The 2017-18 Championship campaign is up and running - and set to be as fiercely competitive as ever.
We assess Sunderland’s 23 rivals with this in-depth look courtesy of the journalists that follow them week in, week out.
Aston Villa. Joseph Chapman, Birmingham Mail.
Main summer signings: John Terry, Sam Johnstone, Glenn Whelan, Ahmed Elmohamady, Chris Samba.
Main summer departures: Libor Kozak, Jordan Veretout, Carlos Sanchez, Carles Gil, Aaron Tshibola.
Fans’ expectation: In a word, promotion. That was the expectation last season, so Steve Bruce’s first full campaign in charge will be greeted with even greater levels of pressure.
One to watch: Andre Green could have an impact this season, the young winger has enjoyed a storming pre-season and could flourish.
Barnsley. Doug O’Kane, Barnsley Chronicle.
Main summer signings: Lloyd Isgrove, Ethan Pinnock, Liam Lindsay, Jason McCarthy, Joe Williams, Stevie Mallan, Cameron McGeehan, Ike Ugo
Main summer departures: Marc Roberts, Josh Scowen, Marley Watkins
Fans’ expectation: I think most fans would take 21st place right now, but Paul Heckingbottom has done everything right in his management career so far so they will be hoping for better than that.
One to watch: George Moncur. An attacking midfielder who started to hit the net in April, he is expected to have a big season this time.
Birmingham. Joseph Chapman, Birmingham Mail.
Main summer signings: David Stockdale, Marc Roberts, Cheikh Ndoye.
Main summer departures: Andrew Shinnie, Greg Stewart, Viv Solomon-Otabor, Diego Fabbrini, Kerim Frei, Reece Brown
Fans’ expectation: While Blues fans can be forgiven for getting a bit excited with Redknapp’s recruitment so far, it could be a case of enjoying the ride this coming season. Stability at least is key after last season’s near miss with relegation.
One to watch: Che Adams burst onto the scene last season and has been the subject of interest from the Premier League.
Bolton Wanderers. Marc Iles, The Bolton News.
Main summer signings: Adam Le Fondre, Jem Karacan, Mark Little, Stephen Darby, Adam Armstrong (loan), Will Buckley, Sammy Ameobi.
Main summer departures: Jay Spearing, Lawrie Wilson, Conor Wilkinson, Dean Moxey, Mark Davies, Liam Trotter.
Fans’ expectation: Considering Bolton have been in a transfer embargo for nearly two years, last season’s promotion was a miracle. Stability on and off the pitch is desperately craved.
One to watch: Josh Vela – has found a niche as a goal-getting midfielder in the Kevin Nolan mould.
Brentford. Tom Moore, GetWestLondon.
Main summer signings: Henrik Dalsgaard, Luke Daniels, Kamo Mokotjo, Neal Maupay, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Marcondes (pre-contract)
Main summer departures: Alan McCormack and Jack Bonham.
Fans’ expectation: With the squad Brentford have at the moment, a promotion challenge is a realistic expectation for the Bees this season. The last three seasons have seen the club finish in the top 10 so that is the minimum expectation.
One to watch: Jota – If the Spanish wing wizard stays then Brentford have one of the best players in the second tier.
Bristol City. Gregor MacGregor – Bristol Post.
Main summer signings: Eros Pisano, Famara Diedhiou, Nathan Baker, possibly a couple more to come.
Main summer departures: Mark Little, Lee Tomlin, possibly Aden Flint to come
Fans’ expectation: Avoiding another relegation battle would be hoped for at least, though what happens before the end of the transfer window may influence that.
One to watch: Jamie Paterson, a large reason why City climbed the table last March and April. Should be even better in 2017-18.
Burton Albion. Joshua Murray – Burton Mail.
Main summer signings: Matty Lund, Liam Boyce, Stephen Warnock, Jake Buxton, Luke Murphy, Hope Akpan
Main summer departures: Jon McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan, Lee Williamson, Phil Edwards, Callum Reilly
Fans’ expectation: If they start the season with the same quality as 12 months ago but can be more ruthless in front of goal, though, they have every chance of pushing on from 2016/17.
One to watch: Matty Lund – one of Nigel Clough’s summer signings, Lund is an energetic goalscoring midfielder in a similar mould to last season’s star man Jackson Irvine.
Cardiff City. Paul Abbandonato, WalesOnline.
Main summer signings Neil Etheridge, Lee Camp, Callum Paterson, Loic Damour, Nathanial Mendez-Laing, Lee Tomlin, Danny Ward
Main summer departures: Peter Whittingham, Rickie Lambert
Fans’ expectation: There is a real buzz amongst Bluebirds fans that this could be their year again. The club has been divided for so many years, but with Warnock in charge everyone is pulling as one again.
One to watch Kenneth Zohore - Suddenly found his scoring boots in the second half of last season, he will have better service this time around.
Derby County. Steve Nicholson, Derby Telegraph.
Main summer signings: Curtis Davies, Andre Wisdom, Tom Huddlestone
Main summer departures: Will Hughes, Tom Ince, Cyrus Christie, Abdoul Camara
Fans’ expectation: Challenging for a top-six finish is what is expected. Finishing ninth last season was hugely disappointing and quite simply not good enough.
One to watch: Tom Huddlestone - the holding/controlling midfielder is a key position and Huddlestone is comfortable in the role where he can showcase his composure, vision and passing range.
Fulham. Ryan O’Donovan, GetWestLondon.
Main summer signings: Marcelo Djalo, Ibrahima Cisse, Tomas Kalas
Main summer departures: Scott Malone, Lasse Vigen Christensen
Fans’ expectation: Fulham fans will be hoping the club can go one better than last season and gain automatic promotion this time around.
One to watch: Tom Cairney - He’s the metronome in this Fulham side and arguably one of the best midfielders in the Championship.
Hull City. Will Jackson, Hull Daily Mail.
Main summer signings: Ola Aina (loan), Fraizer Campbell, Kevin Stewart, Ondrej Mazuch, Michael Hector (loan)
Main summer departures: Alex Bruce, Curtis Davies, Harry Maguire, Josh Tymon, Shaun Maloney, Tom Huddlestone, Eldin Jakupovic, Ahmed Elmohamady, Andy Robertson
Fans’ expectation: Work is still to be done in the transfer market if Hull are to be considered contenders this season. With the club bitterly divided optimism amongst the fanbase is unfortunately in short supply.
One to watch: Fraizer Campbell – The striker is already a firm fans’ favourite after rejoining the club this summer after nine seasons.
Ipswich Town. Stuart Watson, East Anglian Daily Times & Ipswich Star.
Main summer signings: Joe Garner, Emyr Huws, Bersant Celina (loan), Dominic Iorfa (loan), Tom Adeyemi
Main summer departures: Tom Lawrence (loan expired), Christophe Berra, Brett Pitman, Jonathan Douglas.
Fans’ expectation: Few expecting more than mid-table, but increased entertainment value is demanded. It wasn’t so much last season’s 16th place finish (worst in 58 years) which grated, rather the utterly forgettable footballing fare.
One to watch: Bersant Celina – Tricky left-winger has borrowed from Man City to fill the void left by last season’s star loanee Tom Lawrence.
Leeds United. Leon Wobschall, Yorkshire Post/Evening Post.
Main summer signings: Pontus Jansson, Mateusz Klich, Hadi Sacko, Felix Wiedwald, Vurnon Anita, Caleb Ekuban, Samuel Sainz, Ezgjan Alioski, Matthew Pennington.
Main summer departures: Charlie Taylor, Giuseppe Bellusci, Marco Silvestri, Luke Murphy (loan).
Fans’ expectation: Despite the shock exit of Garry Monk in late May, the glass is very much half full among Leeds followers, who have been impressed by the early work of Andrea Radrizzani in buying back Elland Road, cultivating a professional ethos and sanctioning a fair outlay on several signings.
One to watch: Chris Wood. Golden Boot winner with 27 Championship goals in 2016-17. Say no more.
Middlesbrough. Philip Tallentire, Teesside Gazette.
Main summer signings: Britt Assombalonga, Martin Braithwaite, Jonny Howson, Cyrus Christie, Darren Randolph, Connor Roberts (loan)
Main summer departures: Viktor Fischer, Victor Valdes, Bernardo Espinosa, Cristhian Stuani, James Husband, Antonio Barragan
Fans’ expectation: The arrival of a new manager and half a dozen new signings has lifted the mood of gloom that’s been hanging around since last season’s pitiful campaign and relegation. Ticket sales are strong and there’s a feeling that Boro are capable of mounting a serious promotion challenge.
One to watch: All eyes will be on record signing Britt Assombalonga. The key will be to provide him with plenty of ammo because recent Boro teams have starved their strikers of service.
Millwall. Richard Cawley, South London Press.
Main summer signings: George Saville, Conor McLaughlin, Jed Wallace, James Meredith, Tom Elliott.
Main summer departures: Jimmy Abdou, Joe Martin, David Forde.
Fans’ expectation: Millwall can’t hope to match their Championship rivals in the spending stakes and a season of consolidation will be the target.
One to watch: Steve Morison - Veteran striker turns 34 in late August but still the one who makes the Lions tick.
Norwich City. Paddy Davitt, Eastern Daily Press.
Main summer signings: Marley Watkins, Christoph Zimmermann, Harrison Reed (loan), Angus Gunn (loan), Mario Vrancic, James Husband, Marcel Franke.
Main summer departures: Jonny Howson, Graham Dorrans, John Ruddy, Seb Bassong, Youssouf Mulumbu, Kyle Lafferty.
Fans’ expectation: Norwich City finished eighth last season, which was failure given the aim was an instant return to the Premier League. A new head coach, a major turnover of players and there is renewed optimism and excitement. But those inside the club are calling for a healthy dose of realism until things gel. Pushing for the top six again should be the aim.
One to watch: Harrison Reed - .The Southampton youngster looks set for a key role as the deep-lying midfield playmaker.
Nottingham Forest. Paul Taylor, Nottingham Post.
Main summer signings: Jason Cummings, Barrie McKay, Daryl Murphy, Adreas Bouchalakis, Tendayi Darikwa
Main summer departures: Britt Assombalonga, Damien Perquis, Jorge Grant (loaned out), Gboly Ariyibi (loaned out)
Fans’ expectation: New owners and a reasonably new manager have led to the start of a new era at the City Ground but, while there is plenty of optimism, a top half finish would be acceptable to most fans, as it would represent a step forward after five years of decline.
One to watch: Barrie McKay has only played in a handful of pre-season friendly games – but already looks like he will be a big influence.
Preston North End. Dave Seddon, Lancashire Post.
Main summer signings: Declan Rudd, Josh Harrop, Sean Maguire, Kevin O’Connor, Darnell Fisher
Main summer departures: Anders Lindegaard, Jermaine Beckford, Clive Smith, Aiden McGeady (end of loan), Alex Baptiste (end of loan), Simon Makienok (end of loan) Tyias Browning (end of loan)
Fans’ expectation: The expectation is to finish higher than the last two seasons (11th place both times) and compete for the play-offs.
One to watch: Sean Maguire. Preston have gone shopping in Ireland again and signed striker Maguire for £150,000.
QPR. Phil Spencer/ Get West London
Main summer signings: Josh Scowen
Main summer departures: Karl Henry, Josh Bowler
Fans’ expectation: QPR fans are expecting a tough season with additions few and far between after last season’s 18th place finish. A relegation battle or lower mid-table finish is the general consensus.
One to watch: Conor Washington. Hasn’t hit the goal trail as hard as he would have liked since joining from Peterborough United, but certainly has the ability to be a threat if utilised properly.
Reading. Jonathan Low, getreading
Main summer signings: Vito Mannone, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Pelle Clement.
Main summer departures: Ali Al-Habsi, Danny Williams, Jake Cooper.
Fans’ expectation: Expecting another good season after last year’s surprising third-place finish - given the past two seasons. Squad still relatively thin but the nucleus of a good team is there.
One to watch: Liam Kelly. Enjoyed a breakthrough year last season under Stam and has become an influential figure in the team.
Sheffield United. James Shield, The Star
Main summer signings Richard Stearman, John Lundstram, Enda Stevens, Nathan Thomas, Ched Evans, George Baldock, Jamal Blackman (loan)
Main summer departures: Stefan Scougall, Marc McNulty
Fans’ expectation: The Championship’s finances have changed beyond recognition since Sheffield United were last in the division but a combination of shrewd-management and momentum could see them have a Preston-esque campaign this time around.
One to watch: Samir Carruthers - Made a relatively slow start to his Sheffield United career after arriving during the January transfer window but has looked exceptional during pre-season.
Sheffield Wednesday. Dom Howson, The Star
Main summer signings: George Boyd
Main summer departures: Vincent Sasso, Darryl Lachman, Modou Sougou, Claude Dielna, Urby Emanuelson.
Fans’ expectation: A third successive promotion push. Having missed out on going up in the most heartbreaking of fashions, Wednesdayites will be hoping, in an ideal world, the team can avoid the play-off lottery and mount a serious top-two challenge.
One to watch: Jordan Rhodes - Has looked in good touch during pre-season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers. Tim Spiers, Express & Star
Main summer signings: Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota (loan), John Ruddy, Ryan Bennett, Willy Boly (loan), Barry Douglas, Roderick Miranda, Ruben Vinagre (loan), Will Norris, Phil Ofosu-Ayeh.
Main summer departures: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Mike Williamson, George Saville, Silvio, James Henry, Jed Wallace,
Fans’ expectation: Season ticket numbers are up and so are expectations. A top six finish is the target but that’s the case for at least 15 other teams in Europe’s most competitive division.
One to watch: Ruben Neves - One of three additions from Porto who’ve linked up with their ex-boss. A deep-lying playmaker.