GUIDING QPR back to the Premier League could be manager Harry Redknapp’s toughest task yet, with his squad still horribly unbalanced on the eve of the Championship season, which starts tomorrow.
Following relegation from the top flight last term, 11 first team players have been moved on, including high earners such as centre-back Christopher Samba and former Liverpool forward Djibril Cisse.
However, it is difficult to see how Julio Cesar, Ji-Sung Park, Joey Barton and Loic Remy, to name but four, will still be at the club come September.
The additions of defenders Danny Simpson and Richard Dunne, plus tough-tackling midfielder Karl Henry seem typical, no-nonsense Redknapp additions, while prolific striker Charlie Austin, signed from Burnley, looks likely to bear the goalscoring burden. However, with their squad likely to remain unsettled until the transfer window shuts, a slow start must be a concern.
Watford, who were beaten in last year’s play-off final, have added 12 permanent signings, including, most notably, forwards Diego Fabbrini and Javier Acuna, two of eight to have switched from sister club Udinese.
Under manager Gianfranco Zola they will again be fancied to challenge for the title.
Millwall, however, look likely to struggle under Steve Lomas, though the capture of former striker Steve Morison on loan from Leeds, plus Scott McDonald on a free transfer from Middlesbrough should guarantee goals.
Charlton have allowed 10 players to leave this summer and, with just midfielder Mark Gower and defender Richard Wood coming in, a safe season in mid-table would seem the limit of their prospects.
SECOND TIER TRIVIA
Premier League experience
n Only six of the 24 Championship clubs have not spent at least one season in the Premier League since its inception in 1992. Bournemouth, Brighton, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Millwall and Yeovil.
n Just two managers are set to embark on their third full season at the same club: Nigel Clough at Derby County and Middlesbrough’s Tony Mowbray.