Who will be the Championship’s top scorer?

A lot of the time when a player finishes top scorer in the Championship their team finish within the top six.

That is why it is so important to have players that will put the ball in the back of the bet regularly and Championship teams are now starting to pay quite a bit of money for them.

An example of this is Jordan Rhodes who almost by himself kept Blackburn Rovers in the division last year will be hoping that he can just keep doing what he has been year after year. He is an exceptional goal scorer, give him a chance in the box and he will put it away. Personally I think if Blackburn don’t go up then he will still be in the Premier League next season because he deserves to have a chance in the top league.

Charlie Austin has just moved to QPR and this will give him even more chances to put the ball in the back of the net, he is playing with better players and will be involved in a promotion battle rather than a relegation battle. Yet again he is someone that I rate really highly and am surprised that a Premier League team has not signed him. He could be the difference between QPR going straight back up and spending another season in the Championship.

Reading striker Adam Le Fondre will be hoping that he gets more time on the pitch last season because even though he had a phenomenal goals to minutes ratio in the Premier League he still wasn’t given the opportunity to start many games and was used more as a super sub. I hope Adkins does use him better now and he will prove to everyone that he deserves another chance in the Premier League and fires Reading to the Championship title.

Chris Wood had a great start to his career at Leicester City but he didn’t quite keep his good run going and when the team were struggling so was he. That is not to blame him personally but it is slightly worrying that if the team aren’t performing neither is one of your main strikers. But he is still only a young player and will continually get better and maybe this is his season to shine. 7 goals in 17 games is still an impressive return and if he gets something similar next year he could be near the top of the goal scoring charts.

The final pick is Grant Holt. Not much needs to be said about this man, he has fired teams to promotion on several occasions and scored goals at every level including the Premier League so I expect him to lead the line for Wigan and score a lot of crucial goals. He may not have had the greatest year last year but it was not that long ago when some people were wanting him to be called up to Roy Hodgson’s England team.

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Who will win the Championship?

The Championship is always one of the most exciting leagues in the world and is always one of the hardest to predict.

The relegated teams have a good chance of going straight back if they can keep hold of their best players and as we have seen in previous seasons sometimes the teams that get promoted into the league carry on their momentum and get a second promotion on the bounce.

The favourites to win the league are Harry Redknapp’s QPR and he does have experience of leading a team to the Premier League in Portsmouth so does know what it is all about and will surely get more out of his team than he did last year. The signings he has made so far have been very good and they will definitely be committed to the cause. Richard Dunne and Danny Simpson are both good enough defenders to still be in the Premier League. Karl Henry will add steel to the midfield and Charlie Austin is a proven goal scorer at this level.

Reading only had one season in the Premier League but they have got rid of quite a few of the players that helped them to promotion the last time but they have brought in some good players themselves that have Champions League experience in the shape of Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe. Nigel Adkins is a good manager and I feel that he will get the team playing decent football and will be right near the top of the table come the end of the season.

Bolton Wanderers will be hoping for a better year than last year and will hope that Dougie Freedman can do what he started at Crystal Palace in the early part of the season. He has made some strange choices in my opinion letting Marvin Sordell got out on loan when he has proved his ability in the Championship before. But in his defence he has replaced him with Jermaine Beckford who will be looking to prove some of his doubters wrong. Alex Baptiste, Marc Tierney and Andre Moritz are also solid signings.

Whether you agree with what they did last season you have to give Gianfranco Zola and Watford credit for getting the team together and playing as well as they did straight away. It looks like it is a similar story this year but using a slightly different loophole to bring in the players that they want from their owners ‘parent’ clubs. But the most exciting signing they have made in my opinion is Lewis McGugan because he has a decent goalscoring record and will be hoping that he can add something to the already talented team.

The team that I personally think will win the league are Wigan Athletic. The signings new manager Owen Coyle has made are already really consistent players, they may not grab the headlines but they do everything that is asked of them. James Perch, Stephen Crainey and Chris McCann all fall into this category. Then they have brought in more attacking players that will definitely get goals in Grant Holt and Marc Antoine Fortune. Also Scott Carson will be a brilliant goalkeeper and could get the most clean sheets. The only worry I have is if their campaign in Europe takes too much out of them.

Crystal Palace in the Premier League

Crystal Palace won promotion to the Premier League through the playoffs and they will be an interesting addition to the league.
Crystal Palace
Under Ian Holloway they will be a good attacking side but may struggle in defence and unfortunately for him this tactic did not work for him at Blackpool. Hopefully he will have learned from his last experience and Crystal Palace will have a good chance of staying up. I do like a lot of their players and I do like Holloway but this time he seems to be rehashing what he said during his time at Blackpool about them going to struggle and maybe this will work against him because now teams may not underestimate them as much as they did Blackpool. Holloway’s record at the club does not seem to be one that should have got promotion to the Premier League so a lot of credit has to go to Dougie Freedman who helped them get off to a good start. Out of his 37 games in charge he has only won 13 but one of them was against Watford at Wembley and against Peterborough United on the last game of the season to secure the place in the playoffs so he has proved he can win the big games. Plus defeating Brighton in the playoffs showed he has grown tactically as a manager.

Defensively I am very worried about the team because they have players that I do think are good in the Championship but maybe not good enough for the Premier League. Danny Gabbidon and Peter Ramage are two players that certainly fit into this category. However, I do think they have a very good goalkeeper in Julian Speroni who has improved massively and has got better and better every year he has been at the club.
Julian Speroni
The midfield will be losing one of their best players in Wilfried Zaha but there is no point in focusing on what they won’t have. Although there is a slight chance that he could come back on loan, but this does not seem likely at the moment. Jonathan Williams is someone that I am looking forward to seeing in the Premier League because he is a fantastic footballer and deserves to be in the top league now after injuries stalled his career slightly. He is only young so it will be a steep learning curve for him. Mile Jedinak is another that I think will be able to make the step up.
Jonathan Williams
They do look a little weak upfront too but Glenn Murray got 31 goals last season in all competitions and will be the man they rely on to get them the goals to keep them up like Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert have in recent seasons. Aaron Wilbraham started the playoff final and I would be very surprised if he started any games next season and a new striker was brought in to replace him. I think they should sign Kevin Phillips permanently because he can still score goals even if he is only limited to substitute appearances.
Glenn Murray

Hull City in the Premier League

Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League after a nail biting end to their Championship season.

Under Steve Bruce they have certainly surprised me and did just enough to finish above Watford. A 2-2 draw against Cardiff City was one of the most entertaining endings to a game you will see and both clubs will be hoping that they can be as watchable in the Premier League. Bruce has now gained three promotions in his managerial career and this just proves how good he is as a Championship manager and he has proven in the past that he can succeed to a certain extent in the Premier League. His time at Sunderland did not end well but I still think he had enough ability to keep them in the league and they haven’t grown since or competed any higher up the table so he wasn’t doing much wrong. But with Hull he has won 25 of his 51 games in charge and this is an impressive record and maybe promotion wasn’t quite expected to happen so quickly so quite a few changes might be needed for them to stay up. If they can bring in the right players they have a manager that could keep them up.

However, they definitely need a goalkeeper because they relied too heavily on loan signings last season and need a number one. Two keepers that have been linked to the club are Chris Kirkland and Kasper Schmeichel. If they could get either of these then I think they would be fantastic choices. Defensively I do think they are poor as well, Paul McShane is someone that works hard but is probably not good enough for the Premier League and they just do not have enough quality in their backline.
Paul McShane
In the midfield it is a similar story with players that are hard working but do not really have enough quality. However, I do think Stephen Quinn could be a crucial player because he does have something else and his passing and creativity will certainly help the side. David Meyler is another that I feel has to have a good season if they are to stay up. He is a former Sunderland player and at times he did look ok for them and without the injuries he may have played a lot more for the club. Robert Koren is probably the standout player and someone that I do like a lot.
Stephen Quinn
Strikers are yet again a problem. They did not have anyone that could score goals in the Championship so I cannot see any of them having great seasons in the Premier League. Matt Fryatt is a good goal scorer and he was unfortunate with injuries last season. This will be his first season in the Premier League so he will be hoping to emulate the success of Rickie Lambert and Grant Holt in recent years, although he is a different player to them two.
Matt Fryatt
At this moment in time I am very worried about Hull City but I am sure many people have said that about Swansea City, Norwich City and Stoke City in recent seasons.

Who will Peter Lovenkrands sign for?

Peter Lovenkrands is looking for a new club after being released by Newcastle United and will be hoping to stay in the Premier League.

Lovenkrands scored 29 goals in 84 games for Newcastle

The Geordies loved Lovenkrands and he obviously enjoyed playing in front of them and leaves the club with a heavy heart as he has given them a lot over the years he has been there and nobody can ever question his loyalty. The Danish striker was very important to the team especially in the Championship where he scored 16 goals in all competitions and was a very effective partner for Andy Carroll. One of his goals that will probably be remembered most was the one against West Brom in a 2-2 draw as he had just returned from Denmark after hearing the about the death of his father. The celebration will live long in my memory and I’m sure most people in the stadium will not forget it as you could see how much it meant to him to score for his father. His chances in the Premier League were limited but he will always be considered a fans favourite in my opinion.

So where will he go next? Does he still have a future in the Premier League? Personally, I don’t think he is still good enough for the Premier League however with Chris Hughton just getting the job at Norwich City he may just get another chance. Hughton got the best out of him at Newcastle and they obviously had a very good relationship during their time on Tyneside. Lovenkrands would be a different option for them to Grant Holt and Steve Morison and has more experience than Simeon Jackson in the Premier League. Plus, Grant Holt doesn’t seem happy at the minute so he could be on his way this summer. I think he would be a decent addition to the squad but he doesn’t quite fit into their usual transfer targets however Paul Lambert is no longer the manager so they may go in a different direction.

Another option for him could be Southampton as they do not have much Premier League experience in their strike force. He could prove to be a good partner for Rickie Lambert who is a big striker and likes to hold up the ball for people to run off him. One thing Lovenkrands still has, is his movement and he will get himself into good positions and with Southampton having some very good playmakers in their squad like Adam Lallana, he could be just what they need. They do have Billy Sharp but I am unsure whether he will be able to score enough goals in the Premier League.

Finally, Aston Villa may also be interested in his services as they struggled to score goals last season and they didn’t have enough options after Darren Bent got injured with Gabriel Agbonlahor playing a lot out wide under Alex McLeish. The only thing that may make this move not work out is that new manager Paul Lambert would rather go for a younger player and they will be the favourites to sign Holt if he does get the chance to leave Norwich. However, he is a free transfer and this should work in his advantage, I really hope Lovenkrands gets a new club and I’m sure if he gets to play against Newcastle the crowd will give him a fantastic reception as they appreciate all that he has done for the club.

Who will be the next Norwich City manager?

It looks as though Norwich City will be looking for a new manager with Paul Lambert wanting to leave the club.

Norwich City finished 12th with 47 points

The expected departure of Lambert means that not one of the three managers that had gained promotion to the Premier League will be in charge of their teams even though they all stayed up. Neil Warnock was sacked by QPR earlier in the season, Brendan Rodgers left Swansea City for Liverpool and now it looks as though Lambert will join Aston Villa. It has been one of the worst summers for the Norwich fans as they also have to deal with their main goal threat Grant Holt wanting to leave the club so it seems that something may be going on behind the scenes that not many people know about. The chairman needs to make sure that he appoints the right man next as they will need to continue their development and stay in the Premier League next year or they may find themselves struggling back in League 1 in a few years. I personally hope this doesn’t happen as the Canaries are very well supported and their fans are some of the most passionate fans in the Premier League and have stuck with them through thick and thin.

But now onto who could take charge. It seems current Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay is in pole position and it is not difficult to see why. He had a fantastic first season at Cardiff, guiding them to the playoffs where they were beaten by West Ham United and also the final of the League Cup. This was a very good achievement as he had to deal with a lot of departures and basically make a whole new team with very little money. He is a manager that works well with what he has got and does very well signing players on a free or for small transfer fees which would obviously be a good thing for Norwich as they aren’t the richest and want to develop in young British talent as much as possible.

Unsurprisingly, Chris Hughton is also linked with the job and I think he would be perfect for most sides in the Premier League so if Norwich could get him then I believe they would stay up comfortably next season. Hughton was harshly sacked by Newcastle United and has also done a brilliant job at Birmingham City where he almost got them promoted even though he had to deal with a small squad and a lot of games, including the Europa League. He is a manager that gets players playing with a smile on their faces and is a very open and honest manager so the fans would take to him.

Neil Lennon is also linked with the job and I think they could tempt him to join the club as in all honesty the Scottish Premier League will be even more boring for the next couple of years because of Rangers’ financial problems. So he may want to move so he can actually get challenged. He has a 75.22% win record and has only lost 16 of his 113 games but then again he has only managed Celtic, however in his defence you can only beat what is put up against you. I don’t know how good of a manager Lennon is but winning trophies gives you confidence and he could be a success at Norwich.

I would love to see Chris Hughton get the job as he always seems to deliver at whatever club he is at and I just think he deserves another chance in the Premier League.

Why Grant Holt handed in a transfer request?

Grant Holt has had a transfer reject request at Norwich City rejected and it is unclear why he wants to move on.

Grant Holt has scored 70 goals for Norwich

Holt has had a terrific first season in the Premier League and finished with 15 league goals from his 36 games and was linked with a call up to the England squad for Euro 2012. So, I am going to look at the reasons why he potentially wants to leave the club.

The first thing that sprang into my mind when I heard the news was, is he doing this because manager Paul Lambert is leaving? Lambert has been linked with numerous clubs since the end of the season including Aston Villa and Liverpool. If Lambert leaves maybe the new manager will want to play a different style of football and won’t need Holt anymore. This may have been his way of thinking and after all of his hard work to get to the Premier League he will not want it taken away from him by a new manager and by handing in a transfer request teams will look at how well he has done this season and take a chance on him. So, basically this argument is that he wants his Premier League career secure and as he has found out in the past, new managers don’t always like a strong physical striker. Obviously, this may be completely wrong because Lambert hasn’t left and doesn’t look like leaving at the minute, although in football things can change quickly.

The second reason he may want to leave is because he didn’t get called up to the England squad and maybe he feels it’s because he plays for Norwich however some people will point to the fact that John Ruddy was called up. I believe goalkeepers are a lot different to outfield players and there isn’t a lot of options especially when you consider Paul Robinson and Ben Foster do not want to be called up. He may feel that if he had scored 15 goals for a team like Everton or Fulham he may have had more of a chance. But then again this argument is flawed because Darren Bent has continually scored goals for a number of clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and has still been overlooked by England managers when he has been the top English goal scorer. It is obvious looking at the England squad they do look at the best teams but if Holt did move to a team like Everton, he still wouldn’t get a call up even though I personally think he should have went to the Euros.

Finally it may simply just be because he wants a new contract and a lot of players do this sort of thing to make the chairmen and the board hurry up to get round to their contract situation rather than focusing on other things. Now I don’t think Grant Holt has a big ego and is doing it because he thinks he is bigger than the club, irreplaceable and will give into his demands, I think he is simply doing it to get his future sorted as he does have young children and would like to know where he will be in a few years. Every time he has spoke about Norwich it has always been positively so I cannot see him getting annoyed by the fact they rejected his request unless they don’t get round to sorting out his contract in time.

Can Southampton survive in the Premier League?

Southampton will be playing Premier League football and will be hoping they have enough quality in the squad to stay up.

Manager Nigel Adkins has done a magnificent job and replicated Norwich City in achieving back to back promotions and ending up in the Premier League. Adkins has won 60 of his 98 games in charge which is remarkable and deserves to be praised and in my opinion will be a success in the Premier League either with Southampton or in the future with another club. I think he deserves a chance in the Premier League as all of his teams play football in the right way and love to get the ball forward and attack. The passing game the Saints have employed this year has been very good to watch and has cut open many opposition defenses. The only disappointing thing for Adkins is that he has failed to win both League 1 and the Championship but I don’t think the fans should care as they have gained promotion and are now back in the big time, which seemed very unlikely when they were relegated to League 1.

Looking to the future, do they have the players to stay in the Premier League? Starting in goal I believe they have two very good goalkeepers in Kelvin Davis and Bartosz Bialkowski. Davis is the number one and is very consistent having played nearly every game this season, and with over 600 games in his career he will not be fazed by playing in the Premier League.

At the back they are quite strong with Jose Fonte who has been linked with a few Premier League clubs over the years therefore must be too good for the Championship which he has shown this season with some very strong performances and has been a major influence in the dressing room. Danny Fox at left back may be seen as a weak point because at times he can struggle defensively but he adds to the team going forward and has the ability to put in a very good cross with his left foot. He does have Premier League experience with Burnley but that season was pretty much a disaster for him and the club and ended in relegation so he will be hoping for more success this time.

The midfield has a lot of promise with Jack Cork and Morgan Schneiderlin who can control a game from the middle of the park and both have the potential to be Premier League players for a lot of years to come. They are at the right club right now because Adkins will give them the confidence to go out and play and will progress them further. But their real star in the midfield is winger Adam Lallana who has scored 11 goals in 41 league games this year. He has been very impressive and has ran rings round the best of the Championship’s defenders. He likes to play on the left wing and cut in to shoot and bend balls into the box and it is because of his talents that the strikers have found it easy to score over the years.

So to the strikers and this could be where they struggle in the Premier League as they don’t have anyone that has consistently scored in the top flight. But they shouldn’t be worried as Rickie Lambert who has scored 27 goals in 39 games in the Championship and is a similar player to Grant Holt who has done fantastically well for Norwich City. Alongside him they have Billy Sharp who is also a brilliant goal scorer and after a slightly slow start now has nine goals in 15 games. But the big question is will they have enough ability to score the goals to keep the team in the league.

I believe Southampton have a good chance of staying up and St Mary’s will be rocking next season as they entertain the big boys of the Premier League once again. To make the season even sweeter while they are gaining promotion their local rivals have slipped into the third tier of English football.

 

Should Grant Holt be in the England team and go to the Euros?

Grant Holt has had a fantastic season and is currently the second top English scorer in the Premier League so does he deserve to be in the England squad?

Grant Holt has scored over 150 goals in his career

In my opinion, yes he does, I would take whoever is scoring the goals and whoever is on form and right now is there a better striker than Holt. Wayne Rooney is obviously the best English striker but will be missing for the first two games of the tournament so England need another option. Peter Crouch has been coming into form at just the right time but he has already been tried at an international tournament and I am sure a lot of England fans want the team to go in a different direction and try out new players especially when it seems that they are not very optimistic about their chances of winning the tournament which is quite strange seen as though England are usually one of the favourites.

Holt had the chance to impress the favourite to take over as England manager in Harry Redknapp in Norwich’s last game and he yet again caused the defence a lot of problems. Ledley King, who many people believe would have been one of the best centre backs in the world had he not had so many injury problems struggled all day against the big target man and should have given away a penalty when they were grappling in the box.

With this being Holt’s first year in the Premier League, he probably couldn’t have wished for a better start. He has scored 15 goals in all competitions with 13 of them coming in the league but it is not only his goals that are catching people’s attentions, it is his all round game as he is very powerful and causes defences problems every time he steps onto the pitch. You know what you are going to get from him but still it seems that nobody can deal with him effectively. His work rate is outstanding and he may lack some abilities at times but he makes up for it by chasing every ball down and battling for every ball.

It is remarkable rise for the man seen as though he was playing in League 2 for Shrewsbury in the 2008-09 season scoring 28 goals which secured his move to Norwich who at the time were in League 1. Two consecutive promotions and 53 goals has put got him to the position he is in and he had many doubters at the start of the season like many of the other Norwich players.

Why not take him to the Euros? I can’t imagine many European defenders will have faced anyone like him and he is more than just a bully as he has been labelled by some people therefore he could add something to the squad and a real alternative. England will probably take Danny Welbeck, Danny Sturridge and Wayne Rooney leaving space for one more striker at least. Crouch has the height but he lacks the power and with Andy Carroll out of form, I believe Holt should go just to give England a different option if they need a goal in the last 20 minutes.

Who will be the Premier League manager of the year?

As the season is nearing its conclusion it is going to be a very exciting time in the Premier League with the title yet to be decided, European places still up for grabs and the battle to avoid the drop going down to the wire. But now is also is the time of the year when awards are handed out and there are many contenders for manager of the year.

Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson both deserve a shout as they have done very well and are obviously the front runners for the England job because of the job they have done at club level but in my opinion Tottenham have done exactly as expected, challenged for the title for a while and then inevitably fell away and are now looking to finish in the Champions League places. West Brom have done slightly better than I expected but mid table is about right for them, however, they were pushing for a top 10 place before their recent slump.

So here are my five nominations for manager of the year.

Brendan Rodgers – Swansea City

Swansea have performed better than anyone could have imagined with an impressive home record and an improving away record, they have took to the Premier League like a duck to water. It is not only the results Swansea have picked up, it is the way they have done it and Rodgers deserves a lot of praise for this as he gives his players the confidence to go out and play. The play arguably the best passing game in the country and are never fazed by anyone and will continue to play their way no matter the opposition and Rodgers deserves credit for this. He has done it with a shoestring budget also and he is now linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium because of how impressive he has been

Alan Pardew – Newcastle United

Newcastle yet again are another team that has performed a lot better than expected. After losing key players in the summer, they were expected to struggle but the players Pardew has brought in have been fantastic signings. Demba Ba, scored goals for fun in the first half of the Premier League and even though the goals have dried up, he is still playing very well. Yohan Cabaye, has dictated a lot of games from the centre of midfield and, although he would have liked more goals, has formed a very good partnership with Cheick Tiote. Finally Papiss Cisse has set the Premier League on fire with seven goals in his first seven games. Pardew hasn’t been given a lot of money but has spent it wisely and now Newcastle are back where they belong challenging for a place in Europe.

Paul Lambert- Norwich City

Yet another overachiever in Paul Lambert, Norwich have shown everyone why they deserve their place in the Premier League. Lambert went for determined players instead of experienced players for this campaign and it has worked out magnificently with Grant Holt being the second highest English scorer in the league even though it is his first season. The players clearly love Lambert for giving them this chance and they are repaying him for that. Maybe an outside shot for manager of the year but definitely deserves a lot of praise for the job he has done.

Sir Alex Ferguson – Manchester United

Fergie needs no introduction and it seems like he has masterminded yet another league title. Their rivals may have splashed the cash but this still has not been enough for them to wrestle the title away from the Red Devils, however, this could all change if United slip up in the coming weeks. Do we really see this happening though? This may be one of Ferguson’s greatest title wins because of the pressure they were under from the noisy neighbours but there is no sign that he is about to slow down and will be wanting even more success in the years to come.

David Moyes – Everton

Still the most underrated manager in the Premier League in my opinion because year after year he gets Everton into the top half of the table even when he loses his best players and is not given a lot of money to replace them. With his team currently in the semi final of the FA Cup and above Liverpool in the table, it has been yet another fantastic year. If he can add a trophy then he will surely go down as one of Everton’s greatest managers ever. Also, I think he is the man to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United so the Everton fans will need to enjoy this success while it lasts because I do not believe anyone else can do as good a job as he has done in the past 10 years.

Here are the five managers that I think deserve to be manager of the year and they are difficult to separate but I think Brendan Rogers should win the award and English teams should try and replicate what Swansea have done. So, who do you think should be manager of the year?