Championship league ladder: Ipswich Town up, West Ham down

The Seventy Two’s Championship league ladder continues with the thoughts of Pat Riddell.

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 Pat…


One up: Ipswich Town

Ipswich manager Paul Jewell is rebuilding his reputation in the Championship after a torrid time at Derby County and slowly assembling an upwardly mobile squad at Portman Road after his appointment in January. Finishing a respectable 13th last season after Roy Keane’s second managerial effort left them perilously close to the relegation places, Jewell’s arrival has brought a sense of stability and hope to the club.

It’s fair to say most Ipswich fans are keen to put last season behind them — the 1-0 win over Arsenal in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final excluded — especially given Norwich’s promotion and a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of their fiercest rivals. Jewell, like Sam Allardyce, has a reputation for direct football but his style of passing football at Ipswich has been a refreshing change for fans used to Keane’s tactics, team selection and inconsistency. The sale of Connor Wickham to Sunderland, worth a potential £12million, should provide some funds to strengthen the squad and replace last season’s top scorer, captain David Norris, who departed on a free alongside Gareth McAuley and four others.

Even before Wickham’s sale, Ipswich had been linked with several big money moves and the additions of Michael Chopra, Nathan Ellington, Aaron Cresswell and Ivar Ingimarsson — with, at the time of writing, Lee Bowyer also on the verge of heading to East Anglia — should make them a force to be reckoned with this season. Further signings should follow as the final pieces of the jigsaw fit into place at Portman Road. On his appointment in January, Jewell said he expected to take two seasons to be challenging for promotion, recognising the difficulties of getting out of the Championship — so Ipswich should certainly finish higher than last season with the potential to be pushing for one of the play-off places.

Ipswich Town up to: 8th


One down: West Ham United

The appointment of Sam Allardyce might not have gone down too well with some of the Upton Park faithful — and it probably wasn’t the ‘big club’ he was hoping for (Real Madrid anyone?). But Allardyce has proven himself to be a very capable manager in all four divisions during his career with a brand of football that might not be the ‘West Ham Way’ but is pragmatic based on the funds and players available to him.

Let’s not forget that Allardyce is the man who ‘modernised football management in Britain’ (The Times’ words not mine) with his use of ProZone and a vast backroom team of psychologists, physios and masseuses. The contrast with Avram Grant — whose lack of tactics, motivation and gameplan baffled most — is stark. Big Sam’s torrid time at Newcastle (unfortunately overlapping with Mike Ashley’s disastrous takeover) will have given him experience of a club that expects to win in style. So he won’t have decided to take the job lightly but will also recognise the abundance of talent at West Ham even after the loss of 12 first team regulars (including loan players) with the likes of Scott Parker, Robert Green and Carlton Cole yet to make their inevitable exits.

As always, there is youth at Upton Park with players such as Freddie Sears, Mark Noble, James Tomkins and Jack Collison, while Jordan Spence, after a spell on loan at Bristol City, is expected to break into the first team squad this season. The signing of Kevin Nolan — who played under Allardyce at Bolton for eight years — adds some trusted steel to the midfield and the club hopes to add a further eight signings to the ranks.

For those who saw West Ham play last season, many of their basic mistakes can be easily eradicated — learning how to defend set plays, keep the back four in position, concentrating for a full 90 minutes and knowing how to kill a game (the final Premier League game at Wigan, case in point).

Making them hard to beat will be Allardyce’ s first task, winning will be a close second and the expectation for free-flowing, attacking football will follow — if he’s achieved all three by the end of the season… well, he might finally win over the fans. Make no mistake though, a game at Upton Park is going to every Championship club’s cup final this season and, with a new manager, new players and new style of football, a place in the play-offs is a more realistic proposition rather than automatic promotion.

West Ham United down to: 4th


Table after Pat’s picks:

  1. Nottingham Forest
  2. Leicester City
  3. Leeds United
  4. West Ham United
  5. Hull City
  6. Burnley
  7. Reading
  8. Ipswich Town
  9. Cardiff City
  10. Brighton and Hove Albion
  11. Middlesbrough
  12. Birmingham City
  13. Blackpool
  14. Watford
  15. Derby County
  16. Millwall
  17. Bristol City
  18. Portsmouth
  19. Barnsley
  20. Southampton
  21. Crystal Palace
  22. Peterborough United
  23. Doncaster Rovers
  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.

5 Comments

  1. mylo
    July 11, 2011

    Being a west ham fan I may show some bias but no was forrest or leeds will finish above us I’m afraid leceister and us are the strongest teams in the division I personally think we’re going to run away with the league we have a strong midfield and defence with faye and tomkins, collison noble and nolan is far to strong for the championship I feel we will do a newcastle, as for forrest I watched them a lot last year they are not good we smashed them in the cup (with a weakened team) and mclaren done well at twente but you not remember wolfsburg my top 6 would be; 1. West ham, 2. Leceister, 3. Reading, 4.leeds, 5. Notts forrest and 6. Birmingham, birmingham will struggle this season but hughton is the right man in charge they’ll nick a playoff place oh and millwall to be relegated haha

    Reply
  2. Mickey Disco
    July 11, 2011

    In the interests of disclosure, I support a Championship team but the range of our ambition is ‘outside chance of the playoffs’ to ‘not being relegated’ ;-)

    Agree with Pat about West Ham – over the last ten seasons the average finishing position in the Championship for the team that finished bottom of the Premier League the season before is 8th: in the same timeframe only three of those clubs (Leicester, Sunderland and West Brom) were promoted and only Sunderland (2005/06) won the title. Let’s also not forget it took West Ham two attempts to get out of the second tier last time they played at this level.

    Not sure what to make of Ipswich, but their form at Portman Road has to improve – only five clubs lost ten or more home games last season and three of them will be playing in League 1 this season – although their away form was slightly better than it was in 2009/10. Selling Wickham was a good business move as I don’t think he’s anywhere near the finished product. Off the top of my head: they’ll be better but may only occasionally bother the top ten.

    Reply
  3. normangunston
    July 11, 2011

    am enjoying these occasional pieces.

    as a leeds fan, also enjoying how we’ve slid up to 3rd on your predicted table without actually having been assessed by your guest pundits yet. with the big disclaimer that the majority of our transfer business is ahead of us, i’d say that assessment is generous by about 4 places.

    nothing would please me more to see west ham and leicester fall flat on their faces but at the moment they’re rightful favourites for automatic promotion. if eddie howe is as good a manager as i suspect he is, think burnley could be a dark horse in the automatic mix along with reading, forest, and brighton.

    Reply
    • David
      July 11, 2011

      Glad you’re enjoying them! Leeds seem to be putting everything together now. I don’t see Johnson as a huge loss, Brown is a good signing and Stockdale would be a superb replacement for Schmeichel.

      Reply
  4. David
    July 11, 2011

    Interesting record you state there about previous relegated teams. It may be a basic view but I just look at Allardyce, Nolan and a couple of others there who will probably stay and see a title-winning side.

    Portman Road certainly needs to be more scary to go to. It’s been a while since that has been the case.

    Reply

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