Football League clockwatch: Cardiff v Norwich, Blackburn v QPR and more – live! | Championship

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Key events

More from the excellent Ben Fisher. QPR are under the new management of Michael Beale, who has worked at Chelsea, Liverpool, Rangers, and latterly Aston Villa. He’s highly regarded and his new team take on Blackburn today.

From Bromley to Blackburn, where on Saturday Beale will take charge of his first game as a first-team manager after working as an assistant to Steven Gerrard at Rangers and, more recently, Aston Villa. Beale loved his three years in Glasgow, though he lived out in the sticks. “After the Covid lockdown, after not seeing people for months, we won the league, and then when I went out things were a lot different. I got sent off in the Old Firm which put my face more in the public domain, shall we say?” The 41-year-old grins.

Before that, he worked in the academies at Liverpool and Chelsea, and spent six months as an assistant to Rogério Ceni at São Paulo. Beale turned down “five or six” managerial opportunities in England, Scotland and abroad but had a different answer when the call came from QPR in May. “Steven always knew we would get to that day,” Beale says. “After the move to Aston Villa, I just felt overly ready.”

League One fixtures

  • Accrington Stanley v Charlton
  • Bristol Rovers v Forest Green
  • Cambridge Utd v Milton Keynes Dons
  • Cheltenham v Peterborough
  • Derby v Oxford
  • Ipswich v Bolton
  • Lincoln City v Exeter
  • Morecambe v Shrewsbury
  • Plymouth v Barnsley
  • Port Vale v Fleetwood
  • Sheff Wed v Portsmouth
  • Wycombe v Burton Albion

League Two fixtures

  • AFC Wimbledon v Gillingham
  • Bradford v Doncaste
  • Carlisle v Crawley
  • Harrogate Town v Swindon
  • Leyton Orient v Grimsby
  • Northampton v Colchester
  • Rochdale v Crewe
  • Salford City v Mansfield
  • Stockport County v Barrow
  • Sutton v Newport
  • Tranmere v Stevenage
  • Walsall v Hartlepool

Derby are in the third tier for the first time since 1986, the days of Bobby Davison in attack and Steve McClaren in midfield. There’s no Wayne Rooney, having signed for DC, and there’s, as yet, no new owner. Former Guardian columnist has taken the reins, and they host Oxford today.

Ben Fisher has put his neck on the line ahead of the new season.

There’s the hopefuls

Yo-yoing Norwich City and Watford are back in their befuddling and comforting safe zone, outside the top flight and almost certainly nestled towards the top of second tier. They will surely have a say in things, particularly the latter if head coach, Rob Edwards, who is hunting successive promotions, is able to lean on Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaïla Sarr for any part.

And the fearfuls

The past few seasons have been akin to a slow puncture for Birmingham, with an apathetic fanbase tired of the malaise that has clouded the club since the appointments of Gianfranco Zola then Harry Redknapp in 2016-17. John Eustace is the latest manager after the sacking of Lee Bowyer, but a destabilising backdrop remains. The former Barcelona striker Maxi López is part of a consortium that claims it is close to buying a 21% stake in the club but off-field uncertainty has hampered any designs on improving a thin squad.

Last night’s curtain-raiser at Huddersfield saw the arrival on the scene of Vincent Kompany’s Burnley revolution.

The Clarets completed more than 300 passes in the first half, they only achieved such a feat in 90 minutes twice in the entirety of last season to show the early impact of their new manager. No wonder Kompany said he was inspired by Pep Guardiola pre-match. The Manchester City boss will have enjoyed the winner, too, even if it did come from a Chelsea player who marauded into the area from left-back before picking out the bottom corner.

Preamble

It’s back, though football never went away this summer, and the EFL already has a flashy new form horse in Vinny Kompany’s Burnley. But nevertheless, here’s where the real meat and drink is consumed. The Championship kicks off at 3pm, with the eye-catching fixture that between Norwich, on that timeshare arrangement with Fulham between the Premier League and Championship, and the ever hopeful Cardiff. Wigan and Rotherham make their return to the second tier, while down below, Stockport make a happy return to the EFL after 11 years away. Welcome back, you Hatters, and they play Barrow today. Grimsby, after just a season out, are away at Leyton Orient, the hipsters’ favourite.

For the 3pms in the Championship today, we have:

  • Blackpool vs Reading
  • Cardiff City vs Norwich City
  • Rotherham vs Swansea City
  • Blackburn Rovers vs QPR
  • Luton Town vs Birmingham City
  • Hull City vs Bristol City
  • Wigan Athletic vs Preston North End
  • Millwall vs Stoke City
  • Middlesbrough vs West Bromwich Albion (5pm0

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