss? To be confirmed. Paul left Barnsley to take charge at Leeds in early February having impressed at Oakwell, succeeding Dane Thomas Christiansen, but departed this week after just a handful of games in charge.

Do the Swans like facing them? Scott Sinclair scored twice when the two clubs last met, with the Swans winning 3-0 at the Liberty in 2011. There was also that memorable 3-2 League One victory in 2007, not to mention an unforgettable 5-1 triumph in the Swans’ first ever top-flight game 37 years ago.

Any other business? He may be 33, but former Swan Pablo Hernandez is still going strong at Leeds, where he recently signed a new two-year deal.

 

MIDDLESBROUGH

How did they get on in 2017-18? Having begun the season with Garry Monk at the helm, Boro replaced the ex-Swan with Tony Pulis on Boxing Day. The club were ninth at the time. They ended up in the play-offs, but lost out in the semi-finals to Aston Villa.

Who’s the boss? Pulis took over at the Riverside having left West Brom last November. The vastly experienced Welshman led Stoke to promotion from the second tier a decade ago.

Do the Swans like facing them? The Swans took just a point from two Premier League games against Boro, but did beat them on the way to League Cup glory in 2013. Their last Championship encounter, in 2011, was a classic, as Brendan Rodgers’s team came back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 on Teesside.

Any other business? He did not play many games last season, but former Swans keeper Dimi Konstantopolous, who will be 40 in November, could come up against his old club in 2018-19 having signed a new one-year deal in the spring.

 

MILLWALL

How did they get on in 2017-18? Millwall were a big success story in the Championship last season, where they finished eighth and missed out on the play-offs by just three points.

Who’s the boss? Neil Harris. A legend at Millwall thanks to his exploits as a player, Harris is now doing rather well in the dugout. Having brought the club up from League One, he has established them in the Championship.

Do the Swans like facing them? The Swans’ recent encounters with Millwall have been fairly positive. Their last meeting, in 2011, ended in a 2-0 Swans win at the New Den thanks to goals from Darren Pratley and Stephen Dobbie.

Any other business? The summer departures of Leon Britton and Angel Rangel mean Nathan Dyer is the one survivor from the Swans side which took the field when the club last took on Millwall.

 

* Look out for part 2 of our Championship guide on swanseacity.com tomorrow.