Who will be relegated from League 1?

Four teams get relegated from League 1 and that makes it just a little bit harder to avoid the drop and drags more teams into it.

This can lead to a lot of nerves towards the end of the season and a good start to the season is essential just to get a lot of points on the board.

Shrewsbury Town are the favourites to get relegated and it is hard to argue against that because they are not the biggest club and their budget will be the best. I was surprised to see a few of their players leave but maybe it was down to financial reasons. Players like Marvin Morgan, Mark Wright and Matt Richards have all been good players during their time at the club but they have gone now and they have to look to the future. Tamika Mkandawire is a decent enough signing and will hopefully make them stronger at the back.

Colchester United seem to be struggling at the moment and I just feel that this could their year to go down, Joe Dunne has done an ok job but he could be fighting a losing battle this year. Signing former Arsenal youngsters Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond is a good start to recruiting players to keep them up butI doubt we will see much more movement from them. Ryan Dickson at left back could also be a good signing but he has not played regularly for a while.

Greg Abbott is in a similar position at Carlisle United and just staying up will be a great achievement for him and his team. I am really not convinced by his signings so far in Lewis Guy who works hard and is versatile but he does seem to lack that final ball. David Amoo is a similar player, someone that just has not been able to really take a chance anywhere he has been but he is only 22 and this could be the club for him. Keeping Lee Miller could be the best bit of business they have done for a long time.

I am a little surprised that Stevenage are one of the favourites to relegated because under Graham Westley they play effective football although it is not pretty it certainly does get the job done. They have lost one of their best defenders in Mark Roberts and midfielders in Anthony Grant so maybe it will not be easy for the returning manager. Jimmy Smith as a youngster had a lot of potential but has not quite lived up to it but maybe under Westley he will be successful. Oumare Tankara is a bit of a wildcard and that could work to Stevenage’s advantage.

I do like that Oldham Athletic have given a young manager an opportunity in Lee Johnson but I do fear for them this season. They were more known for their FA Cup exploits last year than their league form which will be a concern for the new manager because staying in League 1 is very important to this club. The signings he has made do seem to have potential, like Mark Oxley in goal and Charlie MacDonald and Adam Rooney as their new strike force. They could have a lot of goals in their team and with James Drayton also joining they have someone that can try and create chances for the forwards.

Out of these five teams I do think Stevenage have the best chance of staying up.

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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

Wigan Athletic in the Championship

With Everton confirming that their new manager will be Roberto Martinez it will be interesting to see what Wigan Athletic will do in the Championship.
Wigan
Martinez did a great job keeping the club in the Premier League for many seasons and winning the FA Cup but they now need to try and get back into the top division without him. The next manager has to come and in be successful because if they don’t get promoted at the first attempt I think they will be stuck in the Championship for many years to come and could even fall further down the leagues. Instead of looking at who the new manager could be, I am going to look at the players that could get them back into the Premier League. The club still does have some very good players and they play football in the right way so the players may be convinced to stay for at least one season to see how they do. One advantage they do have is none of their players are big names so maybe they will be left alone and none will be bought off them but Martinez may want one or two of the players.

I cannot see many defenders leaving the club because that was always their problem, too many mistakes at the back and a lack of quality. Emmerson Boyce and Gary Caldwell are two players that I think they need to keep because they will be good in the Championship and have enough experience to help the younger players in the squad as the second tier is a lot different and they will need their older players to make sure they follow their manager’s orders on the field. I think they will lose their best defender in Maynor Figueroa and they definitely need more quality at the back to succeed.
Gary Caldwell
Midfield is probably where they are the strongest but they will face a difficult challenge keeping hold of them. James McCarthy and James McArthur are fantastic footballers and would fit into a lot of teams and I think they will play for bigger teams in the future. Callum McManaman is getting a lot of the headlines at the moment but I hope he stays for one more season to help himself develop rather than joining a club where he isn’t going to be guaranteed first team football. Shaun Maloney is another good footballer but I think he will struggle to get another Premier League club that won’t be battling against relegation.
Callum McManaman
Wigan have always been quite weak upfront but somehow they managed to get just enough goals to keep them up. For the first time they had a striker that could be a regular scorer in the Premier League and that is Arouna Kone who has had a decent season and will surely move this summer. Another good striker who doesn’t get enough goals but does add something is Franco Di Santo. I think he should stay at Wigan and hopefully get some confidence from scoring the goals that get the club back in the Premier League.
Franco Di Santo

Who will be the next Manchester United manager?

Alex Ferguson has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season so Manchester United will be searching for a new manager.
Manchester United
Whether you love him or hate everyone simply has to respect Sir Alex because of his phenomenal record. In my opinion he has finished in the perfect way, delivering the title comfortably and bringing through a lot of good young players that will be the future of the club for many years to come. I don’t know how long he has been thinking about this decision but he has definitely wanted to make sure that the club are still the top team in England after he has finished. Nobody can compare to his record of 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups, two Champions Leagues, a Cup Winners Cup, Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup, Club World Cup and 10 Community Shields. He has so far been in charge of 1497 games and won 893 of those, giving him a 59.65% win record but what is even more remarkable is that he only lost 267 games. But now it is time to move on and search for a successor that can continue his work.

The favourite to take over is fellow Scotsman David Moyes who has been doing a very good job at Everton. He has been in charge of the club since 2002 and has been one of the best managers in the Premier League since then, overachieving several times and leading them into Europe on a number of occasions. However, the only worry that could occur is whether he is a big enough name and get the respect of the international players already at the club. Also, he hasn’t won any trophies in his 11 years at Everton, with the closest being a defeat in the 2009 FA Cup final.
David Moyes
Jose Mourinho is also in the running for the post but I am unsure whether this is possible because it does seem like he will be joining Chelsea in the summer after Rafael Benitez leaves the club. But, if they cannot agree a deal with Real Madrid then that could leave the door open for the team from Manchester. I do think that he would be interested and it would be his way of showing that he is the best and the special one by replicating and possibly surpassing Sir Alex’s record.
FC Internazionale Milano vs AS Bari - Serie A 2009/2010
Another name that I do believe deserves a mention is Jurgen Klopp because he is one of the best up and coming managers in Europe. He is only in his second managerial position but he has got Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League final this season and has got the team playing some fantastic football with a good young team. This is where I think he fits in with the way things are at Old Trafford because he will look to the youth and bring in younger players. If he gets the job then I believe he will be a massive success and improve the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp

Steve Harper – A Newcastle Legend

Steve Harper has announced that he will be leaving Newcastle United this summer after spending 20 years at the club he supports.

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle

Harper has played 198 games for Newcastle


It must not have been easy for him to decide to leave but he has fallen further down the pecking order this season, with both Tim Krul and Rob Elliott starting more matches. But he will always be remembered by the Newcastle fans as one of their own because he was always ready to play whenever he was needed and never let the club down. Also off the pitch he was someone that the rest of the players could look up to as he never moaned that he wasn’t playing and was the perfect professional under a lot of different managers.

Some will say that he lacked ambition, not leaving Newcastle earlier even though he was always considered second choice, particularly when Shay Given was around but to me personally he made Given a better goalkeeper simply because Harper was too good to be a number two and no manager would have been afraid to drop the Irishman as they had a fantastic replacement. When Newcastle were regularly finishing in the top five of the Premier League, Harper was arguably better than most other first choice keepers in the league and could easily have left and played first choice. But, Newcastle are his club and he will now, if he wasn’t already, be considered a cult hero, everything he did benefitted the club in some way and when a lot of other players did not want to stay around and fight and get the club back to where it belongs, he showed everyone his loyalty and commitment not to the board or to the manager but to the shirt that he was wearing and to the fans that had continually supported him.

His greatest moments would have been in the Championship winning season where he was first choice and helped them secure promotion straight back to the Premier League. In doing this he also set a new club record in keeping the most clean sheets in a season, he kept 21 in total and in some games was phenomenal, especially in a game against Sheffield United where he pulled off a number of fantastic saves. He kept his place for a while when they got promoted back to the Premier League but suffered an injury and has never been able to regain his first team spot afterwards.

He has had a good career, and some highlights along the way, a lot of people forget he actually did start the 1999 FA Cup final, so he came very close to winning a trophy at the club. But other great memories fans may have of him are not even to do with his goalkeeping and they include his famous elbow drop celebration after Cheick Tiote scored the equaliser in the 4-4 draw against Arsenal and having a spell upfront in a friendly game against Celtic.

Steve Harper will always be a legend to Newcastle fans and in my opinion was good enough to be in some England squads but it will be interesting to see what he does in the summer as he does also have his refereeing badges.

A Liverpool legend – Jamie Carragher

Jamie Carragher has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season and hopefully he will stay involved in the sport.
Jamie Carragher
For me, he has been one of the best defenders in the Premier League in the history of the league especially when he started playing centre back. He will go down in Liverpool history and there is no doubting that everyone will remember him after this season. He may not have got the headlines over the years like some of him teammates such as Steven Gerrard, but he has been just as important and proof of that is the fact that he has played over 700 times for the club. He is a one club man which is very rare these days and it just shows that there is still loyalty in football.

At the start of his career Carragher was very versatile and played in a number of positions. He was originally seen as either a full back or defensive midfielder. He was a valuable member of the team but under Gerard Houllier this slightly harmed his chances because he struggled to hold down a regular position and in his early days one of his worst games in his career was against Manchester United when he scored two own goals in a 3-2 loss. However, in the 2000-01 season he had one of the best ever by winning three trophies including the FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Cup. During this year he played 58 times which is remarkable. He followed this up with another two seasons of playing over 50 times. After this though his career stalled but this was down to injuries more than anything else and unfortunately this hampered his England chances as he missed the 2002 World Cup.

In my opinion Rafael Benitez needs to be given a lot of credit because he moved him alongside Sami Hyypia in the centre of Liverpool’s defence and even more trophies followed including the Champions League in what has to go down as one of the greatest finals ever. During this game even though Liverpool conceded three goals he came out of it with a lot of credit as he produced two fantastic blocks in the game to keep Liverpool in the game. After this he went on to break the European appearances record after playing in his 90th game in 2007 against Chelsea.

Six years in a row he played over 50 games in all competitions but towards the end of this spell many critics had started to slate Carragher for his lack of pace. But, he was never the quickest and I always felt this was a little harsh. This season he has only played 12 league games but played very well against Arsenal and was given man of the match.

His international career never took off and he only played 38 times and I always felt that he was better than John Terry and he would have been a better choice as they both play in a similar way, and love making last ditch tackles and blocks.

Who will be Oldham Athletic’s new manager?

Oldham Athletic are looking for a new manager after Paul Dickov decided to resign from his position.
Oldham Athletic
This may come as a surprise to football fans that do not follow League 1 closely as they will have just seen that they beat Liverpool in the FA Cup 3-2. Apart from this result it has been an awful time to be an Oldham fan as they have lost eight of their last nine league games with the latest being a 3-1 defeat to Walsall. This defeat has left them in 20th place, only one point above the relegation zone. The worrying thing about this is that all the teams below them have a game in hand and Dickov has decided that he is not the man to keep them up after guiding them to 17th and 16th in his two full seasons in charge. Dickov was manager for 141 games, winning 43, drawing 37 and losing 61 of them. Now it is up to the board to find someone to take control and make sure the club do stay in League 1 and there have been some interesting names linked with the post.

The favourite for the post and the most likely to get the job is Iain Dowie. If he does get the job then it will be the second time he has been in charge of the club. His first spell was from May 2002 to December 2003 and he led them to the playoffs but unfortunately he could not continue his job because of a number of reasons including financial problems at the club and he finally left because of family reasons. Since he left the club he is most recognised for his work at Crystal Palace as he got them promoted to the Premier League. One of the problems with appointing him is the fact that he has been out of management since he left Hull City in 2010.
Iain Dowie
The second favourite for the job is a man that supports the club and would certainly want to succeed and keep them in League 1. That man is Paul Scholes and although he is still actually contracted to Manchester United he is obviously nearing the end of his career (he has already retired once). Would he be a good choice though? In my opinion I don’t think they should go for another inexperienced manager but his love for the club and his connection with Sir Alex Ferguson could allow him to bring in some good talented youngsters from Old Trafford.
Paul Scholes
Another person linked with the job is Nicky Butt also a former Manchester United player. But yet again he is very inexperienced and a job like this won’t be the easiest and it may be tough for him. However, the players should respect him and listen to everything he has to say because of what he achieved as a player. Just like Scholes, he may have some good connections to Manchester United as well as other clubs and managers that he played under.
Nicky Butt
Other names linked with the role are Neil Redfearn, Phil Brown and Simon Grayson

Who will be Huddersfield Town’s next manager?

Huddersfield are looking for a new manager after Simon Grayson was sacked and the board are hoping that the new man will secure Championship football again.

Huddersfield Town
Grayson may feel this decision was a little harsh but they have been struggling lately and a 4-0 defeat against Watford was the last straw. It may be a good time to look for a new manager as it is FA Cup weekend and they have no realistic chance of winning the competition so the result against Leicester City does not really matter and I am sure any Huddersfield fan would rather go out at this stage and stay in the Championship than go through and end up getting relegated. Huddersfield are seven points out of relegation but with those teams at the bottom picking up points now and themselves not winning for 12 games they definitely need a change somewhere, maybe the board should have kept faith with the man that got them promoted but 12 games without a win is a very long time, especially in the Championship. Grayson was in charge for 49 games, winning 17 of those and losing 17 so it is fair to say that he did a decent enough job and personally I think he would have turned it around and kept the club up.

But looking at the candidates for the job and the board clearly feel that another manager can do a better job and give them more of a chance of staying up. The current favourite is recently sacked Nigel Adkins who was harshly replaced at Southampton and may want to get back into football as soon as possible. His record speaks for itself and he has been a success everywhere he has been. He got promoted with Southampton last season and was doing an ok job in the Premier League and this would be a great appointment for Huddersfield, if he doesn’t want to take a break from football.

Nigel Adkins

Maybe a more realistic appointment would be Owen Coyle, who has also been sacked this season by Bolton Wanderers. He largely underachieved at the Reebok after such a promising start where he took them to an FA Cup semi final. Would he be a good choice for Huddersfield though? In my opinion, yes he would be a good choice because there would be less pressure and maybe the problem at Bolton in the Championship was the fact that they were favourites for practically every game. He tries to play football in the right way and I would like to see him get another chance in the Championship to prove some of his doubters wrong.

Owen Coyle

Finally, a little bit more of a wildcard option would be Paolo Di Canio who has done a good job in charge of Swindon Town and won promotion from League 2 last season with them. With a 58.24% win record he is proving that he can get results on the pitch, however he has been criticised a few times and some of his antics on the touchline has been controversial to say the least. But, he does have a lot of passion and maybe this is exactly what Huddersfield need.

Paolo Di Canio

Others in the frame are Aidy Boothroyd, Billy Davies and Gareth Southgate.

Intersting ties in the 3rd of the FA Cup

The draw for the 3rd round of the FA Cup is one of the most exciting days in the football calendar as it can throw up fixtures that nobody will have even imagined.

Clubs from the lower leagues want to draw a big Premier League side and this year hasn’t disappointed in that respect, with the winner of Lincoln City and Mansfield Town hosting Liverpool. This will add even more incentive to the replay and both teams will be hoping that the likes of Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will be visiting their stadiums in the very near future. Personally, this is what makes the FA Cup special and in recent years the competition has lost a little of its spark but a tie like this will get a lot of attention and possibly even a giant killing.

Two other teams that have to play again are Harrogate Town and Hastings Town and these will be equally looking to win their game after seeing the draw as they will get to travel to former Premier League side Middlesbrough. The team from Teeside may not be in the top league anymore but under Tony Mowbray they are certainly challenging for a place in the playoffs at least.

Looking at potential upsets in this round, you certainly don’t have to look further than Brighton as they have been drawn against Newcastle United, who they also beat in the competition last year and with the Europa League participants not having the best of times at the moment, I expect this game to be on television so more viewers can see if Brighton can win. Other similar to this are high flying Crystal Palace against Stoke City. The Championship side will be looking to test themselves against an experienced and consistent Premier League side and if they can get through the tie then their fans will be optimistic for the rest of the season and their challenge in the Premier League if they do get promoted at the end of the season.

Two more potential shocks in my mind are Crawley Town vs Reading because Reading may be distracted by their own league form and may discount the cup this season. Also, Luton Town vs Wolves could be a potential shock as going away to a non-league side is always difficult, no matter what position you are in.

Finally, the FA Cup also throws up a few interesting all Premier League ties and this year the biggest one is probably West Ham United and Manchester United who will both be looking for good cup runs this year. West Ham may have hoped for an easier tie but you cannot count them out and will be doing all they can to qualify for the fourth round. Swansea have been given an equally difficult draw at home to Arsenal, but their last performance against the Gunners will give them a lot of confidence but Arsene Wenger really needs a trophy this year and the FA Cup may be the last one they can realistically go for.

Who will be AFC Wimbledon’s next manager?

AFC Wimbledon are looking for a new manager after sacking Terry Brown seven league games into the new season.

The club has failed to win since the opening game of the season and the board believe that if they want to avoid a relegation battle this year and push up the table a new man is needed in charge. Brown, was always liked by the fans as he has achieved so much in his five years as manager, including getting them into the Football League. He was manager for 266 games and won 126 of them so he had a very good record and under him they always achieved their goals so there is no doubt in my mind that he would have kept them up but I am not sure if he could have took them to the next level so maybe the board were just waiting for a bad run like this to get rid of him.

There will be plenty of contenders for the job, but the favourite at the moment is recently sacked Coventry City manager Andy Thorn. Thorn, began his playing career at Wimbledon and was part of their team when they won the FA Cup in 1988 so he obviously has a lot of good memories of the club and would love to bring the good times back. He left the club shortly afterwards but returned a few seasons later, so if he does become the manager it will be his third spell there. Looking at his time as a manager though he hasn’t had much success and only has a win percentage of  21.67% but this was at Coventry and there was very little chance of success there and even a more experienced manager couldn’t have done much better in my opinion.

Next up for contention is Andy Scott who has had mixed fortunes as a manager so far, winning the League 2 title with Brentford in the 2008-09 season but being sacked as manager of Rotherham United after less than a year in charge in 2012. He started off well at the club though and actually won the manager of the month award in August but they couldn’t continue their form for the remainder of the campaign and Scott took the blame for it. He would be an interesting choice because he does have a bit of experience of success and could take the club onto the next level or it could backfire horribly.

Finally, another name linked with the job is also a former player that won the FA Cup with the club and that is Dennis Wise. I don’t know if the fans would be in favour of him getting the job because he hasn’t been involved in football since leaving Newcastle United and his time there was, to put it simply, a disaster. He has claimed that it has ruined his image and had damaged his chances for further work and rightfully so in my opinion. But, if there was a club that he could start again at, surely it would be a team that gave him his first chance in football. He hasn’t done badly as a manager so it may be a good move for all the parties concerned.