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 win the Championship playoffs?

The Championship had one of the best ever endings to a season with nobody knowing who will be in the playoffs until the last whistle.

Watford, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester City will be hoping to win the playoffs and gain a place in the Premier League alongside Cardiff City and Hull City. Bolton Wanderers missed out on the playoffs by goal difference and Nottingham Forest only missed out on the last day after losing to Leicester. For me this is one of the most difficult to predict simply because of how close it all was at the end of the season.

Watford finished third and have been one of the most entertaining teams this season but they had such a disappointing end to the final game. They lost 2-1 to Leeds United but in their defence they conceded a late goal from a counter attack. If only they had managed to score a goal they would have actually finished second and gained automatic promotion. Troy Deeney got a red card in that game and so that means there will be more pressure on top goal scorer Matej Vydra. But, he isn’t in the greatest of form himself. Watford have been criticised this season because of all their loan signings but Gianfranco Zola deserves more credit for getting them to perform.

Brighton finished fourth and are going into the playoffs in the best form and with their experience they may be the team to go up. Wayne Bridge and Matthew Upson at the back shows they have a lot of quality and experience and they have been a large part of their rise to towards the top of the league. In midfield they have a lot of young and talented players like Liam Bridcutt , Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua Lua that probably deserve a chance to show their talents in the Premier League. Even though their top scorer only has 11 goals they still have good strikers with the efforts and determination of Craig Mackail-Smith and Jose Ulloa who has had an impressive start to his Brighton career, scoring 9 in 17 league games.

Crystal Palace under Ian Holloway have been very hit and miss and they need to find some form and quickly. Their win over Peterborough on the last day of the season could be crucial as it showed that they can come from behind to win games and still have a lot of quality in their team. Glenn Murray, the top scorer in the Championship scored one of the goals and Kevin Phillips got another so they have players that can score at anytime in a game. Their defence is a little bit of a worry but in midfield they have a lot of talented players like Wilifried Zaha and Jonathan Williams.

Leicester were the last team to qualify for the playoffs and I was really surprised that they got in there because they had to beat Nottingham Forest away and hope Bolton didn’t win. So this could push the team on because they will be very confident and maybe seen as outsiders. They have a lot of talent in their team and this could be Nigel Pearson’s last chance to get promotion with Leicester so there could be extra motivation for the players.

However, I do think Watford will beat Leicester and Brighton will beat Crystal Palace in the semi finals and then it will be a very exciting final. Then I am going to go for Brighton to win the playoffs and compete in the Premier League next season.

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.

Gabriel Agbonlahor named new Aston Villa captain

Gabriel Agbonlahor has been named the new Aston Villa captain after the news that Stiliyan Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia.

 

Gabriel Agbonlahor has scored over 50 goals for Aston Villa

Everyone will be hoping that he makes a full recovery and he can play football again whether it be next season or even the season after. It would be fantastic to see him leading out the team again at Villa Park but for now the club has to look at securing their place in the Premier League. They had to name a new captain and Agbonlahor was a very good candidate. Although they could have went for James Collins or Shay Given who have a little more experience, they decided that Gabby’s love for the club would be the better option.

So let’s have a look at Agbonlahor’s career and see if he has the potential to lead out the team and be a good captain. He made his Premier League debut at the age of 19 against Everton and scored in the game, unfortunately the team went on to lose 4-1 but he showed enough potential and ability to the Villa fans that he was a promising player and will be very good in the future. He did have two loan spells before this at Watford and Sheffield Wednesday where he didn’t make much of an impact.

In his first full season in the first team he played 42 games scoring 10 goals after new manager Martin O’Neill decided he would be in his first team plans. Starting O’Neill’s first game in charge away to Arsenal on the right wing where he played much of the season which just shows the versatility of the player and how he is willing to play in any position the manager tells him to. He is equally effective in both, with clever movement and frightening pace, he is always on the mind of opposition defenders.

In the following three seasons, he played over 40 games yet again scoring over 10 goals in each which is quite impressive as at times his goal scoring record has been overlooked by pundits and fans alike as well as England managers. Three years in a row he scored over 10 goals in the Premier League (11,11,13) so to me he has proven his worth to Villa and should have more England caps than he currently has. He only has three caps for his country.

Last season was one of his worst but that may have been down to the fact that played less games than usual, only contributing five goals. But the season wasn’t the greatest for the club with O’Neill resigning and them having a pretty bad start to the season especially away from home where they were beaten 6-0 by Newcastle. The squad seemed very unhappy under Gerard Houllier and Gary McAllister which may have been another reason why he personally underperformed.

This season, started very brightly for him putting in some fantastic performances and scoring and creating chances for his team mates. Now he has played over 250 times for the club and putting him for eighth in the all time Premier League appearance list for Aston Villa.

He may not have as much experience as some other players in the squad but he has definitely played a lot of games for a 25 year old and at the same club which means he knows it inside and out therefore he is a great choice for captain.