Will Sunderland get relegated this season?

Sunderland are not in the greatest form at the moment and with two more injuries they may struggle to pick enough points.

Striker Steven Fletcher and midfielder Lee Cattermole have been ruled out for the rest of the season and they have been vital for the club, especially Fletcher who is their leading goal scorer with 11 goals. Cattermole is the club captain but he hasn’t been able to play that often this season because of injuries and maybe that is why they are now struggling because they don’t have a tough tackler in the middle of midfield. However, I’m not a big fan of Cattermole and don’t think he offers a lot but gets away with it simply because he is English and puts in a lot of effort and gets the crowd going by charging into tackles.

Fletcher was signed from Wolves last summer

Fletcher was signed from Wolves last summer


Martin O’Neill does have problems now as they do not have a lot of goals around the team after Fletcher and will now have to rely heavily on January signing Danny Graham who hasn’t had a great start to his career at the club. The fans haven’t taken to him because of his past and that he is a Newcastle United fan but he proved last season at Swansea City that he can score goals and put in good performances. He may now be able to kick on and thrive under the pressure and if he doesn’t then the only other out and out striker is Connor Wickham and he has hardly kicked a ball under O’Neill and during his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday he only got one goal and could be one for the future but they need something now and it could really cost them.
Graham needs to pick up form soon

Graham needs to pick up form soon


Selling Frazier Campbell may well have been a good decision at the time but now it seems like a disaster because they really don’t have the options and will probably have to play with one up front and hope Graham produces the goods. The midfield should have been performing a lot better than they have this year too as well, Adam Johnson has not played anywhere near as well as most expected and just drifts out of games too often and doesn’t affect play at all. Even more remarkably is the lack of form of James McClean because he was very good last year but seems to have been found out.

Stephane Sessegnon will be the most important player now for Sunderland because he can unlock defences and grab the odd goal. Now, he may also get to play in his best position in my opinion which is just behind the striker and he will cause more problems than when he is on the wing.

Can Sessegnon be Sunderland's goal scorer?

Can Sessegnon be Sunderland’s goal scorer?


Sunderland’s second top scorer this season is Craig Gardner but he has been playing at right back and most of his goals have came from the penalty spot, I think he should be playing in the middle of the midfield but he looks to be a first choice right back at the moment.

Do Sunderland have enough to stay up in the Premier League?

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.

Rochdale are relegated to League 2

Rochdale have been relegated to League 2 after being beaten by relegation rivals Chesterfield despite both managers admitting that Rochdale were the better side.

Rochdale are 24th in League 1 with only 38 points

Already club chairman Chris Dunphy is counting the costs of being unable to survive in League 1 and this could show in the sort of team they have next season and whether they will be able to compete to win promotion at the first time of asking. John Coleman will have a tough job on his hands and will need to use all of his experience if he wants to succeed at Spotland now. He replaced former manager Steve Eyre who didn’t have the greatest of times and was sacked in December when the club were 22nd in the table so it was always going to be tough for the former Accrington Stanley manager to keep them up. Even though Coleman has won only four of his 17 games in charge I hope he is given the chance to do well because he had a good record at Accrington and won 40.20% of his games so if he is able to get a decent squad together it wouldn’t surprise me if they were one of the best teams in the league.

Looking at their current squad and who could possibly stay, are they good enough? I think there midfield is where they are at their best as they have club captain Gary Jones who they hope will stay not only because of his experience but also because of his all round ability. He can score goals from midfield with him hitting over 50 for the club but maybe this is why they have struggled slightly this year because he only has six and his goals were a big reason why they performed so well last season. Nicky Adams is another that I think they need to keep because he is a very hard worker and never lets the team down although he has been criticised at times this year from some fans and maybe this has been slightly harsh.

Ashley Grimes is another very good player who started the season very well and looked like a natural finisher who would score a lot of goals this year. He has scored eight goals in 36 league games which isn’t terrible especially for a team that are struggling but maybe he would have been expecting a few more. However, I believe if he is played up front next year he will finish as the League 2 top scorer. Another striker they have is Jean Louis Akpa Akpro who must delight and infuriate fans so much because he can produce some moments of real quality and then make a wrong decision or play a poor final ball. However, he is another that I think will score goals in League 2.

Rochdale in my opinion should be able to bounce straight back as long as they don’t suffer too much financially and keep faith with their manager and their squad. They certainly have goals in the team so maybe they just need to improve their defence slightly as they have conceded 77 goals this season.

Sheffield Wednesday team against Sheffield United- My opinion

The big game is finally here and Gary Megson has some very big decisions to make, how much does he want to win the game or is it more about not losing for the Owls.

A loss would surely end any chance of finishing in the automatic places and Wednesday would then have to face the dreaded playoffs which are always difficult to predict. Therefore this is the last chance the club have to really put pressure on the Blades and I am going to choose a team which I think would be capable of winning the game

Goalkeeper- Nicky Weaver- Tough choice between him and Bywater but out of the two I just think Weaver has more big game experience and will want to win as he is a fan just like the majority will be at Hillsborough. He is the better shot stopper but maybe his communication isn’t the best. He gets the shirt for me as he is very consistent.

Right Back- Lewis Buxton- Possibly the only position on the pitch that not one person would argue with. The best fullback in the league, very solid in defence and provides a good attacking threat when he overlaps.

Left Back- Reda Johnson- Most improved player in the squad by a mile and although not originally a left back, he is the best at the club. His tough tackling has made him a fans favourite this season but can be a bit rash at times so I do expect him to get booked.

Centre Back- Danny Batth- The young loanee from Wolves has performed to a very high standard and is looking better and better every time he plays with him gaining more experience. Needs to stand up and be counted though as he could be in for a tricky afternoon against the Blades strike force.

Centre Back- Miguel LLera- This was a difficult one as Rob Jones is club captain but I just think at home against anyone in this division when teams will sit back you need one of your centre backs to be comfortable on the ball. This is exactly what he gives you and is no worse than Jones at defending anyway.

Left Midfielder- Mike Jones- This was a tricky one but I believe Megson should attack and play with two out and out wingers, pin back the opposition and go for the victory. Try and get in as many crosses as possible and who knows maybe this game will kick start his career at the club.

Centre Midfield- Jose Semedo- Another one that is not really up for debate, a candidate for signing of the season in League 1 never mind player of the year just at Wednesday. Could be crucial against the Blades midfield as whoever wins this battle will probably win the game.

Centre Midfield- Chris Lines- I would go for Lines because he can provide attacking quality from the centre but can be slightly inconsistent and sometimes games pass him by. In a derby there can be no passengers so it could be a risk but when you are at home you need to go for it. Megson may go for Prutton if he hasn’t been shifted to right of midfield just add extra steel in there but I think that is too negative so Lines gets the nod.

Right Midfield- Michail Antonio- Quick winger who will be looking to impress from the off. He will look to put in a lot of crosses and take on his defender so hopefully he will get involved and gets the crowd going every time he touches the ball. This could one of the most memorable debuts if he puts in a good performance and the team get the right result.

Striker- Gary Madine- Yes he is out of form but he is the top scorer and looked good before his injury. Maybe this is the sort of game that will get the fans back on his side and get back to scoring goals at a consistent rate. Sometimes he doesn’t look that bothered but surely when he sees the crowd before kickoff he will realise how big it is and put his all in.

Striker- Ryan Lowe- Another questionable decision but there is no doubt that when he is confident he will score goals at this level. I believe he just needs better balls from out wide instead of long balls from the back and he will produce the goods. He is an intelligent player and Madine will combine better with him as Chris O’Grady is too similar and that partnership hasn’t worked that well.

That is the team I would choose and there may be a lack of communication at the back with no real talkers in there which could prove costly but just because you can communicate well does not mean you will help anyone. Darren Purse was a perfect example of this, good leader, poor defender. The lineup is attacking and it should be the crowd will get right behind the team and the players will respond positively and it will hopefully spur them onto victory.

Who should be the next Leeds United manager?

Leeds are looking for a new manager after club chairman Ken Bates decided to sack Simon Grayson even though the club are only four points away from the playoffs. Leeds are a massive club and should be aiming for promotion but they have to be more realistic and Grayson has done a good job especially as this is only their second season back in the Championship.

Grayson dealt with a few problems during his time at the club and lost key players like Bradley Johnson and Jermaine Beckford who would have added more quality to the squad. He never seemed to complain too much about the boards transfer policies even when club captain Jonny Howson was sold in the last transfer window. The former Leeds player had a very impressive record as manager winning almost 50% of his games in charge of the club and it is difficult to see who will replace him and do a better job.

But there are a few candidates with Neil Warnock now available he would seem like one of the favourites to take the post. However, his connections to Sheffield United may put him off the idea of managing Leeds. But, he has a tremendous record in the Championship and can get teams promoted as he has shown with both United and more recently QPR. He would not be a popular choice though as the Leeds fans have never really liked Warnock and I can’t see them taking to him unless he produced instant success.

Lee Clark is another man linked with the job as he has done tremendously well with Huddersfield in League 1 yet again this season but one thing that would worry Leeds is even though he gets praised for the way his team play football and avoid defeats, he still hasn’t guided them to a promotion which is remarkable as they went 43 games undefeated. The best managers make brave decisions to win games but it seems like Clark would rather take a point than risk going for all three.

Former Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies should also be considered for the job because he seems to get the best out of players and his teams always finish near the top of the table and it is not surprising when he leaves a club they begin to deteriorate. Forest were finishing in the playoffs every season under Davies but now he has left they are struggling in the Championship. He also overachieved at Preston and also led them to the playoffs.

So, Warnock would be a very good choice but not a popular one with the fans however success brings popularity and if he got them promoted then there wouldn’t be a single Leeds fan complaining. I would like to see Davies get the job because he wasn’t treated fairly at Forest and with the right backing he will make Leeds into a team that challenges for promotion. Also if he gets Leeds into the Premier League he will have a better chance of keeping them up than with his previous club Derby County.