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 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 AFC Wimbledon’s next manager?

AFC Wimbledon are looking for a new manager after sacking Terry Brown seven league games into the new season.

The club has failed to win since the opening game of the season and the board believe that if they want to avoid a relegation battle this year and push up the table a new man is needed in charge. Brown, was always liked by the fans as he has achieved so much in his five years as manager, including getting them into the Football League. He was manager for 266 games and won 126 of them so he had a very good record and under him they always achieved their goals so there is no doubt in my mind that he would have kept them up but I am not sure if he could have took them to the next level so maybe the board were just waiting for a bad run like this to get rid of him.

There will be plenty of contenders for the job, but the favourite at the moment is recently sacked Coventry City manager Andy Thorn. Thorn, began his playing career at Wimbledon and was part of their team when they won the FA Cup in 1988 so he obviously has a lot of good memories of the club and would love to bring the good times back. He left the club shortly afterwards but returned a few seasons later, so if he does become the manager it will be his third spell there. Looking at his time as a manager though he hasn’t had much success and only has a win percentage of  21.67% but this was at Coventry and there was very little chance of success there and even a more experienced manager couldn’t have done much better in my opinion.

Next up for contention is Andy Scott who has had mixed fortunes as a manager so far, winning the League 2 title with Brentford in the 2008-09 season but being sacked as manager of Rotherham United after less than a year in charge in 2012. He started off well at the club though and actually won the manager of the month award in August but they couldn’t continue their form for the remainder of the campaign and Scott took the blame for it. He would be an interesting choice because he does have a bit of experience of success and could take the club onto the next level or it could backfire horribly.

Finally, another name linked with the job is also a former player that won the FA Cup with the club and that is Dennis Wise. I don’t know if the fans would be in favour of him getting the job because he hasn’t been involved in football since leaving Newcastle United and his time there was, to put it simply, a disaster. He has claimed that it has ruined his image and had damaged his chances for further work and rightfully so in my opinion. But, if there was a club that he could start again at, surely it would be a team that gave him his first chance in football. He hasn’t done badly as a manager so it may be a good move for all the parties concerned.

Who will Victor Moses play for next season?

Victor Moses’ future at Wigan Athletic is in doubt after a lot of interest in the winger over the last few months but the club are standing firm.

Moses has played 72 games in the Premier League

Manager Roberto Martinez clearly wants to keep him and owner Dave Whelan will not sell him unless it is right for the club which could well mean that Moses has to stay at the DW next season whether he likes it or not. I don’t think it would be a bad thing for him to stay as he has only had two full seasons in the Premier League and is only 21 so why not stay and get more experience which he would not definitely get at another club. Plus, if Wigan can build on their good end to the season they may not be in a relegation battle next season so it could be a good place to be. Moses only missed one Premier League game last season and he must enjoy being classed as one of their best players and maybe he should show some loyalty to the club as a lot of clubs were interested in him when he was at Crystal Palace but nobody else took the chance. Last season he scored six goals and got six assists which shows he does have the quality to be a success and would flourish at a top six club.

The main club chasing him are Chelsea who are reportedly putting in a final bid to test Wigan and it is believed to be around £7.5 million which may be slightly too much for him and Wigan may have to accept the offer. They may try and hold out for £10 million but if the final offer is true then I think they will accept if they get the chance to loan a player off Chelsea too. Moses shouldn’t join Chelsea and I hope current teammate Franco Di Santo tells him that first team opportunities are hard to come by and at this stage of his career he has to be playing games. I can’t see him playing ahead of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin so he would spend a lot of time on the bench.

Arsenal may be a better option for Moses as they are looking likely to lose Robin Van Persie this summer and Theo Walcott seems reluctant to sign a new contract so there could be a place up for grabs. Arsenal would have a lot of pace in their team if they could sign him and their front three would look very threatening with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. However, is Moses good enough to be first choice for a team that is competing in the Champions League and may be expected to challenge for the title?

So maybe he needs to be looking slightly lower down the table if he wants to leave and Liverpool could well be interested in him as they need a replacement for Dirk Kuyt. With Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing failing to deliver in their first season they definitely need more of a threat from a wide position. Rodgers likes to play 4-3-3 so he could easily fit into that formation but I think this transfer will all depend on Craig Bellamy’s future, if he leaves then Moses would be a great signing.

Who will be the next Aston Villa manager?

Aston Villa have had a disappointing season to say the least and Alex McLeish has took the blame for it.

McLeish only won 21.43% of his games in charge

McLeish and Villa were never going to work out anyway in my opinion, the fans didn’t want him and he plays negative football which is why the club failed to win more games than they did and were sucked into a relegation battle. This time Randy Lerner has to make a good choice or Villa’s place in the Premier League is seriously under threat, since Martin O’Neill left the club it has been in decline. In McLeish’s defence he had to deal with a lot of injuries to key players, in particular Darren Bent but still more was expected of the side and at least a challenge for the top 10 would have been nice for the fans.

So who is going to be the next manager? The current favourite is Paul Lambert of Norwich City as he has had a fantastic season with them and has proved that you don’t need big names to be successful in the Premier League. He has got a lot of players that are quite young and have the potential to grow which is exactly what Villa need right now, with a lot of impressive youngsters coming through like Marc Albrighton and Barry Bannan. Lambert has a very impressive record winning 42.46% of his 325 games as a manager and will add vibrancy and reinvigorate the club which is exactly what chief executive Paul Faulkner has said they are looking for. Norwich won’t let him go easily and maybe he will see it as a step sideways and decide against the move.

Mick McCarthy, the former Wolves manager is also linked with the job and this surprised me slightly as he was sacked as manager of Wolves and has never done anything better in the Premier League than battle relegation. I would expect more ambition from a club like Villa but maybe they are thinking that McCarthy did a good job on the whole with Wolves and with better players at his disposal he will be able to lead the team into the top half. He is unemployed and knows that the Premier League so he could be a good choice however I can see the fans reacting just as negatively to this as they did with McLeish.

Finally, yet again Roberto Martinez is linked with the role and he wanted to stay at Wigan Athletic last summer but maybe things have changed and he will be more interested now. If they can drag him away from Wigan then they will have a fantastic manager who likes his teams to play a passing game and is also someone that doesn’t mind trying new things out. His formation of 3-4-3 has worked magnificently towards the end of the season and even the best teams in the league have been unable to deal with it. But Martinez will be thinking if I have one bad season they might sack me. So I think he will stay at Wigan but if Villa give him the chance, they need to make sure they stick by him.

If I was the chairman, I would do everything I could to get Martinez in charge of my team as he has kept Wigan up for a number of years now and he has stuck to his own game plan for the most of it. The players will enjoy the freedom and creativity he will give them and they will prosper under him and maybe challenge for Europe once again.

Nottingham Forest fans get the lift they need against Leeds United

When Leeds took the lead against Nottingham Forest the fans must have thought they were about to see Neil Warnock’s first home win as manager but the Forest team proved they are not just going to lie down and will be up for the relegation battle they are involved in.

Garath McCleary scored four goals on a fantastic night for the player personally and for the club as they had to show all of their grit and determination which manager Steve Cotterill will be very proud of. Now, Cotterill wants to give a new contract to McCleary and believes it is a top priority if the club want to progress in the future. The 24 year old has already played over 100 games for the club but this season he has finally stepped up and is now performing to the best of his abilities with nine goals in his 17 league appearances and is currently the clubs top scorer.

Garath McCleary scoring one of his four goals against Leeds United

With the club currently in 20th place and six points out of relegation they really needed a lift and may have been in more trouble had Portsmouth not been handed a points deduction. Added to the fact that a lot of the fans haven’t exactly taken to their manager Cotterill, there could have been more problems in the very near future. Especially when they just lost 1-0 in the biggest game of the season against Derby County they really needed a lift and this is exactly the way to do it.

They didn’t only humiliate Leeds, they also put a smile on every single one of their players and fans faces which could just make everyone at the club relax and play their normal game rather than feel the tension of a relegation battle. Nottingham Forest have had a horrendous season and anyone that had slated Billy Davies in the past must now be wishing he had never left and just stayed with the club. Steve McClaren only lasted 13 games and won just three of these while losing seven of them. This put the club in a terrible position and must have made the supporters angry at the board as they were a team that were pushing for the playoffs year after year and now seem to have taken steps backwards instead of forward.

Cotterill, in my opinion has done a decent job and is doing exactly what was expected of him which was to keep the team in the league. I am unsure whether he will be able to take the team to the next level but at least it looks more likely that they will be playing in the second tier of English football next season.

Nottingham Forest are too big of a club to be playing in a lower division and with their support they should be in the Premier League. They have some talented players like McCleary and Dexter Blackstock who may not be having the best of seasons but proved against Leeds that he can he find the back of the net when given the opportunities. I also really like Marcus Tudgay who always puts in a shift whenever he plays and is always good for a goal. I really hope Forest stay up and push on next season as the fans deserve some joy as they have suffered quite a lot in recent years.

Will Aston Villa get relegated from the Premier League?

Aston Villa may be getting dragged into a relegation battle this season with some of their star players underperforming and now the news that Darren Bent will be out for three months has made the possibility of relegation a lot more likely.

They are not a one man team but who will score the amount of goals Bent does, Gabriel Agbonlahor for all his pace and directness does not quite have the ability to reach the same levels as Bent. However, I have been impressed with him this season but five goals isn’t exactly prolific. Saying that though he has hit double figures in three seasons so far in his career with his best being 13 goals, he will need to get somewhere near this target this season if Villa are going to stay up.

Emile Heskey has never been prolific in his career and does not seem to be favoured by Alex McLeish anyway so he may be overlooked. Whenever I have seen him play this season he has been on the left wing which he has done a few times over the years but you cannot get the best out of him from that position. Everyone always says that Heskey makes his strike partner look better and score more goals and maybe he will be able to help Agbonlahor grab the goals as well as him chipping in with a few himself.

With Robbie Keane’s loan spell ending, this injury could not have came at a worse time and they will no option but bring Nathan Delfouneso back to the club and push him straight into the first team. He is only a young player but he has certainly showed some promise when he has came off the bench in the last few years and maybe now is his time to step up and show everyone that he is a Premier League quality striker. If he can also grab a few goals between now and the end of the season he could be a hero to the Villa fans as they are in need of one at the moment.

The midfield will have to step it up also as they can get goals but have struggled to so far this season. Charles N’Zogbia can score goals from out wide and has done so on many occasions for former clubs Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United. He only has one goal so far for the club and this is quite remarkable as he hit 10 goals in all competitions last season in arguably a weaker side. Marc Albrighton on the other side should be adding more goals to his game as he is a very good player and likes to get himself into attacking positions but in his defence he hasn’t always been first choice. I believe though that this injury could be a blessing in disguise for Stephen Ireland as he really needs to get his career back on track, he has struggled for years and maybe now with the pressure on, he may get back to the form he showed at Manchester City when he was one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League and.

I do not believe Villa will go down but the Premier League does throw up a few surprises and with the fans still not taking to McLeish very well, it all adds up to a very difficult end to the season. Maybe it is down to the manager that they are struggling because at times he can be far too negative and doesn’t allow his players to express themselves and this could be part of the reason why there flair players from last year, like Ashley Young and Stewart Downing left. It could also be why players like N’Zogbia have underperformed.

Scott Parker finally has the chance to succeed

Scott Parker proved again against Liverpool what a vital player he is to Tottenham Hotspur, when all the flair players underperformed, he stepped up and made sure he did his job brilliantly. Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor most notably had off days while Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric could not get involved high enough up the pitch to cause the Liverpool defence any problems.

At the age of 31, Parker just keeps getting better and better it would seem however he has played like this throughout his whole career, but he is finally getting the recognition that he deserves because he is playing for a big club. Plain and simple, he just wants to win the ball back for his team and will keep chasing and tackling until he achieves his target, he does not allow the opposition a moments rest and it is little wonder he is a fans favourite at every club he has been apart from possibly Chelsea. But I think Chelsea missed out here because they most certainly did not give him enough playing time and he deserved more of a chance to succeed at a big club earlier in his career.

But for some reason his career has not really kicked off until quite recently as he was constantly overlooked by England who persisted in playing Gerrard and Lampard in the middle of midfield when clearly this wasn’t working. He should have won more international caps than he has but now hopefully his time has come and he will grab it with both hands.

Even in his early days at Charlton Athletic you could see he was going to be a fantastic asset to any team even though he was probably more attacking back then and has now adapted his game to focus more on being a holding midfielder. He can easily play both roles and he does still occasionally try and get into the box to score a few goals.

He singlehandedly kept West Ham in the Premier League one year and then stayed on for another even though the club were facing another relegation battle which tells me that he has a lot of heart and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves when the going gets tough. It must be difficult playing in a very average team when you are being linked to better teams who are competing in Europe but he did and was the best player in the league because of it. It isn’t very often you see a player that has just suffered relegation being praised and given awards from fellow professionals and pundits.

Finally his time has come to be a success because in his career he has suffered many let downs, not getting a real chance at Chelsea, getting sold by Newcastle when it looked like the club had finally got it right and were challenging for European places. Then signing for West Ham who seemed to have a bit of money and a few good players coming in so there was plenty of potential there which the club as a whole failed to live up to. So he has one final chance to make it work at Tottenham and he is doing everything possible to achieve this and his performance against Liverpool shows he is going to fight to win trophies before the end of his career.