WITH the Championship membership now complete and the new set of fixtures due to be released in under two weeks, this two-part feature from chief football writer Marc Iles looks at who were the winners and losers at each club last season and the dos and don’ts for each this summer to achieve success. Here Marc casts his eye over the first 12 of the 24 Championship clubs.
Big winner: Nikola Zigic – raked in £60,000 a week in his last three years but has been offered a new deal, on vastly reduced terms.
Big loser: Blues majority shareholder Carson Yeung, whose on-going legal issues have veered the club towards the brink of bankruptcy.
What they need this summer: A new owner who can steady the ship and start to rebuild.
And what they need to avoid: Splashing unnecessary cash.
Big winner: The Venkys – suddenly no longer persona non grata around Ewood Park after making continued investment in the team.
Big loser: Leon Best – Rovers shelled out more than £3million for a man who has played just 16 times and scored two goals for them.
What they need this summer: To keep hold of goal machine Jordan Rhodes.
And what they need to avoid: Breaking up a squad that nearly gate-crashed the play-offs last season.
Big winner: Tom Ince – yesterday turned down a move to Inter Milan but is destined for a a big-money transfer after spending a year on loan from Bloomfield Road at Crystal Palace.
Big loser: Karl Oyston – the club chairman has all-but admitted his spending policy has gone wrong this last few seasons.
What they need this summer: A manager to assemble a Championship-quality squad.
And what they need to avoid: The wholesale changes that have completely destabilised a club that was playing in the Premier League not so long ago.
Big winner: Dougie Freedman – rode some very choppy waters last season but remains in charge, and with a measure of breathing room to shape his squad.
Big loser: Chris Eagles – from the main man to the forgotten man. Will the former Burnley star rise again in the Championship?
What they need this summer: Lukas Jutkiewicz. Or someone a lot like him.
And what they need to avoid: Leaving themselves short of cover in vital positions and relying too heavily on the loan market.
Big winner: Lewis Grabban – the former Crystal Palace striker proved an inspiration for the Cherries and has raised them £3million thanks to his move to Norwich.
Big loser: Tokelo Rantie – The South African striker was a Wanderers target, but struggled to find the back of the net in his first season in English football.
What they need this summer: To use the cash they got from Grabban’s sale wisely – Dan Gosling looks a good start.
And what they need to avoid: Changing things too much. Howe’s passing philosophy very nearly paid off last term.
Big winner: Owner Matthew Benham – a man with a big vision for the London club but will be desperate to stay in the Championship to open his new stadium.
Big loser: Well, Leyton Orient miss out on a local game... Otherwise there are no losers at Griffin Park.
What they need this summer: Championship experience and plenty of it.
And what they need to avoid: ‘Doing a Yeovil’ and trying to rely solely on the players who got them promotion. Class is a must.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Big winner: Matt Upson – the former England man landed himself a Premier League move with Leicester City at 35 thanks to his form this season.
Big loser: Former boss Gus Poyet – unclear exactly why, but something was definitely rotten.
What they need this summer: To get more of their key players fit for the start of the season. Craig Mackail-Smith was a huge miss last year.
And what they need to avoid: Trying to change too much – the Seagulls have been so close to getting it right.
Big winner: Kevin McNaughton – Cardiff legend kickstarted his career at Wanderers and earned a new deal that saw him play in the Premier League at last.
Big loser: Vincent Tan – fashion sense aside, the Malaysian businessman has made a catalogue of strange decisions, from inspired to ridiculous.
What they need this summer: To rediscover what made them such an invincible Championship force 12 months ago.
And what they need to avoid: Headlines that are not football-related. The club became a laughing stock at one point last season.
Big winner: Jose Riga – the Belgian boss won’t even be at the Valley next season but he proved a lot of people wrong by saving Charlton from the drop.
Big loser: Simon Church – the Wales international scored just three times in the Championship last season after his summer move from Reading. Suffice it to say the home fans did not take to him.
What they need this summer: Replacing Dorian Dervite will be a task but the Addicks also need a goalscorer. Marvin Sordell, perhaps?
And what they need to avoid: You sense wholesale changes at this point could be a mistake. Quality rather than quantity over the next few months.
Big winner: Steve McClaren – clearly no wally, regardless of his rain protective attire.
Big loser: The Premier League. Pride Park is a wonderful stadium.
What they need this summer: To keep hold of gems like Will Hughes and Craig Bryson. Andre Wisdom on another season-long loan would also be a bonus.
And what they need to avoid: Breaking up the squad that nearly made the Premier League. Somehow, it looks unlikely.
Big winner: Felix Magath – emerged from relegation looking like the nice guy. Good effort.
Big loser: The Fulham board that chopped and changed their way through the season, getting their just desserts in the end – relegation.
What they need this summer: To trim down the squad quickly and find out the players who can do a job at Championship level. It is not necessarily an easy task.
And what they need to avoid: Trusting that because a player played in the Premier League they will blitz the second tier. It just doesn’t work.
Big winner: Adam Clayton – not only the Championship’s most magnificent beard but also a very canny midfielder.
Big loser: Nakhi Wells – didn’t really live up to the hype after his big-money move from Bradford City.
What they need this summer: Centre-half seems the position Mark Robins is most looking to strengthen, although the lack of goals is bound to be a worry.
And what they need to avoid: Another club who need to build in increments. If they strike upon a goalscorer, they could do well.
Don’t miss the second part of this feature on Monday.