Bristol City in League 1

Bristol City will be playing in League 1 next season after finishing bottom of the Championship and not even coming close to staying up.
Bristol City
Sean O’Driscoll was in charge for 20 games and although he lost 11 of them, he should not get much of the blame because they just simply were not good enough last season and they have been struggling for a number of years at the wrong end of the table so maybe it was time they got relegated. O’Driscoll has got one promotion from League 1 in his career with Doncaster Rovers and is a manager that I feel should be in the Championship so it will not surprise me if they return at the first time of asking. They have lost a few players that would have been good in League 1 and the club will feel they did not get the best out of some of these players like Jon Stead, who only scored five goals in 30 games last season. Cole Skuse is another that has left and he will be missed because he has a lot of experience and played over 300 games for the club. Another loss will be Tom Heaton who conceded a lot of goals but was still impressive.

O’Driscoll has moved quickly to bring in former Derby County and England Under 21 goalkeeper Frank Fielding to the club. This is a good signing and he will certainly be one of the best keepers in League 1 and I am surprised that he was not snapped up by a Championship team. Another new signing that will be vital is Aden Flint. Flint has been an important part of Swindon Town’s team in the last few years and is someone that they did not want to let go. Central defender Louis Carey who is closing in on Bristol City’s all time appearance record will need to be a rock at the back if they are to be successful.

Flint has played 128 career games

Flint has played 128 career games


Albert Adomah will probably leave the club in the near future so they will miss his pace and creativity but that is not to say they don’t still have some good midfielders. Marvin Elliott will be a very good player in League 1 and Paul Anderson is someone that at Nottingham Forest was an exciting player to watch when he got on the pitch and will need to produce a lot more quality next season.
Anderson played four time for England under 19s

Anderson played four times for England under 19s


Upfront they have Sam Baldock who last time he was in League 1 looked fantastic and earned himself a move to West Ham United. That move didn’t quite work out for him but he still managed five goals in 22 games which doesn’t seem great but he did have limited playing time and was never really given a fair chance. His strike partner will most likely be Steven Davies who scored 13 goals last season and will be expecting to get more next season in a lower division. They also have Ryan Taylor and his time at Bristol City has not been the greatest so far and will want to make up for his slow start next season.
Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

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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.

Doncaster Rovers are relegated from the Championship

Doncaster Rovers have been relegated to League 1 after being beaten by Portsmouth in a must win game.

The game itself couldn’t have started much better with the team racing into a 2-0 lead but even if they did manage to win this game it still would have been very difficult for the team to stay up after what has been a pretty bad season however they were the favourites to go down at the start of the season so maybe it was expected. But looking to the future and if they can keep this squad together who will be good enough to get the team promoted at the first time of asking, which is not an easy thing to do as big teams have found out over the years such as Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

The first question that has to be asked is whether Dean Saunders is the right man to take the club forward? This is only his second job and he has only won seven games out of 37 which would suggest that he hasn’t been great but the club have had a lot of injuries and he has had to rely on loan signings which is never easy. I think he should be given the time to succeed and get his own team together.

Doncaster have a decent squad but for one reason or another it hasn’t quite worked out for them this season. Injuries have been quite cruel on them too. Tommy Spurr is one of the players that I believe has the potential to be a very good Championship defender but he struggled with injuries and he could have had added some much needed stability at left back and will be very important next season if he stays. Looking at the defence that have been playing and it is really surprising to see some of the players in the Championship never mind getting relegated from it. Habib Beye, who actually got sent off against Portsmouth, was a first team regular at Newcastle United in the Premier League only a few years ago and was signed by Aston Villa for quite a large fee. Pascal Chimbonda and Herita Ilunga have also played for the club this season and these yet again are players who are experienced and played at the highest level.

It is remarkable the amount of players Doncaster went through and how well known they actually are. In the midfield, they have Giles Barnes who was once rated as one of the best youngsters in England when he was at Derby County but his career has stalled and he may have to stay at Doncaster to kick start it. James Coppinger is a midfielder that I do like in the squad and I believe that if he stays then he will be vital if they are to bounce straight back to the Championship.

El Hadji Diouf has been at the club too and I cannot imagine him playing in League 1 but if he does decide to stay then he will score goals at that level and would be one of the favourites for top goal scorer at the start of the season. He cannot produce moments of magic. Yet again, they have had Premier League experience upfront with him in Frederic Piquionne but his two goals in seven games wasn’t quite enough to inspire the team to staying up.

A very poor season for Doncaster but maybe it wasn’t so much of a surprise, the fans will be hoping for a consistent look to the side next year and this will hopefully allow them to challenge for promotion next year. If they fail to bring in a few players and get rid of the ones of high wages it could be a real struggle next year.

Nottingham Forest fans get the lift they need against Leeds United

When Leeds took the lead against Nottingham Forest the fans must have thought they were about to see Neil Warnock’s first home win as manager but the Forest team proved they are not just going to lie down and will be up for the relegation battle they are involved in.

Garath McCleary scored four goals on a fantastic night for the player personally and for the club as they had to show all of their grit and determination which manager Steve Cotterill will be very proud of. Now, Cotterill wants to give a new contract to McCleary and believes it is a top priority if the club want to progress in the future. The 24 year old has already played over 100 games for the club but this season he has finally stepped up and is now performing to the best of his abilities with nine goals in his 17 league appearances and is currently the clubs top scorer.

Garath McCleary scoring one of his four goals against Leeds United

With the club currently in 20th place and six points out of relegation they really needed a lift and may have been in more trouble had Portsmouth not been handed a points deduction. Added to the fact that a lot of the fans haven’t exactly taken to their manager Cotterill, there could have been more problems in the very near future. Especially when they just lost 1-0 in the biggest game of the season against Derby County they really needed a lift and this is exactly the way to do it.

They didn’t only humiliate Leeds, they also put a smile on every single one of their players and fans faces which could just make everyone at the club relax and play their normal game rather than feel the tension of a relegation battle. Nottingham Forest have had a horrendous season and anyone that had slated Billy Davies in the past must now be wishing he had never left and just stayed with the club. Steve McClaren only lasted 13 games and won just three of these while losing seven of them. This put the club in a terrible position and must have made the supporters angry at the board as they were a team that were pushing for the playoffs year after year and now seem to have taken steps backwards instead of forward.

Cotterill, in my opinion has done a decent job and is doing exactly what was expected of him which was to keep the team in the league. I am unsure whether he will be able to take the team to the next level but at least it looks more likely that they will be playing in the second tier of English football next season.

Nottingham Forest are too big of a club to be playing in a lower division and with their support they should be in the Premier League. They have some talented players like McCleary and Dexter Blackstock who may not be having the best of seasons but proved against Leeds that he can he find the back of the net when given the opportunities. I also really like Marcus Tudgay who always puts in a shift whenever he plays and is always good for a goal. I really hope Forest stay up and push on next season as the fans deserve some joy as they have suffered quite a lot in recent years.

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.

Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland looking good for Euro 2012

Sunderland’s James McClean has been rewarded for his brilliant form at club level with a call up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their forthcoming game against Czech Republic.

Trapattoni must have been impressed with the way he has took to the Premier League instantaneously after being pushed into the starting line up by new Black Cats manager Martin O’Neill. The winger will be hoping his good form continues as he looks to secure a place in the squad for Euro 2012. This may have been slightly surprising as the Italian manager had stated that he will stick with the squad that qualified for the tournament in the summer but when a player is on form, he has to be given a chance. Maybe some former England managers should have followed his lead as they have constantly picked players that are their favourites rather than giving someone else a chance.

But back to Ireland and the rest of their squad is pretty similar to what we are used to and the only other inclusion which may have raised a few eyebrows is Derby County midfielder Paul Green. Green, scored on his first international start and will be hoping to add to this against the Czechs and give the manager more selection headaches.

The rest of the team is as you would expect, Shay Given the undoubted number one is in there being backed up by Kieran Westwood and David Forde who have both played quite well this season when called upon but unfortunately for them, Given has remained as consistent as ever and will definitely start the Euros in goal unless there is an injury. In the defence, they are missing Richard Dunne who could be a big loss as he is a leader at the back and has been one of the best defenders and possibly most underrated in the Premier League. Shane Duffy has been called up as a possible replacement after looking solid for Everton in the five games he has played this season. So, the only problem is whether he is experienced enough to cope at international level. But, they do still have John O’Shea who has had a new lease of life at Sunderland and is benefiting from playing every week.

The midfield is looking exciting with quick direct wingers in McClean, McGeady and to a lesser extent Damien Duff, but in fairness to Duff in recent seasons he has adapted his game and is still causing opposition defences problems. Also Seamus Coleman is able to play on the wing and when he is on form he is most definitely an Irish version of Gareth Bale as he has the pace to beat players and can produce moments of real magic when his team need it.

Robbie Keane is still in the squad and during his loan spell at Aston Villa he has proved that playing in America has not made him a worse player and his career is not coming to an end. He scored some fantastic goals and his movement is still fantastic and he seems to have a good partnership with Kevin Doyle at international level and could be key not only in the upcoming friendly but the tournament itself. Jon Walters is another underrated player in the Premier League as he does a very good job at Stoke and works his socks off every game so the two upfront know that he will be waiting to take their place. Also the West Brom pair of Shane Long and Simon Cox are decent strikers that have scored quite a few goals in the Premier League between them this season.

Ireland are shaping up nicely for the Euros with a hardworking and organised squad combined with their little bit of flair and skill they could just spring a surprise this summer and give some of the bigger teams a shock. It wouldn’t shock me if they got further in the competition than England.

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.