2014/15: Sky Bet Championship Review – September 2014
Issue of the Month
To be honest, this could be any month of any year, but recent events have provoked me to making comment on the thorny subject of pricing, particularly for away supporters. Ticket prices are dictated by supply and demand or are they? I am confident every one of the 24 clubs could do more to encourage people attending. The competition for bums on seats is greater than ever, television has made millions of armchair experts and a generation is in danger of being lost. I am heartily fed up of seeing games moved to midday on Saturday often at late notice with transport booked and paid for. Leeds have lost 5,000 supporters each game against Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday to satisfy TV viewing figures and it has to stop.
I made the rather bold prediction at the end of August that a not one club would occupy the same position at the end of September, I was wrong. However, only Birmingham City of the 24 teams stayed in their likely finishing position of 20th.
The accepted wisdom is that any league table takes shape after ten games or in this case eleven, but this notion can be skewed by the fixture list computer. That will never stop trigger happy Chairman or Owners to reload, aim and fire. The latest casualty being the affable Dougie Freedman at Bolton who couldn’t reverse a long sequence of poor results and exited stage left.
Watford made an enforced change due to ill health bringing the number of changes at the top to five in two months, multiply that figure until May 2015 and all twenty four Managers/Coaches will have left for pastures new. I have not included multiple sackings and appointments that will occur at my own club, Leeds United.
The top six is no great surprise other than Charlton Athletic, unbeaten and mastering the art of one goal victories under the tutelage of Bob Peeters, not an ex-Greenwich cabbie but a former Belgian International who has brought several of his countrymen to South London with immediate success. The diet of chips, mayonnaise and strong lager appears to be doing the trick.
The money still swilling about at Norwich makes them my favourites for an automatic return to the Premiership and for charging £40 on a Tuesday night for the pleasure of travelling 400 miles I won’t be sad to see the back of them. However, pressure will be immense and Delia may require another alcohol fuelled rant to galvanise the expectant Canaries. Forest and Derby won’t thank me for mentioning them in the same sentence, but I find it difficult to separate them now with both likely play-off candidates playing a brand of attacking, entertaining football that Cloughie would be proud of ‘young man’.
Middlesbrough have impressed me this season, astute additions to an under achieving squad and the perennial backing from Steve Gibson suggests better times ahead for the Smoggies, sadly their home support hasn’t yet reflected that. Watford are Watford and their impressive home form at the intimidating Vicarage Road will ensure they remain in and around the top places.
Team of the month has to be Ipswich Town, wily old fox McCarthy has the Tractor Boys rumbling down the road being a nuisance to others. The loan market is now an essential tool for lower league Managers and ‘Big Mick’ clearly uses his contacts and nous very well. I doubt they can maintain that challenge, but keep Burnley in mind, not for long though because we all know they are coming back. Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday have begun encouragingly and both would bite your hand off at a comfortable mid-table finish with the occasional flirt with the play-off positions.
My other team deserving of praise and comment is Brentford, having seen my team spanked there a couple of weeks ago I expect many others will suffer the same fate. A small dilapidated ground, vocal home support and some very useful players eager to impress make Griffin Park a tough challenge. The move to a brand new, shiny stadium will bring its financial rewards but lose the intensity of an old school ground. Might pick up a few disillusioned Fulham fans I suppose.
Bournemouth, Blackburn, Reading and Leeds all might be a little disappointed with their points haul but find themselves only 6 points off top spot on Saturday evening. The next couple of months usually see suspensions and injuries play some part and those with bigger squads have a slight advantage.
The bottom half of the Championship makes uncomfortable reading for Bolton, Blackpool and Fulham but Huddersfield’s renaissance under Chris Powell confirms a week is a long time in Football never mind Politics. Brighton are surprisingly hovering in the lower reaches and one of the best sides I’ve seen this season and won’t be there much longer I suspect.
Approaching a quarter of the season as Autumn arrives, who will be the next Club to shed the boss? Uwe Rosler has a demanding Chairman who will not want to see his Club falter for much longer, but I suspect will hold his nerve when others might not. Now we must all pause for a weekend for England to play San Marino – ridiculous! A weekend wasted and replaced by supporters travelling thousands of miles in a cold, wet winter evening to fulfil the void.
Until the next time, good luck to all. I don’t really mean that but does any Football fan genuinely wish other sides to prosper?