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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

3 potential replacements to succeed Darren Moore

Subsequently a discouraging draw to Ipswich Darren Moore has been sacked. The Englishman was appointed as head coach in May 2018 after a remarkable end to the season despite West Brom’s relegation. The Baggies have played glamorous football at times this season averaging 1.9 goals per game. A considerable amount of West Brom fans have deemed the sacking harsh , however others have argued that their home form has been less than impressive. Here are 3 potential replacements that could succeed Darren Moore.

David Wagner

The German-American has previously managed 2 clubs , Bourissia Dortmund II and Huddersfield Town. Wagner , 47 , is most commonly known for the wonders he worked at Huddersfield Town. David Wagner took charge of the Terriers for 154 games across 4 seasons. In 16/17 Wagner miraculously won promotion with Huddersfield via the play offs. Additionally preserving Huddersfields Premier league status the following season. However it could be said that Wagner couldn’t cut it in his second season of premier league football winning just 2 games before he left the club by mutual consent in January. Notwithstanding when David Wangner left Huddersfield he stated that he wanted a break from management.

Slaviša Jokanović

Slaviša Jokanović is reportedly the leading contender for the West Brom job. The Serbian has managed a number of clubs , first managing in 2007 for FK Partizan Belgrade and most recently Fulham , Jokanović has managed a total of 309 games. Jokanović had his contract terminated with Fulham in November 2018 after gaining promotion , likewise via the play offs earlier in 2018. He was recognised for possession and attacking football while in the championship. However Jokanovićs style of play didn’t cut it in the Premier league and his side were found leaking goals. The Serbian has had managerial success in his home country winning the Serbian league twice and additionally the Serbian cup twice.

Carlos Carvalhal

The final and most experienced manager on this shortlist is Carlos Carvalhal , his managerial career has spanned over two decades the majority of which being in Portugal. Carvalhals time in England has seen him manage two clubs , Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea. His time at Sheffield Wednesday saw him manage 131 games , unlike the previous two managers he was incapable of gaining promotion to the Premier league despite being just one game away in 2016 when his side were beaten 1-0 in the Championship play off final. Alike the alternative managers Carvalhal has had experience in the Premier league nonetheless Carlos was only in charge for 25 games before leaving by mutual consent following Swanseas relegation form the Premier League.

Will we see West Brom go for a more experienced defensive manager likeCarlos Carvalhal or alternatively a more attacking style manager with attractive football like Slaviša Jokanović. Its no doubt that the Baggies will look to replace Darren Moore in a swift fashion as they still potentially could be promoted.

Who do you think West Brom will appoint?


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.

3 players that will leave West Bromwich Albion if they are relegated

  1. Jonny Evans

Evans has had many transfer speculations written about him even when the Baggies were doing extremely well. It was believed that Arsenal and Manchester City were willing to offer north of £30m for the Northern Ireland defender. However, Tony Pulis rejected this. It may turn out to be a mistake financially as it is believed that he may be able to leave for £3m if West Brom go down, with West Ham interested and others. So it’s not looking good for Evans staying if he has to play in the Championship.

2. Salomon Rondon

The Venezuelan has been majestic for the Baggies since his arrival. Although not performing excellently as a number nine all throughout this campaign, he is still a fan favourite and has scored eight goals. His play is fierce and ferocious and as a big scary number nine, would be perfect for the Championship, like Aleksandar Mitrovic is at the minute for Fulham, but with his displays and style, it’s fair to say that many clubs will be eyeing him up in the summer.

3. Kieran Gibbs

Signed for just shy of £7m last summer from Arsenal, Gibbs has been impressive as a left-back this season despite the Baggies’ position in the Premier League table. Still, at 28 years old, he has a lot to offer and has performed well in the Premier League and even Champions League with the Gunners. He may stay on, but with Gibbs being a high quality player, some Premier League clubs may see him as an easy buy in the upcoming transfer window.

West Brom fans do you agree that these 3 players will leave your club if you are relegated? Do you think anybody else will depart? Let us know in the comments section…

Tony Mowbray should look to sign this experienced striker

Blackburn Rovers have had a bad few years, falling out the Premier League and then last season they lost their Championship status despite Tony Mowbray managing to help the team put a good run together towards the back end of the season. 

The club had a huge transformation to their playing ranks this summer bringing in no fewer than 12 players, showing that the board are backing Tony Mowbray as the man to take the club back to tier 2 of English football.

Rovers have started the season by picking up 6 points from a possible 12 after putting together 2 straight victories in their last 2 matches. New signing Dominic Samuel has hit the ground running as he has found the back of the net on 4 occasions already, but the club are going to need to support him if they are to have a good season.

With this in mind the club should look to sign Rickie Lambert who is currently without a club.

Rickie Lambert – The former England international left Cardiff City earlier this year after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent.

Throughout his career Lambert has found the back of the net 224 times, with 99 of those goals coming when he has played in League One. With this record in League One Lambert would the perfect fit for the club and would support Dominic Samuel and the other strikers at the club.

Having played over 600 times in his career, including plying his trade in the Premier League with Liverpool, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion respectively, Lambert could bring a huge amount of experience to Blackburn’s team which could help the club have a successful season.

Blackburn Rovers fans would Lambert be a good fit for your club? Let us know in the comments section…