TTU 2010/11: Season Preview: Championship (Part Two)

Posted by on Aug 3, 2010 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

See Part One of the TTU 2010/11 Championship Season Preview here.

Middlesbrough

Headline of the Summer
‘Scottish Invasion!’ in relation to the number of players from across the border Strachan has recruited.

Ins/Outs
IN
Andrew Halliday (Livingston)
Kris Boyd (Rangers)
Nicky Bailey (Charlton)
Stephen McManus (Celtic)
Kevin Thomson (Rangers)
Tarmo Kink (Győri ETO)
OUT:
Chris Riggott (released)
Emanuel Pogatetz (Hannover 96)
Jérémie Aliadière (released)
John Johnson (Northampton)
Mido (Ajax)

Any major worries?
Gordon has rightly strengthened the spine of the team but the flanks look a little bare . More signings are promised, having been spearheaded by Estonian winger Tarmo Kink, who agreed terms just to meet our publication deadline. Goalkeeping remains a concern. Brad Jones is yet to win over major swathes of the support and Danny Coyne was signed last summer as nothing more than a back-up. Apparently, we are waiting for Jason Steele to step up to the plate. He’s going to be immense, we are told, but currently one for the future. You never know – Brad might yet surprise us all with a newfound knack for not committing howlers, but it will take some convincing.

Who owns your club? (not always as clear as you would think?)
Steve Gibson is sole owner of Middlesbrough Football Club. He heads an ‘inner core’ of three, which also includes Keith Lamb, our Chief Executive, and Gordon Strachan. I expect this is a simpler answer than you’ll get from many respondents.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Jones – McMahon, Grounds, Wheater, McManus – O’Neil, Robson, Bailey, Thomson – Boyd, McDonald

Your prediction
The promotion of those pesky winning types at Newcastle and West Brom, and the relegation of teams that are less likely to manage a quick turnaround suggest this could be our year. Most hardcore Boro fans are long in the tooth enough to appreciate that Gordon’s signings have really just replaced those who have departed since we went down, and don’t discount our proud tradition of remaining cynical and sceptical in the face of a promising campaign. That said, there’s a nice, Championship-ready look to our squad that wasn’t there at this point in 2009. We can expect grafting (apart from Kris Boyd) and a strong work ethic (except Boyd again) from the team, exactly how Strachan likes it, and a genuine seam of quality at this level might well propel us to one of the automatic spots.

Mike Baker of the now defunct but never to be bettered SmogBlog.

Millwall

Headline of the Summer
Promotion from League 1 (I’m including late May under summer). Alternatively, Kenny Jackett signs a three-year contract extension.

Ins/Outs
IN
Shaun Batt (Peterborough)
James Henry (Reading)
Kevin Lisbie (Ipswich Town, loan)
Steve Mildenhall (Southend)
Tamika Mkandawire (Leyton Orient)
Liam Trotter (Ipswich)
OUT
Adam Bolder (Burton Albion)
Ali Fuseini (released)
Dave Martin (Derby)
Jason Price (Released)
John Sullivan (Yeovil)

Any major worries?
Only a handful of the players have any meaningful experience of Championship football, and the league has changed significantly since our last stint. Some of those who won promotion may not make the transition. The club is losing roughly £5 million a year and we lack the funds to compete in the transfer market. Summer signing Shaun Batt has already booked a long stay in the physio’s room, and any further serious injuries will damage our chances.

Who owns your club?
Bear with me, as this is slightly complicated. The club is listed on the Alternative Investments Market of the London Stock Exchange, and shares are owned by several groups, investment funds, and individuals. The chairman and majority shareholder is John G. Berylson, who, via his investment vehicle Chestnut Hill Ventures, owns 28.4%. However, significant chunks are owned or controlled by Isle of Man-based property owner and hotelier Graham Ferguson Lacey, who has proved a considerable nuisance to the board and has taken no interest in the football club whatsoever. The result has been something of a Cold War between Lacey and the board, with occasional but costly skirmishes. Though, right now, we seem to be in a period of détente.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Forde – Barron, Robinson, Ward, Dunne – Schofield, Abdou, Trotter, Henry – Lisbie, Morison.

Your prediction
Some of our players will take time to adjust, and I very much doubt that we will win 17 games at home this season. To hell with `ambition’. I’d happily settle for Middle of the road.

Stanley, the two unfortunates

Norwich City

Headline of the Summer
Most probably the announcement that the key figures in last year’s promotion had signed new and improved deals. Securing Paul Lambert, his team and also chief executive David McNally is a big step in the right direction. Personally I was also very impressed by the signing of Andrew Surman, proof that there is a bit of money to be spent and that we are attracting the right type of players.

Ins/Outs
IN
Andrew Crofts (Brighton)
Elliot Ward (Coventry)
Steven Smith (Rangers)
David Fox (Colchester)
Andrew Surman (Wolves)
John Ruddy (Everton)
Simeon Jackson (Gillingham)
Academy youngsters Josh Dawkin & George Francomb have also both signed 1 year professional deals.
OUT
Rhoys Wiggins (Bournemouth)
Cody McDonald (Gillingham, loan)
Tom Adeyemi (Bradford, loan)
David Stephens (Hibernian)
Darel Russell (Released)
Michael Spillane (Brentford)
Gary Doherty (Charlton)
Jamie Cureton (Released)
Paul McVeigh (Released)
Damon Lathrope (Released)
Danny Kelly (Released)

Any major worries?
Mainly that we underestimate the step up. City fans should be under no illusion, we are in for a lot tougher season than last year. This is however a far better team than the one relegated in 2009.

There are a few murmurs of discontent regarding the right back position. Russell Martin hasn’t yet won over the Canary faithful entirely, and seems to be our only option. Many would’ve liked Michael Spillane to get a chance but instead he was sold to Brentford. Hopefully this won’t prove a mistake by Lambert, he hasn’t made many to speak of yet.

Who owns your club?
Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones remain joint majority shareholders. We have always been lucky to have people in charge for genuinely care for the club; they acted well after relegation to League One and brought in the right people to get us out.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
Lambert will most probably stick to the formation which was successful last year, giving Wes Hoolahan the free role at the tip of a midfield diamond. Injuries will probably decide who starts in central defence and attack as Grant Holt is touch and go for the opener already:

4-3-1-2: Ruddy – Martin, Drury, Nelson, Ward (or Whitbread) – Fox, Surman, Crofts – Hoolahan – Martin, Holt (or Jackson)

Your prediction
With the events of recent years we should be happy with securing championship status. The club though is on a high and the exploits of Leicester, Forest and Blackpool last season should inspire the boys. I’ll go for middle of the road, but I think we’ve got a good chance of making a big impact on this league.

Little Norwich

Nottingham Forest

Headline of the Summer
Small squad further depleted, no signings made.

Ins/Outs
INS
None…
OUTS
James Perch (Newcastle)
Joe Garner (Huddersfield, loan)

Any major worries?
Very much so; all stemming from a lack of inward transfer activity stretching back to the January window. The club seems hamstrung by the overly bureaucratic ‘transfer panel’ which is in place to protect against the second coming of David Platt. With the exception of last summer it rarely justifies itself, and the surrender of momentum in January looks like being repeated now. Even worse is that we’ve actually lost two members of the squad in Perch and Garner, and pesky rumours surround Kelvin Wilson, Nathan Tyson and Chris Cohen.

The squad is one of the smallest in the league and overachieved for long spells last season. With no left back and no cover in defence, a paucity of wingers and no quality alternative to Rob Earnshaw as a genuine goalscorer, signings have to be made, and soon. Nicky Shorey, Darren Pratley and Peter Whittingham have long been touted as targets and would add experience in key areas. Fingers remain crossed…

Who owns your club?
Chairman Nigel Doughty, a recent victim of a Twitter imposter, owns the club outright

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Camp – Cohen, Morgan, Chambers, Gunter – Majewski, McKenna, Moussi, Anderson – Blackstock, Earnshaw

Your prediction
Unless additions are made in key areas we could be looking at a disappointing ‘middle of the road’ campaign, and increasingly bitter public protests towards the board from an already agitated Billy Davies.

Nick P of the two unfortunates / twitter.com/nickparmenter

Portsmouth

Headline of the Summer
The headline of the summer is clearly the obtaining of the CVA by the administrators that has since been appealed by the HMRC. They are appealing it on the grounds that the administrator has undervalued (in their eyes) the amount owed to them by about £13m. This would give them over 25% of the debt owed by Pompey, enough to block the CVA. So there are really two possible outcomes – the court rules that the debt was correctly valued and the vote fair so HMRC lose their appeal and Pompey exit administration with no points penalty (we could also sue them for damages, especially if the appeal takes place after the transfer window closes and/or it hampers our ability to sell the club); or the court rules in favour of HMRC, Pompey are forced to sell the club in administration, thereby wiping out the debt but starting the season on minus 15 or 17 points. The other headache for Pompey is that the appeal is not likely to be heard until October, meaning the transfer embargo will remain in place until then. This means that Steve Cotterill can only sign players to a maximum of 20 in the squad. He is now assessing the youngsters in the squad to decide who to throw out to free up some room to bring in other players, most on loan. There was a rumour last week that the appeal could be brought forward to before the end of August but I’ve heard nothing more on that.

Whichever way it goes, the situation is bleak because we will have no funds to bring in additional players, even if the embargo is lifted before the end of August.

Ins/Outs
All loan players and out of contracts have left, None has come in yet (not sure the Ibrahima Sonko deal has actually gone through). Surprisingly, we are yet to sell Boateng, Nugent, Utaka, Ben Haim, Wilson, etc. Give it time.

Any major worries?
The big concern is that we do not have a team at the moment. We currently do not have a goalkeeper on our books, although it looks likely that Jamie Ashdown will get a contract to make him our No.1 (and the youngster Liam O’Brien will probably get a squad place as backup). Ashdown is a decent keeper, and will be solid in the championship. At the back, we have Aaron Mokoena and Marc Wilson to play at centre half and Hermann Hreiðarsson at left back. Joel Ward is a promising but very raw centre half and Tal Ben Haim is certain to leave as he is the top wage earner at the club. No right back at the club at all currently, so Hayden Mullins could well start there. In midfield we have Richard Hughes and Michael Brown (plus Mullins). That has the potential to be a decent core to the team at this level – Brown in particular had a strong last season. Boateng had a superb world cup and is certain to leave – if you believe the Daily Mirror, then Stoke are just about to start the bidding war. Matt Ritchie is a very promising left-sided midfielder – he had a good season on loan with Dagenham and Redbridge a couple of years ago, and he could be a stalwart in our team this season – he’s been playing left back in our friendlies. Marlon Pack is a teenager from the youth setup who also went on loan to Dagenham & Redbridge and has looked promising in the friendlies apparently. Upfront we have David Nugent – will surely leave during August; John Utaka – need to clear him off the wage bill for a fee if possible (with his contract expiring next summer); Danny Webber and Tommy Smith. The teams in the friendlies has consisted of most of the above plus youngsters and trialists.

Who owns your club?
[Deep breath] Sacha Gaydamak sold the club to Sulaiman Al Fahim last August, although it was announced (officially by the club no less) that there was a rival consortium looking at a bid just before the deal went through. This consortium was supported by the Chief Executive Peter Jackanory and was chiefly backed by Ali Al Faraj. Very quickly it became clear that Al Fahim did not have the financial backing he had claimed to have and the players were not paid in October. So a deal was struck to sell the club to Al Faraj’s consortium after all. Soon after this deal went through, Pompey were issued with a transfer embargo due to their failure to pay monies to other clubs for past transfers (the two main ones cited were Glen Johnson from Chelsea and Lassana Diarra from Arsenal, both of whom had already moved on at substantial profit). Pompey paid the players late for another couple of months and then the HMRC issued its winding up petition sometime in December. The transfer embargo was lifted temporarily at the end of January to enable us to get a few loanees and unregistered players in (Ricardo Rocha for example). In February the club was taken over by Balram Chanrai when the club defaulted on loans due to him auctioning a clause in the loan deal that gave him control of the club. There was then a very difficult period whereby we needed to either find a buyer or find the HMRC its money or face being wound up. The other alternative was to go into administration, which took place at the end of February. Now we have the CVA and are hoping to get out of admin as soon as the appeal is heard. So technically we are currently owned by the administrators who will sell the club just as soon as we get out of administration.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
Difficult to know who will come in and out during the next couple of weeks but I would guess the team will look something like this:

4-4-1-1: Ashdown – Mullins, Mokoena, Wilson, Ritchie – Smith, Hughes, Brown, Pack (or Boateng) – Utaka (or Nugent) – Webber

When you look at that 11, it actually looks like a team well capable of staying in the championship and pushing midtable. Unfortunately we have nothing underneath this 11 at all.

Your prediction
If we start the season on zero points we will be playing for 21st. If we start the season on minus 15 or more then clearly we will be down by Easter at the latest.

Rob Calver

Preston North End

Headline of the Summer
Preston Served With Winding-Up Order

Ins/Outs
IN
David Gray (Manchester United),
Matty James (Manchester United, loan)
Wayne Brown (Leicester)
Craig Morgan Peterborough)
Aristas Arestidou (Shrewsbury)
Paul Hayes (Scunthorpe)
OUT
Chris Sedgwick (Sheffield Wednesday)
Liam Chilvers (Released)
Neill Collins (Leeds United)
Michael Hart (free)
Ross Wallace (Burnley)
Youl Mawene (Released)

Any major worries?
Yes the fact that at the end of last season we were unable to pay our players as well as the taxman. We have also shifted out and brought in new players, with another four players at present still on the transfer list and not training with the first team squad. So the main worry is firstly financial and the second being on the pitch whether all the new players can gel together.

Who owns your club?
In the process of a takeover due to all the problems with the taxman. One of our major shareholders has set up a company called DPNE Holdings who are in the process of buying the club outright. The company is run by Trevor Hemmings who is a wealthy local businessman but his intentions are to get the club on an even keel before looking for potential investors.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Lonergan – Jones, St Ledger, Brown, Davidson – Treacy, Coutts, James, Parry – Hayes, Brown

Your prediction
Middle of the road. I think after all the chopping and changing over the summer if we can finish somewhere in mid-table it will be a relief.

Simon Ostadiel of PNEMad, part of the footymad.net network

Queen’s Park Rangers

Headline of the Summer
Paddy Kenny signs for QPR – The man who was banned for drinking Benylin and had an eyebrow bitten off in an altercation may yet become a cult hero at Loftus Road. A brave and solid keeper, too.

Ins/Outs
IN
Clint Hill (Crystal Palace)
Shaun Derry (Crystal Palace)
Paddy Kenny (Sheffield United)
Jamie Mackie (Plymouth Argyle)
Leon Clarke (Sheffield Wednesday)
Bradley Orr (Bristol City)
OUT
Matteo Alberti (AC Lumezzane)
Angelo Balanta (MK Dons, loan)

Any major worries?
Injuries to fans’ favourites Lee Cook and Martin Rowlands, and the end of Adel Taarabt’s loan spell may deprive the team of much of its midfield creativity. Warnock’s tendency to sign up numerous 6-ft-plus utility players from his former teams is a bit of a worry for fans of stylish football. At least it may give us a bit more solidity in a tough league.

Who owns your club?
Lakshmi Mittal, Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone – hopefully this year the spotlight will be on the players and not the owners’ shenanigans.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Kenny – Leigertwood, Connolly, Hall, Hill – Buszaky, Derry, Faurlin, Ephraim – Helguson, Clarke

Your prediction
Chasing the play-offs

Neil Higgins

Reading

Headline of the Summer
You jest. It’s been the quietist Summer for some time but a 3-1 win over former Champions League winners Red Star Belgrade in a friendly and a stroll to victory over Wolves augur well.

Ins/Outs
INS
Marcus Williams (Scunthorpe)
Andy Griffin (Stoke City)
OUTS
Marek Matejovský (Sparta Prague)
Kalifa Cissé (Bristol City)
James Henry (Millwall)
Oliver Bozanic (Central Coast Mariners)

Any major worries?
I would cautiously say few, although the club’s resurgence since Christmas was fuelled by confidence players such as Jimmy Kébé and Jobi McAnuff. If the Midas touch deserts them as it did at Watford in their last away game, Royals may be resume a path of mediocrity. Adam Federici will also make mistakes and Reading will hope these don’t occur in big games.

Who owns your club?
John Madejski – a behemoth.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
Brian McDermott has impressed with his tactics and selections; Fabio he isn’t:

4-2-3-1: Federici – Griffin, Williams, Mills, Pearce – Howard, Tabb – McAnuff, Kébé, Sigurðsson – Hunt

Your prediction
Chasing the play-offs. Saturday’s 4-2 win over League 1 favourites Southampton only confirms further that this team means business.

Lanterne Rouge, the two unfortunates

Scunthorpe United

Headline of the Summer
Hoops becomes a Hoop – it wasn’t quite the Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid move of last summer, but Gary Hooper’s move to Celtic occupied most of our summer. He completed a £2.4million move to Celtic last week.

Ins/Outs
IN
Chris Dagnall (Rochdale)
Bobby Grant (Accrington)
Michael Collins (Huddersfield)
Eddie Nolan (Preston)
Jim McNulty (Brighton, loan)
OUT
Gary Hooper (Celtic)
Grant McCann (Peterborough)
Paul Hayes (Preston)
Marcus Williams (Reading)
Ben May, Peter Winn (both released)

Any major worries?
It says something that losing our top scorer (Gary Hooper) and main creator (Paul Hayes) is not our main concern. That is keeping manager Nigel Adkins. He has performed miracles at Glanford Park, and the adage about one person not being bigger than the club is pushed to its boundaries with him. On the pitch the issue is replacing Hooper and Hayes, who between them scored the goals that kept them in the division. Chris Dagnall and Bobby Grant come highly-rated, but are being asked to step up two divisions.

Who owns your club?
The Wharton family has owned us since before we were in the league. Steve, our chairman, has a very prudent business model which means we don’t lose money but brings little hope of us “doing a Blackpool”. We’d never end up in the trouble clubs like Crystal Palace, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston have experienced this summer.

Likely starting XI on August 7
4-4-2: Murphy – Byrne, Mirfin, Jones (injury doubt, Raynes would stp in), McNulty – Thompson, Togwell , O’Connor , Woolford – Dagnall, Forte

Your prediction
Scraping the barrel, 20th would be a success given a summer in which we lost our two most creative players and are relying on young players being good enough and ready to compete in the Championship.

Luke Thornhill, Iron Bru

Sheffield United

Headline of the Summer
Paddy Kenny leaves Blades to join up with Warnock at QPR. Given Kenny’s much publicised transgressions and his 9-month ban from football, his decision to leave the Blades was met with much derision in some quarters. The club had supported him throughout his ban and he received a hero’s welcome from the fans when he returned to action. Seen by some as a Judas figure now. Our first home game is against QPR so should add some spice to the proceedings.

Ins/Outs
IN
Nyron Nosworthy (Sunderland)
Rob Kozluk (Barnsley)
Simon Walton (Plymouth, loan)
Steve Simonsen (Stoke)
Leon Britton (Swansea)
Johnny Ertl (Crystal Palace)
Daniel Bogdanović (Barnsley)
OUT
James Harper (Hull)
Sam Wedgbury (Macclesfield)
Billy Sharp (Doncaster)
Jordan Stewart (Skoda Xanthi)
Ian Bennett (Huddersfield)
Paddy Kenny (QPR)
Gary Naysmith (Huddersfield)
Kyel Reid (Charlton)

Any major worries?
Midfield seems to be a bit lightweight and many Blades are also concerned about Blackwell’s direct style of play and his ultra-defensive tactics away from home. Hopefully we’ll see more pace and width this season and a focus on winning rather than not losing.

Who owns your club?
Sheffield United is a public limited company. The chairman is Kevin McCabe and his privately owned property company the Scarborough Group International Ltd is the majority shareholder in the Blades.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Simonsen – Nosworthy, Morgan, Ertl, Taylor – Ward, Montgomery, Britton, Yeates – Bogdanovic, Cresswell

Your prediction
I reckon we’ll be challenging for a play-off spot. Though this season’s Championship appears to be the most open it’s been for a long time. There’s no one club that really stands out. It’s anyone’s for the taking. Chasing the play-offs.

Karl, Footysphere

Swansea City

Headline of the Summer
The obvious one will be the Sun breaking the news that Paulo Sousa was off to Leicester and all the speculation that followed so ‘Sousa Agrees Terms with Leicester City’

Ins/Outs
IN
Neil Taylor (Wrexham)
Scott Donnelly (Aldershot)
OUT
Leon Britton (Sheffield United)
Fede Bessone (Leeds United)

Any major worries?
Any new manager brings concern, and Rodgers is coming from a job in which he failed, so it’ll be interesting to see. He has a point to prove however, and has suggested we’ll see more attacking football-something the fans will welcome after Paulo Sousa’s emphasis on defence. The loss of Leon Britton after 7 years service, coupled with injuries to Joe Allen and Ferrie Bodde also leads to some concern in the centre of midfield, however this is an area that the new gaffer is looking to strengthen at the moment.

Who owns your club?
No single owner: a board of directors (all with the club’s best interests at heart). Ownership includes Supporter Trust representation.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-5-1: De Vries – Rangel, Tate, Monk, Williams – Cotterill, Dyer, Lopez, Orlandi, Pratley – Beattie.

The defence is almost a given, however the midfield could see Mark Gower and Cedric Van Der battling for a spot, with the striker role a battle between Beattie and Stephen Dobbie. We’re also hoping to see some new signings come in so that 11 is far from likely.

Your prediction
Middle of the road would be great but I’m quietly optimistic that we’ll be chasing a play-off spot.

Thomas Reid, Planet Swans

Watford

Headline of the Summer
Probably the approval of the share placement, underwritten by Lord Ashcroft, that ultimately sees us through the season. Gripping, huh? Also… John Eustace, every inch the gnarled midfield warrior last season, turning down Leeds to sign a new contract was a huge boost.

Ins/Outs
IN
Tom Aldred (Carlisle)
Rene Gilmartin (Walsall)
OUT
Jon Harley (Notts County)
Lewis Young (Burton Albion)
Will Hoskins (Bristol Rovers)
Richard Lee (Brentford)
Jordan Parkes (Barnet)
Jay Demerit, Lewis Young, Jonathan North (All released)
Jure Travner (St Mirren, loan),
Mat Sadler (Shrewsbury, loan)

Any major worries?
Other than the size, experience and quality of the squad, the state of the finances, the appalling pitch, the bickering board… no, we’re sorted.
On the pitch, we’ve shipped out most of our high earners, several of whom hadn’t really justified their incomes, but also lost some very effective loan signings who were regulars last season. We expect new loans to come in and replace them, but we’ll do well to match Cleverley, Lansbury and Helguson for effectiveness. We’ve got some splendid looking kids coming through, but are desperately short of both physical presence and experience.

Who owns your club?
Lord Ashcroft is the largest shareholder. Previous chairmen Graham Simpson and Jimmy Russo also hold stakes. They don’t all get on, with most supporters having taken sides the bickering between them gets echoed on messageboards and forums. This is how civil wars get started. Probably.

Likely starting XI on August 7th
4-4-2: Loach – Hodson, Doyley, Mariappa, Taylor – Bryan, Eustace, Jenkins, Cowie – Graham, Buckley

Your prediction
We’ll stay up, but not much more than that. “Scraping the barrel” if you’re asking me to choose one of the options, but I think that’s harsh. We’re living within meagre means with a board looking for new owners… getting by based on a team full of kidz would be a success, and enjoyable for it.

Matt Rowson, BHaPPY

The Two Unfortunates
The non-partisan website with an eye on the Football League

3 Comments

  1. Ben
    August 5, 2010

    Boro look to be one of the strongest sides in the division – Boyd, Thomson and Bailey should see them make at least the play-offs.

    I fancy Norwich to do well (like fellow promotees Leeds), perhaps at the expense of Forest and Swansea, both of whom look to me to have gone backwards over the summer.

    The lack of a firesale at Pompey is a bit mystifying, though it might yet materialise. Agree with Rob that their first team (as it currently stands) is decent, but any injuries or suspensions would leave them with big problems. Still, the players did well in extreme adversity last year, so perhaps they might be able to do it again? Certainly, there seemed to be bagfuls of spirit about the place, when hopelessness and fatalism might have been anticipated.

    I really fear for Watford for the reasons Matt mentions (they're unlikely to be able to borrow players of the calibre of Cleverley and Lansbury again) and also for Scunny (losing the front pairing that kept them up means things look ominous).

    And lastly, on the subject of Paddy Kenny getting his eyebrow bitten off, the best bit of the tale is that the perpetrator was a former friend who had slept with his wife. And it all happened outside a curry house in Halifax. All very Jeremy Kyle…

    Reply
  2. Stanley
    August 5, 2010

    Don't forget that Pompey's spirit was fostered by a manager since departed. As Lanterne Rouge's article of last month said, Cotterill is not the man to lead the flock back into the light.

    I would ordinarily be wary of going along with the majority view on relegation, but Scunny look doomed without Hooper and Hayes. Watford will rely heavily on a handful of players, while my prediction of mid-table obscurity for Millwall looks increasingly optimistic with every passing minute. Hopefully, just pre-season nerves…

    As for the promotion contenders, I fancy Norwich for the play-offs. Goalscorers and creativity abound, and they have recruited well. The defence is the sole question mark looming over them. Boro's Tartan Army will be in the top two. Forest are still one of the better footballing sides, even without signings, while Reading look stronger than at any point since their expulsion from the Premier League garden.

    Reply
  3. Frank Heaven
    August 5, 2010

    Promoted:
    Reading
    Nottingham Forest

    Play offs:
    Sheffield United
    Middlesbrough
    Burnley
    Norwich City

    Relegated:
    Portsmouth
    Scunthorpe United
    Watford

    I've reservations about Forest, but Billy Davies has been here before and knows what's required. On the other hand, I'm not sure Wee Strach's policy of buying Scottish will bear fruit. If there are to be any surprise packages, I fancy Donny Rovers to be on the fringe of the play-offs, if not in the actual party.

    At the other end, it's maybe a little obvious to pick Portsmouth for relegation, probably just wishful thinking on my part. Of other clubs that should be worried, Millwall look lightweight.

    Reply

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