Reading in the Championship

Reading have returned to the Championship after just one season in the Premier League and they will be hoping to return under Nigel Adkins.
Reading
Adkins is a good Championship manager and I expect him to put together a side that will challenge for promotion and I personally feel that Reading could be the most likely of all the relegated teams to get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking. The former Southampton manager does obviously have a promotion under his belt and this will stand him and the players in good stead as they already know what the Championship is about. It may have been an unsuccessful season in the Premier League but I do not think the club are in a bad position and relegation is not a disaster, but the most worrying thing for the fans is the fact that they did not invest very much in the playing squad and that ultimately cost them. They have recently released five players and I was a little confused by some of the decisions because they would have been good players in the Championship. Noel Hunt and Simon Church can score goals in the second tier so I expected at least one of them to stay.

Looking at the players that can get them promoted they certainly do have some quality especially for the Championship. Alex McCarthy was called up to the England squad for the game against Brazil and this just goes to show that he has a lot of quality and they do need to keep hold of him because he impressed me and will be vital. New signing Wayne Bridge is also a good addition because he proved at Brighton last season that he can be one of the best left backs in the division and his experience will be crucial.
Wayne Bridge
Reading’s midfield is interesting because a lot of them fall into the category of too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premier League. This includes Jobi McAnuff and Jimmy Kebe, their pace and directness is effective in the Championship but for some reason they just could not replicate it last season. I do really like Danny Guthrie and think he should still be a Premier League player and he proved at Newcastle that he can be a good player and is usually consistent but it has not quite worked out for him at Reading and I think he owes the fans a good season next year.
Reading v Crystal Palace
Adam Le Fondre needs to be used more next season because in my opinion and especially under Adkins he was not played anywhere near enough. He is a goal scorer, yes he might not add much in terms of build up but he certainly knows where the goal is. Reading are lacking in the forward positions but Nick Blackman could be a good signing in the long run, he only played 11 times and eight of these were from the bench so he also did not get much of a chance.
Reading v Everton

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Who will be Oldham Athletic’s new manager?

Oldham Athletic are looking for a new manager after Paul Dickov decided to resign from his position.
Oldham Athletic
This may come as a surprise to football fans that do not follow League 1 closely as they will have just seen that they beat Liverpool in the FA Cup 3-2. Apart from this result it has been an awful time to be an Oldham fan as they have lost eight of their last nine league games with the latest being a 3-1 defeat to Walsall. This defeat has left them in 20th place, only one point above the relegation zone. The worrying thing about this is that all the teams below them have a game in hand and Dickov has decided that he is not the man to keep them up after guiding them to 17th and 16th in his two full seasons in charge. Dickov was manager for 141 games, winning 43, drawing 37 and losing 61 of them. Now it is up to the board to find someone to take control and make sure the club do stay in League 1 and there have been some interesting names linked with the post.

The favourite for the post and the most likely to get the job is Iain Dowie. If he does get the job then it will be the second time he has been in charge of the club. His first spell was from May 2002 to December 2003 and he led them to the playoffs but unfortunately he could not continue his job because of a number of reasons including financial problems at the club and he finally left because of family reasons. Since he left the club he is most recognised for his work at Crystal Palace as he got them promoted to the Premier League. One of the problems with appointing him is the fact that he has been out of management since he left Hull City in 2010.
Iain Dowie
The second favourite for the job is a man that supports the club and would certainly want to succeed and keep them in League 1. That man is Paul Scholes and although he is still actually contracted to Manchester United he is obviously nearing the end of his career (he has already retired once). Would he be a good choice though? In my opinion I don’t think they should go for another inexperienced manager but his love for the club and his connection with Sir Alex Ferguson could allow him to bring in some good talented youngsters from Old Trafford.
Paul Scholes
Another person linked with the job is Nicky Butt also a former Manchester United player. But yet again he is very inexperienced and a job like this won’t be the easiest and it may be tough for him. However, the players should respect him and listen to everything he has to say because of what he achieved as a player. Just like Scholes, he may have some good connections to Manchester United as well as other clubs and managers that he played under.
Nicky Butt
Other names linked with the role are Neil Redfearn, Phil Brown and Simon Grayson

Have Chelsea moved on since Jose Mourinho left?

Chelsea have secured their place in the Champions League semi final after a hard fought victory against Benfica.

This victory sets up a game against the best team in the world and their players know that they will have to perform better than they did over these two legs. The away performance was very good for a European game, nicking an away goal and keeping a clean sheet, you cannot ask for anymore than that but the worrying thing was the home game. Chelsea took the lead after Ashley Cole was brought down in the box to win a penalty which Frank Lampard scored and this should have really allowed the English team to push on and win the game comfortably but somehow they let Benfica back into the game and maybe this was down to complacency as they may have felt, like most did, that the y were in the semi final. Even when Benfica were reduced to ten men they still didn’t really dominate the game like they should have done and allowed the Portuguese team back in the game as they conceded an equaliser on the night and possibly a crucial away goal.

The most worrying thing for Chelsea is that they were outplayed and outclassed for much of the game and no offence to Benfica but if they can do that then Barcelona will destroy them. Yes people will say the older more experienced players got them through but I also believe that they are part of the problem, most of these players played under Jose Mourinho where one goal was usually enough and they never tried to force the game after they took a lead. I think that the likes of Lampard and Terry are still in this mould of thinking and that’s why they sat deep and tried to soak up the pressure, but the team isn’t good enough to do that anymore and these players need to wake up as it has cost them multiple times this season especially at home. Stamford Bridge isn’t the fortress it used to be and teams have proven that if you attack Chelsea they will fold a lot easier than they did in the past.

Mourinho still in the heads of the Chelsea players

Looking forward to the semi final and I believe that everyone will expect Barcelona to win and this could play into Chelsea’s hands as they will be underdogs and AC Milan proved that if you remain solid and break quickly on the counter, you can cause the Barca defence problems. It took two penalties from Lionel Messi to effectively the end the contest at the Nou Camp and if Chelsea remain resilient and disciplined they do actually have a chance of beating them.

Didier Drogba has to be a starter for me as he could dominate the backline and will hold up the ball effectively which alleviate the pressure that will be on the defence for most of the game. However, Fernando Torres may start and this could be the opportunity he needs to live up to his price tag and make him a Chelsea hero.