Championship league ladder: Nottingham Forest up, Derby down

The Seventy Two’s Championship league ladder continues with the thoughts of James McDaid.

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 James…

If I excelled at predicting football matches, I’d be a rich man. I assure you I am not. Be that as it may, I see great value in Nottingham Forest winning the Championship at 12/1. At that price Forest are joint 4th favourites. On the other hand we have Derby County – a club I have a great fondness for having lived in Derby for a year. I had the privilege of attending Pride Park during the 2008/09 campaign, the people are great and the club has a fantastic set up topped off with a beautiful stadium. Unfortunately for the Rams Steve Bloomer will be watching them struggle again this year, but a bright future is around the corner.

One up: Nottingham Forest

It has been a twelve year hiatus from the Premier League for Forest. For the past two years they have been reaching out for the brass ring, coming agonizingly close with two consecutive semi-final play-off defeats. The first in 2010 came at the hands of Blackpool 6-4 on aggregate, the second in 2011 to Swansea 3-1 on aggregate. The Championship has seen some dominant sides in recent years (Newcastle and WBA in 2010 and QPR in 2011), which has been detrimental to the promotion of consistent league performers Forest — especially in 2010 when they finished third.

The McClaren factor:

“I want role models because the squad is relatively young…We want to set Premier League standards from the beginning and, in terms of players we bring in, ideally we would like to have that experience.”

Forest have one of the youngest squads in the Championship with an average age of 25.0 years. As mentioned the current squad are consistent championship performers, so to call them inexperienced would be foolhardy. This is where McClaren’s shrewdness and management ability will come into play. McClaren isn’t afraid to gamble in the transfer market, this point was highlighted during his spell at F.C Twente. The Umbrella overseer reigned supreme during his Dutch spell, with a Second place finish in his first season — the departures of Eljero Elia and Marko Arnautović shattered the hopes of progress for many a Twente fan. However McClaren spent well bringing in Bryan Ruiz and Miroslav Stoch, who helped guide Twente to their first championship in their history.

Andy Reid is McClaren’s first foray into the market, and the signing might not make tremors in today’s transfer landscape — but to get such experience on a free certainly is a coup for the Championship side. More experience is needed and McClaren may be the figurehead to attract Premiership quality that have a point to prove.

“To win a championship in a foreign country with foreign coaches, I think it’s made me stronger.”

McClaren believes in his management ability and his strength as a coach, which is no surprise having spent his formative years under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. He’ll want to come back fighting after his last campaign with Wolfsburg ended in his dismissal, McClaren returns to these shores with a point to prove as Forest manager.

Nottingham Forest up to: 1st

One down: Derby County

Derby County are not only local rivals to Nottingham forest, but they’re polar opposites to them in terms of expectations and philosophy for the forthcoming season. Derby’s squad has an average age of 25.3 years, almost identical to Forest’s – whereas it’s likely Forest’s average age will increase, Derby’s is likely to decline come 31st of August. Derby have signed eight players already in this window, and are looking to recruit more youthful prospects. The average age of these eight players is 24.5 years. Derby are urgently trying to build stability, and assemble a model for the future.

Derby County chief executive Tom Glick: “If there’s a young, talented player that we can add we’ll do it”

The squad may have an erratic season, with the negatives outweighing the positives, much like the previous campaign — however the foundations of a young exuberant team growing together will aid the Rams in scaling the Championship in future campaigns.

The philosophy of building upon prospects is one which mirrors Forest of three seasons ago, when they finished a lowly 19th one spot below Derby. The experience stood their young side in good stead as the reached two consecutive play-offs. Derby fans should have low expectations going into the season, they’d be right to fear relegation — however expect them to survive the drop, just. Progress will come in future seasons, the play-offs possibly only a season or two away.

Derby County down to: 21st

Table after James’s picks:

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


  1. cheekynffc
    July 7, 2011

    I have to ask James,

    Are you one of those Forest fans that is able to remain annoyingly positive, all the time? Or are you a Premier League fan who occasionally watches the Football League Show?

    Forest currently have a shell of a squad and would have difficulty naming a full compliment of 18 professionals on matchday. We need to find at least 8 more players capable of competing for a first team place before we don’t have to worry about a relegation battle and with the performance of our board during the last 3 transfer windows, finding 8 players would seem to be an idealism drawn directly from a parallel dream world to many Forest fans.

    The Sheep are at least trying to address the issues they have with their playing staff.

  2. Hucknall Ram
    July 7, 2011

    Have you based your whole prodiction on teams average age? Very strange.

  3. Burnsy
    July 7, 2011

    I am a Derby fan. I agree our signings are unproven and young, but I think that the two young unproven players last season in Bailey and Brayford were two of our best at the good and bad times in the season. I think we will improve on last year, not do worse if Clough can get out of the new lads what he got out of them. Also we signed Shackell, one of the best defenders in the league last year to play in what ought to become a very solid defense.

    Completely objectively, I think that Forest will be playoffs at best this season. With the relegated teams from the Prem and the other teams knocking on the door (Leicester, Leeds, etc), Forest’s squad doesn’t look up to it this year, even after re-signing Fat Reid. I agree with cheekynffc, they need a few more players to make it, not just a name of a manager. Let’s not forget, yes he did well at Twente, but he was sacked at Wolfsburg and did a terrible job by the looks of it.

  4. John
    July 7, 2011

    What a load of rubbish, never read such a load of tosh in my life, there’s 3 minutes of my life i’m never getting back

  5. One up, One down | 2Footed
    July 7, 2011

    […] One up, One down You can view my one up one down championship ladder article over at the 72. […]

  6. Thomas
    July 7, 2011

    You’re making a prediction on how the season not on the eve of the first game, but a month before that date, squads are no where near finished, there are still 7 weeks left in the transfer window. The basis of your prediction is the age of the clubs squad, the mantra ‘you don’t win anything with kids’ leaps to mind which was also proven wrong, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough is something that should be taken into consideration. a young team, but with experience right down the spine of the team. Barker and Shackle are 28 and 27 respectively, Tyson is 29, and Clough has expressed his desire to bring an experienced CM this summer. Also Barker has Captained both Blackpool and Derby, Shackle was Barnsley’s captain last year and Byrson was Kilmarnocks captain, so more experience and leadership there.

    Instant success is not expected by board or fans, but a significant improvement on last season is, top 12 will probably do for most, which this team with a few more signings, LB CM and ST will be able to achieve. Trying to make a prediction about next season a month before the opening game of the season makes it a much harder job than it has to be.

  7. Ollie
    July 7, 2011

    You have given no reasonable grounds for your fallacious predictions.

    If you seriously think a team with a starting central defensive partnership of Shackell and Barker are finishing 21st, you are – ill-informed at best.

    Forest will win the Championship? Ahead of West Ham, a strongly funded Leicester and Birmingham, to name three stronger squads (to date) off the top of my head? Why? Forest will need to strengthen heavily if they’ve any chance of automatic promotion and, looking from the outside at least, it doesn’t seem that Doughty is interested in doing that. Play-offs? Possibly, but there are at least a dozen clubs who will fancy their chances of making the play-offs. Including Derby.

    By the way, why is Forest’s average squad age ‘likely’ to increase? They’ve just lost Tyson (29) and Earnshaw (30), with Moussi (26) another possible departure. The players they’ve been most recently linked with include Routledge (26) and Tshabalala (26). Whilst McClaren’s stated aim is indeed to add experience, he will have to add spades of it to increase the squad age significantly, if your average squad age figure of about 25.5 is accurate. As Thomas Walker previously commented, quality is the important thing anyway and it would seem that McClaren agrees, if those two mooted signings above are anything to go by.

    It will be a really competitive league this year and the Rams have acted to ensure that they are in a much stronger position now than they were twelve months ago. They needed to. I am convinced that there will not be 20 positions between Derby and Forest by the end of the season. At this stage of pre-season, I would predict it will be more like five or six.

    If you were going to do a ‘One Down’ based on the table above, it would have to be Barnsley, who look like strong contenders for the drop. They are struggling financially and are cutting their wagebill, which prompted manager Mark Robins to leave in protest and the captain to ask for a move.

    The captain was Jason Shackell, by the way. He’s just joined Derby.

  8. Mart
    July 8, 2011

    One thing to say really about this article…

    *slams head against wall….*

    The journalist is once again using the old tactic of “Nottingham is amazing, Derby well erm….yep.”. It happens everywhere, East Mids Today, national press, government etc…An awful awful piece with an apparent non existent research.

  9. Simon
    July 8, 2011

    Cannot see my beloved forest finishing top as things stand at the minute. 9 players out, only one in. Need to get more signings under the umbrella of the city ground.

  10. james
    July 10, 2011

    Calm down people! I don’t think this is predicting Derby will finish 21st and Forest 1st at all. (As a Forest fan not even I would predict this outcome) It’s an iterative processes: IE each time a different poster will choose 1 team to go up a place and 1 to go down a place (starting from last seasons placings) and after a while the table will take shape based on fans predictions?

    Having said that I can’t understand for the life of me why Blackpool drop into 14th and Birmingham 12th, how many predictions have there been before this one??

  11. Revisiting our predicted Championship table » The Seventy Two
    December 21, 2011

    […] to the top of the tree in the first week of July and no subsequent prediction dared displace them. Revisiting the specific post that sent them to the top makes for interesting reading, with the Steve McClaren factor featuring prominently. Of course, we all now know how that […]

  12. Revisiting our predicted Championship table » The Seventy Two
    December 21, 2011

    […] to the top of the tree in the first week of July and no subsequent prediction dared displace them. Revisiting the specific post that sent them to the top makes for interesting reading, with the Steve McClaren factor featuring prominently. Of course, we all now know how that […]


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