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Football League Daily – Hughton facing tough challenge while Cardiff bolster squad

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By Stephen Clark

Friday 24 June 2011

Birmingham City have moved to replace Alex Mcleish by appointing Chris Hughton as their new manager. The former Newcastle boss has been the bookies’ favourite to move into the St Andrews hot seat since McLeish’s controversial decision to quit the Blues to move to their bitter cross-city rivals Aston Villa. The former Tottenham Hotspur full back beat former West Bromwich Albion manager Roberto Di Matteo to the job and will be tasked with guiding the St Andrews club back to the Premier League following the club’s relegation last season. That task, however, may be made more difficult with the distractions of European football, as Birmingham enter this seasons Europa League following their Carling Cup triumph, clinched in dramatic fashion against Arsenal at Wembley in February.

However, Npower Championship success will be the top item on his agenda, a task Hughton is aware will not be an easy one. The 52-year-old told the assembled media at his unveiling: "We are going into an extremely competitive Championship and with the players set to return for pre-season training very soon I need to get into the job straight away." Hughton does have experience of managing in the Championship, having successfully guided Newcastle to promotion at the first time of asking two seasons ago, guiding the Magpies to eighth place in the top flight before being controversially sacked by the North East club last December.

Another new manager in the Championship concluded his first piece of transfer dealing as Malky Mackay made Dundee United midfielder Craig Conway his first signing as Cardiff City manager. The 26-year-old joins the Bluebirds on a Bosman and has penned a three year deal for the Welsh club. He scored two goals for the Tannadice club as they won the Scottish Cup in 2010 by beating Ross County 3-2.

Conway told BBC Radio Scotland that it was the new Bluebirds manager who impressed him, during Mackay’s previous role: “I was really impressed by Malky Mackay when I met him when he was manager at Watford," Conway said, before hinting at the possibility of more new faces to come: "It's really exciting to be coming and be the manager's first signing, I would imagine there's a few more to follow."

Sky Sports have announced the line-up for the opening weekend of the season. Hull City will kick proceedings off with their game against newly relegated side Blackpool on Friday 5th August. The focus switches to League Two on Saturday 6th August with a lunchtime kick off for the Football League new boys AFC Wimbledon, as they take on Bristol Rovers in the first game of their second coming as a League club. The final game of the weekend sees Southampton return to life in the Championship with a home match against Leeds United on Saturday evening. Leeds and Blackpool also feature in the opening round of Carling Cup games with United taking on local rivals Bradford City, and Sheffield Wednesday entertaining the Seasiders.

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