Monday, 1 August 2011

Christian Brown’s npower Championship 2011/12 Preview - Part One

The Football Front’s Christian Brown in a three feature takes a look at the chances of the team’s in the npower Championship

It is well known that the npower Championship is arguably the most competitive league in the world. This as a result therefore leaves a predicament for everyone trying to predict what will happen, as you will undoubtedly be wrong. A team expected to blow the division apart will catastrophically fail, and a team that everyone assumes all the nails in the coffin have been planted will defy the odds and miraculously stay up, or even sometimes go up. This article will well and truly put my neck on the proverbial line so to speak, so let’s gingerly begin.

Club analysis

Barnsley – 2010/11 finish: 17th

Towards the end of last season, Barnsley fans may have been forgiven for feeling optimistic for the season ahead. They had survived Adam Hammill leaving for Wolves, and Barnsley secured their best finish for 5 years. Then it all turned upside down, as Mark Robins left under acrimonious circumstances, with Keith Hill coming in. Hill has a huge job on his hands, as many of those players seemed hugely loyal to Robins, and bringing in unproven Rochdale players from League 1 will not improve on 17th place. Keith Hill should have stayed at Spotland, as he’s going back the way he came. Position – 23rd

Birmingham City – 2010/11 finish: 18th (relegated from Premier League)

You have to feel for Birmingham. Conceding a 96th minute goal against Spurs and Blackburn’s inability to defend cost them a place in the Premier League, despite Birmingham winning the Carling Cup. After that kick in the private area, Alex McLeish left to take over hated rivals Aston Villa, and to rub salt in the wounds further, it now seems that as owner Carson Yeung’s assets have been frozen. The club may have to sell star players to avoid administration. Despite this however, Birmingham have a lot of strength in depth, such as teen sensation Jordon Mutch, and while this may not be the instant return they hoped for under new boss Chris Houghton, they’ll push it right to the wire. Position – 7th

Blackpool – 2010/11 finish: 19th (relegated from Premier League)

And so, rather ironically, the fairy tale dream of Premier League survival for Blackpool ended at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ that is Old Trafford. In some ways, this is a blessing. The inevitable exit of Charlie Adam would have meant that they’d have perhaps broken Derby’s dismal record of 11 points if they’d stayed up, as Adam ran the show for Blackpool. The problem Ian Holloway has to address now is how to replace him in a league below. The fact is you can’t replace a player of that much quality, although the experienced head of new arrival Barry Ferguson will help...but still won’t be enough for the Seasiders to bounce back at first attempt. Position – 12th

Brighton & Hove Albion – 2010/11 finish: 1st (promoted as champions from League One)

So Brighton return to the Championship after a 5 year absence, but what can we expect from them? Can they do a Norwich’ and finish second? Or in typical Brighton style, end up requiring a miracle to stay up on the final day? The way their pre season started, it seemed the latter would be occurring, as top scorer Glenn Murray and top assist leader Elliot Bennett departed the club, joining Crystal Palace and Norwich respectively. These players have been replaced however, notably Murray with Mackail-Smith from Peterborough. If he can get a partnership with fellow new recruit Will Hoskins and if Buckley can do half as good a job as Bennett did last year, then Brighton will do neither of the scenarios – but will stay up comfortably. Position – 18th

Bristol City – 2010/11 finish: 15th

Bristol City. The team who were supposed to set the league alight last season. Well they didn’t. There are numerous factors for this, the notable ones being that as good a goalkeeper David James is, he’s not a defence on his own. While upfront, Nicky Maynard got injured. However, this season they have Maynard back now, the question is whether he’ll be playing with the same commitment as to when he first joined. Maynard may have perhaps had his head turned by the intensifying interest shown in him by bigger clubs. To make things more unsettling, Maynard has one year left to run on his contract. This only increases speculation; speculation that will affect him, and therefore the team. Position – 14th

Burnley – 2010/11 finish: 8th

Owen Coyle may have been hated before by the Burnley fans for leaving the club on the lurch. While Burnley got relegated and failed to achieve promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt. However, the degree of hate will have increased now. Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears, 2 crucial cogs in Burnley’s ‘machine’, have joined Coyle’s Bolton. Eddie Howe will now have his work cut out, as his best winger and best full back have gone – with little time to find a suitable replacement for both. It looks like it’s going to be a long season ahead for Clarets fans. Position – 15th

Cardiff City – 2010/11 finish: 4th

Last season’s failure in the play offs meant that Cardiff had ‘bottled it’ for the third time in three years. It was a failure which cost Dave Jones his job. Initially the doom and gloom stayed around the club for a while, with key players such as Jay Bothroyd leaving. But now, Malky Mackay has taken over, and replaced the departing players with arguably better players. The additions of Don Cowie and Kenny Miller signify ambition, but it’s the return of Bluebirds hero Robbie Earnshaw that has reinstalled the faith. There is still a very strong possibility a certain talisman named Craig Bellamy may return to the club...a strong season ahead. Position – 3rd

Coventry City – 2010/11 finish: 18th

One my main memories of Coventry City is when they got relegated from the Premier League. One fan had a banner reading “We’ll be back”. They still haven’t returned, and they definitely won’t return this year – or the one after. The Sky Blues have been involved in the most disastrous summer imaginable, with three quarters of their spine (Westwood, Crainie, Gunnarsson and King) all leaving, with only Crainie remaining at the club. City fans know all too well the importance Westwood and King in particular, and their departures will have hurt the club a lot. Andy Thorn will have no chance unfortunately, but it’s not his fault. Position – 22nd

Part Two will be available on Tuesday 2nd August

This piece was written by Christian Brown, you can follow him on his Twitter - @Chris78901, Chris also writes for The Sports Pallet too. All of Chris' work is on his blog, 1-chris78901.

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1 comment:

  1. Barnsley will finish top 6, mark my words. Birmingham will be surprise strugglers, they're facing financial meltdown.


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