Who will be relegated from the Championship?

Last season the battle at the bottom of the Championship involved a lot of teams and went right down to the wire.

The teams that did go stay up will take confidence in that and will want to push on this season and not be involved at the wrong end of the table again.

The clear favourites to go down are Yeovil Town and unfortunately for them it will be a very tough ask simply because they were not expected to get promoted to the Championship in the first place so they do not really have the team in place to compete. I do like Gary Johnson though as a manager and his teams always seem to be very committed and want to win for him. They will be underdogs in every game so they have nothing to lose and that could work in their advantage.

Doncaster Rovers also gained promotion last season and this time I think they will go straight back down because I do not think they made the greatest of managerial choices in Paul Dickov but maybe he will prove me wrong. They have brought in Ross Turnbull in goal and this is a risky choice because he hasn’t played first team football for a very long time and even though he is getting older he does not have a lot of experience. I do though like the signings of Dean Furman and Harry Forrester and hope they do well in the Championship.

Barnsley finished last season superbly but it could be another year of struggle. David Flitcroft has had an exceptional start to his managerial career but it will be a real test for him when the going gets tough and his team get on a losing run. The signings he has made have been ok and will add something to the side and getting Chris O’Grady back is vital to the way they play. Also Dale Jennings will be looking to restart his career after an unsuccessful spell at Bayern Munich but hopefully he has taken some positives from that experience and will be brilliant in the Championship.

Paul Ince may have been able to keep his son Tom at Blackpool for the time being but that might not be enough for them to stay away from the relegation battle. Ince has not been a great manager over recent years and it will be a difficult job at Blackpool but he did end last season with very few defeats and if he can turn a few of the draws into victories then they will have nothing to worry about. They have brought in three decent strikers in Bobby Grant, Michael Chopra and Steve Davies so they at least have competition in the striking department and goals may not be a problem.

Burnley have lost their best player and most consistent goal scorer in Charlie Austin so it is no surprise at all that they are seen as one of the weaker teams in the division. They will need other players to step up or it will be a very long year for Sean Dyche if he gets to keep his job for that long. The only striker they have brought in so far is Ryan Noble from Sunderland and that cannot be convincing the fans that they are going to be successful.

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Who will be Bury’s next manager?

Bury are still without a manager after Richie Barker left them just days before the season started for Crawley Town and interviews are expected to take place this week.

The club are currently 23rd in League One with only two points from their opening five games and caretaker boss Peter Shirtliff is not expected to be the man to take the club forward and this is largely down to the start they have made. However, it is worth pointing out that he was put in a very difficult situation and he not being able to succeed is not really a surprise.

But, he may still be considered by the board so it is not a drastic change at the club over the next few months at least. They will want to stay in League One though so they will have to make a decision soon if they do not believe Shirtliff can keep them up, so who are the contenders? Current Wrexham player manager Andy Morrell seems to be the favourite at the moment and it is not surprise to see why as he has been performing brilliantly at Wrexham and has won 33 of his 53 games in charge, and only losing nine of them. The fact that he had two years at Bury will also work in his favour because he will know the area and be able to settle down easily and get on with his job as quickly as possible. He scored 18 times for Bury in his 79 appearances.

Another former Bury player to be linked with the job is David Flitcroft. Flitcroft, is currently assistant manager at Barnsley so it may be difficult to get him, especially if there is a compensation package to be agreed, but if they can get him then it could be very risky as he has never managed before and has always been a number two. He will have learned a lot from Keith Hill as he has been with him at both Barnsley and Rochdale so if he can replicate his success in the lower leagues then he will be a decent manager.

Surprisingly in my opinion, Chris Brass has been linked with the job and it is a slight surprise because he has actually had the job once before on a caretaker basis and managed to lose three out of his four games in charge and not even pick up a single win. Brass hasn’t managed since then but like the rest of the candidates he did play for the club and has been their assistant manager under Alan Knill. He is currently still with Knill at Scunthorpe United so yet again a worry over money could be a problem.

It seems like the board want someone that knows what the club is about and that can sometimes be a good thing as they will really understand what the fans want and I am sure right now all the fans want is safety in League One.

Who will be the next Chesterfield manager?

Chesterfield have sacked their manager John Sheridan after not winning any of their first three games in League 2.

To sack a manager this early in my opinion is a little crazy but now there have been two sacked already, (Andy Thorn at Coventry City) so maybe now you need a quick start to the season to keep your job especially if you are expected to be one of the favourites for promotion. But, I think they need to take a step back and it may be clichéd but the Football League is a marathon and not a sprint, you cannot get promoted in the first three games and certainly can’t get relegated. John Sheridan must have split opinion because he did very well at times by winning them the League 2 title in the 2010-11 season and then followed that up with the Football League Trophy the season after, but in League 1 they struggled and were rightfully relegated because they just weren’t good enough. Now, was that because of Sheridan’s tactics or something else? He had a decent record as manager winning 63 of his 163 games in charge which gives him a 39.38% win record so I fully expected them to be up there come the end of the season. Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley have been placed in temporary charge.

First name to put forward for the job permanently is Brian Laws who has been quite successful in Yorkshire before when he was manager of Sheffield Wednesday so at least he knows the area and it won’t take him long to settle down and can focus on the job straight from the off. He has also gained two promotions from League 2 in his career, both at Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what is needed in the division. Plus, he has Premier League experience and there may not be a lot of them linked with the job so he could have a few contacts to call upon to bring in decent players.

Next, is a manager that I feel was harshly sacked at his last club and that is Sean Dyche. He led unfancied Watford to 11th in the Championship last season and they looked very good under him, playing good football and on the whole looking very solid. Dyche, had to work on a small budget an use a lot of the youth players so this would also be beneficial to Chesterfield. Also, the icing on the cake and what makes him favourite for the job in my mind is the fact he started his career at the club and played 231 league games for them scoring eight goals. I’m sure he would be a fans favourite and popular choice.

Finally, another manager that has links to Yorkshire, Mark Robins, who has managed both Rotherham United and Barnsley. This would be an interesting choice because of the rivalry between Rotherham and Chesterfield but he has been successful in this division before and performed admirably at Rotherham when they were going through quite a turbulent time, starting one season with a 17 point deduction. His time at Barnsley didn’t go as well but he still achieved their targets and kept them in the Championship and only left because of differences with the board so he may even still be there now if they could have worked it out.

Who will be relegated from the Championship?

A lot of big teams have been relegated from the Championship over the years including Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Southampton so nobody is safe really and anything could happen. Last year we saw Coventry City, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers were unable to stay up so who will it be this year?

Barnsley struggled in the second half of last season especially after the departure of Ricardo Vaz Te who was their talisman and top scorer so it is easy to see why they are one of the favourites for the drop. Losing Jacob Butterfield will also be a blow and they will need their experienced players to perform well if they are to stay up. One of their main signings of the summer Mido has also been injured and he is unpredictable anyway so they may to rely on the goals from Marlon Harewood and Craig Davies to keep them up.

Peterborough United did ok last year and manager Darren Ferguson will want them to push on however I see this as a season of struggle for them. They did ease past Southend United in the Capital One Cup beating them 4-0 so that will give them confidence but I think they may have took a little risk this year especially in the goalkeeping department as they have signed Robert Olejnik who was one of the best keepers in League 2 last year but he may struggle to step up and with their defence also not being the best it could be their downfall this year.

Another team that struggled for large periods of the season were Bristol City and they were defeated by Gillingham in the Capital One Cup so optimism can’t be high among supporters at the minute. They also lost one of their main strikers when Nicky Maynard decided to leave which leaves them with only three out and out strikers in Jon Stead, Brett Pitman and Ryan Taylor and none of these have ever been considered prolific. They do however have strength on the wings in Paul Anderson and Albert Adomah so if they can get these playing to the best of their ability then they do have a good chance of staying up.

Dougie Freedman in my opinion overachieved at Crystal Palace last year and I think it will be very difficult for them to achieve what they did last season and finish as high up the table and 21st place could be seen as an achievement this year. They have so far kept hold of Wilfried Zaha but I do expect a few teams to be interested in him before the end of the transfer window. He is key to them and I hope he doesn’t feel the weight of the expectation on his young shoulders and have a bad season.

Nigel Clough must be tearing his hair out at the moment after witnessing his team throw away a 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3 lead and still failing to beat Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup and eventually going out on penalties. I always thought they would struggle and I know it is only the cup but there is clearly something wrong at the back or at least in the confidence and concentration of their players. I doubt they will score five past many Championship teams but I do think they could ship five past quite a lot of them.

Shrewsbury Town are promoted to League 1

Shrewsbury Town will be playing in League 1 next year despite a final day 3-1 defeat by AFC Wimbledon but that won’t stop the fans celebrating a fantastic season.

Shrewsbury Town will be proud of their season and finished with 88 points

Graham Turner had just won the April manager of the month award and would have been hoping to end the season on a high but it wasn’t to be and he will be looking forward to competing in a higher division next year. He will be proud of his team’s home record this year as they have gone unbeaten and won 18 of their 23 games while only conceding 12 goals. It was their home form that has got them promoted with their away form being slightly inconsistent, only winning eight games and losing 10 of them so if they want to succeed next year and avoid relegation they will need to improve on this, although if they win eight games away from home next year I would expect them to stay up.

But onto the players and they need all the experience they can get as moving up a division is never easy and there could be some strong teams in League 1 next year although the club will be happy that both Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday got promoted. Maybe the fans and players were hoping they would not as they would love to visit those stadiums. But they do have players that have been there and done it before like defender Shane Cansdell-Sheriff who came through the Leeds United academy and went on to play for Tranmere Rovers for a couple of seasons. He has played 36 of their league games this season and his versatility could be very important next season with him able to play at both left back and centre back. Also three goals from him this season have been an added bonus.

Midfielder Nicky Wroe has impressed me whenever I have seen him play this season and I remember him coming through at Barnsley where I thought he would become a mainstay of their side for many years to come especially after playing 35 times for them in the 2004-05 season. But unfortunately it didn’t quite work out for him, so now the 26 year old is working his way back up the leagues and scored four goals in his 37 appearances this season. He can grab a goal from midfield and he may be slightly disappointed with his return but if he gets the chance next season I think he will get a few more goals.

The top scorer James Collins will be looking forward to next season as he has proved that sometimes leaving a Premier League side, in Aston Villa, where he was never going to get a chance and joining a team in the Football League can really kick start your career. He has impressed this season and will be hoping to build on his growing reputation next year and show even more teams they should have took a risk on him.

It will be difficult for Shrewsbury next year but they have the foundations of a good squad as I haven’t even given a mention to winger Mark Wright who can grab goals from the midfield and also Matt Richards who is too good for League 2. Also adding the firepower of Marvin Morgan there is a real chance they will surprise a few teams next season and they have the experience of Graham Turner in charge and he will not allow his team to give up without a fight and will make them battle for every point.

Coventry City are relegated to League 1

Coventry City have been relegated to League 1 after being beaten by already relegated Doncaster Rovers and Bristol City’s 2-0 win over Barnsley.

Coventry have only picked up 40 points this season

So what went wrong at Coventry this season was it the fact that they have an inexperienced manager in charge or was it simply that they have struggled with financial problems and relegation was inevitable this year? It is obvious that they were going to struggle especially when they haven’t got a player that has got into double figures this season, their current top scorer being Gary McSheffrey only getting nine goals. However if Lukas Jutkiewicz had stayed then they may have had a better chance to stay up but it was obvious that the club couldn’t afford to keep him for the rest of the season and in fairness did accept a good offer from Middlesbrough for the player. The 23 year old had scored nine goals in 25 games this season and this is quite an impressive record for a team that have been at the bottom of the table all season.

Looking to the future though, if they keep most of the squad together do they have enough quality to return to the Championship at the first time of asking? First of all should they keep Andy Thorn in charge next season? His win record at Coventry is awful and he has only won 12 of his 55 games in charge, so in my opinion Coventry should probably get in someone else with a bit more experience if they are really wanting to challenge for promotion. Maybe he has been unfairly criticised as off field problems have forced his hand into playing youngsters and he has had to sell experienced players.

Now is the team good enough? In goal they have Joe Murphy who is very experienced and has got two international caps to his name so he must have some ability. At Scunthorpe United he was very good and helped them to promotions which will obviously help the younger players in the team next year. In defence they do have some talented players, Richard Wood is one that has suffered with injuries throughout the season and he has been a big miss because he was very highly rated at Sheffield Wednesday and looked like he was going to play at the highest level. Jordan Clarke is only 20 but has nearly played 50 games for Coventry already and will now be needed more than ever and he will have to deal with this kind of pressure next year. Nathan Cameron is very similar but the one they have to hold onto is most certainly is Cyrus Christie who has played nearly every game this season and has not looked too fazed, although he has made mistakes which are expected he has dealt with most things pretty well.

The midfield does have some quality in there but maybe they haven’t shown it enough this year. Sammy Clingan is another player with international experience and does have a very good passing range to his game. The problem has been that they have some good passers in their midfield but not enough goals from there, David Bell is another intelligent footballer and is good enough for the Championship but hasn’t scored, Gary Deegan is again another decent footballer but only has three goals.

Gary McSheffrey can play left wing or upfront and he is easily the most talented player in the squad and you can tell that he wanted to get the club out of the position that they are in. Even upfront they do not have a lot of firepower, Clive Platt can be effective but he will not really get the goals needed, a return of four goals just isn’t sufficient enough and he will be hoping for more success next season. Cody McDonald signed for the club after hitting 25 league goals for Gillingham but that was in League 2 and he hasn’t quite stepped up to Championship level with only four goals but he is only 25 so his time at that level may come again.

It is disappointing to see a club like Coventry City in League 1 especially when they were in the top division for a long time but times have changed and the team hasn’t really looked like returning there anyway. The fans need to stick with the club as they need as much help as they can get and they have a fantastic stadium so I hope they do make a return to the Championship as soon as possible.

Who will be the next Burton Albion manager?

After suffering six consecutive league defeats Burton Albion have decided to sack their manager Paul Peschisolido with Gary Rowett and Kevin Poole taking temporary charge.

Burton are currently 17th in League 2

Both of these are in the running for the full time managerial position and they have the chance to stake a claim for the job when Burton face Northampton in what could be crucial game come the end of the season with both teams struggling at the wrong end of the table. Although relegation from this position was unlikely the team had been on an alarming slide and will have been dragged into a relegation dogfight if things had continued the way they were. The Brewers haven’t won for 14 games and whoever takes over needs to get results and rebuild the teams’ confidence. They clearly have goals in their side with their top three scorers all level in the goal scoring charts. With Justin Richards, Calvin Zola and Billy Kee all hitting 12 goals so far this season in all competitions which is quite impressive, however it does also show where there problems lie. They need someone to come in and get the defence organised then the team have a very good chance of challenging for the playoffs at least next season.

Let’s look at the options, Mark Robins is currently the favourite for the job and he in my opinion would be a very good candidate as he has managed at this level before with Rotherham and at a higher level with Barnsley. He also already knows about the club and what it means to the fans as he finished his playing career with a spell at the club and although he only played nine games, he will surely have some inside knowledge of the club. He has done a good job wherever he has been and has a decent win percentage of 38.18% which you have to remember is quite high for a manager that was basically only expected to avoid relegation when he was at Barnsley. If he would come, then I think they should take him, however, he did leave his last job because of differences with the board and it shows that if things aren’t quite going his way he will walk away from a job.

Paul Buckle is another manager who has done well at this level before and he may be able to take the club to the next level and get them challenging for promotion rather than being stuck in the lower half of the table. He guided former club Torquay United to the Football League and then just missed out on promotion again when his side were beaten in the final of the playoffs by Stevenage. After this he decided to join Bristol Rovers who were expecting to get promoted straight back to League 1 however after the team only win six of their opening 23 games, the fans started to turn on him and the club sacked him leaving him unemployed. He could be a good fit for Burton as they would be underdogs and he performs better when his team are the underdogs, so it could work out well.

The last name I am going to put out there is, Martin Allen, because he has recently become available and he does a pretty decent job everywhere he goes and was possibly a little harshly sacked at Notts County (although they have pushed on further without him). He is a very good manager and if he was willing to drop into League 2 again then he will do a good job however he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and this may make the fans not take to him that quickly. But he will win football matches and that will make him very popular.

The board have a difficult decision to make but there are currently quite a few good managers available, it will all just depend on how ambitious they want to be and whether they can attract them to the club. It didn’t quite work out well for Peschisolido but he had good words to say about the club and this is always a positive as other managers will look at that and think it must be a good place to work.