EFL: The best moments, biggest signings and strangest stories of pre-season

Harry Kewell
League Two Crawley have appointed former Australia international Harry Kewell as their new head coach

It's been a long time since Huddersfield Town and Reading drew the curtains on the 2016-17 season. Well, nine weeks and three days if you want to be pedantic.

Thankfully, after a long, hot (well, there was that one week) summer, the start of the EFL season is now just one day away.

Here are a few things you might have missed during the past two and a bit months, as well as a few you may wish you could forget.

Awards for creativity

It seems the days of announcing a signing with a photo of the new player holding the club shirt, often while also wearing the same jersey, are now long gone.

This summer has seen the rise in popularity of the unusual signing announcement, with clubs throughout the leagues trying to outdo one another.

Here are some of the more memorable ones in the EFL:

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#Welcome

Ruben Neves
Ruben Neves represented Portugal at this summer's European Under-21 Championship

You can be forgiven for thinking the most important thing about a new signing is the innovative way his arrival is announced rather than if he's actually any good.

The biggest transfer outside the Premier League - so far - has seen Wolves shell out a Championship record sum of £15.8m for 20-year-old Porto midfielder Ruben Neves.

The other big-money signing of the summer was made by Middlesbrough, who handed Nottingham Forest £15m for striker Britt Assombalonga as they look to earn an instant return to the Premier League.

Away from the vast amount of dosh being thrown about in the second tier, League One's big movers have been former Premier League winners Blackburn. Tony Mowbray's side have brought in veteran Cardiff midfielder Peter Whittingham on a free, as well as investing £750k on Gillingham forward Bradley Dack.

Mansfield boss Steve Evans is clearly not keen on spending too much longer in League Two - the Scot had signed 13 (thirteen) players by the end of June. Among the new arrivals are experienced defender David Mirfin, former Southend midfielder Will Atkinson and Peterborough striker Lee Angol.

Say hello to the new boss...

Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson admitted "there isn't a great deal of money to spend" at his new club Sunderland

It's not just been a busy summer for signings in the EFL - there's been plenty of movement in the dugout too.

In the Championship, all three teams relegated from the Premier League have appointed new managers. Garry Monk has swapped Leeds for Middlesbrough, Simon Grayson ended his four-year spell as Preston boss to take over at Sunderland and Hull City have turned to Russian Leonid Slutsky.

Former Norwich manager Alex Neil has replaced Grayson at Deepdale, while Leeds have appointed Dane Thomas Christiansen. Meanwhile, the Canaries will hope Daniel Farke can be their David Wagner after bringing in the man who succeeded him as Borussia Dortmund II boss.

In League One, Paul Cook celebrated leading Portsmouth to the League Two title by jumping ship for League One-bound Wigan. Kenny Jackett has replaced Cook at Pompey and Pep Clotet has taken over at Oxford after Michael Appleton quit to take the number two job at Leicester City.

However, the headline managerial news in the English Football League probably came in League Two, where Crawley have appointed Harry Kewell as their new head coach.

The 38-year-old Australian, who played in two Champions League finals during his time with Liverpool, was one of three summer appointments in the bottom tier of the EFL, with Swindon's David Flitcroft and Barnet's Rossi Eames completing the line-up.

The best of pre-season

Pre-season isn't just about hard work and posting Instagram pictures with the biceps emoji. Although it is mainly about that.

Away from the training pitches and gyms there were a few pre-season stories that caught our eye.

Heavy rain meant Queens Park Rangers' pre-season friendly against Union Berlin had to be abandoned, so their players decided to get a workout in by making the most of the waterlogged pitch.

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Aston Villa's reward for winning the Cup of Traditions (no, us neither) was a trophy that was mighty in stature if not in subtlety.

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Portsmouth's preparations for their first season back in the third tier were given a stern test when non-league Salisbury unleashed their secret weapon on the Fratton Park side.

Boss Steve Claridge, 51, was forced to turn out against his former side because a number of his players were still on holiday. Fortunately for the reputation of the Pompey rearguard they managed to keep the veteran striker quiet as they recorded a 3-0 win.

Meanwhile, Wigan enjoyed a morale-boosting 14-0 win against Chorley's under-21 side on Tuesday. Chorley boss Matt Jansen kindly called it a "misunderstanding".

You're not going out in that

Wycombe goalkeeper kits
Wycombe goalkeeper Scott Brown looks delighted about his outfits for the coming season...

They say there's no accounting for taste and that certainly applies to football kit manufacturers.

That's not to say that some don't meet with near universal approval, but there's bound to be a few shirts that don't quite hit the spot.

Speaking of hitting the spot, that's exactly what Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeping coach Barry Richardson hopes League Two strikers do when bearing down on the Chairboys goal. That's because the coach has turned his hand to fashion and designed one of his side's goalkeeper shirts.

"I wanted to try to create a target area to draw opposition players' eyes to," said Richardson. "The modern-day goalkeepers are a lot bigger than they used to be, so it's a no-brainer to design something with big, bright, bold colours because it just makes big goalkeepers even bigger."

I'm sure Wycombe number one Scott Brown will thank Richardson... Eventually.

Here's a brief selection of some of this season's other 'must have' shirts:

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James Dunne
James Dunne models Swindon Town's new green away shirt in a pre-season friendly against Bristol Rovers
Gary Sawyer
Green is clearly the colour this year, with Plymouth opting for this fluorescent away shirt to complement their green home jersey

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