A 1-1 draw between recently relegated Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers has opened the English second-tier season.
The Bluebirds along with Fulham and Norwich City are looking to make a quick return to the Premier League, and all three have made tilled their roster completely in an attempt to vault back up.
In addition, Wolverhampton Wanderers continue their roller coaster run through English soccer, with their plummet down the ranks behind them and back in the Championship.
The fixtures for opening weekend:
Blackburn 1-1 Cardiff City
Ipswich Town v Fulham
Wolves v Norwich City (Sunday)
Brentford v Charlton
Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday
Derby County v Rotherham
Huddersfield Town v Bournemouth
Middlesborough v Birmingham City
Millwall v Leeds United
Nottingham Forest v Blackpool
Watford v Bolton
Wigan v Reading
For the teams we saw struggle on NBC last season, the first season down is the most important. Teams that don’t jump straight back up – like Queens Park Rangers did this past year – tend to wallow in the lower tiers for a long time.
Fulham completely churned their roster over, under the watchful eye of Felix Magath who had some strong words for current and former players in his press conference earlier Friday. Gobs of players left, and not all had good things to say about the man in charge.
With the purchase of Ross McCormack along with eight other offseason signings, it’s likely that not a single player who opened last year’s fateful Premier League season will be in their opening day lineup against Ipswich Town. There are more questions than answers right now at Craven Cottage.
Cardiff kicked off their season with a fair draw against Blackburn, bringing to light just how small the talent and skill gap is between the bottom of the Premier League and the middle of the Championship.
Their biggest move in the transfer market may not have been a move at all, but instead the ability to keep hold of star keeper David Marshall. The 29-year-old was by one of the few bright spots in last year’s failed campaign, and he was linked with a number of Premier League clubs. Otherwise, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did little in the market, instead standing still as both Gary Medel and Jordan Mutch moved on.
Norwich City have flown the most under the radar of the three dropped clubs. They lost strike flop Ricky van Wolfswinkel to St. Etienne, and replaced him with journeymen Kyle Lafferty and Lewis Grabban. They have kept Leroy Fer despite outside interest, but could not hold onto winger Robert Snodgrass who moved to Hull City over the summer.
Will any of the three be back in the Premier League next season? It’s a long 42-match marathon, but the race is under way. 24 clubs, three lucrative spots. Who will make it up to the top flight?