92 clubs favourite players – Crystal Palace – Dwight Gayle

Crystal Palace are back in the Premier League and they will be hoping to last longer than they did the last time and under Ian Holloway they should be entertaining.

The player I have chosen as my favourite is someone that a lot of people will have heard a lot about because he certainly has an incredible story and one that will be mentioned basically every time he is on the pitch. Dwight Gayle has had an incredible rise and for someone that was playing in League 2 at the start of the last season probably did not think he would start a league game at Old Trafford this season.

At Dagenham and Redbridge last season he started impressively and was probably just happy to be a player in the Football League. He scored seven times in 18 league games and even though he was only their for half a season, the goals he scored and points he gained for the club arguably kept them in League 2. John Still was the manager at the time and he was very good at picking up talent from non league football and turning them into good footballers, he certainly helped a lot in his development and I’m sure will be proud.

He then decided to move on and joined Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough United where he got better and better and was soon getting more headlines for his performances. I personally felt that this was a great move for him because like Still, Ferguson has been able to pick up players, particularly strikers and make them better and then eventually make a profit on them when they finally leave. But I don’t think even Ferguson expected him to get a move to the Premier League and because they got relegated to League 1 at the end of the season he probably felt he could not stand in his way even if he does eventually end up just playing Championship football next season. Gayle did try his best to keep Peterborough up and 13 goals in 29 games proves that he certainly is good enough for that level but the big question is whether he can make the step up once more.
Gayle
I do feel that he will end up back in the Championship and Crystal Palace overspent on him but he will give them a great opportunity to get promoted at the first time of asking. I was very happy to see him get first goal in the Premier League against Sunderland and even though it was only a penalty he had to put it away and with it being such a crucial moment in the match it showed me that he has the mental strength to be able to compete at the top level.

Ian Holloway will hopefully get the best out of him and let him express himself but he has been criticised so far by how he is playing him because he is getting pushed out wide a little more than he would want and maybe that is why he hasn’t quite had the chances to prove his worth but I do hope he manages to get double figures in the Premier League.

Advertisements

Who will win League 1?

League 1 ended in spectacular fashion last year and hopefully this year will have an equal amount of excitement.

There are once again some very big teams in the division and it is tough to call as they do not always adjust to the league as quickly as they should. Sometimes it is the littler teams that triumph and end up in the promotion picture, just look at Yeovil Town last year, who would have bet on them at the start of the season.

Wolves are the clear favourites to win the title and they should challenge because they have suffered two consecutive relegations and still actually have some Premier League players in their squad. I like new manager Kenny Jackett he has come in and it seems like he got rid of the negative vibes around the club and will be successful. So far he has not had the opportunity to sign many players but Sam Ricketts at the back could be crucial and the returning Leigh Griffiths will surely score a lot of goals.

Another relegated team are also one of the favourites and this one is not surprising as Peterborough United have been in this situation before and returned to the Championship swiftly. However it has not been as champions so it makes me think that second place or the playoffs may be their best bet. They haven’t signed many players either but they were very unfortunate to get relegated on the final day so why change anything? Dwight Gayle has left for Crystal Palace and they will need to replace his goals.

Brentford were probably the most unlucky team in League 1 last season and in all honesty should already be in the Championship so it is no surprise to see them as one of the favourites. Manager Uwe Rosler really wants promotion this season and the players he has brought in should help them achieve that. Loan signing Ben Nugent should be good enough for League 1 and striker Will Grigg showed that he knows where the back of the net is for Walsall last season. I also think the signing of experienced player Alan McCormack is very good and he may not get the headlines but is always reliable.

The final relegated team Bristol City cannot be discarded either though because Sean O’Driscoll is a great manager and he should never have to drop down to League 1 to have a job in my eyes. He should still be manager of Nottingham Forest really. But he is at City and he has a tough job, he lost two of his best strikers In Jon Stead and Steve Davies and will be hoping that some of his signings can step up like Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Marlon Harewood. I also think that Marlon Pack and Scott Wagstaff are great signings and they will be brilliant under O’Driscoll who likes to play football the right way.

The final pick is Sheffield United but I am a little unsure about them as their new manager David Weir has no experience of being a league manager and they really needed someone that knew the league and how to get out of it in my opinion. But saying that they still do have a great chance of winning the league as they have not lost anyone from last season’s squad that should be in their starting 11 and bringing in players like Febian Brandy and Stephen McGinn are positive moves. Weir will also have a lot of contacts so they may use the loan market very well this year.

It is tough to back against Wolves but I just feel that it could be Bristol City that take the title.

Peterborough in League 1

Peterborough United were relegated to League 1 after defeat to Crystal Palace on the last game of the season and will be hoping to bounce back.
Peterborough]
Some will say that they were unlucky because they finished the season in fantastic form but at the bottom of the Championship a lot of teams were playing well and if it was Barnsley or Sheffield Wednesday that went down then they would have been unfortunate so Peterborough were relegated when in most other seasons they would have stayed up but three teams do have to go down. Darren Ferguson is in his second spell in charge of the club and this relegation really hasn’t helped his CV at all and although he does have two promotions to his name he still hasn’t proved that he can keep a team in the Championship and challenge for promotion to the top flight which makes me think that he will not get any higher in his managerial career. However he has never really had the funds to work with and maybe if he was at a bigger club then things may be different but his time at Preston North End also was not successful but I do think he is the man to lead them back into the Championship.
Darren Ferguson
One thing that has been guaranteed over the years from the teams was excitement and this must be good for the attacking players but it does not make it easy for the defenders and goalkeeper Robert Olejnik found it tough in his first season in the Championship and I thought when they signed him he may not have been good enough. His performances were ok and I feel he will come back stronger now and there is a very good chance he will be the best goalkeeper in League 1 next year.

Their midfield did also lose something when George Boyd joined Hull City on loan part way through the season and they did seem to lack a little bit of creativity but there is still some talent in there. I think Grant McCann is a decent player and they will be hoping they can keep hold of him although there will be a few Championship teams interested in him. Another player that they have to try and keep hold of is Tommy Rowe who has been linked with Leeds United recently and will be a big loss if he left the club.

Rowe scored five times last season

Rowe scored five times last season


They will also have to replace striker Dwight Gayle who looks as though he will also leave with Crystal Palace being his most likely destination. But if they can get a decent transfer fee from him then they will be able to improve their options upfront as well as a few other areas of the pitch. Lee Tomlin could also be leaving and although he isn’t that prolific, he does chip in with enough goals to be vital to Peterborough. Tyrone Barnett someone that they signed for over a million pound has been largely disappointing but if he gets given the chance in League 1 he could be the man to lead them to promotion.
Tomlin signed for Peterborough in 2010

Tomlin signed for Peterborough in 2010

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

Who will be Nottingham Forest’s next manager?

Alex McLeish has left his job at Nottingham Forest after just 40 days in charge of the club.

There had been a lot of speculation that he was going to leave the club soon after the way the club conducted themselves in the January transfer window. With the biggest problem being the club pulling out of a deal for Peterborough United midfielder George Boyd because he failed an eye test. A lot of players and former players were saying that they have never even done an eye test during a medical. What makes it even more ridiculous is the fact that Boyd recently scored a goal from the halfway line. But back onto McLeish and his time at Forest will not really be remembered fondly after a lot of fans didn’t even want him in the first place and his record of just one win from seven games is not a great record at all, especially for a club that was challenging for a place in the playoffs under Sean O’Driscoll. McLeish’s last game was a defeat to his former club Birmingham City and after the game he refused to commit his future to the club and now a few days later he has left by mutual consent.

So, who will take the job now? The current favourite is former manager Billy Davies. Straightaway I am not sure about this one at all because he had problems with the board the last time he was at the club and I do not know whether he would get on with the new board. But if they could convince him to come back he would certainly bring good football back to Forest and give them a good chance of promotion this season. In his first spell he won 53 of his 126 games and would love to finish the job he started. However, it does look like he is going to join Blackpool.
Billy Davies
Nigel Adkins is also an early favourite for the job and it is obvious why and at the moment he will get linked with every job going in the Championship. He may want time away from the game after being harshly sacked by Southampton even though it looked as though he could have kept them up. He proved he is a good manager and would bring attacking football to the City Ground. I think it will be a long shot but if the board can convince him to join the club then the fans would be very happy with their new manager.
Nigel Adkins
Finally, a name that has been linked with the role is the current Kuwait head coach Goran Tufegdzic. This would be a ridiculous appointment but it certainly would not surprise me at all. He has been in charge of Kuwait since 2009 after being their assistant and he does have a decent record in charge but it is nowhere near the standard required for the Championship. Some fans will want to give him a chance but I can see the large majority wanting the board out, if they don’t already.
Goran
Other linked with the job are Roy Keane, Paolo Di Canio and Mark Hughes

Who will be relegated from the Championship?

A lot of big teams have been relegated from the Championship over the years including Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Southampton so nobody is safe really and anything could happen. Last year we saw Coventry City, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers were unable to stay up so who will it be this year?

Barnsley struggled in the second half of last season especially after the departure of Ricardo Vaz Te who was their talisman and top scorer so it is easy to see why they are one of the favourites for the drop. Losing Jacob Butterfield will also be a blow and they will need their experienced players to perform well if they are to stay up. One of their main signings of the summer Mido has also been injured and he is unpredictable anyway so they may to rely on the goals from Marlon Harewood and Craig Davies to keep them up.

Peterborough United did ok last year and manager Darren Ferguson will want them to push on however I see this as a season of struggle for them. They did ease past Southend United in the Capital One Cup beating them 4-0 so that will give them confidence but I think they may have took a little risk this year especially in the goalkeeping department as they have signed Robert Olejnik who was one of the best keepers in League 2 last year but he may struggle to step up and with their defence also not being the best it could be their downfall this year.

Another team that struggled for large periods of the season were Bristol City and they were defeated by Gillingham in the Capital One Cup so optimism can’t be high among supporters at the minute. They also lost one of their main strikers when Nicky Maynard decided to leave which leaves them with only three out and out strikers in Jon Stead, Brett Pitman and Ryan Taylor and none of these have ever been considered prolific. They do however have strength on the wings in Paul Anderson and Albert Adomah so if they can get these playing to the best of their ability then they do have a good chance of staying up.

Dougie Freedman in my opinion overachieved at Crystal Palace last year and I think it will be very difficult for them to achieve what they did last season and finish as high up the table and 21st place could be seen as an achievement this year. They have so far kept hold of Wilfried Zaha but I do expect a few teams to be interested in him before the end of the transfer window. He is key to them and I hope he doesn’t feel the weight of the expectation on his young shoulders and have a bad season.

Nigel Clough must be tearing his hair out at the moment after witnessing his team throw away a 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3 lead and still failing to beat Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup and eventually going out on penalties. I always thought they would struggle and I know it is only the cup but there is clearly something wrong at the back or at least in the confidence and concentration of their players. I doubt they will score five past many Championship teams but I do think they could ship five past quite a lot of them.

Who will be League 2’s top scorer?

A difficult thing to predict is always who will top scorer be at the end of the season because so much can happen in a season including injuries and loss of form.

Sacking of managers can also be influential because even if someone is in goof dorm they may get dropped simply because the new man doesn’t fancy them or wants to bring in his own players. So, League 2 is obviously 46 games long and this could be a very tough choice as top scorer could be from a team that is challenging for promotion or it could easily be for a team that are struggling and this one player has become their star and is doing everything he can to save them as we saw last season with Izale McLeod at Barnet.

New Fleetwood Town signing Steven Gillespie could be considered the favourite as he does have a very good scoring record over the years but has unfortunately struggled with injuries. But just looking at his record he should be one of the most feared strikers in the division, he scored 25 goals 98 league games for Colchester United in League 1 and a lot of his appearances were from the bench so that makes his record look even worse. It was his 21 goals in 67 games for Cheltenham Town that convinced Colchester to sign him but he was struck down by injuries regularly and couldn’t get a good run of games going.

His main competition could come from Stuart Beavon of Wycombe Wanderers who were relegated to League 2 last season. The only problem with backing him is if he starts the season well then he could be sold if an offer comes in for him because he did score 20 goals last season while the club were playing in a higher division. But, if he does stay he should score goals for fun because he must be confident and will cause a lot of problems.

Billy Kee could be an outsider for the award as the 21 year old plays for Burton Albion who I think could struggle this season but obviously that will not stop this man from scoring as they weren’t exactly great last year and he still managed to score 12 goals in just 20 games. I would expect him to get to double figures but maybe it is a little too early for him to be considered top goal scorer.

Daniel Nardiello signed for Rotherham United this summer and will be hoping that he can score the goals to get them into League 1. Nardiello, who was once capped by Wales, has had an up and down career and never seems to settle at a club for very long will be hoping that manager Steve Evans gets the best out of him. The longest he has stayed at a club is two years but this may be where he shines so he may stay for longer and what better way to start than win the Golden Boot in League 2.

Finally, yet another Fleetwood Town signing David Ball could be an outsider especially if him and Gillespie form a good partnership. Ball, came through the Manchester City academy and will be hoping to show his quality in League 2 this year and he did do quite well for such a young lad at Peterborough United in the last few years where he scored nine goals in 41 games. He is an outsider but definitely in with a chance.

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Steve Cotterill has been sacked as manager of Nottingham Forest after less than a year in charge of the club.

Forest have won the European Cup twice in their history

New owner, Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi obviously felt that Cotterill was not the man to take the club forward and wanted to bring in someone that he believed could challenge for promotion to the Premier League in the coming season. The former Portsmouth manager did a good job for Forest in my opinion winning 12 of his 37 games in charge after a terrible start to the season under Steve McClaren and kept them up comfortably in the end. They finished 19th in the table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone. It wasn’t easy for Cotterill as a lot of Forest fans did not enjoy his style of football and wanted success like they had been getting under previous manager Billy Davies but I believe Cotterill did as well as he could and achieved everything that was needed of him so maybe he could have done the same next season. I can see why he has been sacked though as a bigger name will attract better players and it seems as though Al-Hawasi will be willing to pump a lot of money into the club.

So who are the main candidates? Darren Ferguson has been linked with the job and is the early favourite to get the job, he has done a fantastic job with Peterborough United and this could be his chance to join his dad Sir Alex in the Premier League. He is currently in his second spell at the club and this time he has managed to keep them in the Championship so he may be looking to continue his good work there but Forest may be a difficult job to turn down with the extra benefits. The only thing that may put off the new owners is the fact that he failed at Preston North End so he has never challenged for promotion from the Championship.

Harry Redknapp, surprisingly is also heavily linked with the job and he ticks all the boxes. He is a big enough name in the game to attract players to the club and he has just guided Tottenham Hotspur to fourth in the Premier League so he clearly has a lot of ability. The big question is, would Redknapp drop down to the Championship? You would think not however, Sam Allardyce took the the risk instead of waiting for a new job and is back in the Premier League after one year and if he does manage to get Forest promoted, he will surely have a lot of money to spend to make sure they stay up. There is a lot of potential at the club and he could be the one to take Forest back where they belong.

Possibly a more realistic option and probably less favourable would be another former Premier League manager in Mick McCarthy who has been out of work since leaving Wolves. He may not play an attractive style of football but it is clearly effective as he got Wolves promoted and kept them in the Premier League year after year. The former Republic of Ireland manager will have a lot of contacts in the game so he could make some good high profile signings for the Championship and he is quite reliable so they could definitely do a lot worse.