The six new sides Reading will face in 2020/21
READING, ENGLAND - JUNE 30: Reading coach Mark Bowen talks to his players during the Sky Bet Championship match between Reading and Brentford at Madejski Stadium on June 30, 2020 in Reading, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Coming down from the Premier League are the same three teams that won promotion from the division in 2014/15, Watford, AFC Bournemouth and Norwich City.

Meanwhile coming up from League One are the interesting prospects of near neighbours Wycombe Wanderers, division champions Coventry City and yo-yo side Rotherham United.

Although, it is highly doubtful that Royals fans will get the experience these away days for the coming season, they still provide interesting match-ups for Mark Bowen’s side.

Below will look at those joining the division in some more detail.

Norwich City


2018/19 Championship winners Norwich found themselves rock-bottom and plummeting straight back to the second tier at the first hurdle last season.

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However, expect little hangover after relegation from the Canaries, as it appears that their squad will be very similar to that that romped to the title two years ago.

Although, they are expected to lose young full-back Jamal Lewis and midfield maestro Emi Buendia, according to The Pinkun, they are fighting hard on the cost and will no doubt gain big fees for both.

Having also kept Daniel Farke in charge, the team does not need much more other than the right attitude to be able to really compete next season.

It worked with Sean Dyche and Burnley, so there is no reason why it cannot with Farke and Norwich.

The last time Reading played the East-Anglians was in April 2019, with a last minute strike from Andy Rinomhota ensuring a point on the road in a 2-2 draw.

Watford


The managerial circus that is Watford has once again rolled back into the Championship after five seasons.

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Having gone through four managers in the 2019/20 season, it was left to caretakers Hayden Mullins and Graham Stack to officially take the club down having relived Nigel Pearson of his role with two matches left.

Ultimately, they went down by just one point and do have a strong squad as things stand.

With the right manager, or manager’s, in charge next season, the Hornets could really challenge for promotion next season.  

Whatever happens, the club are in desperate need of stability, something which is especially hard to come by in that part of Hertfordshire.

Reading last played the Hornets in March 2015 just four days before the FA Cup semi-final. A much changed Royals side lost 4-1 at Vicarage Road as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side moved into the automatic promotion spaces and Steve Clarke’s team finished 19th and lost to Arsenal in the last four of the FA Cup.

Bournemouth


Another side relegated by just one point, the situation of Bournemouth and the before mentioned Watford could not be any more different.

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Eddie Howe took the Cherries from the bottom tier to the top tier over his two spells, lasting 11 years in total while Watford have had 15 managers in the same time period.

However following the club’s relegation back to the second tier, Howe and the club parted company.

This now means that Bournemouth will be the most difficult to predict of those which came down from the Premier League, as although the squad is most definitely one of the strongest in next year’s division, it is impossible to tell how Jason Tindall will do.

One of Howe’s backroom staff for many years, his only previous managerial role was of Weymouth Town in 2008- only time will tell if he is up to the job.

Bournemouth completed the double over the Royals in the 2014/15 season, winning 3-0 at the Vitality Stadium and 0-1 at the Madejski as they won the league and promotion to the Premier League for the first time.

Coventry City


The story of Mark Robins and Coventry is one that many neutrals cannot help but admire.

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The club has been ripped apart by their owners SISU and even had to play their home matches in Birmingham last season.

The club have managed to rise from League Two to the Championship in three seasons, as well as winning as Football League Trophy at Wembley in 2017 and now find themselves back in the second tier for the first time since 2012 having won League One.

With it confirmed that the club will face yet another season outside of the city in which it represents, some good news was announced in July as the University of Warwick has agreed to a partnership with the club and provide land for them to build their own stadium in Coventry.

A side which was last year built around young prospects and a strong team spirit, they will need to keep that going if they are going to survive in the Championship in the coming year.

They are a club with a big history but one which has recently fallen foul of mismanagement, many neutrals will want to see the Sky Blues do well.

Reading last played Coventry in 2011/12, the year Brian McDermott lead the team to the Championship title. A 1-1 draw at the Ricoh Arena and a 2-0 win at the Madejski ensured that the Midlands based side failed to beat Reading that season, in fact 2005 was the last time a Coventry side beat Reading, a run stretching 11 games.

Rotherham United


Rotherham have either been promoted or relegated in each of the last four seasons.

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Paul Warne took over in 2017 and has since overseen two promotions and a relegation.

Now they are back up, the aim has to be to survive and build some stability as a second tier side.

Although it is difficult to see this happen due to their previous attempts in the division, they always come out with respect of football fans, mainly down to the fact that they refuse to break the bank in order to stay up.

They spend within their means and do not put the club’s future at risk in the hope of staying up, and for that reason despite going down, they are always in a good position to go straight back up and continue the cycle.

A side that Reading have played frequently over the last few seasons, 2018/19 was the last time the two sides met, drawing 1-1 in both matches.

Wycombe Wanderers


The fairy tale of the division - the Chairboys only entered the Football League in 1993 and now find themselves in the second tier for the first time in their history.

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Long serving manager Gareth Ainsworth pulled together an experienced squad of tier three and four journeymen sprinkled with young talent such as Fred Onyedinma and managed to lead them to third and a play-off final win, despite being tipped for relegation by prominent football publication FourFourTwo, and no doubt others.

Bowen’s Royals played the Buckinghamshire based side in Round One of the Carabao Cup at Adams Park, and over 2,000 Reading fans saw Danny Loader score the winning penalty in a tense shoot-out following a 1-1 draw. The home side put in an impressive performance and did not look out of place against second division opposition.

It will be an immense challenge to keep the side in the league, but one that many neutrals will be quietly rooting for.

With the variety of squads and styles, this season certainly looks to be one of the most unpredictable of recent years!

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