92 clubs favourite players – Hull City – Sone Aluko

Hull City have done quite well so far this season and under Steve Bruce they have a great chance of avoiding relegation this year.

They are certainly not a team of superstars but they work very hard and they have seemed quite organised and this has meant that after eight league games they have picked up 11 points and are currently sitting in ninth place. They made some good signings in the summer that added Premier League experience to the squad including Steve Harper, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore. But my favourite player of the current squad is arguably the most exciting player to watch and is someone that when he is on the pitch will cause Premier League defences problems as he has already shown.

That man is Sone Aluko who already has a goal and two assists in his eight league games this season so he is showing that he can cut it at this level. It was a real shame when he got injured part way through last season and it did show as the team did not look as threatening and in the end it almost cost them automatic promotion. Eight goals in 23 games was a good return for someone that usually plays out wide but with his pace and directness it is not a surprise that Hull City are a better team with him in the side and if they are to be successful this season they need to try and give him as much of the ball as possible.
Aluko
Aluko did start his career in England but it was over in Scotland where he made his name and although his record does not seem too great at Aberdeen where he only scored 12 goals in 118 games, he showed enough quality for Rangers to take a chance on him, although it is worth noting that he did also assist 21 goals at Aberdeen so he was involved in 31 goals at the club. But it was at Rangers when he went to the next level and 12 goals in 23 games showed his qualities and another five assists for them was impressive. I think he would have got even better at Rangers but unfortunately he could not continue his career there because of the club’s much publicised financial problems, so he got a move to England and gaining promotion in his first season must have been a great feeling for him personally.

Steve Bruce was the man that took a chance on him and there must be some trust between the two of them because Bruce was in charge when Aluko was a young player at Birmingham City and gave him a chance in their first team. Aluko is still only 24 and will continue to get better and I am glad that he is getting the chance to show his ability in the top division in England and it would not surprise me if he was linked with a move away from Hull in the next few transfer windows if he keeps developing.

Who will be relegated from the Premier League?

Relegation from the Premier League can be tough to take and for most clubs their aim at the start of the season is just to stay in it.

Every season it seems to go right down to the wire with more and more teams getting involved in the relegation scrap. The promoted teams are always the ones that are favourites for the drop and this season is no different.

Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace are the favourites to go down and this is probably what he wanted anyway because he feels his teams perform better when they are the underdogs. I am not convinced by the signings that he has made either but it did almost work for him at Blackpool, so second time lucky for him. New signings Dwight Gayle and Marouane Chamakh will need to start well and be regular scorers and Jerome Thomas will probably have to play the best football of his career if they are to be successful.

Hull City also got promoted last season but I do feel slightly more confident that they will stay up because of the players that Steve Bruce has signed. Tom Huddlestone is a very good passer and will add something to their midfield. I also like the signings of Maynor Figueroa, Curtis Davies and Allan McGregor and feel that their experience will get them through some tough times. I still think they lack a goal scorer but Danny Graham should perform better than what he did at Sunderland.

The final promoted team Cardiff City have spent quite a bit of money to try and stay up this season so it would not surprise me to see them finish midtable. I do however think they have overspent on Andreas Cornelius who has potential but you need more of that to survive in the Premier League these days. Steven Caulker and Gary Medel do seem like solid signings though that should impress.

Mark Hughes will be hoping that he performs better at Stoke City than he did at QPR or it will be a long season for their fans. I can see why they are getting backed to get relegated because they stood still under Tony Pulis but they were staying up and sometimes changing things makes clubs go backwards. The team he has inherited only really play one way and if Hughes tries to change that too quickly it will most likely backfire on him.

Norwich City are a team that is surprisingly one of the favourites to get relegated because of the signings they have made this summer but maybe they will not gel and if that is the case then Chris Hughton could be in trouble. They should have enough goals in their team from Ricky Van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper but neither have played in the Premier League and may find it tough to begin with. But Leroy Fer, Martin Olsson and Nathan Redmond will hopefully create a lot of chances for them. They seem to have an exciting side this year but they have not improved their defence much which is a worry.

Hull City in the Premier League

Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League after a nail biting end to their Championship season.

Under Steve Bruce they have certainly surprised me and did just enough to finish above Watford. A 2-2 draw against Cardiff City was one of the most entertaining endings to a game you will see and both clubs will be hoping that they can be as watchable in the Premier League. Bruce has now gained three promotions in his managerial career and this just proves how good he is as a Championship manager and he has proven in the past that he can succeed to a certain extent in the Premier League. His time at Sunderland did not end well but I still think he had enough ability to keep them in the league and they haven’t grown since or competed any higher up the table so he wasn’t doing much wrong. But with Hull he has won 25 of his 51 games in charge and this is an impressive record and maybe promotion wasn’t quite expected to happen so quickly so quite a few changes might be needed for them to stay up. If they can bring in the right players they have a manager that could keep them up.

However, they definitely need a goalkeeper because they relied too heavily on loan signings last season and need a number one. Two keepers that have been linked to the club are Chris Kirkland and Kasper Schmeichel. If they could get either of these then I think they would be fantastic choices. Defensively I do think they are poor as well, Paul McShane is someone that works hard but is probably not good enough for the Premier League and they just do not have enough quality in their backline.
Paul McShane
In the midfield it is a similar story with players that are hard working but do not really have enough quality. However, I do think Stephen Quinn could be a crucial player because he does have something else and his passing and creativity will certainly help the side. David Meyler is another that I feel has to have a good season if they are to stay up. He is a former Sunderland player and at times he did look ok for them and without the injuries he may have played a lot more for the club. Robert Koren is probably the standout player and someone that I do like a lot.
Stephen Quinn
Strikers are yet again a problem. They did not have anyone that could score goals in the Championship so I cannot see any of them having great seasons in the Premier League. Matt Fryatt is a good goal scorer and he was unfortunate with injuries last season. This will be his first season in the Premier League so he will be hoping to emulate the success of Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt in recent years, although he is a different player to them two.
Matt Fryatt
At this moment in time I am very worried about Hull City but I am sure many people have said that about Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City in recent seasons.

Who will win the Championship playoffs?

The Championship had one of the best ever endings to a season with nobody knowing who will be in the playoffs until the last whistle.

Watford, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester City will be hoping to win the playoffs and gain a place in the Premier League alongside Cardiff City and Hull City. Bolton Wanderers missed out on the playoffs by goal difference and Nottingham Forest only missed out on the last day after losing to Leicester. For me this is one of the most difficult to predict simply because of how close it all was at the end of the season.

Watford finished third and have been one of the most entertaining teams this season but they had such a disappointing end to the final game. They lost 2-1 to Leeds United but in their defence they conceded a late goal from a counter attack. If only they had managed to score a goal they would have actually finished second and gained automatic promotion. Troy Deeney got a red card in that game and so that means there will be more pressure on top goal scorer Matej Vydra. But, he isn’t in the greatest of form himself. Watford have been criticised this season because of all their loan signings but Gianfranco Zola deserves more credit for getting them to perform.

Brighton finished fourth and are going into the playoffs in the best form and with their experience they may be the team to go up. Wayne Bridge and Matthew Upson at the back shows they have a lot of quality and experience and they have been a large part of their rise to towards the top of the league. In midfield they have a lot of young and talented players like Liam Bridcutt , Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua Lua that probably deserve a chance to show their talents in the Premier League. Even though their top scorer only has 11 goals they still have good strikers with the efforts and determination of Craig Mackail-Smith and Jose Ulloa who has had an impressive start to his Brighton career, scoring 9 in 17 league games.

Crystal Palace under Ian Holloway have been very hit and miss and they need to find some form and quickly. Their win over Peterborough on the last day of the season could be crucial as it showed that they can come from behind to win games and still have a lot of quality in their team. Glenn Murray, the top scorer in the Championship scored one of the goals and Kevin Phillips got another so they have players that can score at anytime in a game. Their defence is a little bit of a worry but in midfield they have a lot of talented players like Wilifried Zaha and Jonathan Williams.

Leicester were the last team to qualify for the playoffs and I was really surprised that they got in there because they had to beat Nottingham Forest away and hope Bolton didn’t win. So this could push the team on because they will be very confident and maybe seen as outsiders. They have a lot of talent in their team and this could be Nigel Pearson’s last chance to get promotion with Leicester so there could be extra motivation for the players.

However, I do think Watford will beat Leicester and Brighton will beat Crystal Palace in the semi finals and then it will be a very exciting final. Then I am going to go for Brighton to win the playoffs and compete in the Premier League next season.

Who will be Oldham Athletic’s new manager?

Oldham Athletic are looking for a new manager after Paul Dickov decided to resign from his position.
Oldham Athletic
This may come as a surprise to football fans that do not follow League 1 closely as they will have just seen that they beat Liverpool in the FA Cup 3-2. Apart from this result it has been an awful time to be an Oldham fan as they have lost eight of their last nine league games with the latest being a 3-1 defeat to Walsall. This defeat has left them in 20th place, only one point above the relegation zone. The worrying thing about this is that all the teams below them have a game in hand and Dickov has decided that he is not the man to keep them up after guiding them to 17th and 16th in his two full seasons in charge. Dickov was manager for 141 games, winning 43, drawing 37 and losing 61 of them. Now it is up to the board to find someone to take control and make sure the club do stay in League 1 and there have been some interesting names linked with the post.

The favourite for the post and the most likely to get the job is Iain Dowie. If he does get the job then it will be the second time he has been in charge of the club. His first spell was from May 2002 to December 2003 and he led them to the playoffs but unfortunately he could not continue his job because of a number of reasons including financial problems at the club and he finally left because of family reasons. Since he left the club he is most recognised for his work at Crystal Palace as he got them promoted to the Premier League. One of the problems with appointing him is the fact that he has been out of management since he left Hull City in 2010.
Iain Dowie
The second favourite for the job is a man that supports the club and would certainly want to succeed and keep them in League 1. That man is Paul Scholes and although he is still actually contracted to Manchester United he is obviously nearing the end of his career (he has already retired once). Would he be a good choice though? In my opinion I don’t think they should go for another inexperienced manager but his love for the club and his connection with Sir Alex Ferguson could allow him to bring in some good talented youngsters from Old Trafford.
Paul Scholes
Another person linked with the job is Nicky Butt also a former Manchester United player. But yet again he is very inexperienced and a job like this won’t be the easiest and it may be tough for him. However, the players should respect him and listen to everything he has to say because of what he achieved as a player. Just like Scholes, he may have some good connections to Manchester United as well as other clubs and managers that he played under.
Nicky Butt
Other names linked with the role are Neil Redfearn, Phil Brown and Simon Grayson

Who will be Hull City’s next manager?

Hull City are looking for a new manager after controversially sacking Nick Barmby after comments he allegedly made about the club’s finances.

The Tigers only finished seven points off the playoffs

This came as a real shock to me and probably a lot of Hull City fans after they were challenging for a place in the playoffs towards the end of last season and finished in 8th place. It looked as though Barmby would be the man to lead them back to the Premier League and wanted to strengthen his squad in the summer but obviously what he said annoyed the board and they must have thought that he was trying to bully them into giving him more funds to bring in transfer targets. Barmby had won 13 of his 33 games in charge and if he had been allowed to continue, I think he would have improved this record even more and they would have been in with a shout of the playoffs next season but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

So now it is time to look to the future and who they will replace him with. The favourite at the moment is Lee Clark who would be a good choice in my opinion because of his good work at Huddersfield Town. However, he couldn’t get them promoted from League 1 and was sacked. It was a strange decision to sack him but if they can get promoted this year, it will show it was the right thing to do. Back to Clark, and I think he will make Hull into a good passing side and also make them difficult to beat as his record shows, only losing 40 of his 178 matches in his managerial career so far.

Another name that I think should be linked with the job is Billy Davies, who has proved time and time again that on a small budget he can get teams challenging at the top of the playoffs. He can do the job in the Championship and because he doesn’t have a club and has been out of football for a little while now, he may be tempted by Hull. A stumbling block could be the finances as he had a lot of disputes with the board at Nottingham Forest about transfers and other things and if the board at Hull couldn’t please Nick Barmby, they will struggle to please someone like Davies.

Finally, the last name that has been mentioned is Karl Robinson of MK Dons who looks like a very impressive young manager and deserves a chance at a higher level but unfortunately for him he hasn’t managed to win promotion with his current side. One reason for this is the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a plan B, if his passing game isn’t working then he doesn’t know what to do at all. He works on a small budget and gets a lot out of those players and can be quite clever in the loan market so these things make him a good candidate for the job. With him only being 31 he has a lot of potential to become a great manager in years to come and could use Hull as a stepping stone to the Premier League either by taking them there or doing a good enough job to get offered a job by a Premier League side.

I think Billy Davies should get the job, he has had a very good career so far in management and will want to get back into football sooner rather than later. I think he would be very successful and would continue the job Barmby had started and improve the club. It is a tough choice to make for the board but it is a job that will take a lot of people’s interests because of how high up the league they finished.

Millwall win 1000th league game in honour of Barry Kitchener

The Lions were founded 126 years ago and against Hull City they won their 1000th home league game which is an amazing accomplishment.

Millwall are currently 19th in the Championship

Not only was it a historic victory but also a much needed victory with the current team struggling at the wrong end of the Championship, they needed to try and pull themselves away from the relegation scrap. It was a long awaited victory at home too as they had been waiting for quite a while to reach this landmark, this is their first home win in 2012 which just shows the problems manager Kenny Jackett has had this season. Maybe the players and staff had this record playing on their mind and it needed something else to give them the inspiration to go out and perform which they did. It was a very emotional day at The Den with the club paying tribute to former centre back Barry Kitchener who sadly died at the age of 64 last week. Kitchener, was a fantastic servant to the club and he himself must have seen many home wins and he was the record appearance maker for the club which most certainly makes him a club legend.

The home side must have wanted to win for him and the club as a special tribute to him wore a special white kit, this clearly inspired the players to perform as the defended brilliantly and looked like they could have scored more goals than they should have done in the game. Harry Kane and Andy Keogh grabbed the goals but Paul Robinson at the back was immense and there was no chance he was going to let an opposition striker score.

Looking to the future and Millwall could have a bright future, if given the time to grow because they have a fantastic and sometimes underrated manager in Kenny Jackett who has kept calm even when the club were right in the thick of the relegation battle. They have a very strong captain in Paul Robinson who on his day could possibly be playing in the Premier League but has been very loyal to Millwall and the fans seem to love him too.

They do have a lot of talent in the midfield too with Liam Feeney a winger that possess real quality and has pace to burn and in the centre they have Liam Trotter who for a player that may be seen as more of a holding midfielder can grab the odd important goal.

Darius Henderson is one of their main strikers and he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there is no doubting his effort and commitment when he goes onto the pitch. Add this to his 19 goals this season and you have a player that is very useful at this level and if they can get it right at the back next season they maybe outsiders for the playoffs.

The fans at Millwall do get a rough ride for their reputation but in recent years there has been a massive improvement and they show all their passion every week to support their team. Football hooliganism does need to be stamped out of the game but in the match against Hull in memory of Barry Kitchener, both sets of fans were amazing and they gave the great man an honourable send off.

Brian Horton named the new manager of Macclesfield Town

Brian Horton has returned for a second spell in charge of Macclesfield Town to try and help them avoid relegation from League 2.

Horton will be manager until the end of the season

Macclesfield are currently 21st in League 2 and are only out of the relegation places on goal difference which has forced the board to sack former manager Gary Simpson. It must have been tough for them to sack him as he became the manager when times were difficult at the club and the whole area was still devastated by the death of Keith Alexander. This is probably why he was asked to stand down rather than sacked like any other manager would have done. However, it probably was his time to go as the team had gone 16 games without a victory and looked like they were going to get relegated.

So, the first thing Horton has to do is, get the players confidence levels up and make sure they believe they can turn it around. It will be difficult as 16 games is a long time and when you are struggling the luck also seems to go against you. Horton, has enough experience to know what to do in these types of situation as he has managed in over 1000 games which is a remarkable record as not many others have reached this amount of games. He got his first job at Hull City in 1984 and has done other roles other than manager since then and this can only stand him in good stead because he will have learned a few things of different people and took their ideas on board.

The last time he was a manager was in 2006 and it was actually at Macclesfield so he will know a lot about the club, what the fans expect and where the club should be. In his previous spell in charge he achieved a 35.88% win rate which is quite good especially when he had to rejuvenate the team when he first took over as they were struggling in the league much like this season and they eventually comfortably stayed up, seven points above the drop zone. In his first full season, The Silkmen challenged for promotion somewhat surprisingly and ended up in the playoff positions but were unfortunately defeated by Lincoln City in the semi finals. Living up to these high expectations was always going to be difficult seen as though the club faced financial problems and therefore did not challenge at the right end of the table and finished 17th.

Horton was sacked in the next season after the team went 12 games without winning and stranded to the bottom of the table. He will be hoping for more success this time around and if he can replicate what he did in his first season in charge it will be fantastic for the club and then hopefully they can push on from there. The new manager has some good players at his disposal but maybe they haven’t quite lived up to their potential, such players as Matt Hamshaw who looked very promising as a youngster at Sheffield Wednesday and Arnaud Mendy who was quite highly rated at Derby County. George Donnelly is another player that at 23 has some potential and could score a lot of goals in this division. So Macclesfield are not quite done yet and if Horton can work the magic and build some confidence then they should comfortably stay up.