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August 2, 2011 / ultrafox1963

Championship Guide and Preview 2011-12: Part 2 of 3

CRYSTAL PALACE

After two seasons of turbulence, battling against bankruptcy and relegation, fortunes appear to be improving for the Eagles, with ex-player Dougie Freedman at the helm.  As Foxes know only too well, Selhurst Park was a tough venue for visiting teams last season, and better form on the road, together with some shrewd recruitment, should see Palace enjoy a more comfortable campaign.

KEY PLAYER: Glenn Murray

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 20th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12:  14th

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Monday 2 January

LAST FOXES AWAY WIN HERE: 1-0, 16 March 2010

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Cherry Trees (opposite Norwood Junction station)

DERBY COUNTY

Still suffering, three years on, from the after-effects of their horror season in the Premier League, the rams are now very much the poor relations of the East Midlands “Big 3”.  Cheap season tickets and family heritage has protected manager Nigel Clough to date.  However if his collection of bargain-basement signings, some from the SPL, fail to produce a drastic improvement in results, then the patience of Pride Park regulars will really be tested.

KEY PLAYER: Nathan Tyson

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 19th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12: 16th

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Saturday 25 February

LAST FOXES WIN HERE: 2-0, 12 February 2011

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Brunswick Inn, Railway Terrace

DONCASTER ROVERS

Defensive frailties and a dramatic New Year nosedive in results saw Donny only narrowly ensure survival last season.  Along with Barnsley, they will enjoy looking down upon their Sheffield neighbours from a division above. But Sean O’Driscoll,now one of the league’s veteran managers, will be hard-pushed to keep his side at this level for a fifth consecutive season.

KEY PLAYER: Richard Naylor

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 21st

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12: 21st

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Saturday 17 December

LAST FOXES WIN HERE: 1-0, 23 February 2010

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Toad Brewery, Stadium Way

HULL CITY

After a season of adjustment and upheaval on Humberside following relegation from the Premier League in 2010, the Tigers show signs of becoming real promotion contenders.  If Nigel Pearson’s side can produce more consistency at home to match their formidable away record, they could emerge from the pack to clinch a playoff place at least.

KEY PLAYER: Robert Koren

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 11th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12: 3rd

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Saturday 4 February

LAST FOXES WIN HERE:  1-0, 1 January 2011

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Minerva, Nelson Street

IPSWICH TOWN

Strongly fancied as promotion contenders in each of the past two seasons, the Town failed to meet expectations during Roy Keane’s tenure in the managerial hot seat.  However his successor Paul Jewell has plenty of managerial expertise at this level, and the greater air of stability at Portman Road, plus a host of experienced signings, may see a significant improvement in results and secure a playoff place.

KEY PLAYER: Michael Chopra

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 15th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12:  6th

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Monday 9 April

LAST FOXES WIN HERE:  2-0, 10 February 2007

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Arboretum, High Street

LEEDS UNITED

For much of last season a top-six place seemed certain for Simon Grayson’s side, but lapses in the closing games saw them eventually miss out.  However a last-day win at champions QPR gave glimpses of the potential within the squad, which will be better equipped this time around to last the distance and mount a true promotion challenge, especially if Max Gradel, a bargain buy from Leicester two seasons ago can continue his rapid progress.

KEY PLAYER: Max Gradel

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 7th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12:  4th

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Saturday 28 April

LAST FOXES WIN HERE:  2-1, 20 October 2010

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Drysalters, Elland Road/Beeston Ring Road

LEICESTER CITY

The English lower leagues are hardly the natural habitat of a distinguished figure such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, and so it proved for much of last season as results, especially away from home, lacked sufficient consistency to launch a play-off challenge. But his substantial additions to the squad during the close-season have provided extra strength, depth and quality.  It’s a question of when, not if, top-flight football will return to the newly-renamed King Power Stadium.

KEY PLAYER: Matthew Mills

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 10th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12:  2nd

DATE OF FIRST HOME GAME: Saturday 13 August  (vs. Reading)

LAST FOXES WIN HERE:  4-2, 12 May 2010 (vs Ipswich)

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Counting House, Freemen’s Common

MIDDLESBROUGH

Last summer’s promotion favourites only found form in the closing weeks of a disappointing campaign which saw big-spending Gordon Strachan replaced by local legend Tony Mowbray.  If the youngsters can maintain the promise they showed in the spring, and big money-signings finally produce the hoped-for return on investment, then a return to the big-time may not be too far away.  A top-six place this time around may just elude them, though.

KEY PLAYER: Scott McDonald

LEAGUE POSITION IN 2010-11: 12th

PREDICTED POSITION FOR 2011-12:  7th

DATE FOXES DUE TO VISIT: Wednesday 28 September

LAST FOXES WIN HERE:  1-0, 29 September 2009

RECOMMENDED FOXES PUB: Dr Brown’s, Corporation Road

Part 3 will appear on Wednesday 3 August.

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