Who will be relegated from the Championship?

Last season the battle at the bottom of the Championship involved a lot of teams and went right down to the wire.

The teams that did go stay up will take confidence in that and will want to push on this season and not be involved at the wrong end of the table again.

The clear favourites to go down are Yeovil Town and unfortunately for them it will be a very tough ask simply because they were not expected to get promoted to the Championship in the first place so they do not really have the team in place to compete. I do like Gary Johnson though as a manager and his teams always seem to be very committed and want to win for him. They will be underdogs in every game so they have nothing to lose and that could work in their advantage.

Doncaster Rovers also gained promotion last season and this time I think they will go straight back down because I do not think they made the greatest of managerial choices in Paul Dickov but maybe he will prove me wrong. They have brought in Ross Turnbull in goal and this is a risky choice because he hasn’t played first team football for a very long time and even though he is getting older he does not have a lot of experience. I do though like the signings of Dean Furman and Harry Forrester and hope they do well in the Championship.

Barnsley finished last season superbly but it could be another year of struggle. David Flitcroft has had an exceptional start to his managerial career but it will be a real test for him when the going gets tough and his team get on a losing run. The signings he has made have been ok and will add something to the side and getting Chris O’Grady back is vital to the way they play. Also Dale Jennings will be looking to restart his career after an unsuccessful spell at Bayern Munich but hopefully he has taken some positives from that experience and will be brilliant in the Championship.

Paul Ince may have been able to keep his son Tom at Blackpool for the time being but that might not be enough for them to stay away from the relegation battle. Ince has not been a great manager over recent years and it will be a difficult job at Blackpool but he did end last season with very few defeats and if he can turn a few of the draws into victories then they will have nothing to worry about. They have brought in three decent strikers in Bobby Grant, Michael Chopra and Steve Davies so they at least have competition in the striking department and goals may not be a problem.

Burnley have lost their best player and most consistent goal scorer in Charlie Austin so it is no surprise at all that they are seen as one of the weaker teams in the division. They will need other players to step up or it will be a very long year for Sean Dyche if he gets to keep his job for that long. The only striker they have brought in so far is Ryan Noble from Sunderland and that cannot be convincing the fans that they are going to be successful.

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Who will be Wycombe Wanderers next manager?

After losing three games in a row Wycombe Wanderers and only four points from seven games the club have sacked manager Gary Waddock.

Waddock, had been in charge since 2009 and won promotion to League 1in the 2010-11 season, however they only lasted one season at the higher level and were relegated. They were expected to challenge at least for the playoffs this season even though they lost a few key players and Waddock will be disappointed he wasn’t given more time to turn it round. But, the board have decided that a change is needed and there is still an air of negativity around the ground and will hope that a new man will get them back where they believe they belong.

This job will surely interest quite a few out of work managers and this is the route that the club will most likely take because they will not want to pay compensation to another team for a manager. So, let’s look at the options, the favourite for the job is currently Brian Laws, and this may come as a surprise to some people because he has managed in the Premier League recently with Burnley and it will be quite a big drop to League 2. However, he hasn’t had a managerial job since his sacking at the Championship club in 2010 so he does need to find a way back into English football. Another reason why he may be a good choice is because he has won promotion from this division twice before, both times with Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what it takes and which players he will need to achieve promotion again.

Another manager linked with the job is former Sheffield Wednesday manager, Gary Megson. Many people believe he was harshly sacked as their manager as the team were performing pretty well and were comfortably in the playoff places, although in the end it did turn out to be a good decision as the team got promoted, he still deserves a lot of credit as he signed a lot of the players. His style of football is usually criticised too as it is very long ball and feeding off the scraps which could be a good thing in League 2 and may work to the teams advantage, however, if Wycombe don’t have the players then the fans will have to accept a transitional period while they get in the right players to play his tactics.

Finally, Paul Ince could be in the running for the job, and it just shows that Wycombe can attract good managers because all three of these have managed in the Premier League at one point. Ince didn’t have the best of times at Blackburn Rovers but he has proved in the lower leagues he can be a success with both Macclesfield Town and MK Dons. His win record of 43.37% is not bad either and if he can replicate this at Wycombe then he would surely get them challenging for the playoffs at least.

Who will be the next Birmingham City manager?

Birmingham City are looking for a new manager after Chris Hughton decided to leave for Norwich City and will be hoping the new man can guide them back to the Premier League.

Birmingham City finished fourth under Chris Hughton

First of all Hughton did a fantastic job at Birmingham and should be remembered fondly by their fans as he got them into the group stages of the Europa League and into the playoffs. This is remarkable seen as though they lost a lot of players last summer and he had to rebuild basically a whole new squad. He only lost 15 of his 62 games in charge but unfortunately they could not overcome Blackpool in the playoff semi finals losing 3-2 on aggregate. It was a difficult job when he took over and he has made it a lot easier for the new man so who will it be?

The favourite for the job at the minute is Lee Clark and he is quite similar to Hughton in a way because he would rather see his team pick up a point than try and get all three. This may seem a little bit of a negative tactic and it may be the reason why Clark couldn’t get Huddersfield Town promoted from League 1 but Birmingham do have enough quality in their side to produce some magic at any given time, so it could work out well for them. The only reason why they should be reluctant in giving him the job would be the fact he hasn’t managed in the Championship before.

Paul Ince is also in the running for the job and this does surprise me slightly as he hasn’t had a job since leaving Notts County in April 2011. The managers they are linked with suggests they don’t want to spend much money and are looking to give someone another chance at a good club. Ince, had a terrible time at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, winning only six games out of 21 but this experience could have served him well and he may be able to get his career back on track at St Andrews. Personally, I don’t think hiring Paul Ince would be a good choice but he has achieved the board’s ambitions both at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons the first round so maybe he would be a success.

Finally, Alan Curbishley is linked with yet another job and he has been out of football for even longer than Ince so it won’t be easy for him to jump straight back in and challenge for promotion. But if the board are going to give him a few seasons to sort it out, I can see the former Charlton Athletic manager leading them back to the Premier League. After leaving West Ham United in 2008 he wanted to take a break from the game but nobody expected it to be this long and now it could be a huge risk giving him the job because football has changed a lot in the last few years. He did a fantastic job at Charlton for a very long time and a very underrated job in my opinion at West Ham United so why not give him another chance.

I do want to see Curbishley get another job and Birmingham could be a good fit for him as the fans are always very realistic and over the last few years have been very patient so he could be given the time to succeed and do well. I’m not sure what the target is for the coming season but I think it would be a little silly for the board to be expecting as much success next year.

Who will be Gillingham’s next manager?

Andy Hessenthaler has agreed to join the board of directors after stepping down from his post as manager of Gillingham.

Gillingham picked up 70 points from their 46 games

One of his first tasks will be to find a manager to lead the club back into League 1 which he unfortunately failed to do. They only finished one place and two points off the playoffs but this was deemed a failure because the club were expecting to get promoted this season. But if they can keep hold of most of their players they do have a squad good enough to achieve their ambitions in particular I think if Danny Kedwell stays then he can score a lot of goals and win them a lot of games.

So choosing a new manager with similar ambitions is vital and the favourite for the job is Martin Allen who will get the respect of the players and is arguably too good to be a manager in League 2 anyway but that is where he finds himself as he is currently the manager of Barnet where he is in is third spell. He kept them up this season with an impressive two wins out of three and as his past shows he doesn’t mind leaving clubs, especially Barnet, after only a few games. In his second spell as manager he was only in charge for three games. In my opinion he would be a good choice as all through his career he has won a lot of games and makes his teams difficult to beat. However, a word of caution would be that if a better opportunity comes up he will leave, no matter what position his club are in.

The man who Allen replaced at Barnet is also linked with the role. Lawrie Sanchez, the former Northern Ireland manager has had an interesting managerial career and I think he believes he is a lot better than what he actually is. Yes he did well with Northern Ireland and achieved a lot when there were such low expectations on the team but looking at the rest of his career, he has been average at best. At Fulham, he only won four of his 24 games in charge. At Barnet he probably was going to keep them up anyway and was harshly sacked by the board but they struggled all season and you can defend him and maybe say he didn’t have the players or the funds but only winning 15 of his games out of 53 is not good enough. So why should he get given the job of a team that is going for promotion?

Finally, Paul Ince should be in with a shout for the job because even though his career got damaged slightly by his time at Blackburn Rovers, he has achieved some good things in the lower leagues and maybe tried to go to the Premier League too quickly. He saved Macclesfield Town from relegation after they looked dead and buried winning 14 of his 35 games in charge. It was a remarkable effort and shows that he can do a good job in League 2. Add this to the fact that he won League 2 with MK Dons and I think Ince deserves another shot at League 2 and could bring glory to Gillingham. After Blackburn, his second spell at MK Dons and Notts County were solid but not very spectacular and he was doing a good job for both in my opinion.

I would like to see Paul Ince get the job and hopefully get Gillingham promoted because the club deserve to be in a higher division and he deserves to manage at a higher division so it could be a match made in heaven.

Who should be the next Wolves manager?

Wolves have sacked Mick McCarthy after a humiliating 5-1 defeat against local rivals West Brom leaving the team in the bottom three. At one point this season they were actually top of the table, however this was very early on in the season and they have struggled since. McCarthy had a 38% win record while in charge at Molineux which is quite good seen as though they battled against relegation but on the other hand they did have a promotion season too so if you take that out it will be a lot lower. I don’t think he did a terrible job as he was the first manager in 30 years to keep the club in the top division for successive seasons. Maybe it was time for a change though as they haven’t progressed at all and probably would have went down if he stayed in charge because they were on a downward spiral.

Let’s have a look at the options who could replace him. Some people have mentioned former player Paul Ince to take charge while others have been putting former manager Dave Jones forward for the job but I don’t think these will keep the team in the Premier League so I will focus on other options.

First up, who I think would do a good job is Alan Curbishley because he has a proven track record of keeping teams in the Premier League that aren’t fancied at all. He can galvanise a whole club like he did at Charlton and he also brings in useful players and gets the best out of them. He helped Darren Bent kick start his career and now he is always up near the top of the goal scoring chart and with Steven Fletcher on form at the minute he could help him a lot and give him the confidence to be an even better player. The only reason why I think he might not get the job is the fact he has been out the game since resigning as West Ham manager because the board were selling players behind his back. This was in 2008 and the game has moved on since then and he may be out of touch.

Another option could be Steve Bruce who is currently unemployed after getting sacked as Sunderland manager earlier in the season. He has managed teams in Wolves position before when he was the manager of Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic and was quite successful at Wigan. He brought in some good players at Wigan and also made players play to the best of their abilities with Emile Heskey playing well enough to earn an England recall and receive praise from pundits and fans alike. But his spell with Sunderland was quite unsuccessful as he spent quite a bit of money and for one reason or another they did not perform.

Finally, I would like to throw Ian Holloway’s name into the ring because I believe he deserves another chance in the Premier League and there is no doubt that he will bring attacking football to Molineux if he was given the chance. But the big question is, would he leave Blackpool? I wouldn’t have thought so but if the offer comes along he may be tempted to take the job.

I would like to see Holloway get it but realistically I think Curbishley would be the best option and would do a good job for them. Even if he didn’t keep them up, I believe that with him in charge they would have a good chance of bouncing straight back.