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.

Advertisements

Who will be the next Chesterfield manager?

Chesterfield have sacked their manager John Sheridan after not winning any of their first three games in League 2.

To sack a manager this early in my opinion is a little crazy but now there have been two sacked already, (Andy Thorn at Coventry City) so maybe now you need a quick start to the season to keep your job especially if you are expected to be one of the favourites for promotion. But, I think they need to take a step back and it may be clichéd but the Football League is a marathon and not a sprint, you cannot get promoted in the first three games and certainly can’t get relegated. John Sheridan must have split opinion because he did very well at times by winning them the League 2 title in the 2010-11 season and then followed that up with the Football League Trophy the season after, but in League 1 they struggled and were rightfully relegated because they just weren’t good enough. Now, was that because of Sheridan’s tactics or something else? He had a decent record as manager winning 63 of his 163 games in charge which gives him a 39.38% win record so I fully expected them to be up there come the end of the season. Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley have been placed in temporary charge.

First name to put forward for the job permanently is Brian Laws who has been quite successful in Yorkshire before when he was manager of Sheffield Wednesday so at least he knows the area and it won’t take him long to settle down and can focus on the job straight from the off. He has also gained two promotions from League 2 in his career, both at Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what is needed in the division. Plus, he has Premier League experience and there may not be a lot of them linked with the job so he could have a few contacts to call upon to bring in decent players.

Next, is a manager that I feel was harshly sacked at his last club and that is Sean Dyche. He led unfancied Watford to 11th in the Championship last season and they looked very good under him, playing good football and on the whole looking very solid. Dyche, had to work on a small budget an use a lot of the youth players so this would also be beneficial to Chesterfield. Also, the icing on the cake and what makes him favourite for the job in my mind is the fact he started his career at the club and played 231 league games for them scoring eight goals. I’m sure he would be a fans favourite and popular choice.

Finally, another manager that has links to Yorkshire, Mark Robins, who has managed both Rotherham United and Barnsley. This would be an interesting choice because of the rivalry between Rotherham and Chesterfield but he has been successful in this division before and performed admirably at Rotherham when they were going through quite a turbulent time, starting one season with a 17 point deduction. His time at Barnsley didn’t go as well but he still achieved their targets and kept them in the Championship and only left because of differences with the board so he may even still be there now if they could have worked it out.

Will Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Dawson be the right options for QPR?

QPR manager Mark Hughes is reacting quickly to his side’s 5-0 defeat against Swansea City on the opening day of the season by trying to recruit some new defenders.

I was really surprised that Hughes didn’t try and strengthen the defence to begin with as they already had a decent enough strike force with Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse as well as the always unpredictable Adel Taarabt. Just look at the defence that started on the opening day, Fabio, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha with Ryan Nelsen on the bench. Fabio is only young and could improve but he is not the best at defending yet and looks better going forward. Anton Ferdinand has never been more than an average centre back in the Premier League and if he is first choice your team will mostly finish in the bottom half closer to relegation. Onuoha, just simply hasn’t lived up to his potential when he first came through at Manchester City and it could be a long season for him. Finally, Clint Hill, how on earth is he a Premier League? Yes, first season up leave him in there, but now the ambitions have changed and surely someone better should have came in.

QPR have bid for Michael Dawson and he has been a fantastic centre back for Spurs over the years, although he can be a little injury prone. But, he is exactly what the team needs, he isn’t afraid to put his head in where it hurts and just seems to want to block every shot and will throw his body in the way. He has played 242 times for Tottenham and this Premier League experience will be invaluable to QPR and he would play like a leader on the pitch whether he is given the captain’s armband or not. Now that it is known that he is available there may be other offers from clubs but I think realistically he will join QPR if he leaves Spurs because it means he can stay in London and they will surely offer him a very good contract with a high wage.

Dawson has four caps for England

Next, Ricardo Carvalho is reportedly close to joining the club on a season long loan from Real Madrid and even though he is 34, I think he is one of the best centre backs to have ever played in the Premier League. He made John Terry look like a great defender as Carvalho’s positioning got him out of a lot of bad situations and to me it is not coincidence that Terry has looked a shadow of his former self since the departure of Carvalho. He played 210 times for the London club but the only problem is that he only played 13 times for Real Madrid last season so there will be question marks over his fitness and form.

Carvalho has played 75 times for Portugal

These are the sort of signings Mark Hughes should have been making from the beginning but unfortunately it seems like he currently has 11 individuals on the pitch rather than a team and if he doesn’t sort that out soon then a relegation battle will be on his hand yet again.

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.