Tag Archives: EFL

Weekend Championship Round up

Games are staring to come along quickly as the Championship rolls on. Readings good form continues as they lead the table. Bristol City remain second but there are just four points between them and 14th placed Huddersfield.

East Midlands Derby

Friday night saw the East Midlands derby between Nottingham Forest and Derby County. It was the 108th meeting of the long time rivals.

The two side were up for this game, Lyle Taylor shot forcing a good save from David Marshall. Marshall’s opposite number Brice Samba was also tested in the first half. Graeme Shinnies curling shot met by the diving hand of the Forest Keeper.

It was Derby who scored first after 30 minutes. Martyn Waghorn’s with a free kick the self-isolating Wayne Rooney would be proud to claim. Waghorn lifted the ball over wall and it clipped the inside of the bar to go in the net.

Derby thought they had won it when some clever footwork from Tom Lawrence allowed him to slide a ball into Jozwiak who found the net. Jozwiak wheeled off in celebration but the assistant’s flag was up. Waghorn in an offside position was deemed to be interfering with play.

Forest Manager Chris Hughton told BBC Radio Nottingham:

“I wasn’t too happy with the first half performance. I thought we needed to be better on the ball and our movement needed to be better against a team who were happy to defend in a really good shape”.

After seeing his side second goal ruled out Phillip Cocu told BBC Radio Derby:

“I don’t see any offside. The goalkeeper reaches for the corner where the shot goes, so the view is not blocked. The frustration is quite big here”.

Reading Go Five Clear

Championships leaders Reading won their sixth game of season clinically beating Rotherham 3-0. Reading took the lead towards the end of the first half though Yakou Meite.

The striker doubled the home side lead on 74 minutes, with an overhead kick. From a corner he control the ball with his chest before performing an overhead kick into the top corner of the net. A good win was finished in stoppage time with a Lucas Joao penalty.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic said:

“What we saw in our team was the consistency of getting the job done, doing your job for the team. You also have to be patient, have a strong mentality and not get frustrated if our game plan is not working. And don’t ever give up”.

Rotherham drop to 18th place and manager Paul Warne told BBC Radio Sheffield:

“We were away from home against top of the league and had lots of possession in the first half and we were the only side that played on the front foot. We passed the ball really well without creating enough clear cut chances and obviously for them to score the first time they were in our box was a massive sucker punch”.

Mepham Saves a Point

Late drama as Chris Mepham’s 94th minute goal saved a point for Bournemouth. Watford had lead since the 12 minute from Stipe Perrica’s first goal for the club.

Bournemouth’s Lloyd Kelly was lucky to only see a yellow card for his poor challenge after just two minutes. Lunging in late on Ismaila Sarr catching the Watford player above the knee.

Watford’s goal came after Sarr’s ball across the box from the right was met a sliding Perrica who simply directed the ball into the net. Ismaila Sarr had the chance to make it too but his shot was stopped by a strong right hand from Asmir Begovic.

Begovic kept his in it again saving from Quina before quickly pushing the ball away from Pedro. Bournemouth pressed for an equaliser but found resilient Watford defencing and a in form Ben Forster.

Josh king saw his late header turned over the bar by Forster. However Bournemouth got their reward from the corner. Forster punched the ball away but the return ball in the box was turned in by Mepham.

The draw means Watford stay in 3rd and Bournemouth 4th.

Away Wins

There were away wins For Blackburn (4-0 v Coventry), Luton (1-0 v Sheffield Wednesday) and Preston (2-1 v Huddersfield) on Saturday.

Coventry were reduced to 10 men after 14 minutes with Michael Rose receiving a straight red for a push in the box. Adam Armstrong scored from the spot. Armstrong got a second after 49 minutes getting on the end of Brereton’s though ball. Harvey Elliott made it three on 62 minutes assisted again from Brereton. Rovers wrapped up a fine display with a fourth on 88 minutes from Sam Gallagher.

Sheffield Wednesday remain bottom after a 1-0 home defeat to Luton. Wednesday’s Joost van Aken saw red for a reckless high challenge. The hatters took advantage of the extra man to get the win with Pelly Ruddock scoring on 74 minutes.

While they can’t win at home Preston are still unbeaten on the road. Frazier Campbell’s 8th minute goal gave Huddersfield a half time lead. A curling effort from Alan Browne levelled the game on 51 minutes. Just two minutes later Browne found the net again. This time looping a soft punch from the keeper back into the goal. Naby Sarr got a red card for pulling down Riis Jakobsen.

Stoke up to 8th

Stoke stormed into a 3-0 lead after an hour. A free head for Steven Fletcher after nine minutes, was followed by a James McClean low shot into the near post. On the hour mark Tyrese Campbell made it three cutting inside to the edge of the box and curling a shot into the far corner. Brentford pulled two back thanks to sub Marcus Forss but Stoke held on to take their unbeaten run to seven games.

Norwich got their third straight league win after beating pointless Wycombe 2-1 at Carrow Road. Timo Pukki gave Norwich the lead early on. Scot Kashket got the goal that got Wycombe level after some poor Norwich defending. Wycombe may have thought they had their first championship point but there was late drama. Mario Vrancic 91st minute free kick went straight into the top corner with the Wycombe wall seamingly rooted to the floor. Adam Idah was shown a red card for appearing to push Joe Jacobson to the floor.

Warnock Returns

Middlesbrough left Cardiff with a point on Neil Warnock’s first visit to Cardiff City Stadium since leaving the Bluebirds. It was a classic Warnock display from Boro’ who set out early to slow the game and frustrate Cardiff. The visitors took the lead with George Saville’s header lopped in the Cardiff goal. Cardiff took the game to Boro in the second half but could not find the final touch. Their hard work did get them level with Sheyi Ojo second goal since signing from Liverpool.

Jamal Lowe smashed in on 51 minutes to give Swansea the lead at Ashton Gate. It was his second goal for Swansea. Putting it in off his left foot turning towards goal. Bristol City equalised from a Nahki Wells penalty. Conner Roberts judged to have brought down Semenyo Antoine just inside the area. A soft penalty but dispatched down the middle with power from Wells. The result sees Bristol City remain in second and Swansea in 6th.

At The Den two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half saw Millwall and Barnsley share the points. Alex Mowatt stunning volley from the edge of the area gave Barnsley the lead. Just a minute later Jake Cooper rose above everyone else to head home for Millwall.

A goalless draw at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as QPR met Birmingham City. Scott Hogan did find the net for City but was ruled offside. QPR are 16th while Brimingham are 17th.

The championship rolls on to Tuesday and Wednesday again this week with Blackburn hosting leaders Reading and Bournemouth v Bristol City as the stand out games.

Cardiff City v Middlesbrough Championship preview

Neil Warnock returns to Cardiff for the first time since leaving the Welsh club. He’ll bring his Middlesbrough side to face the club he took to the Premier League in 2018. Warnock faced the Bluebirds at the end of last season with Cardiff winning 3-1 at the Riverside.

Middlesbrough are unbeaten in five matches since their opening day loss to Watford. Their last match saw them win away at Bristol City. Cardiff trail Boro by a point and will be looking for their first win at Cardiff City Stadium.

Cardiff have won the last four meetings between the sides. Although, history suggests that this game could go either way. Over the last 14 games the sides have managed seven wins apiece. This should be a close encounter as 10 of theses games have been decided by a single goal. With both managers setting their teams up to be hard to beat, this is unlikely to be an exception.

Team News

Neil Harris confirmed in his press conference that left back Greg Cunningham will be out for four to six weeks. Cunningham went off injured in last Saturday’s win at Preston.

On his other injured players, Harris said:

“The other three are edging closer. Jordi (Osei-Tutu) and Benno (Joe Bennett) have been on the grass today. We could have the possibility of one, both or neither available.

“Tommo (Lee Tomlin) is getting closer but not for tomorrow”.

Middlesbrough are meanwhile likely to be without Britt Assombalonga.

Speaking at his press conference, Warnock said:

“From yesterday I don’t think he’s got much of a chance but we’ll see this afternoon.

“Its just a nick on the adductor on the side of the groin and it just didn’t feel right”.

They are also still without last seasons top scorer, Ashley Fletcher who is ruled out until January with a hamstring injury.

The Managers Thoughts

Both managers spoke about the heavy schedule of upcoming fixtures. Championship games are coming thick and fast after the late start to this season.

Neil Warnock called the EFL to discuss the fixture scheduling. After the trip to Bristol City on Tuesday, they travel to Cardiff for this weekends game.

At his press conference on Monday, Warnock gave details of his call to the EFL, he said:

” It was just how it fell, they did look at it but there was nothing they could do about it”.

Warnock continued:

“We’ll be traveling back to Teeside after the Bristol game and then back to Cardiff on Friday.

“It means we can’t do much training for games. We’re traveling most of the time”.

Neil Harris also had this to say:

“We played on the Sunday against Preston and Bristol on a Friday. It becomes seven games in nineteen days for us. It is what it is but its a bit unfair and it’s wrong. We have to be creative to be as fresh as we can to get results”.

Key Players

For Cardiff, new signing Harry Wilson will be the creative key to unlock Middlesbrough’s defence. Wilson got his first goal for Cardiff in Wednesday draw with Bournemouth. He also hit the bar form a free kick and on another night could have taken the match ball home.

Harry Wilson scores his first Cardiff City Goal

Akpom Chuba has two goals this season and with Middlesbrough injuries they will be looking for him to add to his tally. George Saville, who scored the winner by pressing the Bristol City defence, is another player who could cause Cardiff problems.

Prediction: Cardiff 1-0 Middlesbrough

History suggests a close game, but Cardiff should have the edge creatively. Warnock will set his side out to be hard to beat and hit the Bluebirds on the break. So the Welsh side will have to find a way to unlock a determined team and I think they will do just that.

Blackburn Rovers v cardiff city: preview

Sixth placed Blackburn welcome Cardiff City to Ewood Park this Saturday in matchday four of the Championship. Rovers come into the game in good form following big wins over Wycombe and Derby (5v0 and 4v0). Cardiff lost for a second time this season last time out falling to Reading 2v1. Last season the sides drew 0-0 at Ewood Park while Blackburn won at Cardiff City Stadium 3-2. The Bluebirds are without a win in Blackburn since 2012 so will face a huge task to pick up the points.

Team News

Cardiff manager Neil Harris confirm that Lee Tomlin and Josh Murphy would be unlikely to play 90 minutes. The pair could make an appearance from the bench again as they did against Reading, Tomlin scoring for Cardiff. There could be returns for Joe Ralls and Joe Bennett, with harris saying:

“Both trained today (Thursday) which is really good news”. “Hopefully they train tomorrow and be ready for the weekend”.

As for Blackburn Corry Evans and Sam Gallagher have both trained this week with Rovers boss Tonybray saying:

“Corry Evans has come back training this morning (Thursday), Sam Gallagher has trained this week“.

He continued:

“Tyler Magloire is another two weeks and there are a couple of other younger players on the route back”.

Joe Rankin-Costello is ruled out with a slight hamstring strain.

Managers

Cardiff boss on Blackburns good start:

“Blackburn have been in good form the last couple of weeks, scored some good goals, every opportunity they’ve had has gone in”.

“They’ve got good players and attacking players, good continuity. They’ve added two or three. They are a dangerous side at the moment, Adam Armstrong a top striker at this level”.

When asked about a lack of creativity:

“I think that’s a fair assessment. When you play at home and its 0-0 and you haven’t started great you want the fans to get behind you”. “We have had moments but not sustained periods”.

“We had it at Nottingham Forest our best 45 minutes of the season. Against Reading we were the better team, dominated the stats, but didn’t win the game”.

Tony Mowbray focus on his players speaking about Sam Gallagher:

“As long as he comes through training today. He’s trained all week, he’s trained a little bit at the end of last week and if he gets through today he’ll be in some form of contention this weekend”.

Key Players

For Blackburn Adam Armstrong is in fine form scoring four in Blackburns last two wins, with a total of five for the season. With Gallagher doubtful they will be looking for Armstrong to lead the line.

Cardiff most likely without Tomlin from the start and possibly no Joe Ralls will have to find a solution to fill the gap in the number 10 role. With callum Paterson leaving this week to join Sheffield Wednesday, Leandro Bacuna will be the man tasked with sparking some creativity for the Bluebirds.

Prediction: Blackburn 2 v 0 Cardiff

Blackburn have been scoring for fun and Cardiff will do well to stop them. A lack of service for Kieffer Moore has seen the striker playing off scraps. History is also against Cardiff, this should be a comfortable win for Blackburn.

EFL Clubs vote for introduction of salary caps

The English Football League and the Professional Footballer’s Association appear to be on a collision course after clubs in Leagues One and Two voted in favour of the introduction of salary caps.

Fixed caps of £2.5 million for League One clubs and £1.5 million for League Two have been approved after a vote by clubs on Friday.

The EFL said the caps would take effect immediately and hoped it would help to get inflation under control and bring greater financial stability after the Covid-19 crisis.

It is understood that 22 League Two clubs voted in favour, with only two against. In League One, 16 clubs voted for the introduction of salary caps with eight against the idea.

As well as basic wages and taxes, the cap on total salary spending includes bonuses, image rights and agents’ fees, while payments earned from successful cup runs or promotions will be excluded.

Clubs in League One and League Two who exceed the cap by up to 5% will face a financial penalty. Further breaches would be referred to a disciplinary commission.

This news in my opinion is most welcome to lower league football. It has been known for a long time that some clubs in the lower leagues have clearly been spending well outside of their budget.

Take the financial troubles of Wigan and plenty of others who have been clearly functioning well out of their means. Clubs have been offering players silly money just to entice them to play at this level of football.

Fine, if you have the funds to back up this promise, not fine if you have not got the money available. This isn’t a case of players demanding silly money, it is their agents who are very much at fault.

In the current economic situation, we all live in at present, football is no different to any other industry. It will will have to tighten its belt otherwise there will be some clubs who could fall by the wayside.

Introducing salary caps makes financial sense. Just working out the maths as an example for League Two. An average squad of 25 will see a player on around £60,000 per year. Sounds pretty decent to me for a footballer. Considering most of the working population will lose their jobs or be working on a reduced salary for the time being.

By putting in to place a cap for clubs in Leagues One and Two, surely this should be extended to not only the Championship but also down to non-league level.

By bringing in salary caps you will always run the risk of losing some of the best players to other leagues, but to compensate this it will then help and bring through younger players with a chance of regular first team football and will give them a chance to move up the football ladder quickly.

However, there will always be doubts that some clubs will get around the salary cap system, like Saracens have been found guilty of in Premiership Rugby. Of course, there is the chance that will happen, but without some form of salary cap, quite simply Football will struggle to survive in the years to come.

 

 

Have Fulham learnt from their disastrous £100m spending spree?

After the celebrations of the return of Fulham back to the Premiership at the first time of asking, it is time to take a step back and access their chances of surviving in the Premiership next season.

It is a well know fact in football that sides who get promoted through the play-off route in the Championship, normally struggle.

In recent times the likes of Aston Villa, Huddersfield, Hull City, Norwich City and QPR all finished in the bottom six places in the division.

Two points that may make it possible for Fulham to survive in next seasons campaign would be the Manager and the experience of being in the top flight of English football before.

In Scott Parker they have an astute man in charge of the Cottagers. In the play-off final against Brentford his master tactics came out on top. By spotting the gap at Brentford’s near post and Joe Bryan’s technical ability to find that gap was a pure master stroke from the former West Ham player.

Since Parker has been put in charge, he has turned around the club’s fortunes. Just two years ago on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2018, five players were signed as the clock ticked down to zero.

Fulham spent an astonishing £100 million on no less than twelve players, only to look considerably worse for signing these players.  In season 2018-19 Fulham sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri but a second play-off victory in three seasons gives them a chance to heal some scars.

For the club to survive next season in the top flight of football they will have to learn by their mistakes of 2018. Pointless splashing out that amount of money to try and survive in the Premiership. In truth, it rarely works out.

Parker needs to keep the spine of this current side to have a chance of surviving. The key player to hold on to has to be Aleksandar Mitrovic. The goal machine will learn by his poor return when Fulham were last back in the top flight. If he does so and can get back to a return of around twenty goals in a season, then the London club have a good chance of staying up.

They also need to keep the likes of Tom Cairney, Aboubakar Kamara, Denis Odoi and Tim Ream. If they can hold on to this talented group, then they could realistically keep out of trouble.

Parker will know that the hard work starts now. It will be an interesting few weeks before next seasons campaign as to what he will do in the transfer market. Key to their chances of survival will also be who they bring in.

In terms of the other two promoted sides Leeds United and West Brom. For the Yorkshire club with the flamboyant Marcelo Bielsa managing at the main table this will b e a massive challenge for him. His toughest assignment to date and hardest task for the upcoming season will be to survive.

Under normal circumstances with Leeds outstanding fan base and home fans would be worth a lot of points for the club but the likelihood of having no full capacities for the foreseeable future, this could well go against the Whites.

West Brom under Slaven Bilic look like a side that could well survive next season. Having the advantage of previously being in the Premiership for eight seasons, the Baggies know exactly what is required not to face a relegation battle.

One thing is for sure, having three shrewd and intelligent managers in the form of Parker, Bielsa and Bilic managing in the biggest league in the world and pitting their wits against other more experienced managers is going to be a sight worth seeing.