England Championship 2012-13 (Part 2)
We carry on with our review of England Championship with part 2. We will look at team strengths and managers. We preview teams B-D and we begin with Bristol City.
Bristol City (20th/15th/10th/10th) Bristol City had a poor season with very little cheer. They went through two managers in the year for the second season running. They made a few high profile signing which never really took off, including the former England keeper David James. He made a few high profile errors and never played the 2nd half of the season.
Squad - Bristol have a relatively poor squad, The defence isn't great and they are trying to re-inforce it with the signing of Mark Wilson at right back. Which is a little strange as they are already well covered there. Centrally Louis Carey will again line up but he's getting on now and his best days are behind him. In midfield City are well stocked in wide areas with Bolasie, Adamoh and Anderson all decent wing men. Adamoh in particular is much sought after and City have fielded several inquiries from Premiership sides. Lightening quick and full of tricks Adomah has a good scoring record and has even represented Ghana twice such is his quality. Jody Morris has been brought in for the centre of midfield, he has played well in Scotland Prem but its arguably a lower level than Championship. The striking department is also a bit light on quality with only Jon Stead of any real use, a very useful forward and will get goals at this level. Kalifa Cisse is a decent defensive midfielder but has yet to return for pre season as he is at odds over the new contract he has been offered. He will be missed if he doesn't sign on.
Manager - Derek McInnes has only managed since 2007 and took over the reigns at Bristol City after the disastrous tenure of Keith Millen. McInnes joined in October and dragged them off the bottom of the table and took them 9 points clear of the relegation zone. Mcinnes spilts between 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 and his likes to spread the play. A good motivator and has the team working their socks off.
Championship Odds:81.0. Promotion 26.0. Relegation 4.33 - Top Scorer:101
Burnley (13th/8th/Prem/5th) Burnley have suffered over they last few seasons and had to reign in the spending. They have released some high earners from the Premiership years and now have a streamlined squad. They finished in 13th last year which was one of their lowest finishes in recent times.
Squad Analysis - Burnley's squad is paper thin at the moment and needs beefing up in all areas. They lost star man Jay Rodriguez over the summer in a £7Million pound move. Howe quickly replaced him with up and coming youngster Sam Vokes which is virtually a like for like swap. Manager Howe was quick to release the older squad members but replaced them with younger but not actual better players. The midfield is an ok mix with McCann and Wallace two of the better players but they have little depth. One shining light was the emergence of Charlie Austin, a real livewire forward who looked excellent last season. Burnley will have to fend of suitors as a partnership with Vokes guarentees goals.
Manager - Eddie Howe is one of the youngest managers in league football. Has a very good knowledge of the lower leagues and has a good eye for transfer bargains. Has a tough job at Burnley and started his tenure by offloading the high earners. Likes to mix it up a bit with styles and plays his formations largely dependant on opposition. Will struggle unless he brings in more quality.
Championship Odds:60.0 Promotion 13.0 Relegation 8.00 - Top Scorer:C.Austin 26.0
Cardiff (6th/4th/4th/7th) Cardiff have been one of the most consistent teams in the league and have finished in the playoff places in the last three seasons. They just cannot seem to make that final step and make the jump to the Premiership. Seeing eternal rivals Swansea do it with ease and adapt well to the top league must have been galling. They were taken over by a Malaysian businessman in 2010 after debts began piling up. His latest trick has been to "rebrand" the club and change the primary team colours from blue to red which has caused massive controvesy in Wales.
Squad Analysis - The Malaysian club owner has promised top level players and he has started to deliver with the signing of Craig Bellamy. The Welshman still has tremendous quality as seen by his star showings in the GB Olympic team. Cardiff have a very good squad at this level and if they can bring in further Premiership quality players they will be well set for a challenge at promotion. Defensively sound they want to keep Anthony Gerrard and resist Leicesters offer to buy. Mark Hudson is a solid partner for Gerrard at the back. Bo-Kyung and McPhail have done it at the highest level and the signing of central midfielder Jordan Mutch could be crucial. Upfront they have goals in Earnshaw and Helguson. They have brought in Slovenian international Etien Velikonja and he should be a good addition. One problem for Cardiff is keeping all the players happy, as they seem to have overloaded in certain positions.
Manager - Malky Mackay is another young manager just starting out in the game. Another exponent of the passing game he has his Cardiff match Liverpool for most of the game in last seasons League Cup. Has shown some loyalty to Cardiff as he resisted the lure of the Premiership and Norwich. Has stuck mainly with the 4-4-2 but found success late on in the season with a player in the hole behind the lone forward.
Championship Odds:13.0. Promotion 5.00. Relegation 21.0 - Top Scorer:E Velikonja 41.0.
Charlton Athletic (D1/D1/D1/24th) Charlton won Division 1 at a canter and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of both Norwich and Southampton who were promoted in consecutive years. Went through a turbulent few years in Division 1 after financial troubles in previous years.
Squad Analysis - Charlton have a strong side who should be comfortable in this higher division. Club captain Johnnie Jackson is a an assured left midfielder with a excellent delivery from dead balls. Free kick specialist and takes the penalties. The strike force is formidable with Bradley Wright Phillips partnering Yann Kermorgant. Phillips has a good scoring record below the Premiership and is a strong and fast forward with good finishing skills. Kermorgant is a battering ram type of forward but has really good skills and control. Regularly jostles with Jackson for free kicks as he has real quality from distance.
Manager - Chris Powell is a Charlton legend,but as a manager he has only just begun his career after a short spell coaching. Has played under some great managers such as Curbishley and Eriksson and has played international football too. Has a tendancy to keep faith with players and play the same team week in week out, reluctant to rotate his team. Has many contacts in the game and seems to have a good eye for signings bringing quality players in at key times of the season. Prefers the traditional 4-4-2 formation and likes to play a passing game.
Championship Odds:29.0. Promotion Odds:10.0. Relegation:8.00. Top Scorer:B Wright-Phillips 41.0.
Crystal Palace (17th/20th/21st/15th) Palace have struggled over the last few years with two bouts of administration. They comfortably avoided the drop last year but have not strengthened at all due to financial constraints. They will be in the lower reaches of the league for sure.
Squad Analysis - Have a very small squad and very little quality. Lost two best players in the summer in Ambrose and Clyne.Signed Wilbraham who is a decent striker but no-one else of note. The core of the team is there in Speroni in goal, he's a good keeper. McCarthey is club captain and a decent defender. Two young players who will be vital in Palace's survival efforts are Zaha and Appiah, Zaha is a very talented winger with everything going for him and Appiah is a forward with an excellent scoring record at lower league level. Manager Freeman desperately need reinforcements as the squad has little cover and is low on quality.
Manager - Dougie Freedman has only been manager for the one season after several stints as a coach. Is a Palace legend and that may help when they start losing games, he may get longer to turn things around than an "outsider" Freedman has a massive challenge on his hands to keep the team in the league, will be hoping for further additions to the squad. Plays the traditional 4-4-2 formation and likes to make the pitch wide with his attacking wingers.
Championship Odds:81.0. Promotion 26.0. Relegation 4.33. Top Scorer A.Wilbraham 67.0
Derby (13th/19th/14th/Prem) Derby have languished in the bottom half of the championship for the past three years, another club hit by financial problems. Relegation from the top flight does cause serious problems for teams, especially if they fail to bounce back up within the next two seasons. Nigel Clough has steadied the ship over the last few years and has seen improvements on and off the pitch.
Squad Analysis - Derby have trimmed the wage bill and lost a few of the high earners. Green,Shakell and Addison have left and been replaced by younger, cheaper players,but the quality has not diminished. The squad is ok but should not trouble the play off zone. Two youngsters who will go on to better things are Jeff Hendrick and Paul Coutts, both outstanding midfielders and both in their early twenties. Derby have young England keeper Frankie Fielding too, a fantastic talent. A major problem that needs addressing is their lack of forward firepower, Neither Tyson or Ward are convincing in the striking role with just four goals between them last season. Theo Robinson fared better but only managed 10 goals so will need to improve.
Manager - The Clough name resonates around Derby from years gone by. Brian brought succes now son Nigel is trying to turn around the fortunes of this great club. A short managerial career has seen Clough show signs of following in his fathers footsteps and he has shown glimpses of the old man. Very passionate and vociferous leader, he has transformed Derby with a ruthlessness. Has finally trimmed the squad down over the years from a bloated one packed with players earning ridiculous amounts and brought in a younger breed. Mainly plays attractive football through the middle and usually in the 4-4-2. Lacks goalscorers so they will struggle unless they get someone in late.
Championship Odds: 51.0 Promotion Odds:15.0.Relegation Odds:5.50. Top Scorer:T Robinson 126.0.
Parts 3-4 to follow, next up teams H-M.