Championship league ladder: Doncaster Rovers up, Burnley down
The Seventy Two’s Championship league ladder continues with the thoughts of Andrew Harding.
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 Andrew…
One up: Doncaster Rovers
Every season they’ve proven the bookmakers and punters wrong and here we are again as Doncaster Rovers are in their fourth season of Championship football and for the fourth time they are amongst the favourites for relegation from the Championship.
Sean O’Driscoll has worked wonders at the club and their style of football has been a true credit to the division as they currently prepare for what will be their fourth consecutive year in the second tier of English football, something the club would’ve only dreamt of a decade ago when languishing in the Conference.
In stature they are arguably the smallest club in the division but O’Driscoll has made them somewhat comfortable in the second tier of English football and to do so with a progressive brand of football deserves high praise. Of course there are some who believe that if O’Driscoll was to shun this mentality on occasions then they could grind out more results but that would not happen as O’Driscoll has principles likened to Arsene Wenger in their way of encouraging the passing style of play that has been deemed attractive to footballing audiences. As is en vogue with the fashionable style of play, O’Driscoll’s principles are to be applauded and with them intact, O’Driscoll’s stock is high in the English game. The fear that he’d move on is one that can be quelled a little as he’s been given time to develop the playing ethos at Doncaster and it is something that would be unlikely to be afforded to him at a club with higher expectations.
Last season saw Doncaster do enough to maintain their Championship status and it’ll be very much same again in terms of expectations. The squad has often been derided but retains the strong team ethic imposed by O’Driscoll and such an ethic gives them an advantage over clubs whose playing identity seems in transition and those who are undecided in the identity stakes. The club would probably be more than happy with a stable and comfortable mid-table finish but what appears more likely is a year full of highs and lows before guaranteeing safety with games to spare before falling into a place close to the drop zone.
Doncaster Rovers up to 19th
One down: Burnley
It’s always been good will to the man now at the helm of Burnley, Eddie Howe, and rightly so as his achievements at Bournemouth were remarkable. The team he has inherited is a squad that has still retained a nucleus of those who tasted the Premier League for the solitary season but while experience helps when pushing for promotion but Burnley look like a team in the process of renovation. Howe is looking to put his own stamp on the team as any new boss does at a new club and the challenge he has taken by leaving Bournemouth where he could’ve had a job for life and moving out of his comfort zone to a higher level with Burnley, is admirable but appears more of a long-term that short-term progression.
Consolidation may not be such a bad thing for Burnley. Naturally all clubs dream of reaching the Premier League and the attached obscene financial riches that go with it but progress of a sudden nature can cause great disharmony in the long-term as Blackpool are likely to find out now. Burnley were clever in their use of the money obtained during their one season in the Premier League as they invested little into the team in an effort to become a club that in the future would be financial
stable within the top-flight. What stage this project is in is debatable depending on your viewpoint but Eddie Howe’s appointment can surely be used as evidence as for Burnley’s long-term plan and with this comes the unlikely nature of a sustained push in the hunt for promotion in the immediate future.
They aren’t far away from mounting a promotion push but the fans need to keep a sense of realism as recent years have been an overachievement in respect to the club. The club seems to have acknowledged this themselves and appear to be looking at achieving sustained prosperity in the future rather than immediate and brief success. Of course, they would never turn down the prospect of a return to the Premier League come the season ahead’s conclusion but missing out might just be necessary for the sustained development clubs crave yet oddly predominantly pursue via designs manipulated for instant results.
The fans like all those of all clubs have the right to dream ahead of a new season but with the long-term in mind, Burnley should be happy with a top-half finish with only mild flirtations with a play-off place.
Burnley down to: 11th
Table after Andrew’s picks:
- Nottingham Forest
- Birmingham City
- West Ham United
- Leicester City
- Leeds United
- Hull City
- Ipswich Town
- Cardiff City
- Brighton and Hove Albion
- Derby County
- Bristol City
- Doncaster Rovers
- Crystal Palace
- Peterborough United
- Coventry City