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Review of the Championship Season

Sunday 12th June 2011
This is my team by team index of how the Championship season has gone.

Barnsley

Having the ability to beat the teams around you and sometimes being able to raise the game against higher teams (Portsmouth, Forest and Leeds (home matches)) provides Barnsley with a solid base to form and means that, with some investments, they will be fine for future relegation fears but this season has been a turbulent one for Barnsley but with some good performances, they have done themselves justice in this league. With a win on the last day of the season, a new manager and some exciting new players coming in, the future looks bright for Barnsley.

Bristol City

Coming a respectable 15th after the start they had, you would say that it could be deemed a "good" season for Bristol City. After one of the managerial greats, Steve Coppell,  joined at the start of the season, England No.1 David James and with brilliant strikers in the form of Jon Stead and Nicky Maynard, you would have expected more from Bristol but it never materialised, proven by Coppell's decision to quit, after only two competitive games in charge. The season did get better once Keith Millen was put in charge but City never really got firing and if they can keep their current crop of players and maybe a few additions, they will be looking for a top ten next season.

Burnley

A top 8 finish that Burnley will be happy with. At times it looked like they were going to sneak into the play offs but form of the other teams really stopped this. With players such as Thompson and McDonald leaving you would imagine that next season they will bring in a big signing or two, to boost their chances of promotion.

Cardiff

Well, not much you can really say about Cardiff that can't be said about previous seasons of theirs. They played so well at times but ultimately had themselves to blame for not pushing on and getting into the auto spots. They always seem to run out of steam, this demonstrated by their humiliating 3-0 loss at home to Reading, a game most bookies favoured them to win. Seeing as this has now repeated itself there is no surprise change is needed with top players Burke and Bothroyd leaving on free transfers and Chopra moving to Ipswich. Not to mention the sacking of Dave Jones. It will be interesting to see who Cardiff bring in as manager and then who they bring in to fill the gaps left by Chopra and Bothroyd, could be an interesting season for them.

Coventry

I'm just going to go out there now and say that I don't agree with Coventry signing Marlon King. To me, his goals don't count and that's all I'm saying about it. Coventry would have wanted better than a 18th place finish but I think with the squad they have, it is a fair reflection. They had some good results, 2-0 win over Watford but then some poor games, losing 4-1 to Bristol City. All in all a dodgy but comfortable season for Coventry and they will need to get in some new blood quickly if they are to build on this seasons performance.

Crystal Palace

Another season of strings of poor performances followed by some magnificent displays of character and strength. You would think though, that if they can't keep hold of key players such as Ambrose and Speroni, then they are destined for League One next season. I'm sorry to say it as I really like Palace as a club but it seems that way as for large parts of this season they didn't look competitive enough.

Derby

An average season for them in which they barely made any real shocks or any real signs of promise. They seem to lack ambition when I've seen them play and the only way they can change this is with new players, which they are looking to bring in. Kilmarnock Captain Bryson has just joined Derby, a real leader and powerful man on the pitch and if reports of Nathan Tyson moving to Derby are true, then they already have a stronger team than last season. They also have some good young players coming through such as Ward and what's good for these youngsters is that Clough doesn't seem fazed to throw them in there if he sees them as good enough.

Doncaster

Finishing just above the relegation places, this is not the season that Doncaster would have wanted but with some fantastic Championship players, it is hard to see why they are there. Billy Sharp, James Coppinger and Stock are just a few of the great players Donnie have but a leaky defence and poor tactics at time have let them down. With a better defence they could be a real fighting force in the Championship as they did so not many seasons ago. P.s. Your mascot is very nice looking...

Hull City

Hull are another team that for a little bit had an outside chance of making the play offs and with players such as Matty Fryatt you can see why they have done reasonably well in the league with an 11th place finish. Apparently Hull are looking to reshape their team with a total of seven signings, which could make or break next season, I guess we will have to wait and see...

Ipswich Town

Ipswich are one of the teams in the Championship I can never get my head around because they are so suspect to errors and concentration lapses that they can be playing extremely well and then suddenly they will be 2-0 down... Having said that they put up some great performances as finishing 13th isn't a bad feat in this competative league. With players such as Chopra coming in and habouring some of the best talent in the league e.g. Wickham and Leadbitter, the future is bright for Ipswich Town.

Leeds United

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds... Well, what can I say. Whatever happened to the Leeds of old? Such a great start to the season and they seemed to make the transition into Championship life very easily. At times during the season Leeds were toying with top spot but they did "A Cardiff" and fell, it all went badly when they drew to Reading 0-0 and Forest won that same day. With players leaving Leeds you can't see them mounting a serious charge for promotion. They have got some brilliant players but none that gel into a team that would create anything spectacular.

Leicester City

Leicester are a team that I thought at the end of the season might pip into the last play off place but they ended up 10th. Leicester had a good use of the loan market, bringing in Yakubu who always looked a threat and mixing him with players already there such as King and Gallagher to make sure that the overall structure of the team was kept the same. With Sven at the helm you would have expected nice football and that is what they got and with fast flowing counter attacks that always look dangerous. However I think that there slow to get going start costed them and could have done with a better start and with one of these and some reinforcements for next season, they can be a real strong unit.

Middlesborough

A team that can play either play very well or very badly, not usually in between. With explosive players such as Lita they are always a threat and they are another team that could have done with a better start to the year. When Mowbray took over from Gordon Strachen there was apprehension but Mowbray showed his class as a manager and now Middlesborough look like a force to be reckoned with again. Once a bookies favourite but now nothing of the sort, I would say that it will be a job of 'Boro sneaking into the play-offs next year rather than taking the league by storm.

Millwall

Millwall were one of the teams that went up and like all three teams, fared very well. Acquiring James Henry in the early stages of the transfer window they looked to build a squad that would be able to compete in the league, and they did so. Having Morrison playing well was vital to Millwall and it will be interesting to see how they fair without his goals that were so vital to the team. To get 9th and an outside shot at the playoffs is a testament to the team and they should all be very proud of what they achieved. Plus little fan violence!

Norwich City

One of my favourite teams in the Championship this season and the reason why is because they were a breath of fresh air. Even when they were doing incredibly well, there was still no pressure and the fans were also behind the team, even if they were being outplayed. They did have rocky times to the season and they weren't an unbeatable force but they brought something to the league that is lacking in so many Premier League teams. Passion. You can have good players but when the quality players such as Holt, Hoolahan and Crofts have the desire to do well for the club, you have a real chance of getting somewhere. I really wish them all the best in the Premier League and I hope they do not go down. In fact, I wanted them to be crowned Champions because, in my eyes, they are Champions.

Nottingham Forest

Now as I'm writing this Billy Davies has just been sacked with Steve McLaren the front runner to replace him in the hot seat. It brings to an end a difficult season for Forest who clung on to the play offs in the end after a run of extremely poor form where they were in contention for second and then fell away. They managed to rescue it and then get beaten by the eventual winners of the play offs in the semi-finals. With a new manager and some new faces, Forest should do well next season but it never seems to happen for Forest and this season has shown that they are capable of the best but also capable of the worst.

Portsmouth

Finishing 16th you would have expected more form Portsmouth with big names such as Liam Lawrence and Dave Kitson in the ranks but they sometimes failed to play with the required determination and you could say that the effects of last season are still having a detremental effect on the club. Next season they should be able to kick on and hopefully for them, find some much needed consistency. However, it seems like change is still taking place at Pompey as no wins in the last six games of the league forced a massive 10 players to leave the club at the end of the season including Michael Brown.

Preston North End

What a terrible season for Preston. It did seem on the cards after the faults from last season and losing players etc. However if they can keep the core of the squad together then they can be back up in no time! Don't despair North End fans, there is always this video to cheer you up... (go to 1 min, 35)
Queens Park Rangers

Champions of the league and you can't argue that they haven't been the best team in the league. Power, pace and overall high morale have given QPR an amazing platform to get promoted on. Players such as Taraabt, Helguson and Hill have provided QPR with stability and consistency, both of which have been missing in previous seasons. How well will they do in the Prem? No idea, but what I do know is that they will have a good crack at it and make sure that they give themselves the best possible chance. They have rich owners, that alone should stand them in good stead.

Reading

Now it is hard not to be biased to the team I support but I don't think there is much to contest to say that some of the runs Reading have been on this season are of high quality. 8 wins in a row in the league that forced themselves into the play offs and then a run in the FA cup which ended in the Quarter Finals against Manchester City (a game Reading didn't even play that badly in) However falling at the final hurdle at Wembley in the play off final was hard to take. Swansea were the better team on the day despite an incredible comeback in the second half from Reading, pride most Reading fans will take from the game. So overall, after losing the starlet Sigurdson on at the start of the season, this was a good season for Reading. Although keeping hold of their players for this next season and achieving similar success, will be hard to do.

Scunthorpe United

After losing Hooper at the start of the season, they didn't really have much of a chance for staying up but with a win on the opening day, I'm sure they were feeling a little more positive. However as the season dragged on they struggled to pick up points and even with loan star Nunez lighting up the scene, they couldn't save themselves but I wish them all the best and hope to see them soon in the Championship and having already made headway to get straight back up this season, I'm hopeful for them.

Sheffield United

What a story it would have been is Micky Adams, life long Sheffield United fan, had saved them from relegation. It wasn't to be but they gave it a good go at saving themselves with good wins over Reading and Bristol City. Next season will be tough as they will lose the team catalysts but if they can get some new faces in, they might be able to bounce back.

Swansea

Now it is hard for me to compliment Swansea (ha ha) but in my opinion, they are the best footballing side in the division, with excellent passers and people who can finish the moves off e.g. Sinclair. They will do well to stay up in the Prem next season as they fall into the trap of doing a West Brom a couple of seasons ago and playing good football but still being beaten. However they have been good in the Championship this season and Brendan Rodgers has shown that you can play nice football in this league. Considering where Swansea have come from, promotion is a brilliant and remarkable achievement.

Watford

Last but by no means least! Watford were looking on course to challenge for play offs but a slump in form meant that they ended up finishing 14th. Graham was a sensational player for them and his goals single handedly propelled them from lower parts of the league to mid-table. He will be sorely missed and if Watford want to improve or even do as well as they did this season then they need to replace him with someone with experience. However one win in the last six games of the season wouldn't have been the most encouraging thing for Watford fans to see.

 

Thank you for reading and all comments are appreciated,

Mark Lawrence

 

 

 
Mark Lawrence
Blog about football when I have something interesting to say. Support Reading FC for better or worse (usually worse).

Total articles: 37

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