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The Championship Winners and Losers

Discussion in 'Molineux Mix Archive' started by Deutsch Wolf, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. Deutsch Wolf

    Deutsch Wolf Just doesn't shut up

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    Just posted this on F365: the Championship Winners and Losers.

    WINNERS

    Wolves

    Once again, the league leaders complete a relatively routine win to continue their excellent start. 53 points at the halfway stage has rarely been equalled and only Reading in their title winning season of 2005/6 have bettered it in recent years. Although they have not carved out an unassailable lead due to the good form of the Royals and neighbours Birmingham City, they appear well set to launch a genuine assault on the title. The last two victories in the previous week have come in the wake of a defeat and bad performance at QPR, and without Chris Iwelumo and Matt Jarvis.

    Reading

    The primary reason why Wolves and Birmingham aren't all but assured of promotion has been the relentless recent form of Reading. They continue to pick up victories week after week and seem intent on keeping hold of the likes of Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle; the economic gloom around top flight clubs may help them in this regard. This squad retains many of those involved in the class of 2006 - that experience will be invaluable come the final stages of the season. Next week's game at St Andrews is arguably the biggest of the season so far.

    Crystal Palace and Shefki Kuqi

    Neil Warnock's men were tipped by many to repeat their achievement of a playoff place from last season, but started poorly and it appeared that a lack of experience would cost them dearly. Enter Shefki Kuqi. Out of favour and on the list after gesturing to the Selhurst Park faithful last season, he has come back in goalscoring form and to lead the line to great effect. In both 2004 and 2008, Palace started appallingly but recovered to make the top six - they are now in a stronger position than in either of those two years. Much will depend this year on whether they keep the Flying (well, Bellyflopping) Finn - he remains available for transfer, or at least Warnock says so.

    Cardiff

    Dave Jones is no stranger to making good starts to seasons at this level. He got Wolves closer than they have ever been to automatic promotion in all of their time in the second tier (until this season) and two years ago had his Cardiff team at the summit of the table thanks to excellent early season form. However, his teams tend to falter in the second part of the season and he has been hamstrung in his time at Ninian Park by small squads and budgetary problems. Does yesterday's excellent win at Portman Road signal that the Bluebirds are in it for the long haul this time around? If Michael Chopra and Wayne Routledge can be persuaded to stay beyond the end of the year - then maybe so.

    Watford

    The King is dead, long live the King. Aidy Boothroyd performed nothing short of wonders in getting the Hornets into the Premier League, but his style became stale and an attempt to move towards a more aesthetic approach provided plenty of goals (at both ends) but poor results. Brendan Rodgers has begun to marry the two, with a tighter defence still underpinned by the improving Tamas Priskin and the excellent Tommy Smith scoring their share of goals. The continuing financial problems will still be a concern - and Rodgers has yet to sign his contract. The best case scenario is that Watford keep this squad together and move into mid-table security. The worst case scenario is that the likes of Smith and O'Toole depart in January, with the manager departing shortly afterwards.

    Preston

    Since their elevation to this level in 2000, North End have had a very credible record making the top six. However, Paul Simpson ill-fated tenure saw them slip back to also rans. Jon Parkin's late (if undeserved) winner has catapulted them back into a playoff place where they will hope to remain.

    LOSERS

    Doncaster

    The lowest scorers in the division did at least manage to notch a goal on Saturday, but were unable to hold onto their lead at Selhurst and succumbed to a last minute goal. Next up? Wolves, with Matt Mills missing after a dubious red card. It never rains but it pours when you're at the bottom.

    Charlton

    Bizarrely look in a worse position than where they started the day despite not playing and only one of the teams above them avoiding defeat. Monday's game against struggling Derby is potentially pivotal for them and surely central to Phil Parkinson's hopes of getting the manager's job on a permanent basis. That said, if he doesn't get it, who will want it?

    Birmingham

    They have played worse than this during the current campaign and won. However, this was yet another game where despite the illustrious (by Championship standards) players in their lineup, they failed to create many clear cut chances and this time came unstuck with a late goal, the opposite of what has happened so often this season. Questions have to be asked of Alex McLeish's constant insistence on playing two defensively minded midfielders - why so many managers believe that Nigel Quashie is the answer to their problems is an enduring mystery. Still, at least he can't get Birmingham relegated this year.

    Bristol City

    A 10th draw of the season sums up why they find themselves in mid table. Second season syndrome or something deeper at work? The suspicion is that a weak league last year enabled them to make the top six rather than them being genuine contenders for a return to the big time. Nicky Maynard has flattered to deceive and the lack of goals is a real concern. Can they hold on to Gary Johnson if a Blackburn or a West Ham come knocking?

    Plymouth Argyle

    Contrived to hand QPR only their third away goal of the season and threw away yet more points. The flirtation with the playoff places a few weeks ago looks like being exactly that.

    Glenn Roeder

    As a general rule, sending out a team to play without a recognised striker doesn't work. The derby day victory bought him some time, but how much?

    Sheffield United

    Although a point at Swansea is a credible result, they will now lose Darius Henderson for three games over Christmas and have to play the totally ineffective Billy Sharp or Danny Webber. At the halfway stage of the season, they lie outside the playoff places and are just six points better off than where Bryan Robson had them twelve months previously. All very poor for "the best squad in the division, by a mile" according to Greg Halford and making it all the more baffling why Kevin Blackwell was given a contract extension.
     
  2. Toon Wolf

    Toon Wolf Guest

    Well put together and a good read. What has the response been like on F365? And how the heck do you find time to know so much about every team in the division!?
     
  3. Deutsch Wolf

    Deutsch Wolf Just doesn't shut up

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    Question 1: Don't know yet, the regulars on the Championship thread haven't been on since I posted it!

    Question 2: I have nothing better to do.
     
  4. PabloWolfo

    PabloWolfo Guest

    I've got to say that is indeed very well written. I misread the very sentence on your post and assume it was something "posted on F365" by a journo/content editor there.
     
  5. A wanderer from Bristol

    A wanderer from Bristol Just doesn't shut up

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    A really interesting, informed and well written post Deutsch. Do you have a link to the site it is posted on? Forgive me if it is there already. It is late, I have been working all day and I'm a little bleary eyed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2008
  6. Deutsch Wolf

    Deutsch Wolf Just doesn't shut up

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    It's on the F365 forum, though it's recently changed to a members only forum so unless you have a log-in, you won't be able to see it (hence why I stuck it on here).

    They do sometimes pick stuff up from the forum and put it on the main site, so maybe it'll appear on there over the next couple of days.

    Thanks for the kind words.
     
  7. The Bear

    The Bear Just doesn't shut up

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  8. Japan Wulf

    Japan Wulf Has a lot to say

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    Good read Deutch. Makes me realise just how little I know about football ;)
     

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