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.

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Who will be Leeds United’s next manager?

Leeds United are looking for a new manager after Neil Warnock failed to get them closer to the Championship playoffs.
Leeds
Leeds have been on a poor run of form lately and losing to Derby County 2-1 last time out was the final nail in the coffin for Warnock as he and the club must have realised that they were not going to get promotion this season and are more likely to face a relegation battle with the table so tight at the moment. Even though they are 12th they are only five points above the drop zone and if the slide continues then it could be a very nervous end to the season.

Warnock isn’t a bad manager but maybe Leeds wasn’t quite the right club for him, he only won 23 of his 63 games in charge and with his previous experience of getting teams promoted, a lot more was expected of him. But in his defence he did lose his top scorer Luciano Becchio in January and it is difficult to replace someone that has scored 19 goals in the first half of the season. This could be Warnock’s last job in football and it is unfortunate that he ultimately failed but it just wasn’t to be and Leeds now need to move on.

Brian McDermott is the current favourite to be the new manager and with his recent record with Reading it is no surprise that he tops the list. He has a win record of 44.97% and it would have been even better had they not been on such a bad run in the Premier League before he was sacked. McDermott does bring some solidarity to his team and all of his players know their jobs, the only negative to that is maybe he doesn’t know how to change things when they aren’t going well. But I do think he would be a good choice.
Brian McDermott
Another name linked with the role is current Brighton manager and Leeds coach Gus Poyet and this would be an interesting choice and if they could convince him to leave Brighton then it would be a good move. In his first spell at Leeds he was quite well liked by supporters and some say that he was the better half of the partnership between him and Dennis Wise which could be true given what the two have done in recent years.
Gus Poyet
Finally, recently sacked Sunderland manager martin O’Neill could be in the running, however I don’t think he will want to drop down to the Championship just yet, unless it is with a club that is definitely going to back him and give him a chance of promotion straight away. O’Neill didn’t have a great time at Sunderland but it would be a great appointment if Leeds could get him, he would surely bring good attacking football back to the club and get them challenging at the right end of the table. I, personally don’t think he will join Leeds but they are a big club with a good fan base and that might just persuade him.
Martin O'Neill
Others linked with the job are Mark Hughes, Darren Ferguson and Owen Coyle.

Who will be Preston North End’s new manager?

Preston North End are looking for a new manager after Graham Westley was sacked and are hoping that a new manager can improve results.

The club are currently 17th in League 1 only five points above the relegation zone but more worrying for the board and everyone involved with Preston is the fact they have only won one league game since November. The club were hoping for more stability, but this hasn’t happened and it is now the fourth season in a row that they are searching for a new manager. Westley was given a lot by the board because in the summer he was allowed to bring in a completely new squad so he cannot use the excuse that they weren’t the players that he wanted at the club. I expected a lot more from both Preston and Westley this season and am surprised that they are towards the bottom of the league. Westley was in charge for 62 games but could only manage 16 wins leaving him with a win percentage of 25.81% and after his time at Stevenage he probably thought he could get this team back in the Championship. So who will take the job and guide them to at least safety this season?

The favourite for the job is currently Simon Grayson, who has been very successful in League 1 in the past, guiding Blackpool, Leeds United and Huddersfield Town to promotion from the division. He would be a great appointment and even though Huddersfield were on a bad run, I believe he would have kept them in the Championship this season. Unfortunately though for Grayson it does look like he has to drop down into League 1 to get another job as I can’t see many Championship teams giving him a chance yet.

A surprising manager that is linked with the job and is one of the early favourites is Gareth Ainsworth. He is currently player manager at Wycombe Wanderers and even though he does have a decent record of only losing 10 of his 27 games in charge, surely that is not yet good enough to make the jump to a higher division with a team that wants to get promoted. I do like Ainsworth and would want to see him get a chance but I just don’t think he would be the right appointment at the moment. However, he is a former player and had one of his best seasons as a player at the club, getting 11 goals in 38 league games during the 1993-94 season.

Finally, Owen Coyle has been linked with the job and this would be an interesting one because he failed to get Bolton Wanderers back to the Premier League and will have to rebuild his reputation slightly and Preston could be the perfect club for him. It is just a question of whether a manager with Premier League experience with two clubs wants to drop down to League 1.

Others linked with the job are Steven Pressley, Paul Dickov and Gary Megson

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.

Who will be Scotland’s next manager?

Scotland are looking for a new manager after Craig Levein was sacked after just 24 games in charge.

To some fans though 24 was too many and I am sure a lot would have been happier if he had been replaced sooner. He actually won 10 of his games in charge so he doesn’t actually have such a bad record, however, everyone knows that winning percentages in international football don’t really matter because there are a lot of teams around the world that simply are just not good enough and teams like Scotland, who have a full team of professionals, should be able to brush them aside. It is very unlikely they will qualify from their group now, with only two points from their four games so the SFA have obviously acted now so the new man has time to build a squad ready for the next qualifying campaign. They were beaten by both Belgium and Wales in the last two games and even though these results won’t have helped, personally I believe it was the 1-1 draw against Macedonia that really signalled the end for Levein. I don’t know why he was given the extra two games but he was and now their campaign is over, so who should take charge.

The favourite for the job is currently Gordon Strachan, and this would be an interesting choice as he has not had a job since leaving Middlesbrough in 2010. He was very hit and miss at the North East club and a lot of their fans weren’t happy with the type of football he wanted the team to play. But, throughout the rest of his career, he has been largely successful, especially at Celtic, where he won 122 of his 182 games. As a player he won a lot of trophies and played 50 times for Scotland so he would hopefully bring a winning mentality back to the squad.

Alex McLeish may be tempted to come back and finish off a job that he did superbly in the first time round? If they could get him back then I certainly think they should give him the job because he has a fantastic record internationally, winning seven of his 10 games in charge. It may not have gone too well for him at Aston Villa but maybe he wasn’t given a fair chance by the fans and at least with Scotland he will get the backing from the crowd.

Finally, recently sacked Owen Coyle is a name that has been mentioned and this would be remarkable. Coyle, spent most of his playing career in Scotland and managed Falkirk and St Johnstone, however, he decided to play internationally for Republic of Ireland, so would this go down well with the Scotland fans? But, he does have a good record for the most part and although his time at Bolton Wanderers ended miserably he did still take them to an FA Cup semi final. In all honesty I can’t see Coyle getting the job but if given the chance he could do a good job.

Other names linked with the job are Joe Jordan, Walter Smith, Ally McCoist and Billy Davies. So who would you like to see in charge?

Who will be Ipswich Town’s next manager?

Ipswich Town find themselves bottom of the Championship and are now looking for a new manager after Paul Jewell’s departure.

Already, there has been a lot of talk of who will replace Jewell, with George Burley being the latest to say that he will apply to become the next manager of the club. It would be Burley’s second spell in charge and under him the club had some of their best seasons which included a season in Europe. Also, striker Michael Chopra has said that he would like Alan Shearer as the next manager, which would be quite interesting because it would only be his second job in management and maybe more experience is needed at such a crucial time for the club. They have been on such a bad run lately and some people are putting it down to the fact that they have so many loan players in their squad at the minute and they can’t find the right formula for success. Jewell, had a 34.12% win record at the club but even he is telling other managers to apply for the job, so he obviously feels that there is a lot of potential and he wants success for all the loyal fans.

A lot of names have been put forward, but the current favourite is, Alan Curbishley, who has been out of the game since 2008, and this may actually be a good fit for both manager and club because he has a good record, not only in the Championship but also in the Premier League. The only negative with appointing Curbishley is the fact he has been out of the game for quite a while and the new manager needs to hit the ground running, whereas the former Charlton Athletic manager may take a while to get back into the groove.

Obviously, Mick McCarthy is linked with the job like every other going, but I do believe Ipswich have a genuine chance of getting him because they are a big club and just need someone to steer them back in the right direction, which the former Wolves man has done many times before. McCarthy, has a win percentage of 39.29% which is similar to Jewell but the difference between the two is that McCarthy has done it consistently at a higher level. This man needs to choose his next job carefully and if he can keep Ipswich up this year and then have a promotion challenge next season, his CV will look even more impressive.

Finally, quite a strange one to me is, Gary Megson. In his last job, some people believe he was harshly sacked by Sheffield Wednesday and should still be in charge there but these things happen in football and it wouldn’t be the first time someone got sacked in League 1 and got a job in a higher division, just look at what Alan Pardew is doing at Newcastle United. Megson, has gained promotion from the Championship before and he kept Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League so he wouldn’t be a terrible choice, but I just feel the fans may not be too excited by this appointment.

Others linked with the job are, Owen Coyle, Andy Thorn, Paulo Sousa and Paul Tisdale. So who would do the best job for Ipswich Town?

Will Ryo Miyaichi be the next star of the Premier League?

Ryo Miyaichi has been getting a lot of praise since he joined Bolton on loan from Arsenal but now there are fears that he will run out of steam before the end of the season.

Miyaichi celebrating his goal against Millwall in the FA Cup

Since joining Bolton he has been a revelation and it is of little surprise that when he started playing, Bolton’s results started improving but manager Owen Coyle knows that young players need time and may not be able to play every game. But he was sublime in the big six pointer against Wolves where he helped his team to a 3-2 win. The 19 year old has now scored one goal and provided two assists for the club and he has just given everyone around the club a lift including the fans who now finally have a player that gets them out of their seat when he gets the ball which they have sadly been lacking this season. However, this may be a harsh assessment as they do have Martin Petrov who on his day can terrorise defences himself and Chris Eagles who has been a little in and out of the side but when he has played he has looked decent.

Miyaichi has only played in cup competitions for his parent club Arsenal so far and will be hoping that when he goes back at the end of the season he will have proved to Arsene Wenger that he is good enough for a place in his Premier League squad. They do currently have some good young wingers at the club in Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott so he may find it difficult and may have to leave again on loan or permanently and I’m sure a lot of clubs in the league will be looking to take him on.

This is his second loan spell away from the club, with his first being at Feyernoord where he was quite impressive scoring three goals and getting five assists in his 12 games. On his debut he was given the man of the match which made the fans take to him straight away and label him ‘Ryodinho’ as he played like Ronaldinho did during his time at Barcelona when he was considered the best player in the world. Further praise was heaped on him as he was then called the Japanese Messi by their fans.

It is remarkable how quickly he has made an impact in the Premier League because in January people hadn’t really heard of him and now most full backs in the country will not be looking forward to playing against him. If he can replicate what Jack Wilshere did after his loan spell with Bolton then he will move onto bigger and better things and I just hope that his career doesn’t stall and if he isn’t getting the opportunities at Arsenal then he leaves as I want to see a lot more of him. I am sure the Bolton fans love him just like the Feyernoord fans did and if they stay up will want him to sign permanently.