Well, here we go! The Championship 2012-13 season is upon us and I cannot wait! Just looking through the fixture list makes me go weak at the knees. Cardiff, Forest, Burnley, Ipswich. Those are our first four fixtures back in the second tier. Compare that to twelve months ago: Bury, Rochdale, Hartlepool, Colchester. Now, no offence to these clubs, but it’s another level entirely isn’t it?
Manager Simon Grayson has been busy in the summer months, bringing in exciting young talent such as Sean Scannell from Crystal Palace and Oliver Norwood from Manchester United, not forgetting Adam Clayton from Leeds United. Couple that with experienced campaigners like Keith Southern and Anthony Gerrard, and Grayson looks to have assembled a squad capable of survival at the very least. Obviously, the most important bit of business by the club was keeping Jordan Rhodes. Chairman Dean Hoyle has repeatedly said that he doesn’t need, want, or intend to sell the Scotland international, and so far he has stayed true to his word.
Rhodes certainly has plenty of suitors. Offers from West Ham, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers have all been rebuffed, with the latter being especially keen to get the player amid reports of offers up to £6m. That seems an awful lot of money for a striker only proven at third division level. However despite these mega offers, I am still confident that Rhodes will be a Terrier when we make the trip to Portman Road on September 1st, and that he will return to haunt his old club that day too.
Anyway, I digress. What are my hopes for the coming season? To still be a Championship club at the end of it, of course, but more than that. I hope that Grayson gets the chance to prove what he can do at this level after his tough times down the road at Leeds, I hope the fans get to see some absolutely cracking matches, both home and away, and I hope we will entertain the neutrals on the few occasions we are on the tellybox.
Most of all, though, I hope, nay I yearn, for midtable mediocrity! That will no doubt come across as the ramblings of a lunatic, but after three seasons of playoff rollercoasters, I would be delighted if next Easter we are somewhere around twelfth or thirteenth, with no real hope of playoffs, or any fears of the drop. Now that would be nice!
If I were to make a prediction on our finishing position this season, I would go for somewhere around fifteenth. If we keep Rhodes, he will score goals at this level. With the likes of Scannell, Clayton, Norwood, Danny Ward and Lee Novak supplying and backing him up, we should see the net bulge on a regular basis once again.
Being back in the Championship after a decade of turmoil and uncertainty is a dream come true, and looking at the teams taking part this season, I think it is quite possibly the strongest Championship ever. There are perhaps fifteen clubs harbouring hopes, however slim, of promotion, including those promoted from League One, and three massive clubs that have come down from the top flight looking for an immediate return. It’s a brave man that puts his money on the 2012-13 Championship winner. I won’t be betting on it, that’s for sure! At the other end, there are maybe half a dozen teams expecting a tough relegation battle. If Town are somewhere in between, I’ll take that!
Written by James Bartaby, We Are Going Up’s Huddersfield Town blogger
James tweets at @jamesb5374