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English Franchise League Season 2015/16


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It's almost upon us once more! I'll be honest and say I expected Derby to be promoted last season but I'm certainly no less excited to start another season in this great league.

7th-9th August 2015

Brighton v Nottm Forest
Cardiff v Fulham
Leeds v Burnley
Birmingham v Reading
Blackburn v Wolves
Bolton v Derby
Brentford v Ipswich
Charlton v QPR
Hull v Huddersfield
Rotherham v MK Dons
Sheff Wed v Bristol City
Preston v Middlesbrough

My early predictions:

Top 6: Middlesbrough, Derby, Wolves, Ipswich, Hull, Burnley

Bottom 3: Preston, Charlton, Bristol City

Names which I can add to (just post in this thread who you support):

Baring - Middlesbrough
Bittertoad - Fulham
Dan_tm - Sheffield Wednesday
DeadRussian - Nottingham Forest
dr_manhattan^ - Wolves
Elseb - Birmingham City
emjay2k - Middlesbrough
gossi the dog - Nottinghmm, Forest
hereticboy - Hull City
Hellsbells - Sheffield Wednesday
Kensei - Leeds United
McMond - Sheffield Wednesday
Merman - Ipswich Town
Milko - Leeds United
Mirodo - Sheffield Wednesday
Monobrow - Nottingham Forest
Moosden25 - Huddersfield Town
Orc1927 - Cardiff City
PeteBrant - QPR
PC Master Race - Brentford
Plissken - Burnley
Rev - Sheffield Wednesday
Rsdio - Huddersfield Town
Smithstock - Middlesbrough
SomethingWitty - Ipswich Town
Steely - Middlesbrough
Timmo - Derby County
Waddie - Sheffield Wednesday

Once again I'm gonna do a write up in the near future of how Derby are shaping up.

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Sheffield Wednesday are going to have an interesting season. That much I can predict, beyond that though...No idea.

How much have you spent now? And what do you make of your signings?

I went to Hillsbrough last season and was impressed with your build up play. You just lacked that scoring edge and by the looks of things that carried through the season. Record number of 0-0s?

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How much have you spent now? And what do you make of your signings?

I went to Hillsbrough last season and was impressed with your build up play. You just lacked that scoring edge and by the looks of things that carried through the season. Record number of 0-0s?

It wasn't the place to visit if you wanted to see goals, no.

We've not spent that much really, there's only one concerning figure in that column of a random Portuguese guy for £3m which feels like a lot of money. Better news is getting Lewis McGugan back, seemingly cheaply and everyone else has been free although I expect at least a couple more bits of cash splashing before the window ends.

The manager is more concerning. Stuart Gray wasn't exactly inspiring, but he was doing fine and to replace him with something of a journeyman who has never worked in Britain seems incredibly brave/stupid. Firing Gray and bringing a known name in would have been one thing, but...Yeah, I'm not happy on balance although I don't think there is a real loss in losing Gray. We're apparently going to play attacking and aggressive football, which is a bit of a change.

Dunno. We'll see.

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Come on Boro!

I live in Sheffield so the office banter is great. Sheff Wed aren't a bad side, they had a top defence with a relegation worthy lack of goals, hence the mid table finish.

Sort the goals out and they will be right up there.

Shame I'm missing the Hillsborough game this year as its my little girls birthday party. We haven't scored there the last 3 times I went so we might do now.

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I have a curious and unfamiliar sense of optimism for Ipswich's chances this year. Murphy signed up on an extended contract is good news (although I'm expecting him to settle back down to his more usual 10-goal-a-season form than a repeat of last year's fireworks), and the Mings deal is just good business. A promising left back isn't going to win you promotion, but £8m plus Pitman and Fraser might just help. Chambers, Smith and Berra all still in place, who were the core of our defensive solidity last year. Will be interested to see how Maitland-Niles works out. I've heard a lot of good things about him, and if you could have one criticism of us last year, it would be a lack of creative spark through the middle, which he should hopefully help address. I'm still expecting another one or two signings, and if Teddy Bishop can stay fit and continue his trajectory from last season, and maybe Luke Hyam finally get a break and manage to get back from injury, then we have as good and deep a squad going into the season as we've had for years.

Negatives? Sad to see Anderson leave. I always liked him. The lingering concern that the Mings money may just seep away without an impact signing (which that sort of money ought to be able to secure, by championship standards). Working out which 3 months of the season McGoldrick will miss this year (I'm going to go for Dec-Feb). That Mick might be on Premiership managerial shortlists when silly sacking season starts in October. Finally, in contrast to Mike B, above, I'll miss the Derby days. Despite the results last year, there is literally no better day for me in the sporting year than when we play Norwich at home.

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It could be an interesting season for Reading, we have let loads of players go, as well as a lot of the old coaches and bought in a few as well including Quinn and McShane both from Hull.

We are miles off challenging for promotion though, we don't have any one who can score goals on a regular basis and money for players seems to be in short supply now the parachute payments have ended.

Finishing mid-table would be a decent season for us.

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I can never feel optimistic about Boro, but we're certainly going for it this year. I'm pleased to see Downing back, and I expect he's grown up a fair bit since he was last at the club (him and Woodgate were a right pair of pricks out on the town allegedly). I don't know much about our new striker, Stuani, other than he's Uruguayan and scored about 1 in 3 for Espanyol last year. Our new defender suffered a double fracture to his leg on his debut, which is always the sort of season opening luck you like to see.

Our big loss this year is Bamford of course. Our top scorer last season and the Championship player of the year, he's not going to be easy to replace. Goals were our downfall last year, and it seems to be a never-ending problem for us as a team - I don't think we've had a good consistent strike force since McClaren was in charge, and even then we had Viduka and Maccarone (God bless him) up front. Then we signed Alves and... well, yeah. So, losing our top scorer, in a team that doesn't score as many as other promotion rivals, is a big concern. Obviously our defence was brilliant last season, but with more effective strikers I think we'd have turned a fair few draws into wins, and that makes all the difference.

We're being linked with Jordan Rhodes and he's apparently keen to talk to us. £12-15m is a ridiculous sum of money at this level though. Brilliant if it pays off and he fires us to the Premier League, but oh so costly if he doesn't. Still, I'm pleased to see we seem to really be going for it this year, and as ever I trust Gibson and I think Karanka is a brilliant manager, so trust whatever he's doing too.

At the back of my mind though, I see Derby last season - after a great 13/14, Derby seemed nailed on to go up, and then for a multitude of reasons it all just fell apart and they didn't even make the playoffs. There's always one team you expect to do well who fluffs it, and some team you expect to be nowhere who canes it through. I'm just really, really hoping that the play-off final loss hasn't taken the wind out of our sails too much. The ambition the club is showing in the transfer market suggests we're not letting that happen, so I'm cautiously optimistic.


You know, a bit.

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Can't disagree with any of that except for the part about Downing. I was a season ticket holder when he was here the first time but I rated Adam Johnson much higher than him when they both came on the scene. He must have come in to replace Vossen and hopefully can supply the ammunition for whoever is going to be up front but I can't help think the money could have been better spent elsewhere. I'm hoping Kike actually turns up this season too, he was excellent for the first handful of games but then disappeared without a trace.

For what it's worth, I think we are a weaker team than last season and I don't think we will win the league. I'd settle for the play-offs if it comes to it but I don't want to go through Wembley heartache again.

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As for Hull City, we've been pretty shit to watch for a long time now. I'm looking forward to watching games and believing we might actually win, though. Our problem at the moment is our paper-thin squad. We let a lot of useful players go and we've not brought anyone in. Rosenior, McShane and Quinn are all good Championship players and I'm sad to see them go. Clubs are in for Brady and Chester, which isn't too great when we've just released players who can play in their positions. Also, all three of our proper strikers want to go and again we haven't got anyone to replace them.

Adding all that to the name change shite, and now the uncertainty of what the owners are going to do next, and it's all a little depressing around City at the moment. I just want the football to start, to be honest.

And our new kit is horrible.

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Dear Boro. Please buy Jordan Rhodes. Because we've got a sell-on clause on any profit Blackburn make and surely there aren't going to be many takers at such daft money.

I wonder if he regrets chasing the short-term money now, if he'd have stayed with us another six months or a year I feel sure a Premiership team would've taken a chance on him. As it is the money Blackburn paid (and their natural desire to at least recoup it) and his supposed £40k p/w wages will have taken him out of a lot of club's thoughts. Can't help but think he's been poorly advised as far as his career progression goes, even though he's obviously not going to be short of a bob or two.

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Cardiff City - and for the 1st season in 3 years - we will start the season in Blue - with only a silly little dragon on our new bluebird centric badge and a mothballed new red stand to remind us of the nonsense of the last few years.

And the fact we are still owned by a maniac who has been worryingly quiet.

On the pitch - our very average squad has changed very little and I can't see our lower league journeyman manager being able to perform miracles especially as we have a ridiculous number of players on the books - a lot of which are on massive wages and are crap or want away or both.

I'll go - 14th with an occasional flirt with the bottom three.

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So Derby, then. This time last season I was confident we'd be vying for a top-two spot, and up until January it looked justified. Then our magnificent collapse. I'd put it down to a few things - firstly the injury to John Eustace. After losing first choice DM George Thorne in pre-season, John Eustace filled the void in front of the defence and was unspectacular but oh so effective and a real leader on the pitch. When he got injured the goals against shot up. Secondly, the injury to Chris Martin. Chris Martin has gradually become Derby's most important and influential player since signing from Norwich a few years ago. His first major injury for Derby came when they were sitting at the top of the table. Lastly, the speculation surrounding McClaren's possible switch to Newcastle never went away. It's not really worth discussing in depth but it certainly affected stability and in turn performances and confidence. For the last few months of the season Derby were a husk of the strong team which featured up to January.

So what's changed?

Manager - Paul Clement. Has said for some time he'd like his first job to be at this level (rather than a failing Premier League side) so seems a good fit. Has spoken of different systems and different ways of playing which would be nice after years of Plan B being 'stick on more strikers' even if they are out of position.

Incoming transfers:

Darren Bent - All but useless outside of the box but remains absolutely deadly inside it. The best finisher this club has had in recent memory. We have the same problem every other side containing him has, though - you're essentially a man down when he plays. Will possibly start alongside Martin but seems likely to be mostly an impact sub going off preseason line-ups.

Tom Ince - I was ecstatic with this. Ince was a revelation on loan last season and I never had him down as being such an accomplished finisher. Not particularly pacey but can play anywhere behind the striker and has a fantastic touch. A huge player and a worthy record signing. He also scores free kicks. We're not supposed to score free kicks.

Chris Baird - Utility man taking over from John Eustace. Could start the season at right back.

Scott Carson - Competition for Lee Grant who finished the season with some howlers.

Andreas Weimann - Massively energetic forward who excites me. Could light this league up if he applies himself.

Jason Shackell - A huge, huge signing. Statistically a standout player for Burnley last season and a big factor in them conceding as many as Spurs and having just one less clean sheet than Southampton. Essentially tapped-up to Sean Dyche's fury, I'm now a lot more confident about our defence and I expect him to come straight in as captain.

Likely line-up:














In short, we're going for it and I can't wait for the season to start. Alongside Boro we're really throwing the money around and have earned the nickname Derbuy, which has quickly replaced Direby.

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Back after a year away. - QPR

Its the old cliche transitional period for QPR. I'm not convinced by Chris Ramsey, but I am relieved that as a club, we seem to have realised that buying up every unfit 35 year old and playing them a fortune is not the way forward, and instead are focussing on youth and desire. Austin going has to be a certainty, and whilst he's not gone yet, I have no doubt he will end up at a premiership club come the end of August.

As much as I wish we were in the Prem this season, I have to say I am relishing being back in the Championship, it really is the most exciting league in the country. You can be facing relegation one week and a month later you can be in the play-offs.

Good luck to all the people in here and your respective clubs. Except when you play the mighty super hoops, obvs.

Predictions? I think Burnley will be strong. I think Ipswich may do some damage, and you can never write off Derby. Outside of that I think it's up for grabs.

QPR? I think we will get a top 6 finish.

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Good stuff!

I actually signed up for 'Ramsplayer' this season. Cost me £37.00 but the picture quality has improved immensely and they have every game available in full alongside extended highlights. I believe the service is available for most Football League sides. Anyone else taken the plunge? Even the preseason highlights have been decent.

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In a strange twist, Wednesday have signed a player previously based in Portugal. A 21 year old striker this time, who has managed 8 in 58 games...A nice £2.5m investment there.

If it pays off it's brilliant, obviously, but I'm not convinced the chairman knows how much of a punt these players are.

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In a strange twist, Wednesday have signed a player previously based in Portugal. A 21 year old striker this time, who has managed 8 in 58 games...A nice £2.5m investment there.

If it pays off it's brilliant, obviously, but I'm not convinced the chairman knows how much of a punt these players are.

Teams in the Championship have a choice. Pay over the odds for homegrown talent or find a bargain.

Of course it's a gamble on an overseas player like that settling in the country and adjusting to English football.

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Last season seemed like it was going so well. Then another injury to David McGoldrick cost us dearly.

The less said about our performances against a certain team the better.

An £8 million war chest from the sale of Tyrone Mings remains largely intact. Some of the fringe and loan players are gone, with young talent progressing into the first team squad.

We've had a tendency to ship goals in pre-season, but there has been several formations and multiple changes of the defence.

The capture of Jonas Knudsen, a promising young Danish international, goes a long way to filling the gap left by Mings. Pitman and Fraser join us from Bournemouth (one permanent, one for a season) bringing a winning attitude. Trialists Giles Coke and Larsen Toure (no relation of the more famous Toures) have signed too.

My own big fear is that another club sacks their manager and pulls out all the stops to poach Mick McCarthy.

Prediction: another top 6 finish and a play-off final.

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