Championship league ladder: Birmingham City up, Watford down

The Seventy Two’s Championship league ladder continues with the thoughts of Tom Leftley.

In brief, the idea will be that the table begins in the order that the Championship finished at the end of the 2010/11 season and a series of bloggers and journalists will each re-position one team further up and one team further down based on their thoughts over the summer. By the end, we will have a predicted Championship table for which we can all take some part of the blame…

Over to Tom…

One up: Birmingham City

I really don’t like Birmingham City. Born a fan of Southend United, and of football, it was written thus. Ever since they pinched Judas Iscariot (or Barry Fry, as some insist on calling him) when we were riding high in Division 1, a special sort of disgust has been reserved for the club. The sort of disgust that could only be exacerbated by that same Judas taking all our best players with him. They sent my Blues into a spiral of defeat halted only when we hit 17th position in League 2. God damn Judas Fry.

It is natural then, that Southend fans know it is good and right to hate Birmingham City Football Club. Happily, that hatred fits neatly with a hatred of turgid football, miserable fans, and the worst live experience in the football league (I can’t believe there are people willing to part with as much as £490 for twenty-three matches that all involve Birmingham City). Hating Birmingham really is very easy. So easy, in fact, that I encourage others to take it up.

That said, the idea that they’ll be anywhere other than the top echelons of the Championship this season is little more than romantic schadenfreude. Week after humdrum week, Birmingham will pick up wins against their more attractive rivals. Donnie Rovers,Southampton, Forest and others will all outplay City. But with all the inevitability and humour of a John Motson pun, Birmingham will prevail. Liam Ridgewell and whichever defenders choose to stay (or join) City will keep clean sheet after clean sheet, Barry Ferguson and friends will work tirelessly in midfield, and Cameron Jerome will inexplicably score goals. Add in the Chris Hughton factor — a manager with a hundred percent record of promotion from the Championship, lest we forget — and you have a top Championship side.

Birmingham City, for all their ills — too numerous to fully explicate here — will simply have too much quality for most of the teams in the Championship next year. The idea that a club with the structure, management, squad, and money of Birmingham City stuck in the mid-table mire seems absurd. Even with the (presumably brief) distraction of the Europa League, I expect Birmingham to go straight back up.

Birmingham City up to 2nd

One down: Watford

Malky Mackay’s brief period in charge did much to restore Watford’s reputation as a football team. Last season in particular saw a far more pleasing brand of football; Danny Graham scored just two goals less last season than the whole squad managed in their solitary season in the Premier League. Unfortunately for the Hornets, both Mackay and Graham have moved on, along with a large part of the backroom staff, and that spells trouble. New manager Sean Dyche will undoubtedly have a tough task in his first managerial post.

Promoting from within sends one of two messages, depending on what spin you’re planning on putting on it. In the words of Taylor, and other executives, it provides continuity, and an understanding of the ‘Watford way’. It worked with Mackay, they must have thought. But a more cynical eye might not have to work too hard to spot another motive for the promotion. Money is scarce at Vicarage Road, even with Graham, Mackay and others off the wage bill. Dyche is, crucially, cheap.

His appointment is nevertheless a huge gamble. Untried and untested at any level higher than youth football, he may just not have what it takes. And if he does struggle, I’m not convinced the Watford squad has enough quality to keep its head above water. The only signing of the off-season so far came in the shape of Scunthorpe’s fourth-choice centre-back on a free transfer. Inspiring, no?

And this Watford squad needs improvement in all areas. The current strike-force, for example boasts just 53 senior goals in all competitions. The quality in the Championship will be high this year — this season’s new additions include an ambitious Brighton, efficient Birmingham, and quality in the shape of West Ham. I find it hard to see Watford’s squad coping with many of the teams in this division, and it seems Watford are ripe for the second relegation that has befallen Charlton, Southampton, Leeds and the Sheffields before them.

Watford down to: 23rd

Table after Tom’s picks:

  1. Nottingham Forest
  2. Birmingham City
  3. West Ham United
  4. Leicester City
  5. Leeds United
  6. Hull City
  7. Southampton
  8. Burnley
  9. Reading
  10. Ipswich Town
  11. Cardiff City
  12. Brighton and Hove Albion
  13. Middlesbrough
  14. Blackpool
  15. Derby County
  16. Millwall
  17. Bristol City
  18. Portsmouth
  19. Barnsley
  20. Crystal Palace
  21. Peterborough United
  22. Doncaster Rovers
  23. Watford
  24. Coventry City
The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.


  1. I.Roth
    July 19, 2011

    Please cant you get over your hurt after all this time.What have we done to you? We Birmingham fans are as passionate as the next. We derided last years football served up by The one who shall be nameless. We thought Barry Fry was a laugh but for him to collect as many players as he did was ridiculous. We voiced our thoughts but the players kept rolling in. I think he bought over forty that first season. His game was to buy all the players who he thought would play well against us, whether they played for him or not. Thats not the fans fault. We like all genuine fans so why not like us.

  2. Darrenblues
    July 19, 2011

    Time To move on Southend fan don’t make excuses for your poor little club, they are just a club in existence. Birmingham however is a massive club, sleeping giant and soon to be on the way up again. We are clearly doing something right, winning the carling cup, attracting players At the top end of the championship and keeping hold of a top premeir league goalkeeper in Ben foster and future England centre half Scott Dann. Chris hughton is the man for the job, okay our football may not be the beautiful game but come next may when blues have won the championship do u really think I would care if we won the games 1 nil every time. Keep right on !!!!,

  3. J.McGuinness
    July 19, 2011

    Is it me, or do I detect a bit of sour grapes here? Listen Mr.Leftley that was quite some time ago and It may just be time to start geting over it, don’t you think? I can also say that with Hughton as boss we might actually play some football and before rubbishing that idea, remember Bolton before Coyle came along? Oh, and it’s almost become a cliché that we are some of the most passionate fans in the country, not that you’d have much expierience of that. With Southend on their own downward spiral you won´t have been in the away end much at St.Andrew’s over the last few years.
    I can honestly say I have nothing against Southend United F.C., and I hope we aren´t the only Blues celebrating come May. Good Luck for the next Season.

  4. richard
    July 19, 2011

    can’t help but agree about the style of “the Blues” – all I saw of them on live tv last year (I live in india and see matches on espn) was turgid, no attacking ideas, happy to look for a goal to come from anywhere – yes they were very sound at the back and I think curtis davies will look good again in the championship (as he did in his brief spell at leicester) – i really hope that under chris hughton they will find some flair and invention – now villa have a new manager it might be the only chance the 2nd city has of seeing some decent football

    • phil
      July 19, 2011

      how many games did you see that qualifies you to have an opinion such as this?

      • richard
        July 21, 2011

        as i used to live in birmingham and have friends there who support birmingham i tend to watch when they are on – so probably 5 or 6

  5. Scott
    July 19, 2011

    What a pointless piece of poorly researched opinion. Your comments about Birmingham are just embassing and childish, and your assessment of Watford is just innacurate.

    Your view that Sean Dyche’s lack of experience meaning he will likely mean he’ll fail is completely baseless. At this stage of his mangerial career it’s just as likely that he will succeed. Oh and for the record Mirfin was our second new signing, and we have subsequently signed three more. Oh for a bit of researched.

  6. nick poll
    July 19, 2011

    well if you feel like that about football politics, made by shareholders which have no semblence,
    or loyalty to anyone, then you are perscuting 99 percent innocennts, who have no say in these matters,
    I hope I make this point, hotkich

  7. phil
    July 19, 2011

    Grow up and build a bridge. Barry Fry?? How many years ago was that!!
    And I suppose Southend play beautiful football as you seem to be the expert in deriding the likes of Birmingham.

  8. BlueBomber
    July 19, 2011

    This is just out right lazy journalism. Would really like to know where you have got your facts from? Firstly you have mentioned that “Barry Ferguson and friends will work tirelessly in midfield”, if you had even bothered to watch the tripe that they tend to show on Sky Sports News, which is my opinion is the most readily available source of news for most football fans, you would know that Barry Ferguson has all but signed for Blackpool. Secondly you mentioned “Cameron Jerome will inexplicably score goals”, you do realize that the aforementioned player has not scored since last November and by all account’s will be plying his trade with Stoke next season? I also need to question how this league table is calculated as it does state on this article that “One up: Birmingham City” and “Birmingham City up to second” in the post. I find that very amusing as I looked at this same article last week and Blue’s were in 14th, so by the articles own admission we should only be 13th not 2nd!

    • theseventytwo
      July 19, 2011

      This site is a blog. It’s not journalism and no-one is paid for the maintenance or content so “lazy” hardly applies.

      The Ferguson thing is just because this was written last week so that’s my fault.

      The “one” in “one up” refers to a team being moved in the ladder. Not necessarily up just one place.

  9. max power
    July 19, 2011

    no one cares about southend. i never read the collum just that opening statement. but i do apreaciate blues to come 2nd though and whatever leauge scummy southend are in hope they get relegated. so keep your appinons to yourself.

  10. Paul
    July 19, 2011

    The fact that we gave you £800,000.00 for the turgid piece of crap that was Ricky Otto means you should be eternally grateful to, let alone hate us.

  11. mike
    July 19, 2011

    With all due respect to your comments, how the hell do you think us bluenoses have felt about the football we have had to watch the last five seasons or so.But really your still going on about Bazza? I take it the mighty Southend have not done anything else to talk about over the last ten years then? But considerin i at least support my local club and am definately not a glory hunter, i wish Southend and their fans all the best for the upcoming season. at least your proper supporters. its just a shame proper football fans still have to have a go at each other.apart from the vile,do not hate or despise anybody else.still funny comment about jerome.

  12. Bluenose
    July 20, 2011

    It seems you have riled us Birmingham fans and I get the impression thats mission accomplished for you. Get over the distant past and realise Birmingham are a proper club with passionate fans…if you really want to have a go at another club, maybe look at one of those where the majority of the ‘fans’ fly in to the city for the weekend. I expect you’ll finally see some attractive football coming out of The Blues next season.


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