Mike Holden previews this Championship season opener
There’s an air of doom and gloom around Ipswich heading into this campaign but that might suit Mick McCarthy as he faces his hometown club. The Tractor Boys laboured under the weight of high expectations for much of last term, having broken into the top six for the first time in a decade the season before.
Season tickets sales have dropped by about 1,000 over the summer, due to the diminishing lack of entertainment at Portman Road, and the growing sense of pessimism has only been compounded by a lack of summer transfer activity. But you write off McCarthy at your peril. His record at Championship level is second to none and he'll be aware he has a point to prove.
Barnsley didn’t want last season to end, tearing through League One in 2016 as they did, on a consistent 64 per cent shot ratio. But that run has ended now and the momentum behind their late charge is consigned to the memory bank, which suddenly puts renewed focus on rookie boss Paul Heckingbottom.
The Tykes have made some eye-catching recruits, adding vast potential (but not much experience) to their ranks. The likes of Andy Yiadom, George Moncur, Ryan Kent, Elliot Lee and Tom Bradshaw could all need time to integrate, just as the entire squad - the vast majority of whom are under 25 - might need a while to adapt to the step up in class.