The penultimate instalment of our pre-season preview
We`ve reached the penultimate instalment of the Vital Sunderland 2012-13 season preview, enjoy!
Queens Park Rangers:
When Steve Bruce was sacked toward the back end of 2011 it was Mark Hughes and Martin O`Neill apparently in the running for the job. O`Neill was picked by Ellis Short and shortly after, Hughes ended up at QPR – a strange move for a man who left Fulham that summer due to their lack of ambition.
However, it proved a shrewd move from both Hughes and the Hoops, who after a slow start to life under the former Wales, Blackburn and Manchester City boss, stayed in the Premier League to have another go this season. It was in no small part down to Hughes` additions that the West London outfit retained their place in the top flight, the likes of Djibril Cisse, Samba Diakite and Nedum Onouhah proving key in the fight.
Of course, captain controversy Joey Barton will miss the first 12 games of the new season after his moronic red card at City on the dramatic final day of the campaign. The former club captain looked set to move out on-loan until the Football League blocked it.
In: Ryan Nelsen, Robert Green, Andrew Johnson (all free transfers), Samba Diakite (AS Nancy) undisc, Park Ji-Sung (Manchester Utd) undisc & Junior Hoilett (Blackburn Rovers) undisc.
Out: Bruno Perone, Peter Ramage, Danny Shittu, Danny Gabbidon, Gary Borrowdale, Fitz Hall, Lee Cook, Rowan Vine, Akos Buszaky, Patrick Aygemang (all released), Paddy Kenny (QPR) undisc & Heidar Helguson (Cardiff City) undisc.
The first of the promoted sides to come under the microscope, Reading raced back into the top-flight after a four-year absence, cruising to the title after a slow start to the season. Brian McDermott has worked miracles with the Royals, picking them up when they were down in 2009 following Brendan Rodgers` short-lived stay.
Russian investment group, Thamas Sports Group, have invested heavily in the club as of January, funding the club`s summer spending. McDermott has snatched Russian international Pavel Pogrebnyak from under the noses of a number of clubs, whilst highly-rated Championship defenders Chris Gunter and Adrian Mariappa have also signed. Nicky Shorey returned on a free from West Brom, whilst former Mags` thug Danny Guthrie signed too.
One suspects that should re-enforcements be needed in January then Thames Sports Group will make further funds available to McDermott.
In: Garath McCleary (Nottingham Forest) free, Danny Guthrie (Newcastle United) free, Pavil Pogrebnywak (Zenit St. Petersburg) free, Pierce Sweeney (Bray Wanderers) undisc, Nicky Shorey (West Brom) free, Adrian Mariappa (Watford) undisc & Chris Gunter (Nottingham Forest) £2.3m.
Out: Matheiu Manset (Sion) undisc, Michail Antonio (Sheffield Wednesday) undisc, Joseph Mills (Burnley) loan, Gozie Ugwu (Yeovil Town) loan, Michael Hector (Shrewsbury Town) loan, Angus McDonald (Wimbledon) loan, Karl Sheppard (Accrington Stanley) loan, Brett Williams (Woking) loan, Andy Griffin, Brian Howard, Cedric Baseya, Jacob Walcott, Ethan Gage, Jack Mills, Frankie Raymond, Tomasz Cywka, Carl McHugh, John Goddard, Cameron Edwards & Simon Locke (all released).
After just a year in the Championship, Southampton are back after a seven year exile from the Premier League. Nigel Adkins has proved to be a superb appointment as Saints` manager, guiding the club to back-to-back promotions at the first time of asking.
Make no mistake though, this will be a tough ask for the South Coast outfit who have shown willing to splash out his summer without making too many additions to the side. A £5m offer for Birmingham City ‘keeper Jack Butland was re-buffed, but new £7.5m striker Jay Rodriguez doesn`t bring a wealth of goal-scoring experience with him, least of all in the top flight.
Nathaniel Clyne comes extremely highly-rated, whilst Steven Davis has top-flight experience with both Aston Villa and Fulham. Will it all be enough though?
In: Jay Rodriguez (Burnley) £7.5m, Steven Davis (Rangers) free, Nathaniel Clyne (Crystal Palace) £2.5m & Paulo Gazzaniga (Gillingham) undisc.
Out: Dan Harding (Nottingham Forest) undisc, Aaron Martin (Crystal Palace) loan, Tommy Forecast (Gillingham) loan, Radhi Jaidi (retired), Harlee Dean, Lee Holmes, Jack Dovey, Bartosz Bialkowski, Ryan Doble & David Connolly (all released).
The 2012-13 season marks Stoke City`s fifth consecutive season in the Premier League and welcomes the Potters as part of the Premier League furniture.
With a surprisingly impressive run in the Europa League, eventually knocked out by Valencia, Stoke finish 14th last season, a good return for a club with a small squad.
Potters` boss Tony Pulis has advanced the club during his second spell in charge, adding flair players such as Jermaine Pennant, and this summer, Michael Kightly. The advancement at the club can be seen in the players who left this summer, including stalwarts such as Salif Diao, Ricardo Fuller & Danny Collins.
In: Jamie Ness (Rangers) free, Michael Kightly (Wolves) undisc, Geoff Cameron (Houston Dynamo) £2.5m & Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev) loan.
Out: Andrew Davies, Tom Soares, Ricardo Fuller, Salif Diao, Louis Moult, Jonathan Woodgate (all released) & Danny Collins (Nottingham Forest).
Well, well, well – the big one!
It`s been a quiet summer for us in terms of additions with only free agent Carlos Cuellar signing. Centre-back was hardly a position that needed strengthening, we`ve still got four others on the books, but Martin O`Neill certainly thought so. The Steven Fletcher chase continues to be agonizing and as soon as he`s signed, it should be looking a lot more positive. That`s an ‘if` when than a when of course. £15m is a lot for the Wolves forward, but if he can score regularly in a relegated team he should do okay here.
Michael Turner has moved onto pastures new and could easily be joined by Matt Kilgallon or Titus Bramble in leaving the Stadium of Light. Asamoah Gyan finally took his woeful jib to the UAE on a permanent basis and the rumours persist about Kieran Richardson. With Phil Bardsley injured it seems unlikely that the utility man will be leaving any time soon.
No-hopers Marcos Angeleri and Cristian Riveros, left over from the Steve Bruce reign, finally departed too.
With another winger, a full-back and a striker, we`re probably laughing, probably.
In: Carlos Cuellar (free), David Ferguson (Darlington) free & Wade Joyce (Bury) free.
Out: Craig Gordon, Lewis King, Liam Bagnall, Brett Elliott, Oumare Tounkara, Trevor Carson, Jordan Cook (all released), Cristian Riveros (Kayserispor) undisc, George McCartney (West Ham Utd) undisc, Asamoah Gyan (Al-Ain) undisc, Michael Liddle (Accrington Stanley) free, Marcos Angeleri (Estudiantes) undisc & Michael Turner (Norwich City) £2.5m.
Part four is out Thursday!