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OUR 2016-17 CHAMPIONSHIP OPPONENTS: PART FOUR

27 June 2016

In-focus: our rivals for the 2016-17 season

WITH the 2016-17 Sky Bet Championship fixtures released last week, we profile the teams Norwich City will face over the course of the season. Here, we bring you Part Four.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST
  
Head Coach: Philippe Montanier
Home: The City Ground 
2015-16: 16th
Twitter: @NFFC

Fact
: They have played at their current ground since 1898, with the Club having originally been formed in 1865.

Nottingham Forest's head coach search finally ended on Monday when they announced the arrival of former Rennes and Real Sociedad manager Philippe Montanier.

The Midlands club, who finished 16th in the second tier in 2015-16 after an inconsistent campaign, had been without a permanent boss since Dougie Freedman was sacked in March.



The main reason for the delay was said to be because Forest are on course for a takeover by a Greek consortium led by Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis.

Once off-pitch questions are answered at the City Ground, they will be pushing for a vast improvements on the pitch - star striker Britt Assombalonga is back fit and firing after overcoming a serious knee injury, while former Canary Henri Lansbury, Forest's captain, will be a driving force in midfield.

PRESTON NORTH END

Manager: Simon Grayson 
Home: Deepdale
2015-16: 11th
Twitter: @pnefc

Fact
: Preston became the first ever league champions of England when they won the inaugural title in 1888-89, also winning the FA Cup by remaining unbeaten in both competitions across the season.

Preston recovered from a shaky start last season to rise to an 11th-place finish in the Sky Bet Championship.

In their first campaign back at that level for four years, Simon Grayson guided the Lancashire outfit to the safety of mid-table largely through their knack of grinding out victories. 13 of their 15 league wins were by just a single goal.



Grayson has already brought in a new striker to address his team's struggles in front of goal, although Simon Makienok - a loan signing from Palermo - will be eager to improve on his tally of five strikes for relegated Charlton Athletic last term.

City will play their first league game against the Lilywhites since 2011 when they visit Carrow Road on October 22, with the Deepdale fixture set for April 17.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS

Manager: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink  
Home: Loftus Road  
2015-16: 12th
Twitter: @QPRFC

Fact
: Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink netted 127 Premier League goals during his playing career, the third-highest by a non-British player.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink will want to take QPR back into the promotion picture in his first full season in charge.

The ex-Chelsea striker took over from Chris Ramsey last December after the relegated London club had made a slow start to life back in the Sky Bet Championship.



With stalwarts Clint Hill, Alejandro Faurlin and Rob Green among those leaving Rangers this summer, there is the sense that a new era is dawning at Loftus Road under Hasselbaink's stewardship.

They will provide the Canaries' final opponents of the 46-game season at Carrow Road on May 7, with Alex Neil's side set to visit them on November 19.

READING

Manager: Jaap Stam
Home: Madejski Stadium
2015-16: 17th  
Twitter: @ReadingFC

Fact: New manager Jaap Stam was named UEFA Club Defender of the Year in both the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons.

Jaap Stam was appointed at Reading earlier in June, becoming the Royals' first boss from overseas.

It is also the 43-year-old's first senior managerial role having spent the last three years learning his trade as a coach in Ajax's famed Academy.



"Reading are very ambitious like I am and want to get back to the Premier League. Hopefully we can have a good partnership and get there," said Stam after he was unveiled.

The former Manchester United defender replaced Brian McDermott at the reins of the Berkshire club after they failed to win any of their last seven matches in the Sky Bet Championship last season, finishing 17th.

Look out for Part Five soon, featuring Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday, Wigan Athletic and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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