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Fixture News

Championship preview: Hull, Middlesbrough & Sunderland

21 June 2017

Nottingham Forest will have new visitors to The City Ground next season, with six teams entering the Sky Bet Championship for the 2017-18 season.

Three of those teams are dropping down from the Premier League following relegation in Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull City. Here, we take a look at how they are shaping up ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Hull City

Stadium: KCOM Stadium (Capacity: 25,400)

Head coach: Leonid Slutsky

Owner: Assem Allam

Last season: 18th (Premier League)

There’s a new man in charge at the KCOM Stadium as former Russia manager Leonid Slutsky was appointed as the club’s new head coach this summer.

Marco Silva left the club after he couldn’t keep The Tigers in the top flight and Slutsky will get his first taste of English football on Humberside. 

He said: “I think the Championship is maybe in the top five of all championships in the world. It is a very serious tournament and for me, coming here is a really big chance in my career. My target is the same as the target that the club has, and I am ready to help with this.

“The football culture in England is brilliant and fans create really good atmospheres. It is something that is respected by managers and players everywhere. It is the country that founded football, and it remains the most traditional football country in the world.”

Hull have yo-yoed between the Championship and the Premier League since making their debut in the top flight in 2008-09 and last season’s 18th-placed finish meant it was only a one-year stay this time around.

Slutsky will have the task of guiding Hull back into the top flight, but he will have to do it without two key defenders after Curtis Davies left to join Derby County and Harry Maguire stayed in the Premier League to join Leicester City.

Nottingham Forest edge the head-to-head against Hull, with 28 wins for The Reds in all competitions as opposed to Hull’s 25, with nine draws.

The last time the two sides met the match ended in a draw, with Gary Gardner and Sone Aluko goals meaning the March 2016 clash ended 1-1 at the KCOM.

Middlesbrough

Stadium: Riverside Stadium (Capacity: 33,746)

Manager: Garry Monk

Owner: Steve Gibson

Last season: 19th (Premier League)

Another new manager will line-up for Middlesbrough, but it’s a familiar one for Forest fans as Garry Monk will take charge of Boro this season.

The former Leeds manager left his role at Elland Road this summer to take over at the Riverside and he will be hoping to guide Middlesbrough back to the top flight.

Boro struggled last season after gaining promotion under Aitor Karanka the year previously, eventually finishing in 19th place.

Monk said: “The objective is getting up at the first attempt. I’ve signed for three years but I’d like to think we can get up at the first attempt and build from there.

“I have experience of this league and I know how difficult it is. But we know the size of the challenge and we are looking forward to it.

“I’ve worked under pressure throughout my career. That’s how I work best. Yes, the club have had a very difficult season but there are very strong foundations - it is my job to give confidence back to the club and the fans.”

Last season was Boro’s first return to the top flight since they were relegated in 2008-09 but ultimately a lack of goals meant they found it hard to compete and came straight back down again.

There have been more draws between the two sides, 32 in total, than either side have managed to win, with Forest winning 26 and Boro 23.

There were two away wins in the 2015-16 season, the last time they met, as Forest won 1-0 at the Riverside thanks to Jamie Ward’s strike and Boro won 2-1 at The City Ground through David Nugent and Daniel Ayala strikes.

Sunderland

Stadium: Stadium of Light (Capacity: 49,000)

Manager: n/a

Owner: Ellis Short

Last season: 20th (Premier League) 

A difficult 2016-17 season saw Sunderland end a ten-year stay in the Premier League as they finished in last place.

David Moyes resigned from his post at the end of the campaign and the Sunderland hierarchy are on the lookout for the right man to guide them back into the top flight.

With discussions also ongoing in regards to the ownership of the club, it is set to be a summer of change on Wearside.

A club statement last week read: “Since the end of the season, our focus has been to appoint a new manager. Recently, however, discussions have been entered into with parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of the club.

“With this backdrop, we have been unable to give the assurances any potential candidate would need regarding the plans a new owner could have for the manager’s position. The recruitment process, whilst still very much active, cannot therefore be concluded imminently.”

Whoever Sunderland appoint, they will have to do without last year’s outstanding performer in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford who has joined Everton for £25m, and they are also likely to lose frontman Jermain Defoe who is set to stay in the Premier League.

Forest and Sunderland haven’t met in a league fixture since the 2004-05 season when The Mackems did the double over Forest on their way to the Championship title, but the last encounter came in the 2008-09 season when Sunderland needed extra time to overcome The Reds 2-1 in a Carling Cup fixture on Trentside.


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