As the start of the 2021-22 Sky Bet Championship season draws ever closer, we take a look at how each club in the second tier is shaping up ahead of the new campaign with a pre-season roundup.
With all 24 Championship teams having faced 85 different clubs across lower leagues and the Premier League during pre-season between them, this has certainly been a hectic pre-season with clubs travelling across the country in order to build up match fitness and plans for the season ahead.
Now with the new league campaign set to begin this weekend as Bournemouth host West Bromwich Albion in the season-opener on Friday 6 August, we have a full individual round-up on how each club’s pre-season has unfolded.
Under new management of Markus Schopp, Barnsley endured a positive pre-season as two goals in seven minutes from Carlton Morris and Liam Kitching handed the Tykes a 2-1 victory at Rochdale in their opening pre-season friendly.
Jordan Williams and Clarke Oduor then netted in a 2-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday before Barnsley found themselves held by Morecambe on neutral territory at Loughborough University, with their pre-season ending in defeat at Manchester City as they lost 4-0 to an understrength City team.
Birmingham begun their campaign with a 3-0 away win at Cheltenham Town before finding themselves held to a 1-1 draw at home to Barrow.
Lee Bowyer then split his Blues into two separate squads for two friendlies on 24 July as Scott Hogan netted twice in a 7-0 home win over Salford City, whilst the away team lost 3-2 at Northampton Town despite first half goals for Ivan Sanchez and Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Birmingham then concluded their pre-season with a four goal home defeat at the hands of West Midlands rivals, West Bromwich Albion.
Tony Mowbray’s Blackburn enjoyed a positive start to pre-season as Connor McBride struck a 74th minute winner to defeat AFC Fylde.
Rovers thereafter shifted three goals in away defeats to Everton and Bradford City before McBride netted in a 1-1 home draw against Leeds, with Rovers then concluding their pre-season with a comeback 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers with Ben Brereton netting a brace.
Lee Critchley’s Seasiders enjoyed a packed pre-season schedule of seven matches which began with a dominant seven goal victory at Squires Gate, before Demetri Mitchell netted in wins at Southport and Carlisle either side of a 3-1 loss at Accrington Stanley.
Blackpool then fell to a narrow one goal loss to Burnley before Christopher Hamilton’s 56th minute effort helped the Tangerines snatch a 1-1 draw at Morecambe, with Blackpool’s pre-season finishing on a disappointing note with a 4-1 loss at Manchester City despite drawing 1-1 at half-time.
With Scott Parker appointed as the club’s new manager, Bournemouth endured a short pre-season of three fixtures as Kyle Taylor netted twice in a 4-2 win over Linense in Spain, before losing 2-1 to Granada as Colombia’s Luis Suarez netted a late winner for the Spanish team.
Parker’s Cherries then blew a 66th minute lead through Emiliano Marcondes as Armando Broja and Ike Ugbo struck back to give Chelsea victory at the Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth also brought forward their First Round tie against MK Dons in this season’s Carabao Cup which they won 5-0, in turn comfortably securing a Second Round place ahead of the new league campaign this weekend.
Nigel Pearson’s Robins enjoyed a strong pre-season as they bounced back from a goalless draw against Celtic in their opening friendly to claim a 3-3 draw against Portsmouth, in which the Robins had to recover from 2-0 down at half-time.
Nakhi Wells then netted three goals in two matches as Bristol City comfortably thrashed MK Dons and Exeter City, prior to Andreas Weimann’s 38th minute winner in a tight contest at Plymouth Argyle before pre-season concluded with a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa at Ashton Gate.
James Collins netted a brace on debut for Cardiff as Mick McCarthy’s Bluebirds thrashed Bath City 5-0 away at Twerton Park, before losing 2-0 and drawing 1-1 against Cambridge United in a double-header on 17 July at Cardiff International Sports Complex.
Collins then netted in a 2-1 win at Forest Green Rovers and in a 2-2 draw against Exeter City ahead of a four goal mauling at the hands of Southampton.
Cardiff concluded their pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Welsh rivals – Newport County in which Joe Ralls and Mark Harris both found the net.
Mark Robins’ Coventry endured a nightmare pre-season with an opening 4-0 loss to Sevilla at Pinatar Arena, Spain, followed by 2-1 and 5-0 losses to MK Dons in a double-header before shifting three goals in losses to Cheltenham Town and Mansfield Town.
Their pre-season friendly against Norwich City was cancelled due to positive Coronavirus cases within the latter team, with defeats to Gloucester City and Wolves before their pre-season campaign concluded with a dominant five goal victory away at Nuneaton Borough without conceding.
With several first-team exits at the end of 2020-21 season, Derby have endured a tough pre-season which began with a 2-1 home loss to Wayne Rooney’s former club, Manchester United despite Colin Kazim-Richards getting on the scoresheet.
Another 2-1 loss followed away at Salford City before Max Bird grabbed a late winner to stun Real Betis, which the Rams followed up with a 2-0 away victory at Notts County to wrap up their pre-season.
With Marco Silva now in charge, Fulham only played two pre-season friendlies as Neeskens Kebano netted in a 1-1 draw at Southampton, before Fabio Carvalho scored a 31st minute winner to defeat Charlton Athletic at Craven Cottage.
Carlos Corberan’s Terriers began pre-season with Josh Koroma’s chipped winner to defeat Harrogate Town, before finding themselves held to a 2-2 car at Golcar United which was followed by a two goal victory at Southport.
Huddersfield’s pre-season ended with consecutive defeats as Teemu Pukki and Adam Idah struck to give Norwich a 2-0 win at Carrow Road, with Lewis O’Brien then netting a late consolation goal in a 2-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town.
Hull began their pre-season with split home/away squads at two separate venues on 24 July as Josh Magennis netted a second half consolatory goal in a 2-1 home loss to Mansfield Town, with Andrew Cannon meanwhile netting a 85th minute winner away at Scunthorpe in the other opening friendly.
Another defeat soon befell the Tigers as Will Grigg gifted Sunderland a late 2-1 win at Stadium of Light after Magennis had cancelled out Ross Stewart’s opener.
Quick-fire goals from Tom Huddlestone and Tom Eaves concluded Hull’s pre-season on a positive note with a two goal win over Manchester United’s Under-23s.
Having enjoyed a surprise 12th placed finish last season, Luton got their pre-season off to a flier with 16 goals in their opening three friendlies as they thrashed Hitchin Town, Rochdale and Bedford Town, before conceding in a 3-1 win over Boreham Wood.
The Hatters concluded their pre-season with a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth before Harry Cornick scored a consolatory goal in a 3-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Neil Warnock’s Boro enjoyed a positive start to pre-season with a 3-0 away win over Northern League’s Bishop Auckland, in which Uche Ikpeazu, Djed Spence and Jeremy Sivi all netted.
Middlesbrough then headed to the South Coast for a week-long training camp plus friendlies, as they defeated Saltash United 2-1, followed by braces for Duncan Watmore and Hayden Coulson in a seven goal victory at Tavistock.
Boro concluded their South Coast trip with a 2-1 win at Plymouth Argyle with Matt Crooks and Marcus Tavernier on the scoresheets, before suffering a surprise 2-1 defeat at York City but finished their campaign on a high with a 14th minute winner from Paddy McNair at Rotherham.
Millwall began their campaign with a 2-0 win over Motherwell before suffering defeats at Watford and Arsenal, either side of Matt Smith’s brace in a 2-0 win over Barnet.
Gary Rowett’s Lions concluded pre-season with a 1-1 draw at Gillingham before Benik Afobe netted twice in a 3-0 away win at Ipswich, in which Murray Wallace added their third goal to seal the win.
Forest kicked off their season with a 2-1 win at Alfreton Town before claiming 2-0 away wins over Port Vale and Northampton Town, with their pre-season prematurely concluding at Crewe Alexandra in a 2-2 draw after blowing a two goal lead built up by Brennan Johnson’s brace.
Positive Coronavirus cases saw Forest’s last two pre-season friendlies against Aston Villa and Burnley both cancelled.
Peterborough began preparations for their return to the second tier in style with an EIGHT GOAL thrashing of Bedford Town, in which Jorge Grant, Mohamed Eisa and Harrison Burrows all snatched braces.
The Posh followed up that victory with a 4-0 win at Stamford before suffering a 6-1 loss to Chelsea at Cobham Training Centre, prior to winning a double-header at Barnet before drawing both games 2-2 in a double header at Oxford United.
Peterborough then split their squad in half for their penultimate friendlies as one team lost at Portsmouth, whilst the second team edged a narrow 1-0 win at Swindon with a trialist netting the winning goal after just seven minutes.
Their pre-season campaign however concluded with a 1-0 loss away at King Lynn Town.
Preston North End
Preston begun life under Frankie McAvoy with victory in a dramatic 11 goal thriller as they thrashed Bamber Bridge 8-3 away from Deepdale.
Benjamin Whiteman then netted in the Lilywhites’ next two friendly matches as Preston drew at St Johnstone before edging a close contest at Celtic, although their return to the North West proved miserable with defeats against Bolton, Manchester City and Wigan Athletic as well as a 1-1 draw at Accrington Stanley.
Their final pre-season friendly at home to Manchester United was called off due a number of suspected Coronavirus cases amongst the Red Devils.
Mark Warburton’s QPR began pre-season on a positive comeback note as second half goals from Marco Ramkilde and Olamide Shodipo gifted the Hoops a 2-1 win over Portsmouth, who had led through a 22nd minute goal from John Marquis.
Their second pre-season friendly was cancelled due to a Coronavirus outbreak within Gillingham’s squad but the West London squad quickly bounced back, as Lyndon Dykes netted three goals across their next two friendlies in wins over Manchester United and Cambridge United.
QPR concluded their pre-season with a six goal thriller at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as they found themselves held to a 3-3 draw by Leicester City.
Veljko Paunovic’s Royals endured a slightly messy pre-season despite opening with a 1-0 win over Lincoln City, as their trip to Aberdeen was cancelled due to three positive Coronavirus cases in the squad.
A 3-0 loss to West Ham was soon followed by 1-1 draw against Charlton before John Swift netted in a 2-1 away win at Brighton, with the ex Chelsea youngster finding the net again in a 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s reign at Sheffield United got off to a positive start despite only playing two pre-season friendlies, as John Egan, Lys Mousset and Tyler Smith all scored in a 3-0 win over Europa Point on 10 July.
The Blades however were made to wait 18 days before their next friendly but they maximised their training time, as Mousset netted a brace in a 4-0 away win at Doncaster Rovers with Oliver Burke and Luke Freeman also finding the net.
Michael O’Neil’s Potters began pre-season on a strong note with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at home to Hibernian, before delivering 6-0 and 3-2 away victories over Linfield and Crewe Alexandra respectively ahead of a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa as Steven Fletcher and Mario Vrancic both scored against Villa.
Stoke’s pre-season concluded with a 2-1 defeat at Wigan Athletic before Danny Batth scored against his former team as Stoke held Wolves to a 1-1 draw at home in their final pre-season friendly.
Swansea began pre-season under Steve Cooper as the Swans netted ten goals without conceding in a triple-header against Newport County, before their trip to Swindon was cancelled due to logistical issues at the latter club.
Cooper’s final match in charge saw Swansea defeat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 before he resigned less than 24 hours later, with a Coronavirus outbreak then forcing the cancellation of the Swans’ trip to Bristol Rovers.
Alan Tate consequently took charge of Swansea’ final two friendlies as goals from Yan Dhandha and Ben Lloyd gifted the Welsh club victory at Forest Green Rovers, prior to a 3-1 home loss to Southampton after having taking a brief lead through Mohammed Salisu’s own goal.
West Bromwich Albion
Having appointed Valerien Ismael as new manager, West Brom enjoyed a strong pre-season without conceding as Kenneth Zohore netted in an opening 1-0 friendly win at Woking.
Matt Phillips scored twice in a 2-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday before holding Watford to a goalless draw at Vicarage Road, with their fourth friendly at Walsall subsequently cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch at Banks’ Stadium.
The Baggies successfully concluded their pre-season with a four goal victory at Birmingham City, in which all four goals came after half time.