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Tough start for Big Sam

17 Jun 2011 09:30:50

Tough start for Big Sam

Sam Allardyce will start his career as West Ham manager with a tasty-looking npower Championship opener at home to Cardiff on August 6.

Tasked with leading the Hammers back to the Premier League following their relegation last month, the former Bolton boss would have hoped for an easier first opponent than the play-off semi-finalists, who are still hunting for a manager themselves after parting company with Dave Jones.

Allardyce has already stated his intent with the signing of long-term foot soldier Kevin Nolan from Newcastle, and following the clash with the Bluebirds, he will take his men into away games with Doncaster and Watford.

Former England manager Steve McClaren`s first game in charge of Nottingham Forest is a slightly easier-looking encounter at home to Barnsley, while Ian Holloway`s Blackpool, who offered so much to the Premier League during their brief stay, start life back in the Championship away to Hull.

The third side relegated from the top flight, Birmingham, will start their campaign at Derby, while League One champions Brighton will celebrate the opening of their new stadium with a home clash against Doncaster.

Third-tier runners-up Southampton face last season`s nearly men Leeds at St Mary`s while Peterborough, who beat Huddersfield in the play-offs to clinch the division`s final place, start at home to Crystal Palace.

Play-off final losers Reading will look to pick themselves up at home to Millwall, while Middlesbrough, who finished last season so strongly under new boss Tony Mowbray, will kick-off at home to Portsmouth.

The remaining opening-day fixtures pit Bristol City against Ipswich and Burnley against Watford, while there will be a midlands derby as Coventry face Sven-Goran Eriksson`s Leicester.

Allardyce and McClaren, who have both managed with distinction in the Premier League, will be hoping their returns to the big time will have been secured by the time the season draws to a close on April 28.

West Ham end the campaign at home to Hull, while Forest will face Portsmouth at the City Ground.


PA

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