92 clubs favourite players – Crystal Palace – Dwight Gayle

Crystal Palace are back in the Premier League and they will be hoping to last longer than they did the last time and under Ian Holloway they should be entertaining.

The player I have chosen as my favourite is someone that a lot of people will have heard a lot about because he certainly has an incredible story and one that will be mentioned basically every time he is on the pitch. Dwight Gayle has had an incredible rise and for someone that was playing in League 2 at the start of the last season probably did not think he would start a league game at Old Trafford this season.

At Dagenham and Redbridge last season he started impressively and was probably just happy to be a player in the Football League. He scored seven times in 18 league games and even though he was only their for half a season, the goals he scored and points he gained for the club arguably kept them in League 2. John Still was the manager at the time and he was very good at picking up talent from non league football and turning them into good footballers, he certainly helped a lot in his development and I’m sure will be proud.

He then decided to move on and joined Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United where he got better and better and was soon getting more headlines for his performances. I personally felt that this was a great move for him because like Still, Ferguson has been able to pick up players, particularly strikers and make them better and then eventually make a profit on them when they finally leave. But I don’t think even Ferguson expected him to get a move to the Premier League and because they got relegated to League 1 at the end of the season he probably felt he could not stand in his way even if he does eventually end up just playing Championship football next season. Gayle did try his best to keep Peterborough up and 13 goals in 29 games proves that he certainly is good enough for that level but the big question is whether he can make the step up once more.
Gayle
I do feel that he will end up back in the Championship and Crystal Palace overspent on him but he will give them a great opportunity to get promoted at the first time of asking. I was very happy to see him get first goal in the Premier League against Sunderland and even though it was only a penalty he had to put it away and with it being such a crucial moment in the match it showed me that he has the mental strength to be able to compete at the top level.

Ian Holloway will hopefully get the best out of him and let him express himself but he has been criticised so far by how he is playing him because he is getting pushed out wide a little more than he would want and maybe that is why he hasn’t quite had the chances to prove his worth but I do hope he manages to get double figures in the Premier League.

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Peterborough in League 1

Peterborough United were relegated to League 1 after defeat to Crystal Palace on the last game of the season and will be hoping to bounce back.
Peterborough]
Some will say that they were unlucky because they finished the season in fantastic form but at the bottom of the Championship a lot of teams were playing well and if it was Barnsley or Sheffield Wednesday that went down then they would have been unfortunate so Peterborough were relegated when in most other seasons they would have stayed up but three teams do have to go down. Darren Ferguson is in his second spell in charge of the club and this relegation really hasn’t helped his CV at all and although he does have two promotions to his name he still hasn’t proved that he can keep a team in the Championship and challenge for promotion to the top flight which makes me think that he will not get any higher in his managerial career. However he has never really had the funds to work with and maybe if he was at a bigger club then things may be different but his time at Preston North End also was not successful but I do think he is the man to lead them back into the Championship.
Darren Ferguson
One thing that has been guaranteed over the years from the teams was excitement and this must be good for the attacking players but it does not make it easy for the defenders and goalkeeper Robert Olejnik found it tough in his first season in the Championship and I thought when they signed him he may not have been good enough. His performances were ok and I feel he will come back stronger now and there is a very good chance he will be the best goalkeeper in League 1 next year.

Their midfield did also lose something when George Boyd joined Hull City on loan part way through the season and they did seem to lack a little bit of creativity but there is still some talent in there. I think Grant McCann is a decent player and they will be hoping they can keep hold of him although there will be a few Championship teams interested in him. Another player that they have to try and keep hold of is Tommy Rowe who has been linked with Leeds United recently and will be a big loss if he left the club.

Rowe scored five times last season

Rowe scored five times last season


They will also have to replace striker Dwight Gayle who looks as though he will also leave with Crystal Palace being his most likely destination. But if they can get a decent transfer fee from him then they will be able to improve their options upfront as well as a few other areas of the pitch. Lee Tomlin could also be leaving and although he isn’t that prolific, he does chip in with enough goals to be vital to Peterborough. Tyrone Barnett someone that they signed for over a million pound has been largely disappointing but if he gets given the chance in League 1 he could be the man to lead them to promotion.
Tomlin signed for Peterborough in 2010

Tomlin signed for Peterborough in 2010

Who will be Leeds United’s next manager?

Leeds United are looking for a new manager after Neil Warnock failed to get them closer to the Championship playoffs.
Leeds
Leeds have been on a poor run of form lately and losing to Derby County 2-1 last time out was the final nail in the coffin for Warnock as he and the club must have realised that they were not going to get promotion this season and are more likely to face a relegation battle with the table so tight at the moment. Even though they are 12th they are only five points above the drop zone and if the slide continues then it could be a very nervous end to the season.

Warnock isn’t a bad manager but maybe Leeds wasn’t quite the right club for him, he only won 23 of his 63 games in charge and with his previous experience of getting teams promoted, a lot more was expected of him. But in his defence he did lose his top scorer Luciano Becchio in January and it is difficult to replace someone that has scored 19 goals in the first half of the season. This could be Warnock’s last job in football and it is unfortunate that he ultimately failed but it just wasn’t to be and Leeds now need to move on.

Brian McDermott is the current favourite to be the new manager and with his recent record with Reading it is no surprise that he tops the list. He has a win record of 44.97% and it would have been even better had they not been on such a bad run in the Premier League before he was sacked. McDermott does bring some solidarity to his team and all of his players know their jobs, the only negative to that is maybe he doesn’t know how to change things when they aren’t going well. But I do think he would be a good choice.
Brian McDermott
Another name linked with the role is current Brighton manager and Leeds coach Gus Poyet and this would be an interesting choice and if they could convince him to leave Brighton then it would be a good move. In his first spell at Leeds he was quite well liked by supporters and some say that he was the better half of the partnership between him and Dennis Wise which could be true given what the two have done in recent years.
Gus Poyet
Finally, recently sacked Sunderland manager martin O’Neill could be in the running, however I don’t think he will want to drop down to the Championship just yet, unless it is with a club that is definitely going to back him and give him a chance of promotion straight away. O’Neill didn’t have a great time at Sunderland but it would be a great appointment if Leeds could get him, he would surely bring good attacking football back to the club and get them challenging at the right end of the table. I, personally don’t think he will join Leeds but they are a big club with a good fan base and that might just persuade him.
Martin O'Neill
Others linked with the job are Mark Hughes, Darren Ferguson and Owen Coyle.

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.

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Steve Cotterill has been sacked as manager of Nottingham Forest after less than a year in charge of the club.

Forest have won the European Cup twice in their history

New owner, Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi obviously felt that Cotterill was not the man to take the club forward and wanted to bring in someone that he believed could challenge for promotion to the Premier League in the coming season. The former Portsmouth manager did a good job for Forest in my opinion winning 12 of his 37 games in charge after a terrible start to the season under Steve McClaren and kept them up comfortably in the end. They finished 19th in the table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone. It wasn’t easy for Cotterill as a lot of Forest fans did not enjoy his style of football and wanted success like they had been getting under previous manager Billy Davies but I believe Cotterill did as well as he could and achieved everything that was needed of him so maybe he could have done the same next season. I can see why he has been sacked though as a bigger name will attract better players and it seems as though Al-Hawasi will be willing to pump a lot of money into the club.

So who are the main candidates? Darren Ferguson has been linked with the job and is the early favourite to get the job, he has done a fantastic job with Peterborough United and this could be his chance to join his dad Sir Alex in the Premier League. He is currently in his second spell at the club and this time he has managed to keep them in the Championship so he may be looking to continue his good work there but Forest may be a difficult job to turn down with the extra benefits. The only thing that may put off the new owners is the fact that he failed at Preston North End so he has never challenged for promotion from the Championship.

Harry Redknapp, surprisingly is also heavily linked with the job and he ticks all the boxes. He is a big enough name in the game to attract players to the club and he has just guided Tottenham Hotspur to fourth in the Premier League so he clearly has a lot of ability. The big question is, would Redknapp drop down to the Championship? You would think not however, Sam Allardyce took the the risk instead of waiting for a new job and is back in the Premier League after one year and if he does manage to get Forest promoted, he will surely have a lot of money to spend to make sure they stay up. There is a lot of potential at the club and he could be the one to take Forest back where they belong.

Possibly a more realistic option and probably less favourable would be another former Premier League manager in Mick McCarthy who has been out of work since leaving Wolves. He may not play an attractive style of football but it is clearly effective as he got Wolves promoted and kept them in the Premier League year after year. The former Republic of Ireland manager will have a lot of contacts in the game so he could make some good high profile signings for the Championship and he is quite reliable so they could definitely do a lot worse.