Top 10 January 2016 Transfer Window Signings

10 – Anthony Knockaert (Standard Liege to Brighton)

Brighton had a fantastic start to the season but recently they have lost their form and are in a real battle to stay in the playoffs. They needed a spark and Knockaert could just make the difference come the end of the season.

Anthony Knockaert

9 – Steven Caulker (QPR to Liverpool)

This might seem a strange one but Caulker has a lot of potential and at the age of 24 he could go on to become one of England’s leading centre backs. He is better than what Liverpool have, if Klopp stops playing him upfront.

Steven Caulker

8 – Leroy Fer (QPR – Swansea)

Yet another QPR departure and with them getting relegated from the Premier League last year it would seem like they don’t have the quality but in Fer they had a midfielder that can really grab hold of a game which Swansea are in need of.

Leroy Fer

7 – Gianelli Imbula (Porto to Stoke City)

When he joined Stoke eyebrows were raised, especially when they broke their transfer record to bring him in. £18.3 million is a lot of money but Mark Hughes feels he needs more power in central midfield and is the replacement for Steven N’Zonzi.

Gianelli Imbula.jpg

6 – Steven Naismith (Everton to Norwich City)

He was not prolific for Everton but he can score goals when given the chance. He has got off to a decent start at Norwich and they certainly need more goals in their team if they want to stay in the top flight.

Steven Naismith

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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.

Who will be Blackburn Rovers next manager?

Steve Kean has finally left Blackburn Rovers after months and months of unrest at the Championship club and the fans have finally got what they wanted.

Yes, I agree with them he definitely shouldn’t have been in charge for as long as he was and when things weren’t going right in the Premier League he should have gone but some of them went about it in the wrong way and just showed how fickle football fans are, one minute they were singing, ‘We are top of the league’ then when the results weren’t going well, ‘Kean out.’ I am glad he has gone because now the club can go forward and the fans will return to Ewood Park and support their team, but if they do end up getting promoted then Kean deserves a lot of credit because he has assembled a decent squad and his signings in the summer were good, in particular Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu and Jordan Rhodes. However, only 21 wins in 74 games is not good enough, so who will replace him?

The favourite is Tim Sherwood, who was their captain in 1995 when they won the Premier League title so he obviously knows what it is like to be around the club when everyone is happy and things are going their way. Sherwood could bring the good times back but it would be very risky in my opinion because this would be first managerial job and his lack of experience could work against him, especially in the Championship when there are a lot of managers that know what they are doing in the division. However, he has worked under some good managers in Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas Boas so if he ever needed advice he could ask them and I’m sure he will have a lot of contacts in the game so he could make some shrewd loan signings, if needed.

The next person linked with the role is also someone that was part of that title winning side and that man is Alan Shearer. Shearer, does have a little more experience than Sherwood but his short spell in charge of Newcastle United ended in relegation after losing five of his eight games in charge. I’m sure the fans would take to him as he was a legend at the club and scored goals for fun at the club so they would hope he would get the best out of their strikers, in particular, Jordan Rhodes, who has been branded the next Alan Shearer.

Finally, someone that may not be as popular but would get results in my opinion and that man is Mick McCarthy. He may not be a big name or even someone that would excite fans but he knows what he is doing and has achieved some sort of success everywhere he has been. Gaining promotion from the Championship isn’t easy and he has done it with both Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both times winning the league in the process so he obviously knows exactly what is needed unlike his rivals for the post.

Who will be the Championship’s top scorer?

Kevin Doyle may not have scored enough goals to keep Wolves in the Premier League but he will be hoping to fire them back there. The last time he played in the Championship he scored 18 goals in 42 games which is a very good record and if he can replicate that sort of form then he will surely come close to being top goal scorer. In my opinion he owes Wolves as he has only scored 21 goals in 102 games and that has not been good enough and only scoring 4 of them in the league last season is one of the reasons they got relegated.

New Cardiff City signing Heidar Helguson will also be hoping to score a lot of goals in the coming season and at least get them into the playoffs. Helguson is probably slightly frustrated that he is not still in the Premier League as he scored nine times in just 16 games for QPR last season. However, he is 34 now and his best years may be past him and the last time he was in the Championship he only scored 13 goals in 34 games. I think he will be vital to Cardiff this year but will only be an outsider for the Golden Boot trophy.

Jermaine Beckford may have only got nine league goals last year but I think he could get a lot more this season with Leicester possibly pushing for an automatic promotion place. Last season was his first full one in the Championship but he has had a full season in the Premier League so maybe he should have performed slightly better but now he has a good understanding with strike partner David Nugent he could score the same amount of goals he did in League 1.

Huddersfield Town star man Jordan Rhodes has to be a consideration because in my opinion with the way that he plays the game he will score goals at all levels. He has fantastic movement and scores all types of goals which will mean he will be a marked man but if he is given the service he will put away his chances. There are rumours that he could be leaving for Blackburn Rovers and this would only help him to score more goals but even if he stays at Huddersfield I expect him to get over 15 goals.

Finally, Craig Bellamy has to be considered an outsider because he has proved he can score goals in this division in his previous spell on loan at Cardiff City. He will be doing all he can to get his hometown club promoted and what better way to do it than score the most goals in the division. The 33 year old has never reached 20 goals but this could be the year that he does it and he will no doubt prove to be a fantastic signing but if he can add the goals to his game then he will be the signing of the season.

Who will win the League 1 playoffs?

League 1 playoffs could be the most exciting they have been in a number of years as I cannot see an outsider out of Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, MK Dons and Stevenage.

Sheffield United will play away to Stevenage in the first leg while Huddersfield travel to MK Dons. So will the club from Sheffield be able to get their season back on track after losing out to Sheffield rivals Wednesday in the race for the automatic spots. Or will Stevenage continue their good form under Gary Smith? Can Huddersfield go one better than last year and win in the playoff final? Or will MK Dons passing style be good enough to get them into the Championship.

Sheffield United finished in third place an therefore you would think that they would be favourites but with everything that has gone in recent weeks will get their fans worried and they may not be as confident as they should be. With them running out of strikers with James Beattie the latest to get sent off they may struggle to get the goals needed to win the semi final and then the final. But they do have experience in their squad and should be able to deal with the pressure, the fans will also play an important part as Bramall Lane can be a difficult place to go when the fans are fully behind the team. A key player to watch is Lee Williamson who can get goals from the midfield and will cause problems for the Stevenage defence, he has scored 13 goals this season which is a good return for a midfielder and is the top scorer in the squad currently.

Huddersfield Town now with Simon Grayson in charge have been slightly inconsistent since he took over from Lee Clark but he has managed to guide them to the playoffs. He does have history of being in the League 1 playoffs and has won it on one occasion with Blackpool in the 2006-07 season but unfortunately has lost a playoff when in charge of Leeds United.  So the key player for Huddersfield in my opinion will no doubt be Jordan Rhodes who has got 38 goals this season and if they can keep him fit for the playoffs they will score goals but one worry is that there will be too much pressure on him and he may not be able to perform as well as we all know he can.

MK Dons go into the playoffs on the back of a 1-0 home defeat but this shouldn’t make them feel any less confident as they were already comfortably in the playoffs. Karl Robinson deserves a lot of praise for what he has done at the club and has made his team play good football. He likes his side to keep possession and no matter what happens he wants his team to keep the ball on the floor which is very rare in League 1. A key player could be Dean Lewington and although this may strange because he is a left back, he can be very influential and has played 53 games and added four goals this season. He has a good left foot and is a very solid defender for the club.

Stevenage secured their place in the playoffs on the last day of the season with a 3-0 win over Bury. The club may have been criticised by some fans because of their direct tactics but they are only getting criticised because it is working for them and it is very difficult to stop. The recent 2-2 draw away to Sheffield United will give them confidence to go there and take the game to the Blades and they have a very good home record so they have a really good chance. Also beating off the competition to secure their place in the playoffs will give their players a massive lift. Scott Laird will be vital for the team during the playoffs and he is actually the second top scorer for the club with nine goals this season. He has very good delivery and sets up a lot of goals for his teammates.

I think Stevenage will beat Sheffield United over the two legs because they will be very confident and it will be hard for Danny Wilson to pick up his players for the two games and Stevenage will put a lot of pressure on their defence. If United ‘s defence can stay strong they may have a chance but I don’t think they will. In the other semi final, I think MK Dons passing game will be good enough to beat Huddersfield as they are too over reliant on Jordan Rhodes at times and if he struggles they will most likely lose. The final will be a game of two differing styles of football and I think because of that Stevenage will come out on top and achieve their third promotion in three seasons.

The goal machine Jordan Rhodes

Jordan Rhodes is having the season of his life so it’s not surprising he is being linked with a move away from Huddersfield. The Scotland striker hit another five goals against Wycombe and is proving time and time again that he is the best striker in League One and deserves his chance to play at a higher level.

The 21 year old started the season in blistering form scoring 13 goals in the first 12 games of the season  and becoming the first Huddersfield player to score back to back hat-tricks in successive games since the 1920s against Exeter and Preston.

He has been part of the reason why Huddersfield went on their amazing unbeaten run in the league (excluding their defeat in the playoff final- still not sure why that game doesn’t count but in the record books it shows that Huddersfield went 43 league games undefeated) and has put in some match winning or at least match saving performances against the best teams in the league like against Sheffield Wednesday when he scored all four of the Terriers goals at Hillsborough, putting his side 2-0 up in the first half then rescuing them in the second half scoring with two sublime finishes to level the game at 4-4. Ironically, Andy Rhodes, his father is the goalkeeping coach at Wednesday and Gary Megson the Owls boss refused to get information of how to stop him. However, with the finishes he produced in the game it could be argued that he wasn’t going to be stopped on the day.

The only man in the country that is probably not enjoying Rhodes success is Roy Keane who let him go for an undisclosed fee to Huddersfield when he was manager of Ipswich. At the time Ipswich were struggling and needed a striker that could hit the back of the net and Keane felt that Rhodes was not the man to do it. How he has been proven wrong? And probably one of the many reasons why Roy Keane is currently unemployed and had such a torrid time at Ipswich he seemed to not give the youth a chance and did not keep players that had the potential.

He may not be the finished article yet, but he has all the right attributes, he is good in the air, has good close control and decent turn of pace but most importantly for a striker he knows where the back of the net is. As the saying goes the goalposts do not move and that is probably why he doesn’t even have to look up when lining up a shot he knows exactly where the goal is.

He has been linked with moves to West Ham, Newcastle and Everton but who is the most likely to sign him? Or he could choose to stay at Huddersfield for the rest of the season but if they don’t achieve promotion he will most certainly on his way.

He reminds me of a young Alan Shearer and with the link to Newcastle it could be genuinely good move for both the player and the club and even possibly one day get the iconic number 9 shirt.

At the moment it’s all ifs and buts, but what is for certain is that he is going to score goals in League 1 and deserves his chance to play at a higher level and international level.