With the Football League kick-off just days away, this series of articles takes a closer look at the 24 teams vying for the £100 million Premier League bonanza.
After a desperate season last year when a 93rd minute goal on the final day allowed them to escape relegation to League One on goal difference, manager Lee Clark has looked to revamp his squad in a bid to improve Brum’s fortunes and hopefully avoid the nerve-jangling tension of last season.
However, money is tight at St. Andrews, so Clark has had to rely on introducing a number of free transfers, as well as allowing big earners like Nikola Zigic and Chris Burke to move on as new deals could not be agreed.
Having mostly plundered lower league freebies, Clark’s recruitment policy represents a bit of a gamble, especially as one of the reasons for his young squad’s struggles last season was a lack of experience at Championship level.
However, Clark will be hoping former MK Dons midfielder Stephen Gleeson can get the midfield ticking and that Clayton Donaldson can repeat his League One goalscoring exploits at a higher level.
I believe another long, hard slog of a season is in store as they scrap towards the foot of the table.
Last Season: 21st
Manager: Lee Clark
Transfers In*: Denny Johnstone (Celtic, undisclosed), Jonathan Grounds (Oldham, free), Grant Hall (Tottenham, loan), Stephen Gleeson (MK Dons, free), Wes Thomas (Rotherham, free), David Edgar (Burnley, free), Gavin Gunning (Dundee United, free), David Cotterill (Doncaster, free), Clayton Donaldson (Brentford, free), Mark Duffy (Doncaster, free), Navid Nasseri (Bury, free)
Transfers Out*: Chris Burke (Nottingham Forest, free), Aaron Martin (Yeovil, free), Hayden Mullins (Notts County, free), Wade Elliott (Bristol City, free), Omari Sterling-James (Cheltenham, free), Amari’i Bell (Mansfield, loan), Koby Arthur (Cheltenham, loan), Nikola Zigic (end of contract)
One To Watch: Stephen Gleeson (Midfielder)
Regarded by many as one of the best talents in the Football League’s second tier, Republic of Ireland international Gleeson will finally get his crack at the Championship.
An intelligent footballer with all-round attributes that mean he is capable of influencing play as well as disrupting the opposition’s flow, Gleeson has been a mainstay and the heartbeat of an MK Dons team that has threatened promotion from League One so often over the past five years.
That Gleeson is made in a similar mould to his manager will no doubt please Clark, and he will be hoping Gleeson can provide an authoritative touch in Brum’s engine room.
Selected Odds: Champions 66-1; Promotion 18-1; Relegation 4-1
Opening Fixtures: Middlesbrough (A), Brighton (H), Ipswich (H)
*Correct at the time of writing