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 ArnautoviÄ‡ 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:
- Nottingham Forest
- West Ham United
- Leicester City
- Leeds United
- Hull City
- Cardiff City
- Brighton and Hove Albion
- Birmingham City
- Ipswich Town
- Bristol City
- Crystal Palace
- Derby County
- Peterborough United
- Doncaster Rovers
- Coventry City