Who will be Ipswich Town’s next manager?

Ipswich Town find themselves bottom of the Championship and are now looking for a new manager after Paul Jewell’s departure.

Already, there has been a lot of talk of who will replace Jewell, with George Burley being the latest to say that he will apply to become the next manager of the club. It would be Burley’s second spell in charge and under him the club had some of their best seasons which included a season in Europe. Also, striker Michael Chopra has said that he would like Alan Shearer as the next manager, which would be quite interesting because it would only be his second job in management and maybe more experience is needed at such a crucial time for the club. They have been on such a bad run lately and some people are putting it down to the fact that they have so many loan players in their squad at the minute and they can’t find the right formula for success. Jewell, had a 34.12% win record at the club but even he is telling other managers to apply for the job, so he obviously feels that there is a lot of potential and he wants success for all the loyal fans.

A lot of names have been put forward, but the current favourite is, Alan Curbishley, who has been out of the game since 2008, and this may actually be a good fit for both manager and club because he has a good record, not only in the Championship but also in the Premier League. The only negative with appointing Curbishley is the fact he has been out of the game for quite a while and the new manager needs to hit the ground running, whereas the former Charlton Athletic manager may take a while to get back into the groove.

Obviously, Mick McCarthy is linked with the job like every other going, but I do believe Ipswich have a genuine chance of getting him because they are a big club and just need someone to steer them back in the right direction, which the former Wolves man has done many times before. McCarthy, has a win percentage of 39.29% which is similar to Jewell but the difference between the two is that McCarthy has done it consistently at a higher level. This man needs to choose his next job carefully and if he can keep Ipswich up this year and then have a promotion challenge next season, his CV will look even more impressive.

Finally, quite a strange one to me is, Gary Megson. In his last job, some people believe he was harshly sacked by Sheffield Wednesday and should still be in charge there but these things happen in football and it wouldn’t be the first time someone got sacked in League 1 and got a job in a higher division, just look at what Alan Pardew is doing at Newcastle United. Megson, has gained promotion from the Championship before and he kept Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League so he wouldn’t be a terrible choice, but I just feel the fans may not be too excited by this appointment.

Others linked with the job are, Owen Coyle, Andy Thorn, Paulo Sousa and Paul Tisdale. So who would do the best job for Ipswich Town?

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Who will be relegated from League 1?

League 1 may not have the likes of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield Town anymore but there are still some big teams with big budgets in the division and this makes it very hard for the promoted teams and those with lower budgets to have a good season.

But it is definitely one of the relegated teams from the Championship that are the favourites to go down. Portsmouth are in a lot of trouble and are barely still alive as a club never mind one that is in the third tier of English football. Who knows what their starting 11 will be at the start of the season and how many of them have any experience whatsoever. Manager Michael Appleton has the potential to be a good manager and will obviously come out of this with credit but he is fighting a losing battle.

Next are a team that have just been promoted to the league and that is Shrewsbury Town who have had an interesting summer with a few key players departing in particular one of their strikers James Collins who may have scored the goals to keep them up. So they will have to hope that Marvin Morgan, Terry Gornell and Ryan Doble can do the business in League 1. They have possibly their toughest fixture of the season first which is Sheffield United away so at least that will be out of the way early.

Walsall have been in League 1 for a number of years now and seem to be one of the clubs that will always finish towards the bottom half of the table but avoid relegation and it could be the same yet again. Their top two scorers from last years, Jon Macken and Alex Nicholls have left the club and they weren’t exactly prolific themselves so it is easy to see where they need improving and hopefully their 1-0 win over Brentford in the Capital One Cup will give them the confidence to go on and compete for a place higher up in the table.

Yeovil are another club that seemed to be struggling at the moment and may have a long season in front of them especially as they have lost their main man from last year, Andy Williams, who scored 16 goals in 35 league games but decided to join league newcomers Swindon Town. They have brought in James Hayter and Reuben Reid who I think can score goals at this level so if they remain solid at the back it will be another season in League 1 for them.

A surprising team that are tipped for relegation are Carlisle United because at times last year they looked good and were playing some decent stuff under Greg Abbott but they are another team that has lost one of their better players in Francois Zoko. They still look like they have a good enough side though and should be considered an outside tip for promotion through the playoffs because they have Frank Simek, Jon-Paul McGovern, Matty Robson and Lee Miller (if he can stay fit).

Four teams get relegated from League 1 so obviously there are more contenders but I see these with the exception of Carlisle to be the ones that struggle the most and are in a relegation battle come the end of the season.

Who will be the next Birmingham City manager?

Birmingham City are looking for a new manager after Chris Hughton decided to leave for Norwich City and will be hoping the new man can guide them back to the Premier League.

Birmingham City finished fourth under Chris Hughton

First of all Hughton did a fantastic job at Birmingham and should be remembered fondly by their fans as he got them into the group stages of the Europa League and into the playoffs. This is remarkable seen as though they lost a lot of players last summer and he had to rebuild basically a whole new squad. He only lost 15 of his 62 games in charge but unfortunately they could not overcome Blackpool in the playoff semi finals losing 3-2 on aggregate. It was a difficult job when he took over and he has made it a lot easier for the new man so who will it be?

The favourite for the job at the minute is Lee Clark and he is quite similar to Hughton in a way because he would rather see his team pick up a point than try and get all three. This may seem a little bit of a negative tactic and it may be the reason why Clark couldn’t get Huddersfield Town promoted from League 1 but Birmingham do have enough quality in their side to produce some magic at any given time, so it could work out well for them. The only reason why they should be reluctant in giving him the job would be the fact he hasn’t managed in the Championship before.

Paul Ince is also in the running for the job and this does surprise me slightly as he hasn’t had a job since leaving Notts County in April 2011. The managers they are linked with suggests they don’t want to spend much money and are looking to give someone another chance at a good club. Ince, had a terrible time at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, winning only six games out of 21 but this experience could have served him well and he may be able to get his career back on track at St Andrews. Personally, I don’t think hiring Paul Ince would be a good choice but he has achieved the board’s ambitions both at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons the first round so maybe he would be a success.

Finally, Alan Curbishley is linked with yet another job and he has been out of football for even longer than Ince so it won’t be easy for him to jump straight back in and challenge for promotion. But if the board are going to give him a few seasons to sort it out, I can see the former Charlton Athletic manager leading them back to the Premier League. After leaving West Ham United in 2008 he wanted to take a break from the game but nobody expected it to be this long and now it could be a huge risk giving him the job because football has changed a lot in the last few years. He did a fantastic job at Charlton for a very long time and a very underrated job in my opinion at West Ham United so why not give him another chance.

I do want to see Curbishley get another job and Birmingham could be a good fit for him as the fans are always very realistic and over the last few years have been very patient so he could be given the time to succeed and do well. I’m not sure what the target is for the coming season but I think it would be a little silly for the board to be expecting as much success next year.

Graham Alexander retires from football

Graham Alexander has retired from professional football after a fantastic career which has seen him play for four different clubs as well as represent his country.

Alexander took penalties with the outside of his foot which is quite unorthodox

Alexander also became only the second outfield player to play over 1000 professional games during his career. For every club he played for he played a minimum of 150 league games which just shows how brilliant and consistent he has been since his debut for Scunthorpe United in the 1990-91 season. Remarkably, in the very next season he became a first team regular and was virtually an ever present for the team for the next four seasons. Even though he was usually deployed as a right back or a holding midfielder he could also score goals and in his 159 league games he got 18 goals.

Luton Town was the next club he signed for and continued to play in most games for them too. His £100,000 price tag did not faze him and there was no doubting his commitment for the cause with him playing 152 league games and added 15 goals to his career tally. Although his first season ended in relegation he stayed with the club in the old Second Division and played over 50 games for the first time in his career, the first year they were down in the Second Division.

Unfortunately for him and the club he could not help them get promoted and joined Preston North End in the 1998-99 season. In his second season at the club he helped the club gain promotion to Division One after scoring 10 goals in 58 appearances. It is not very often you get a player that can score that amount of goals from the positions he played for the club. After securing Preston’s place in the league for a number of years, he was appointed club captain and was taking all of their set pieces including penalties which accounted for many of his goals. During his eight years he did not suffer many injuries and was able to play in most of the games and was one of the first names on the team sheet. He made exactly 400 appearances for the club and was named in the PFA Championship’s Team of the Year in the 2004-05.

But he did eventually leave the club for rivals Burnley which was seen as slightly controversial and a little strange after he had turned them down earlier in his career. The transfer was completed for £200,000 so Preston could not really complain after all the years of service he had given them. At the age of 37 he gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time in his career and played in an amazing 61 games in all competitions that season and in the next season became the oldest player to make his Premier League debut. In his only season in the Premier League he scored seven goals in 33 games and was one of their better players in a season which ultimately ended in relegation. For Burnley, he played in his 1000th professional game when he came on as a sub in a game against Swansea City.

He left Burnley and returned to Preston North End where he has ended his career. To make it even more special in his very last game in his career he scored against Charlton Athletic which both supporters applauded.

It was a fantastic career and he will be proud of every moment of it and I am sure the fans will have some wonderful memories of his time at their club. Alexander will also be proud of his 40 international caps for Scotland and his only disappointed will be that he didn’t score for his country.

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.

Charlton Athletic are promoted to the Championship

Charlton Athletic have won promotion to the Championship after beating Carlisle 1-0 and Sheffield Wednesday could only draw away to Colchester United.

It has been a remarkable season for Chris Powell and his team as they currently have 94 points and with three games still remaining will be hoping to finish the season with over 100 points. Manager Chris Powell was already a legend at the club after playing more than 200 games for them and the man with five England caps will be very pleased with his work as a manger so far but knows that it could be a much tougher test next season but will be hoping to replicate the likes of Norwich City and Southampton. This being his first managerial job, it would have been acceptable if they did not gain promotion this season especially when he had to sign 19 players in the summer but the season started brilliantly and he has now won 50.68% of his 73 games in charge.

Looking to the future, can they survive in the Championship with the current squad? I think they definitely can because they are clearly the best team in League 1 and if it wasn’t for a blip in the last few weeks they would have been celebrating a title win earlier than this. They haven’t quite won the title but it most certainly a question of when rather than if. There team has a lot of potential and it has came together quite nicely, in goal they have Ben Hamer who is arguably one of the best in the division and has been vital to the team all season. The defence has a mix of talent and experience but Powell has showed his managerial expertise by giving a few players another chance at this level. One of them being Michael Morrison who has played in every league game this year contributing five goals in the process. Morrison was a player who had a lot of promise when he was at Leicester City but when he moved to Sheffield Wednesday he did not have the best of times and was prone to mistakes which is why it is quite surprising that he has been exceptional for the team this year.

The midfield has a lot of players that will battle for every ball and show a lot of commitment, add this to their undoubted ability and you can understand why Charlton are comfortable leaders. Dale Stephens, Danny Hollands and Danny Green are all good players at this level and in my opinion would not look out of place in a Championship side. But the pick of the bunch is Johnnie Jackson who not only contributes goals from midfield but also delivers some really good balls into the box for strikers to attack. He has had a strange career as he hasn’t really settled anywhere but maybe now he has matured and has show that on the pitch.

When you have that quality in the midfield your strikers are bound to score goals and Bradley Wright-Phillips has done that all season with 22 goals. His pace and power has been too much for some defences this year and if he can replicate his form from this season then it would not surprise me if he was a front runner for top goal scorer next year in the higher division. Another brilliant piece of business by Powell was the signing of Yann Kermorgant who hasn’t really had the best of times in England but the faith Powell showed in him must have given him confidence as he has scored 10 goals in 34 league games.

With a few additions Charlton could be a real force next season and they are a big club so I am glad they are on their way back up. Chris Powell has been their best manager since Alan Curbishley in my opinion and if he can have the same sort of success then he will have a very good career as a manager.

Who will be the next Notts County manager?

Martin Allen has been sacked as manager of Notts County after a 3-0 away defeat against Hartlepool. This result however, was quite surprising and makes the sacking seem a little too hasty as the team had won their previous two games before their trip to the North East and was their first in five League 1 games. The defeat left them in 11th place which in my opinion is not a bad position for a club that have had so many recent financial problems and have been through quite a few managers in a short space of time. In his 10 months at the club he won 38% of his games and may have been looking for a playoff place next season. But, obviously this was not quick enough or good enough for the board so they gave him the chop.

Keith Curle is the clear favourite to take over but his past does not seem to suggest that he will do a better job than Allen as he has mostly managed in League 2 with only moderate success. Also suffering relegation out of the Football League with Torquay United and losing 11 out of 12 games at Chester City, makes his CV look even worse. However, he has done a good job as Neil Warnock’s assistant manager and if he doesn’t follow him to Leeds United then he may be able to use this experience to make him a better manager as well as loan a few players from his former mentors club.

Another character of the game, Steve Evans, is linked with the job because of his fantastic work at Crawley Town. But he has had money to achieve his and the board’s ambitions which he probably won’t have at Notts County and therefore it would be interesting to see how he did both at League 1 level and under these different circumstances. Crawley are looking for a second consecutive promotion and he will probably want to stay with the club and get them into League 1 because he will feel as though they have enough ability to gain a third promotion on the bounce. So, it would be difficult for County to persuade him to leave but if they do then he will certainly add a bit of fight and passion into their club, however, it could be argued that Martin Allen had already given them that. He isn’t the most likeable of people which may work against him but he probably doesn’t care as long as his team are getting results and isn’t this the most important thing?

Lee Clark is available at the moment and he might want to jump straight back into football and with him being sacked by a fellow League 1 club, he probably won’t be offered any jobs higher up and will have to try and build a side again at this level. If he was given the opportunity at Notts County he will have to be given time which other recent managers have not and this may put him off the role. He may enjoy the challenge and simply just want to get one over Huddersfield Town by getting another team promoted.

I am unsure about who they should give the job to but they surely have to give them more time than they gave Allen because he was slowly and surely taking the club in the right direction and in my opinion when some of the bigger teams in the division such as the two Sheffield clubs and Charlton Athletic disappear they would have had a genuine chance of promotion. The next manager needs a quick start or they could be in the same position again 10 months down the line.

Who will be the next Huddersfield Town manager?

Huddersfield Town have sacked their manager Lee Clark somewhat surprisingly as it looks as though Clark was leading the club into the playoffs again this season. Maybe this wasn’t good enough but I believe that the board have made a strange decision because there are bigger teams in the division this time around and they are all above them. Charlton Athletic, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday are all above the Terriers and these clubs all have recent Premier League history and therefore it is not such a bad thing being behind them.

They may have sacked him because even though they went on that fantastic run, Clark was reluctant to attack and win games and just took the draw which isn’t always a bad thing but they have challenged at the top of League 1 now for years and to finally get them promoted they may need somebody else that is willing to take the risk. Or has he been sacked because he wanted to take the Leeds United job?

But anyway, let’s look at the options they have available to them to replace Clark. Neil Warnock’s name is obviously going to be on tip of everyone’s tongue because he is available and has worked in Yorkshire before and has a fantastic record of getting teams promoted. He has managed at the club before and won promotion through the playoffs in the same tier of English football therefore he knows what is necessary and will know what the fans want at this club. However, at the minute he is linked with a lot of jobs and could probably do a good job at any of them. It will be difficult for Huddersfield to attract him to a job in League 1 but if they could, they would have a fantastic manager on their hands and success would surely follow.

Simon Grayson, the recently sacked Leeds manager is another of the bookies favourites to get the job and like Warnock he has gained promotion from this division before with Blackpool and Leeds so knows exactly what is required to get a team out of this division. He would be a very good choice as manager it is just whether he would want the job because I feel he could get a Championship job if he waits around for one but maybe he wants to get straight back in to football management. But there is a lot of potential at Huddersfield and Grayson is usually pretty good in the loan market and that is usually very important in gaining promotion from League 1.

Finally, I would love to see Billy Davies get back into football management because he has now been out the game for a little while and I think he would enjoy the opportunity to build something at Huddersfield and he would definitely have the chance to do that. He did a very good job at Nottingham Forest and his teams are always challenging at the top of the table and he may give the players that extra boost to finally get them promoted after years of trying. Is he an unrealistic target though?

There is a chance for a manager to do something amazing with Huddersfield Town but will the club be able to attract the best managers to League 1. If they can’t they may have to rethink their ambitions because I cannot see another manager from the lower leagues do a job as well as or even equal to the job Lee Clark has done. They have probably pulled the trigger too quickly and should have waited till the end of the season because they are still in with a very realistic chance of gaining promotion.

Scott Parker finally has the chance to succeed

Scott Parker proved again against Liverpool what a vital player he is to Tottenham Hotspur, when all the flair players underperformed, he stepped up and made sure he did his job brilliantly. Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor most notably had off days while Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric could not get involved high enough up the pitch to cause the Liverpool defence any problems.

At the age of 31, Parker just keeps getting better and better it would seem however he has played like this throughout his whole career, but he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves because he is playing for a big club. Plain and simple, he just wants to win the ball back for his team and will keep chasing and tackling until he achieves his target, he does not allow the opposition a moments rest and it is little wonder he is a fans favourite at every club he has been apart from possibly Chelsea. But I think Chelsea missed out here because they most certainly did not give him enough playing time and he deserved more of a chance to succeed at a big club earlier in his career.

But for some reason his career has not really kicked off until quite recently as he was constantly overlooked by England who persisted in playing Gerrard and Lampard in the middle of midfield when clearly this wasn’t working. He should have won more international caps than he has but now hopefully his time has come and he will grab it with both hands.

Even in his early days at Charlton Athletic you could see he was going to be a fantastic asset to any team even though he was probably more attacking back then and has now adapted his game to focus more on being a holding midfielder. He can easily play both roles and he does still occasionally try and get into the box to score a few goals.

He singlehandedly kept West Ham in the Premier League one year and then stayed on for another even though the club were facing another relegation battle which tells me that he has a lot of heart and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves when the going gets tough. It must be difficult playing in a very average team when you are being linked to better teams who are competing in Europe but he did and was the best player in the league because of it. It isn’t very often you see a player that has just suffered relegation being praised and given awards from fellow professionals and pundits.

Finally his time has come to be a success because in his career he has suffered many let downs, not getting a real chance at Chelsea, getting sold by Newcastle when it looked like the club had finally got it right and were challenging for European places. Then signing for West Ham who seemed to have a bit of money and a few good players coming in so there was plenty of potential there which the club as a whole failed to live up to. So he has one final chance to make it work at Tottenham and he is doing everything possible to achieve this and his performance against Liverpool shows he is going to fight to win trophies before the end of his career.