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25 June 2016

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

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


Manager: Slavisa Jokanovic
Home: Craven Cottage
2015-16: 20th 
Twitter: @FulhamFC

: Captain Scott Parker was named Football Writers' Association Player of the Year at the end of the 2010-11 season, while playing for West Ham United.

Fulham ended last season in 20th, despite the prolific goal-scoring of front pairing Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack who netted 36 goals between them.

The only partnership to offer a better return was Andre Gray and Sam Vokes at Burnley, with the Clarets lifting the title to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Having at times been perilously close to dropping out of the division regardless of the attacking talents they had at their disposal, the areas which Fulham must improve are clear.

Only relegated duo Charlton Atletic and Bolton Wanderers conceded more goals than the Cottagers' 79 last season, and they must do better this term in order to stay away from danger.


Manager: David Wagner
Home: John Smith's Stadium
2015-16: 19th
Twitter: @htafcdotcom

: German-born manager David Wagner made a number of appearances for the United States between 1996 and 1998.

Much was made of David Wagner's arrival as manager of Huddersfield Town last November, given his prominence in Jurgen Klopp's backroom staff at Borussia Dortmund.

Wagner was previously responsible for the German outfit's second string, and was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool when Klopp was appointed at Anfield.

However, he instead elected to take on the challenge presented by Huddersfield Town, succeeding Chris Powell at the John Smith's Stadium.

Ensuring survival last season was the primary aim, and the Head Coach was rewarded for doing so in the form of a new contract earlier this month.


Manager: Mick McCarthy
Home: Portman Road 
2015-16: 7th
Twitter: @Official_ITFC

: The Canaries are unbeaten in the last six meetings between the sides, winning five of those matches. 

After losing out to City in the 2014-15 play-off semi-finals, Ipswich Town fell just short of securing a second consecutive top-fix finish last season.

Always in the upper-reaches of mid-table, if not higher, throughout 2015-16, the Tractor Boys's relative consistency is perhaps their biggest trait. 

The first East Anglian Derby of the season is set to take place on Saturday, August 20, with the Canaries' fourth game of the season taking them to Portman Road.

Led by Mick McCarthy, who guided Sunderland and Wolves to the second tier title in 2005 and 2009 respectively, the emergence of youngsters such as Andre Dozzell offers promise.


Manager: Garry Monk
Home: Elland Road
2015-16: 13th
Twitter: @LUFC

Fact:City midfielder Jonny Howson became the youngest Leeds captain since the iconic Billy Bremner when he first skippered the side in 2008.

Leeds United have a new man in charge for the 2016-17 season, with former Swansea boss Garry Monk replacing Steve Evans in the Elland Road dugout.

Their sixth different boss since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, Monk will know he needs to hit the ground running as he moves back into management having left the Swans last December.

Charlie Taylor and Lewis Cook are among those to become regulars, with Leeds looking to build upon finishing 13th in the last campaign.

Highly-rated youngster Sam Byram joined West Ham United in January, but the Whites' Academy system continues to produce players able to break into the club's first team.


Manager: Rafael Benitez
Home: St James' Park
2015-16: 18th (Premier League)
Twitter: @NUFC

: Newcastle's ground is the biggest in the division, holding over 52,000 people.

Much to the delight of fans on Tyneside, the 56-year-old Spaniard opted to remain with United for the new season despite arguably arriving too late to keep them in the top-flight last term.
Few clubs will believe themselves to have done better business this summer than Newcastle United when they were able to retain Rafael Benitez as manager.

The challenge this time is different, but one Benitez appears ready to embrace after pledging his future to the Toon Army by signing a three-year deal in May.

Boasting Liverpool, Inter and Real Madrid - as little as five months ago - among his former employers, he carries a glittering coaching CV.

Look out for Part Four soon, featuring Nottingham Forest, Preston North End, Queens Park Rangers and Reading.

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