Tag Archives: Hull City

Analysis of the Championship Run-in

Championship fans up and down the country were today (June 8) given a huge boost of excitement with the EFL announcing the restart schedule released – along with confirmed TV selections.

The journey will continue for Sky Bet Championship clubs with the action kicking off again on Saturday 20 June. They couldn’t have gone for a juicier opening fixture with promotion contenders Fulham & Brentford clashing in front of the Sky cameras for a West London derby.

So with just nine games remaining, who is in the running for promotion and relegation? Let’s break it down and give a final prediction of what could go down starting with the relegation candidates.

We all know what gruelling and outright horrible season the Championship can be for clubs. It is 46 games of tough, physical games of football and we would usually be talking of these remaining nine games as the last hurdle, but truthfully, with the break, everyone has now had, anything could happen. Even more, than it usually does. Seriously, the Championship has become even more unpredictable – let the party begin.

Last term, 44 points renewed Millwall’s Championship status and the year before that, 43 points kept Bolton up. Yet with 27 points still up for grabs, Hull City sit one place out the drop zone on 41 points which makes you realise we could be in for a much higher points total to guarantee safety.

So who are all the teams in the relegation run-in? I suppose this is almost impossible to pinpoint with the dramatic changes this league can produce but all the way up to seventeenth spot we have Stoke City who are just three points adrift. Below them are Huddersfield, Middlesbrough Wigan and Hull. The drop zone meanwhile contains Charlton, Luton, and Barnsley.

Given the number of ridiculous results that the Championship can produce I almost feel it a pointless exercise to start analysing the run-ins that the teams have but some crucial relegation clashes are coming up – one of them being Hull vs Middlesbrough.

The Yorkshire derby (I’m sorry) has been selected for Sky coverage on Thursday 2 July and could play a pivotal part. The Tigers made a terrible gamble in January by selling their dynamic duo of Jared Bowen and Kamil Grosicki to West Ham and West Brom respectively and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone worse for them.

At one stage it looked like Hull might be in for a fairly stable season but since Christmas, they have picked up just eleven points from a possible forty-two, including heavy defeats in the last two outings to Leeds and Stoke.

Elsewhere, the pandemic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Wigan Athletic who were in the form of their lives and picked up huge wins over the current top two, Leeds and West Brom. It’s a huge fight meanwhile for Barnsley, who, despite some half-decent form themselves, are still bottom of the pile and seven points adrift. Gerhard Struber has not done a bad job with the Yorkshire club but the sheer awfulness of their start to the season before he took charge in November means that it still hasn’t been enough.

Charlton Athletic have been hit with a huge blow, which has been a big talking point ahead of the restart with several players including top scorer Lyle Taylor, refusing to continue. Taylor (30) is out of contract and states his physical health as reasons for not agreeing to a temporary extension as he doesn’t want an injury to prevent him from a move next season.

Even with Taylor’s goals, Charlton are two points deep in the relegation zone and without them, you do wonder where the results are going to come from. Below the Addicks, we have Luton Town who for most of the season have just looked a little bit out of their depth. It would be a shame for Luton to go down as their epic rise, fall and rise again has been a great story. Do they, however, have enough to stay up?

Huddersfield and Stoke may be living life dangerously sitting just three points clear, but the misfortunes of Charlton and Hull I think will keep them safe enough and out of the equation. Huddersfield will, however, have crucial games against Wigan and Luton, meanwhile Stoke will have to fight off tough opposition with three of the top six still to play.

Final Prediction
21: Charlton Athletic (Survived)
22: Hull City (Relegated)
23: Barnsley (Relegated)
24: Luton Town (Relegated)

So on we go to the epic prize that is the Premier League. Once again this is going to be a tough one to predict and it really wouldn’t shock me if a team I mention in this somehow ends up in a relegation scrap. This division is mental, it really is.

With just six points separating sixth and thirteenth – don’t shoot me if I end up getting this horrifically wrong.

I reiterate that form could completely go out the window with the big break that we have had and the run-ins could make no difference whatsoever but nonetheless, we’ll start with the current top two.

Leeds and West Brom have looked the best bets for promotion for a lot of this season and six points currently separates West Brom from Fulham in third with Leeds one point ahead of Albion in first. Both have had their bad spells this season and at one point it seriously looked like both Fulham and Brentford could take up the top two spots.

Before the pandemic, however, Leeds were in tantalising form winning their last five games and conceding no goals in the process. For West Brom, it was a little more up and down drawing away to Swansea and losing at home to Wigan but the Baggies did register big wins over Preston and Bristol City before that.

With Brentford ten points behind West Brom, we have to suggest at this stage that Fulham are the main contenders to challenge the top two.

However, a reminder that Fulham do host Brentford in the first game back and an away win for the Bees could give them a very good argument that they are still in the mix. Thomas Frank’s side will then have to face West Brom immediately afterwards at home so those two games perhaps could give us a good idea?

In that same game week, Leeds will host Fulham in what could also prove to be huge. My word I have missed this barnstormer of a league!

We must also not forget Nottingham Forest who sit level with Brentford in fifth, however, since their big home win over Leeds back in February, the form for Sabri Lamouchi’s men has been very up and down. They were shocked at home to Charlton and since been well beaten in their last game at the hands of Millwall. Forest have been crying out for Premier League football even longer than Leeds but still strike me as a team that is developing under Lamouchi.

There is no doubt that Lamouchi has transformed Forest into a much better side than we have seen over the years and for that reason, in my opinion, it puts him in the running for manager of the year. Should they, however, fall short this season they’d have to be big favourites next year.

Four points behind Forest in sixth we have Preston where thankfully we can now just be talking about who is going to take that spot come July. Not that I should completely disregard Preston ploughing through everyone in nine games and go up as champions but let’s just pretend that isn’t possible. Alex Neil is another manager who has done a tremendous job this season, turning Preston from a mid-table team to a side that is mounting a promotion challenge.

They do, however, face stiff competition from Bristol City, who are just a point behind The Lilywhites, while Millwall and Cardiff are just two points adrift. Oh, but then we have Blackburn, Swansea and Derby who are also very much in contention…I give in, please no one shoot me for this prediction.

To make matters more difficult these are all teams who’s form has been very inconsistent, I mean that’s probably why they are where they are. I do make a strong case for Gary Rowett’s Millwall though, who, since Rowett’s appointment I’ve identified as dark horses for promotion.

Rowett has had a lot of talk about him since his shock departure from Birmingham as to how good a coach he is and it did not go well for him at Stoke. At the time it looked a risky decision to take the managerial role at The Den, given that the previous season Millwall had very narrowly escaped relegation and were sat in seventeenth spot at the time of his appointment.

The Lions though have lost just five league games in his 23 game tenure and with just two points separating them and Preston they do look a good bet. Bristol City meanwhile were in very bad form before lockdown and despite that potentially making no difference anymore, they aren’t a team that has struck me as one that would maintain a spot in the playoffs. I would also say similarly with Guy Mowbray’s Blackburn Rovers, who have been in and around the mix for a while now and for a long time topped the form table, but ultimately I see them coming short.

Swansea and Derby are interesting ones because the Swans were at the top end of the table for a while before Christmas but a bad run of form led to their slip down the table. They are a young footballing side that given time under Steve Cooper, they could be well in the mix next season.

Derby, on the other hand, have had a very eventful season.  The signing of Wayne Rooney in January to the sacking of captain Richard Keogh. Focusing on the football, they’re a team that has tried to play out from the back under Phillip Cocu but just haven’t done it that well. Their fortunes have however recently changed and the results have started to come, which has led to them being back in the mix but I think it will be too little too late for them.

Final Prediction
1: Leeds (Promoted)
2: West Brom (Promoted)
3: Fulham
4: Brentford (Promoted via Playoffs)
5: Nottingham Forest
6: Millwall

Hull City reveal two positive COVID-19 tests after first round of testing in Championship

Sky Bet Championship outfit Hull City have confirmed they are the club who have returned two positive results during their coronavirus testing on Friday.

The EFL released a statement on Sunday lunchtime, to reveal that 1014 players and staff had been tested at 24 clubs, with only two individuals testing positive for the virus.

The Tigers, who have said they won’t reveal the identity of the individuals keeping in with medical confidentiality, released a statement on Sunday afternoon to say both of those were returned during the testing programme held at the clubs training ground on Friday.

Both players, whom are not to be identified, will now spend seven days self-isolating in line with EFL guidelines.

A statement released by the club this afternoon read:

“Hull City can confirm that two people have tested positive for Covid-19 following the first round of testing at the training ground.

“Medical confidentiality means the names will not be disclosed, and the Club asks for this to be respected.

“The duo, who are both asymptomatic and feeling no ill effects, will now self-isolate for seven days – in line with the protocols set out in EFL guidelines – before being tested again at a later date.

“The Club will continue to liaise closely with the affected personnel and will make no further comment.”

The Tigers vice-chairman Ehab Allam did write to the league and the other 23 clubs voicing his concerns about returning to action in the last week.

There were an initial letter which outlined “serious concerns” and calls to void the season, while another email was sent out on Friday reiterating their stance.

Allam wrote:

“I continue to strongly believe that Championship clubs are being exposed to entirely unnecessary legal and financial risks (and forced to overlook the health and safety concerns that exist) as a result of the inappropriate haste with which clubs are being encouraged to return to training by the EFL,

“I also retain serious concerns about the integrity of the competition (which in my opinion is more than simply upholding promotion and relegation at all costs) should some, but not all, of the remaining games of the 2019/20 season be played.”

Why this team will go up automatically with Wolves

The Championship title race is about pretty much as settled as the Premier League title race, with Wolverhampton Wanderers, with great incomings such as Ruben Neves, Diego Jota and Roderick Miranda, have stormed to the top of the tree and look to automatically get promoted sooner rather than later. So it’s up to many clubs now to finish second, and this is the reason why Aston Villa are likely to clinch that spot.

The Birmingham side, hot off winning the Second City Derby 2-0 to climb to second above Derby County, look a completely different team this year as oppose to last year, and even the early part of this campaign, where the Villans won only one out of the first seven.

However, if there’s someone who knows about Championship promotions, it’s Steve Bruce. The former Manchester United hero has been promoted four times as a manager, twice with Hull City and twice with Villa’s arch rivals, Birmingham City. He holds the record for the manager promoted to the English top flight most times.

Villa are also on a massive winning streak at the moment, winning their last seven matches, and all games from now on look winnable for the claret and blues. They did, however, lose in the FA Cup Third Round to Peterborough United, which does mean they have to focus on the bread and butter of the league.

This season has also seen a lot of positive transfers going on at Villa Park, with incomings such as Glenn Whelan, Ahmed Elmohamedy and John Terry all bringing the experience that is needed to push on, as well as youngsters coming in including Axel Tuanzebe and Sam Johnstone.

Some unreal talent has come through the door as well, such as recently Lewis Grabban who was Sunderland’s top scorer this season with 12 goals, and Robert Snodgrass. Without these aforementioned players, there is no chance that Bruce’s men would be anywhere near where they are.

At Aston Villa, they have an amazing squad which is very capable of ripping any Championship team apart. They also have a manager who is hungry for more success and has done this many times before, and that is a recipe for brilliant success and most probably, a Premier League return in the Second City.