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Npower Championship Preview 2012/2013 – Part 3

I now move onto part three of my four part preview for the forthcoming Npower Championship season. In this feature I will turn my attentions to another six teams, including my very own Leicester City. So in part three im going to talk about the chances of Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City and Middlesbrough…

Huddersfield Town
After years of grueling work, Huddersfield Town finally found themselves promoted back to the second tier of English football, after a penalty shootout play-off win against Sheffield United. Huddersfield have been knocking on the door of Championship promotion for a great period of time, and at the end of last season it finally opened. Former Leeds manager Simon Grayson has brought change and success to the Terriers ever since his appointment in late February, as the club seem to be on the upward spiral. There has been talk of a possible promotion challenge at the Galpharm Stadium this season, back to back promotion is high on the agenda, and with a relatively young and talented squad, Huddersfield Town are capable of flirting with a top six finish. Grayson has made a number of excellent additions in the summer transfer window, central midfielders Olivier Norwood and Adam Clayton both join the club, while the exciting and tricky winger of Sean Scannell, also flies into Grayson’s reckoning, after being signed from Championship rivals Crystal Palace. The main resource this season will be goalscoring hitman Jordan Rhodes, the 22 year old is one of the football league’s hottest properties after scoring 40 goals in all competitions last season, Rhodes has been the subject of a possible move to Blackburn Rovers; however Huddersfield Town will do everything in their power to keep him at the Galpharm Stadium. Huddersfield are an exciting side and they could produce outstanding performances in the 2012/2013 campaign, they will be compelling to watch but I believe a comfortable mid-table finish is more sustainable this season. Prediction 15th

Hull City
It’s been a puzzling time at Hull City recently, Nick Barmby was relieved of his duties due to comments made about the board and transfers, only to be replaced by the highly regarded Steve Bruce. The sacking of Barmby was surprising, but the appointment of Bruce is a formidable change, with Premier League experience the 51 year old should have a successful reign as the manager of Hull City, as he attempts to get the Tigers promoted back to the promise land. Bruce has made some solid acquisitions, including goalkeeper Ben Amos who joins on a season-long loan, winger Sone Aluko who made a major impact at Rangers last season and German striker Nick Proschwitz who signed for a fee of £2.6 million. Hull on paper look to be an impressive side, but they will have to battle it out with a number of teams for a top six finish, as I believe the league may be too demanding for them. They will be in and around the top six, but could well miss out on a place in the play-offs; however if Robert Koren continues his good form after signing a new contract, and the striking trio of Fryatt, McLean and Proschwitz find the net on a consistent basis, a place in the play-offs may not be out of reach after all. Prediction 11th

Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town manager Paul Jewell recently admitted it’s been a frustrating summer at Portman Road, the transfer activity has been a discouraging sign as new signings have been few and far between. Scott Loach and the unknown youngster of Elliott Hewitt are the only cash signings this summer, while Luke Chambers has joined on a free transfer, and Massimo Luongo only joins on a loan deal. Jewell is hoping to do more movement before the transfer window shuts at the end of August, but the former Wigan manager knows that he may be in for a frustrating time. Ipswich are predicted to struggle in the 2012/2013 campaign, the squad doesn’t look strong enough and a possible relegation battle maybe surprisingly on the cards. Michael Chopra will be the main source for goals, while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas will be pivotal from midfield, also keep an eye out for left-back Aaron Cresswell who impressed during last season. Challenging times may well be in store for Ipswich Town, as a lowly placed finish looks to be on the horizon. Prediction 20th

Leeds United
After a seriously mediocre season at Elland Road, manager Neil Warnock now takes charge of Leeds United in his first full season in charge. Warnock can now draw out his foundations, and hopefully turn Leeds United’s fortunes around from a mid-table 14th position to a possible top six finish. Warnock has made major changes over the summer by signing an incredible eleven players, while ten players have departed Elland Road, including the talented Robert Snodgrass who has switched a division to Premier League Norwich City. Leicester City proved last season that signing a hatful of players can have a negative effect, but when Warnock is concerned he often gets his teams to gel, and play appealing football in a small amount of time. Leeds United should have a successful campaign under Neil Warnock; however their home form must improve as they lost 12 games in all competitions at Elland Road last season. The duo of Paddy Kenny and David Norris will be valuable signings, while Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio should perform a dangerous partnership. I really rate Leeds United’s chances of a play-off place, as I can see them finishing amongst the top six this season. Prediction 6th

Leicester City
After being installed as the favourites for the Championship title last season, big spenders Leicester City simply underperformed. This summer Nigel Pearson has quietly gone about his business, in a professional and uncomplicated manner, as the 48 year old has cleared out a serious amount of dead wood, and made a number of shrewd young signings. Leicester City may well slip under the radar this season, as the expectations of the club are not as extreme as last season. Many players will need to improve on their performances in this campaign, attacking midfielder Andy King had an awfully poor season, while Danny Drinkwater needs to find consistency in his performances. The attacking threat from the wings will be the most dangerous part of Leicester City’s game, Ben Marshall is the one to watch for the Foxes, while Anthony Knockaert looks to be a great piece of business by manager Nigel Pearson. Leicester City look in reasonably good shape; however many teams look stronger in vital positions, Nigel Pearson is a very good manager but yet again Leicester City may well miss out on a top six finish by the skin of their teeth. Prediction 8th

Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough had a fairly accomplished 2011/2012 campaign, as the team from Teesside finished in 7th place. Tony Mowbray has done an excellent job as the manager of Middlesbrough, he has got the side playing attractive football and has improved their league position. Boro should be involved in the play-off mix this season, Mowbray has a well structured side that is capable of promotion and a solid campaign at the Riverside is more than likely. Most of the summer signings all have immense quality, while some are slightly uninspiring, but on a positive note it will be exciting to watch the trio of Grant Leadbitter, Emmanuel Ledesma and Mustapha Carayol perform in a Middlesbrough shirt. Jason Steele is a talented goalkeeper who could well have massive season, while Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz will want to improve their goalscoring tally. The Smoggies will be a dangerous outfit, and a consistent campaign under Mowbray looks to be the likely outcome, a top six finish isn’t out of reach but don’t be surprised to see them miss out again. Prediction 9th

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