Albion will begin preparing for the Sky Bet Championship campaign next week when the players return from their brief summer break and meet new Head Coach Slaven Bilić.
It’s the first time the experienced Bilić has tackled the Championship which in his opening comments following his appointment he described as being on his “bucket list” of challenges.
“It is the essence of football,” he said of the English second tier and we’ve scanned the fixtures revealed today to pick out some choice cuts for our new gaffer to look forward to.
Saturday, August 3 - Nottingham Forest (A)
It’s back to the City Ground for the continuation of some keen rivalry with Forest which last season saw both games end without a winner. Controversies, too, as Albion striker Dwight Gayle was adjudged to have feigned a challenge which won a late penalty in the 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns. But Baggies fans will be happy enough if they see a goal as good Matty Phillips’ equaliser at Forest last season.
Saturday, August 24 - Derby County (A)
No team hurt us more than the Rams last season and Albion will certainly be out to put the record straight in the new campaign. This fixture, the last of the scheduled campaign in 2018-19, carried the sting of a damaging red card for Hal Robson-Kanu. With two high-profile bosses, the game is sure to be billed as an early meeting of potential promotion challengers.
Tuesday, October 1 - Leeds United (A)
Another unpleasant memory for Albion last season and again they will want to leave behind a different imprint at one of the SkyBet Championship’s strongholds. Two high profile personalities in the dug-outs will have both sets of fans expecting this to be a TV pick.
Saturday, October 5 - Cardiff City (H)
Neil Warnock, one of the game’s great “pantomime villains”, returns to The Hawthorns and that usually means the football is accompanied with plenty of banter from the Baggies faithful. And it’s Cardiff’s first return to the stadium since that famous disagreement between James Morrison and Saido Berahino.
Sunday, December 29 - Middlesbrough (H) & Wednesday, January 1 - Leeds United (H)
And the Christmas season comes to The Hawthorns! Two high-mark home fixtures to follow Boxing Day’s trip to Barnsley will have the Baggies faithful gathering as under-new-management Middlesbrough will be followed by the return against Leeds United on New Year’s Day.
Saturday, March 14 - Birmingham City (H)
This was a hugely-entertaining clash last season with Albion twice coming from behind to eventually win 3-2, Jake Livermore sealing victory with a memorable winner. It meant four points from our neighbours who will also be under new management for their return.
Monday, April 13 - Blackburn Rovers (A)
Yes, it’s always a pleasure for Albion to run into our former Head Coach Tony Mowbray but more significantly this fixture rounds off the Easter schedule of two games in four days. Albion face Derby in the return fixture on Good Friday and will well remember how Rovers beat them at Ewood last season. It’s a tough Easter for us.
Saturday, April 18 - Fulham (A)
How will Fulham approach their return to the SkyBet Championship? The club from the banks of the Thames are expected to be one of the major players in the promotion challenge and this will be a late season collision of two teams who will start the campaign backing their promotion chances. It could be one of the key battles in the end-of-season run-in.
Saturday, May 2 - QPR (H)
For the first time since that memorable May day back in 2008, Rangers are our last opponents of the scheduled season. And we’ve enjoyed some good moments against them of late - a runaway 7-1 home win last season before a last-minute victory in the return fixture.