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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Doncaster Rovers in the Championship

Doncaster Rovers are back in the Championship but will have to try and stay in the division with a new manager.
Doncaster Rovers
Paul Dickov was appointed over the summer and this was a very strange decision in my mind because he is not a very experienced manager and I felt that they needed someone that knew the league and exactly what was needed to avoid relegation. Dickov did have a good playing career where he played in the Premier League for a number of years and also got 10 international caps for Scotland so he will have a lot of knowledge but his time at Oldham Athletic as a manager was certainly nothing special and the FA Cup last season is the only reason why he may have even been given this opportunity. His team beat Liverpool but then he resigned shortly afterwards because of how poor they were doing in the league and this was in the division below the Championship so there has obviously been some negativity about his appointment. It will be very interesting to see if he can perform better at a higher level but I do not have high hopes for them next season and I would be very surprised if they did not finish towards the very bottom of the table.

That is not to say they have a terrible team because I do like quite a few of their players. Tommy Spurr is someone that I believe should never have been playing below the Championship in the first place and was linked with moves to the Premier League earlier in his career. James Husband is another player that I think is good enough for the Championship and with him only being 19 he will get even better and may even get a move to the Premier League in the future.

Spurr previously played for Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship

Spurr previously played for Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship


The standout midfielder from last season, particularly at the beginning of the campaign was David Cotterill. He will have to prove he can make the step up this time because he has had opportunities at Sheffield United and Swansea City in the past and hasn’t quite lived up to his potential. I am surprised that he is still only 25 because he seems to have been around for a very long time. James Coppinger is another that hasn’t quite lived up to his potential in the Championship but with him getting the goal on a remarkable last day of the season his confidence should be sky high and will be looking to make a very positive impression.
Cotterill has played over 250 times in his career

Cotterill has played over 250 times in his career


Scoring goals may be a problem for Doncaster next season because I do not think that Billy Paynter, Chris Brown and Iain Hume have enough goals between them to keep them in the league. I think they will need to buy a new striker to compliment one of these players because I do think any of these would be good enough to partner a prolific striker. Paynter and Brown both got into double figures last season but neither have scored many goals in the Championship throughout their careers.
Paynter has scored 109 goals in his career

Paynter has scored 109 goals in his career

Who will win the League 1 playoffs?

League 1 had a very exciting finish to it with Doncaster Rovers winning the league and Bournemouth also going up automatically.

Now it is time to turn to the playoffs and with Brentford, Yeovil Town, Sheffield United and Swindon Town looking to secure a place in the Championship it will certainly be nail biting for all the fans involved. All of the teams were guaranteed a place in the playoffs before the final game so they didn’t have to worry about that too much and could concentrate on trying to get promotion.

Brentford may be coming into the playoffs in the worse position because they were a penalty kick away from gaining automatic promotion and that might have damaged the confidence of all the players, particularly Marcello Trotta who missed the chance to be a hero. However, this may drive the team on and with them finishing third they should be favourites to go up. A worry I do have about them in the playoffs is simply the fact that manager Uwe Rosler has criticised the whole team for missing the penalty. I don’t think he should have blamed anyone, especially when there is still possibly another three huge games before the end of the season.

Yeovil Town are the surprise team in the playoffs in my opinion because they cannot have a big budget and there are some big teams in the division this year. But under Gary Johnson, who I do think is a good manager, they have been brilliant and even if they don’t manage to go up this year, the fans and the club should be proud of what they have accomplished. Striker Paddy Madden has probably been the signing of the season not only in League 1 but possibly the whole of the Football League and he will be crucial in these playoffs.

Sheffield United will probably be most people’s picks to win promotion through the playoffs this season but they are out of form and certainly need a lift, they haven’t scored for three games and lost two of those. Chris Morgan has recently took over from Danny Wilson as manager and that to me was a very poor decision, Wilson was really unlucky to have missed out on promotion last season and I felt that he would have got them up this year. The problem for them is they are missing a regular goal scorer so will be relying on good defensive displays to win the playoffs.

Swindon Town are also another team that have had to appoint a new manager recently and this could prove to be a problem because they haven’t quite been as good under Kevin MacDonald. Swindon have an amazing goal difference with plus 33 and this is better than both Doncaster and Bournemouth. They lost their last league game to relegated Scunthorpe United 3-1 and this will not have put the team in the best of moods. It was very different under departed Paolo Di Canio and maybe the players just haven’t responded to MacDonald’s training methods.

I think Brentford will beat Swindon and Sheffield United will beat Yeovil in the semi finals and then the final is very difficult to call but I will go for Brentford as they have had a very good season and hopefully they can pick themselves up.

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Nottingham Forest are searching for a new manager after sacking Sean O’Driscoll who had just led his team to a 4-2 victory over Leeds UnitedForest

O’Driscoll, joined the club in strange circumstances after earlier in the summer being appointed Crawley Town manager, however he never managed the team in a competitive fixture and left for Forest. He was given just 26 games in charge and only lost seven of those games, so his record was not that bad and there was a very realistic chance of the club getting promoted this season with the former Doncaster Rovers manager in charge. The team are currently 8th in the table and only one point outside the playoffs and with a crucial game against promotion rivals Crystal Palace next it is a very strange time to sack their manager. If they win the game then they will only be four points behind their opponents so it is actually unbelievable that the manager has gone, but the players need to move on and try and get promotion under the new manager, and there certainly will be some high profile names linked with the job and the former champions of Europe will be looking to appoint a well known name.

The clear favourite for the job is Alex McLeish and it will be interesting to see what the fans think of this decision because he has had an indifferent time as a manager in England. Under his guidance, Birmingham City were relegated twice but he also led them to a ninth place finish in the Premier League and a Carling Cup, as well as a promotion from the Championship. But, his time at Aston Villa was a disaster and he was hated by most of their fans for his negative style of football. However, I do not think he was ever given the chance to succeed at Villa Park.

Al McLeish

The next manager linked with the job is the recently sacked Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo. If they could convince him to join the club then it would be fantastic for them as he lifted the Champions League trophy last season. For him, personally it may not be exactly what he is looking for, but he will surely be given money to do what he wants, rather than getting players bought for him which seemed to happen at his former club. I honestly can’t see this happening but there have been stranger things happen in football.

Roberto di Matteo

Finally, Roy Keane has been linked with the job and he also has experience of winning promotion from the Championship with Sunderland, so he knows the league and what is needed to succeed. However, his time at Ipswich Town was not so successful and he did not achieve his own expectations and they struggled for long periods under his management. He played 123 times for Forest and scored 22 goals so he knows exactly what the fans expect and will want to be the one that gets them back into the Premier League.

PKT5111-369467FOOTBALLER - ROY KEANE1992Roy Keane - Nottingham Forest FC.

 

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.

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.

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.