Tag Archives: Promotion

Sky Bet Championship: The Race for Promotion

The race for promotion to the Premier League is hotting up with only eight games remaining of the regular Sky Bet Championship campaign starting this Saturday.

It’s a three-horse race for the automatic promotion spots with Norwich City, Sheffield United and Leeds United all battling it out for the top two spots in the division.

Leeds and Norwich have been the top two for most of the campaign this year, however, Leeds fell down to third prior to the international break following a 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield United which leaves Marcelo Bielsa’s side one point off the Blades heading into the final eight games of the regular season.

Here I analyse each of the teams chances of automatic promotion this season

Norwich City
The Canaries currently sit five points clear at the top of the table following the win over relegation threatened Rotherham United prior to the break.

Daniel Farke’s worked tremendously well throughout the campaign with a squad which finished 14th in the table last season and he lost key players from that season in the likes of James Maddison, Wes Hoolahan, Josh Murphy and Russell Martin who all played a big part.

Coming into the club is Finland striker Teemu Pukki, signed on a free from Danish outfit Brøndby on a three-year deal, Pukki has really took to life in the Championship scoring 25 goals in the division this season and for me if Norwich are to gain automatic promotion from the Championship the Finnish striker needs to find his scoring boots again towards the end of the campaign.

Remaining Games
30/3 Middlesbrough (A)
6/4 QPR (H)
10/4 Reading (H)
14/4 Wigan (A)
19/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
22/4 Stoke City (A)
27/4 Blackburn Rovers (H)
5/5 Aston Villa (A)

Out of their remaining fixtures I believe if Teemu Pukki finds his goalscoring boots and Norwich win four or more they’ve secured automatic promotion.

Sheffield United
The Blades are currently in second spot behind Norwich City and one point above Leeds United in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 triumph over Leeds United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Chris Wilder has got his side well-drilled and organised this season and the Blades have impressed me quite a lot this season when I’ve seen them, however, I still feel that they lack quality in the midfield and parts of that showed against Leeds prior to the international break.

A number of players have played really well and Wilder has worked his magic as his side finished 14th last season and are now in a three-way battle for automatic promotion.

Wilder has brough in some good players in the summer and January transfer windows including Oliver Norwood and John Egan, however, I believe that Billy Sharp is the Blades key man this season.

The former Doncaster and Leeds striker has netted on 22 occasions this season and has worked brilliantly with either David McGoldrick or Gary Madine alongside him in attack this season.

Remaining Games
30/3 Bristol City (H)
6/4 Preston (A)
10/4 Birmingham (A)
13/4 Millwall (H)
19/4 Nottingham Forest (H)
22/4 Hull City (A)
27/4 Ipswich (H)
5/5 Stoke City (A)

I believe Sheffield United have a chance of promotion, they need to match Leeds United’s results if they have any chance of promotion from the division.

Leeds United
The Whites are currently one point behind Sheffield United in third in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Marcelo Bielsa has got his side play high intensity football and this season it seems to have helped the players who were already at the club from last year and he’s worked tiredlessly to get them playing with the high pressing game for the full 90 minutes.

Bielsa’s sides are known for burning out, however, the Whites don’t seem to be showing this yet this season and it would normally start to show at this point of the season with his previous clubs.

Out of the squad that Bielsa has only Macedonian International Gjanni Alioski has played every minute of games that the club has played in and he’s still going right to the last minute for both club and country this season.

The player of the year so far at Leeds United, for me, is Kalvin Phillips. Phillips is dubbed as the “Yorkshire Pirlo” amongst the Elland Road faithful and has been impressive in his performances in defensive midfield or at centre back in which Bielsa has transformed him into this season.

The Whites have struggled with injuries this campaign otherwise I firmly believe they would be already in the automatic promotion spots heading into the final eight games.

Remaining Games
30/3 Millwall (H)
6/4 Birmingham (A)
9/4 Preston (A)
13/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
19/4 Wigan (H)
22/4 Brentford (A)
27/4 Aston Villa (H)
5/5 Ipswich (A)

I believe that Leeds will just pip Sheffield United to second spot in the table and go up automatically.

Automatic Promotion Predictions: Norwich City and Leeds United
Play-Off Winner Prediction: Sheffield United

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Can the ‘Super White Army’ gain back-to-back promotions?

This season has been one of the greatest seasons for Tranmere, they got promoted from the National League thanks to a 2-1 win over Boreham Wood in the Play-Off Final last season, but this season has made them dream higher. Will they be able to gain promotion to League One?

This incredible journey started back in the 14-15 season, when Tranmere were unfortunately relegated back to the Conference after a number of years in the Football League, then after 3 seasons of playing non-league football, they finally bounced back, and since then the ‘SWA’ have been on the up!

Micky Mellon’s side are now unbeaten in 8 games, sit in the play-offs, and now have a opportunity to move into the automatic promotion places (depending on other results going their way). This season has been incredible for Tranmere, and a huge part of their success is down to their home form, the Rovers have only lost a small number of home games, making Prenton Park their ‘Fortress’!

Also, Tranmere managed to reach the third round of the FA Cup this season, but unfortunately were beaten 7-0 by Premier League giants, Tottenham Hotspur.

Could the ‘Super White Army’ gain promotion to League One?

Three potential​ managers at West Brom

It’s been a torrid season for West Brom this season and in all honesty, I feel so sorry for their fans and what they have had to put up with this season. The club sacked long-standing manager Tony Pulis after a poor run of games and appointed the samba dancing prince that is Alan Pardew.

 

And it hasn’t really worked out for Alan as he has managed just one win out of the 18 games he has taken charge of at The Hawthorns. On top of this, he decided to take the squad to Barcelona for a warm-weather training camp but instead Gareth Barry and some other teammates decided to steal a taxi at 4 in the morning. So unsurprisingly West Brom took the decision to part ways with Pardew and are now looking for their third manager of the season.

 

Here are three potential candidates.

 

  1. Mick McCarthy

 

With McCarthy leaving Ipswich upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season it may be possible for West Brom to snap his services up now. With The Baggies all but relegated this season McCarthy has great experience of gaining promotion back into the Premier League and if he has the right budget West Brom shouldn’t be down for long.

 

  1. Nigel Pearson

 

The man who uttered the famous words ‘You’re an Ostrich’. Nigel Pearson much the same as Mick McCarthy has great experience in The Championship and should West Brom go down that could prove to be vital. However, Pearson also managed to guide Leicester away from relegation in 2015 which was hailed as a miracle which is certainly what West Brom need this season.

 

  1. Marco Silva

 

Out of the three, Marco Silva is the least likely to end up at West Brom due to his credentials and also his lack of Championship experience. But should West Brom want to be ambitious and change their style of play then Silva would be an extremely positive gamble and one that West Brom fans could get on board with?

 

Who do you think West Brom should hire as their next manager? Let us know in the comments section below.

Up and down in League Two

The basement division of the Football League, League Two, is highly competitive year in year out with teams ensuring they don’t fall through the trap door and into non-league football at one end and at the other, teams desperate for promotion and the opportunity to play some well established and reasonably sized clubs in League One.

Some big clubs have fallen out of the Football League and struggled to come back with the likes of Wrexham FC, Stockport County and Macclesfield Town to name a few still plying their trade in the non-league side of the game.

With this in mind, we take a look at the clubs who look like getting promoted this season and those who unfortunately look like falling out of the Football League.

Firstly at the bottom end of the table, Barnet FC who currently occupy the last place are going to need a miracle to survive. The ‘Bees’ find themselves 7 points adrift of safety and with just 1 win in their last 5 games, they look a team bereft of confidence. The club did this week part company with manager Graham Westley and immediately after announced that Martin Allen would be back in the hot seat for the FIFTH time.

Whether Allen can provide the great escape remains to be seen, but with the club still having to play teams around them this could provide them with a platform for that escape.

The other team in desperate trouble at the wrong end of the table are Chesterfield FC, who like Barnet have gone through a change of manager this season as they bought Jack Lester in to replace Gary Caldwell in September. Despite the change of management the ‘Spireites’ still find themselves in trouble as they are 6 points adrift of Grimsby Town who are just above them in the league table, and with the two sides locking horns in early April it could be the decider as to who ends up going down.

At the top end of the division sees the side with one of, if not the smallest budget in the league flying high. Accrington Stanley finds themselves top of the league 3 points clear of Luton Town with a game in hand and on a run of 9 games unbeaten.

John Coleman’s men have surprised many to be sitting top of the league with just 9 games to go, but having played some attractive attacking football and having 3 players in double figures with goals its hard to deny ‘Stanley’ top spot in the league table. If they can continue the terrific run they have been on then come May they will be lifting the league title.

Luton Town were the early pace-setters in the league but recent form has seen them slip to second place and on a run of 5 games without a victory it will be cause for concern for the ‘Hatters’ supporters, as they would prefer to go up automatically rather than via the playoffs.

If the club can rekindle some of the form that they were in at the start of the season then there is no reason why they can go up automatically and also push Accrington all the way to the wire in terms of who will win the league title.

Wycombe Wanderers occupy the final automatic promotion spot in League Two and find themselves 3 points ahead of the chasing playoff pack. ‘The Chairboys’ have plenty of firepower in their team with Craig Mackail-Smith, Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa but indifferent form in recent times hasnt helped the club consolidate a strong automatic promotion spot.

Just two wins in their last five games will be cause for concern for the Wycombe supporters but with the playing staff they have access to and the fact that they are the leagues second highest goal scorers behind Luton, they will be hoping that they can fire themselves to promotion.

League Two fans let us know who you believe will go up and unfortunately go down this season in the comments section…

Three players key to Derby County securing a play off spot

Derby County have been there or thereabouts for the past few seasons, but have failed to make that final step towards promotion. Gary Rowett has taken the side to fifth in the League, and in the process, restored hope among the Rams’ fans that this may finally be there year. But who are the key players spearheading their promotion push?

Matej Vydra- Vydra has been an inconsistent player throughout his young career, twice enjoying fantastic goal-scoring seasons in the Championship with Watford, but failing to perform during spells at Reading and West Brom. Luckily for Derby this season, Vydra is back to his best, with 17 league goals making him the joint top scorer in the division. Vydra has the experience of gaining promotion during his time at Watford, and that experience could be vital for Derby’s hopes this term.

Tom Huddlestone- The England International raised a few eyebrows when he left the Premier League to join Derby in January 2017. But with Hull now fighting a relegation battle in the Championship, after their relegation from the Premier League last year, it looks like Huddlestone made the right decision. The experienced midfielder has played a vital role in the engine room at Derby and has often been deployed in a holding midfield role in Gary Rowett’s 4-2-3-1 system.

Scott Carson- Carson is enjoying a great season with Derby, and is starting to restore his reputation that was damaged heavily by his England days. Carson has helped his side to 16 clean sheets this season and is a key part of one of the better defences in the league. His great form was rewarded with the Championship player of the month for December,  after conceding one goal in six games and helping his side to 16 points. Carson is another player who has experience of promotion from this league, and his clean sheets could prove the difference between another near miss, and the promised land of the top flight.