Championship 2011-12: Club by club
Manager: Keith Hill
Position last season: 17th
Players in: David Perkins (Colchester, free), Craig Davies (Chesterfield, free), Miles Addison (Derby, loan), Matt Done (Rochdale, undisclosed), Jim McNulty (Brighton, undisclosed), Scott Wiseman (Rochdale, free), Rob Edwards (Blackpool, free)
Players out: Martin Devaney, Danny Fearnehough, Conor Branson, Steven Bennett (all released), Matthew Hill (Blackpool, free), Liam Dickinson (Southend, free) Jason Shackell (Derby, £1m) Hugo Colace (Estudiantes Tecos, free) No sooner had last season ended than Mark Robins had departed. Barnsley have followed the same blueprint in appointing Keith Hill, an up-and-coming lower league manager from a comparatively local club. That two of his former players, Scott Wiseman and Matt Done, have crossed the Pennines for a Rochdale reunion is a sign that Barnsley's is a low budget. Given that, another season of safety should rank as an achievement for Hill. The pivotal recruit is probably Craig Davies. Given the lack of a regular goalscorer last season, Barnsley's destiny could lie in his hands. Key Man: Craig Davies - The much-travelled striker finally made steps towards realising his potential last season, when he was League Two's top scorer. After a jump of two divisions, it will be instructive if he can carry on scoring.
One to Watch: Reuben Noble-Lazarus - The youngest ever player to appear in a Football League match is still only 18. The season could be the year he breaks through to become a regular. Birmingham
Manager: Chris Hughton
Position last season: 18th in Premier League (relegated)
Players in: Chris Burke (Cardiff, free), Marlon King (Coventry, free), Morgaro Gomis (Dundee United, free), Michel (AEK Athens, undisclosed), Adam Rooney (Inverness, free), Steven Caldwell (Wigan, free), Boaz Myhill (West Brom, season-long loan)
Players out: Marcus Bent, Martin Jiranek, Stuart Parnaby (all released), Kevin Phillips (Blackpool, free), Lee Bowyer (Ipswich, free), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland, free), Maik Taylor (retired), Craig Gardner (Sunderland, undisclosed), Lee Bowyer (Ipswich, free), Roger Johnson (Wolves, £7 million), Barry Ferguson (Blackpool, undisclosed), Robin Shroot (Stevenage, free), Ben Foster (West Brom, season-long loan) Not many teams play in Europe and the Championship in the same season, but that is Birmingham's fate after the Carling Cup winners' dramatic demotion. It has prompted a clearout that is continuing with owner Carson Yeung's legal wrangles appearing to be accompanied by financial troubles, leaving a radically different squad under a new manager. Alex McLeish's controversial move to Aston Villa means Chris Hughton has to pick up the pieces. It was something he did hugely successfully at Newcastle, inheriting a mess and winning promotion immediately. A repeat looks harder, with Birmingham stripped of pivotal players from defence, midfield and attack from last season. Despite the signings of proven Championship performers, Hughton will be almost starting from scratch, so even a play-off place would be an achievement. Key Man: Marlon King - Brings notoriety to the forward line, but he and fellow newcomer Adam Rooney also need to offer goals for a side who have struggled to score in recent years.
One to Watch: Jordon Mutch - With Lee Bowyer, Craig Gardner and Barry Ferguson gone, the teenage prospect should finally get the chance to establish himself in the heart of the midfield. Blackpool
Manager: Ian Holloway
Position last season: 19th in Premier League (relegated)
Players in: Bojan Djordic (Videoton, free), Matthew Hill (Barnsley, free), Kevin Phillips (Birmingham, free), Barry Ferguson (Birmingham, undisclosed), Gerardo Bruma (Liverpool, free), Angel Martinez (Espanyol, free), Craig Sutherland (free)
Players out: Danny Coid, Malaury Martin, Jason Euell, David Carney, Salaheddine Sbaï, Richard Kingson, Marlon Harewood (all released), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest, free), Ishmel Demontagnac (Notts County, free), Paul Rachubka (Leeds, free), David Vaughan (Sunderland, free), Rob Edwards (Barnsley, free), Charlie Adam (Liverpool, £6.75m) They earned the sympathy vote after one of the cruellest relegations in Premier League history, but Blackpool's task is altogether different now: to win promotion when, after two years as endearing underdogs, much will be expected. Yet Ian Holloway has lost his two most influential players and replicating the same style of play without Charlie Adam and David Vaughan is one difficulty. Another is improving a defence that has rarely impressed during his two-year tenure. Holloway has been busy reshaping a squad that has always depended on loan and short-term signings. In Kevin Phillips, he looks to have a potential super-sub, but the likely loss of DJ Campbell will deprive the attack of his most potent threat. Key Man: Barry Ferguson - The most surprising and costly addition is a more conservative player than his compatriot, Adam, but has to control the midfield in the same way.
One to Watch: Matt Phillips - An impact replacement in the Premier League, the right winger's pace and skill marked him out as one who will return to the top flight - whether or not Blackpool do.
Manager: Gus Poyet
Position last season: 1st in League One (promoted)
Players in: Will Hoskins (Bristol Rovers, £500k), Will Buckley (Watford, £1m), Roland Bergkamp (Excelsior, compensation TBC), Craig Mackail-Smith (Peterborough, 3.25m), Kazenga LuaLua (Newcastle, loan), Romain Vincelot (Dagenham, undisclosed)
Players out: Radostin Kishishev, Christian Baz, Agustin Battipiedi, Gary Hart, Chris Holroyd, Fran Sandaza (all released), Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace, free), Chris Holroyd (Rotherham, free), James Tunnicliffe (Wycombe, free), Elliott Bennett (Norwich, £1.5m), Jim McNulty (Barnsley, undisclosed) Brighton's stylish and emphatic progression to the League One title suggested they could prove the next Swansea, earning plaudits for their style of play as they challenge for promotion. For a club who have had two tough decades, these are exciting times. The new 22,500-capacity Amex Stadium ought to be a vast improvement on their temporary home, the Withdean Stadium, while the £3.25 million signing of the prolific Craig Mackail-Smith was a real statement of intent. While Elliott Bennett's departure is a loss, Gus Poyet has acted to ensure there is creativity on the flanks in the shape of Will Buckley and Kazenga LuaLua. Even without them, Inigo Calderon, one of the most attacking right-backs around, should ensure a supply line to keep Albion moving forwards. Key Man: Craig Mackail-Smith - After scoring 34 goals for Peterborough last season, the Scotland striker provided a shock by spurning big-spending Leicester to join Brighton instead.
One to Watch: Roland Bergkamp - Nephew of the great Dennis, the 20-year-old is apparently a very different player, but he is an intriguing signing nonetheless. Bristol City
Manager: Keith Millen
Position last season: 15th
Players in: Yannick Bolasie (Plymouth, £90k), Ryan Taylor (Rotherham, undisclosed), Neil Kilkenny (Leeds, free)
Players out: Patrick Hoban, Jimmy Keohane (both released), John Akinde (Crawley Town, £70k), Ivan Sproule (Hibernian, free), Stephen Henderson (Portsmouth, free) Keith Millen has graduated from serial caretaker-manager to full-time appointment and successfully steered City to safety after their slow start to last season and the trauma of Steve Coppell's rapid exit. With Nicky Maynard fully fit, Brett Pitman the stronger for a first year in the Championship and the options of Jon Stead and David Clarkson, the forward line has the promise of goals. At the other end, David James and co need to be rather more frugal if Bristol City are to challenge, but a top-half finish could be on the cards. Key Man: Neil Kilkenny - The Australian's passing range made him a popular figure at Elland Road and it should make him an asset to the City midfield.
One to Watch: Yannick Bolasie - Even as Plymouth went down last season, the French-born winger impressed enough to earn himself a move up a division. Burnley
Manager: Eddie Howe
Position last season: 8th
Players in: Ben Mee (Manchester City, season-long loan), Kieran Trippier (Manchester City, season-long loan)
Players out: Kevin McDonald, Chris Lynch, Neil Kudiersky, Chris Anderson, Michael John King, Remco Van Der Schaaf, Graham Alexander (all released), Steven Thompson (St Mirren, free), Clarke Carlisle (Preston, season-long loan), Chris Iwelumo (Watford, undisclosed), Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles (Bolton, £3 million) Burnley's return to the Championship was an awkward affair last year, with inconsistency undermining their play-off bid and a mid-season change of managers ending Brian Laws' troubled tenure. In his first full season at Turf Moor, the boyish Eddie Howe is placing his faith in youth by discarding experienced figures like Graham Alexander, Chris Iwelumo and Clarke Carlisle, while the double deal taking Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles to Bolton rids them of their most inventive player. That loanees Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier are the only arrivals is a surprise, especially as Burnley need to bolster a defence that has been too porous. In attack, much depends on whether Charlie Austin finds goals as easy to come by in the Championship as they were in League One, but while Burnley probably should have reached the play-offs last season, a slim squad means they are outsiders this time around. Key Man: Chris McCann - After two injury-ravaged years, the Irishman could remind Burnley what they missed in his long absence: a commanding, energetic central midfielder.
One to Watch: Ben Mee - The England Under-21 defender has, understandably, found first-team football hard to come by at Manchester City but, along with Austin, Marvin Bartley and Jay Rodriguez, could give Burnley a youthful look.
Manager: Malky Mackay
Position last season: 4th
Players in: Craig Conway (Dundee United, free), Don Cowie (Watford, free), Andrew Taylor (Middlesbrough, free) Robert Earnshaw (Nottingham Forest, free), Aron Gunnarsson (Coventry, free), Joe Mason (Plymouth, undisclosed), Kenny Miller (Bursaspor, £1.5 million)
Players out: Gavin Rae, Martin John (both released), Chris Burke (Birmingham, free) Adam Matthews (Celtic, £200k), Michael Chopra (Ipswich, £1.5m), Jay Bothroyd (QPR, free) The perennial nearly-men saw a Welsh side finally reach the Premier League last season. The problem: it wasn't them. Manager Dave Jones paid with his job on the day Swansea won at Wembley. His successor, Malky Mackay, is bequeathed a weaker squad with the entire front four deployed at times last season - Chris Burke, Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and Craig Bellamy - all elsewhere. Much, then, rests on the returning Rob Earnshaw and the newcomer Kenny Miller, who should form an experienced partnership in attack. At Watford, Mackay recruited and borrowed wisely and got his players to over-perform. He may have to do likewise if Cardiff are to finally go up. Key Man: Rob Earnshaw - As Cardiff have lost four players who scored a combined 47 goals last season, the comeback of a forward with almost 200 career goals is well-timed.
One to Watch: Aaron Wildig - The departures should open up some opportunities and teenage midfielder Wildig could be among the beneficiaries of Mackay's faith in youth. Coventry
Manager: Andy Thorn
Position last season: 18th
Players in: Chris Dunn (Northampton, undisclosed), Joe Murphy (Scunthorpe, free)
Players out: Michael McIndoe, Michael Quirke, Isaac Osbourne (all released), Marlon King (Birmingham, free), Stephen O`Halloran (Carlisle, free), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland, free), Lee Carsley (retired), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff, free) Sadly for the promoted Andy Thorn and his summer recruits, the list of names leaving the Ricoh Arena in recent months - from sacked managed Aidy Boothroyd and the retired Lee Carsley to the three players who traded Coventry for clubs with seemingly better prospects - is more eye-catching. Marlon King was both top scorer and player of the year while Aron Gunnarsson represented the most promising midfielder. Despite that, Keiren Westwood may be missed most. It all suggests that, unless one of Gary McSheffrey, Freddy Eastwood or Lukas Jutkiewicz can prove prolific, a relegation battle may beckon. Key Man: Joe Murphy - Westwood was consistently among the Championship's finest goalkeepers so his replacements, Murphy and Chris Dunn, have big gloves to fill.
One to Watch: Chris Hussey - The young defender is a rare graduate from non-league after joining from AFC Wimbledon last season.