My weekly (sort of) column looking back on the events in the Football League Championship. I may mention Blackburn a lot.
This week we reflect on the recent managerial changes in the Championship and analyse Bournemouth’s rise to the top,
- Bournemouth will be aiming for a seventh straight win this weekend away at 2nd place Boro’
- Not faced any of the top nine in the six game winning run
- How long will Neil Redfearn be given to turn things around at Leeds?
I’ve been saying this week that I’m glad Blackburn didn’t beat Millwall on Tuesday night. Bear with me, but when Holloway’s men came back from two goals down to earn a point it didn’t feel like we had thrown two points away. It was just another excellent point on the road. The reason why? I don’t want us to peak too soon. I’m probably jinxing us as a write this but winning four games on the bounce will probably happen once a season. For that to happen now would mean we would enter the play-offs and our rich vein of form would see us go two points off the top and our already heightened expectation will further increase . But inevitably we would have to go through that phase in the season where we struggle to get going and our slide down the table will commence. That, I’m afraid, is how I see Bournemouth’s season ending up. Enjoy the form while you can.
I don’t want to pour cold water over Eddie Howe’s side but their six wins have come against sides that are not in the current top nine. There are no easy games in this league and that is no cliche, but that is a telling statistic. It points to the fact that Bournemouth have admirably dug out results against opposition lower in the table which is no mean feat. But when it comes to facing sides that will be in the race for promotion come May (the current top 8), they have a record of two draws and two losses and they face the other three in their next four games. I predict they will come out of those possible 12 points with at most 5. Back down the table they go. That said, currently they are the scalp of the Championship so far and Boro’ will do well to break their run this weekend.
The unforgiving world of football reared it’s head again twice this past fortnight with the removals of two managers in Darko Milanic and Jose Riga at Leeds and Blackpool respectively. Both difficult but understandable sackings given the lack of decent managers available. Leeds went ahead and hired the man who should have been given the job in the first instance, Neil Redfearn whilst Lee Clark was out of management for only only a week before being appointed at Bloomfield Road.
Leeds will have an average season. Being a fan of Blackburn I can relate to the situation the West Yorkshire club side find themselves in. When Gary Bowyer was appointed Blackburn manager he was given an aging overpaid squad that lacked any fight in them. He turned it around through astute signings and simply that. What he has done is brought in home grown, young, hungry players ready to prove themselves and rid the club of ex Premier League players who weren’t committed to the cause. Leeds certainly are not relegation material but they will struggle to finish in the top half. What Redfearn will bring is that word that is so important in this league, consistency. That will take time, and with it, this season especially, there will be results that will frustrate Leeds fans. It’s time to lower expectation and only then, in a few years, might we see the once great Leeds United start to make progress again.
Over in the North West Neil Lennon is improving Bolton by the day with 3 wins out of 6, two of them at home. Remember the days when Arsenal used to hate going to Bolton? That’s what they need to reignite, turning the Reebok into a fortress again. With Wigan (h), Blackpool (a) and Huddersfield (w) their next three matches, fans will be hoping for at least 6 points as they look to make progress up the table. That game against Blackpool will be an interesting one. It will be incredibly tough job for Lee Clark to keep the Tangerines up. He has wasted no time exploiting the loan and transfer market with Norwich loanee Jacop Murphy scoring on Wednesday whilst Jamie O’Hara has been brought in as well. At 28 years old, the former Spurs star will be aiming to get his career back in track. At Bloomfield Road, should he stay fit, he will surely be the star player in which the team plays around him, a condition a player of his sort could thrive in.
Clark got his first point for Blackpool at the second attempt away at a Fulham who are slowly improving. Again it’s a similar situation to Leeds and Blackburn where a coach at the club has taken the top seat, and Kit Symons is enjoying a good start in his first foray into management. Fulham won’t be relegated and should keep making progress under Symons, the same can be said for Cardiff under Russell Slade who may well make a push for the play-offs later on in the season.
Given all the managerial changes we have seen so far this season, we’re starting to run out of teams who could do with a change in management. This may well mean it may well be a while until we see the next managerial casualty in the Championship. How refreshing.