Sheffield Wednesday will have their work cut out trying to get a positive result on the opening day of the 2015/16 season.
The managerless Owls welcome League One title winners Bristol City to Hillsborough on Saturday, August 8.
It is the second successive year the Robins will launch their campaign in the Steel City. In front of the Sky cameras, Steve Cotterill’s troops triumphed 2-1 at Sheffield United last year.
Cotterill presided over the most successful season in Bristol City’s recent history, leading them to a first league championship since 1955. They also scooped the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, beating Walsall 2-0 at Wembley last March.
Deploying a 3-5-2 formation, the Robins earned rave reviews for their eye-catching, attacking style of football as they won 29 out of their 46 league fixtures, suffering just five defeats. They found the back of the net 96 times and ended up with a club-record 99 points, finishing eight points above second-placed MK Dons. Bristol City’s impressive season prompted the League Managers Association to name Cotterill as their League One Manager of the Year.
Robins first-team coach John Pemberton, who has previously worked at Sheffield United, said: “It’ll be a tough game with a new manager in charge at Hillsborough. It’s a big ground and I’m sure they’ll pack the stands but hopefully we’ll take a large number of supporters along as well.”
After taking on Cotterill’s side and Mansfield in the first round of the Capital One Cup, Wednesday’s first away assignment is Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town, who were beaten in the semi-finals of the play-offs by eventual winners Norwich City last term, on August 15.
A trip to Yorkshire neighbours Leeds United is sandwiched in between home tussles with Reading and play-off finalists Middlesbrough to round off a busy August for the Owls.
Centre-back Tom Lees said: “Bristol City will come into this division full of confidence and they will want to prove they belong in the Championship after a brilliant season. We want to begin with three points and produce better performances at home. It’s important we put a marker down.”
Wednesday host Birmingham City, a much-improved side under Gary Rowett’s tutelage, on Boxing Day and travel to Middlesbrough two days later, with a clash at Fulham their first fixture of the New Year.
They will go to Wolves on the final day of the season.