England Championship 2012-13 Preview (Part 1)
In the England football leagues the Championship is widely regarded as the hardest league to get out of. Teams relegated from the Premiership have a massive headstart due to getting over £30million in prizemoney plus £16million in "parachute payments" over the course of two years. This money is to cushion the blow of losing massive revenue as a result of relegation. Each team in this league is capable of beating each other home and away and this makes it an exciting league and a close one too. We will take a closer look at all the teams and suggest betting tips for the upcoming season.
Championship Odds:201 . Promotion Odds:81.0 . Relegation:2.62. Top Scorer:C Dagnall 151.
Birmingham (4th/Prem/Prem/Prem) Birmingham have retained the majority of the squad who finished 4th in last years competition. Birmingham went into the playoffs strongly fancied for a quick return to the Premiership,they were thwarted at the semi final stage by Blackpool. Chris Hughton left in June to take over at Norwich, he was replaced by Lee Clarke.
Squad Analysis - Birmingham have a squad worthy of a Premiership place, Decent players in defence and midfield and the emerging talent of Jack Butland in goal. A major problem for Birmingham is keeping the young keeper as Liverpool have expressed an interest. Birmingham have a good set of strikers with Marlon King the best option. They are currently trialing central midfielder Somen Tchoyi who could be a massive player at this level. The emergence of wide man Nathan Redmond could be key for Brum, he is a very good prospect and another player that they could struggle to keep hold of.
Manager - Lee Clark is another young manager who has done well in the lower league, he guided Huddersfield to a club record 43 games unbeaten. Came under fire in some quarters as it looked like he was more interested in remaining unbeaten than actually trying to win points. Something he did refute, he is another exponent of patient passing football and had Huddersfield playing the best football in the league. He has a good crop of players and should have no problem instilling his style at St Andrews. Is a fan of 4-4-2 but has been known to play the 4-4-1-1 at times.
Championship Odds:24.0 . Promotion Odds:8.0 . Relegation:11.0. Top Scorer:M.King 21.0.
Blackburn Rovers (Prem last 4 years) Blackburn have been in the Premiership since 2001 and find themselves in turmoil both on and off the pitch. New Indian owners Venkys arrived with fanfare and promised a blaze of world class signings with trophies to follow. They failed on all counts and dropped out of the top league after a dismal season.
Squad Analysis: If Blackburn keep their squad they are on paper a formidable outfit. Colin Kazim-Richards looks likely to sign in to be added to the quality additions already added over the summer in Danny Murphy,Leon Best, Dickson Etuhu and most interestingly Nuno Gomes. Gomes joins Blackburn and arrives with three further players from the Portuguese Leagues in Fabio Nunes, Edinho Jr and Paulo Jorge. They have a huge squad and a 1st choice line up that could compete in the Premiership. They need to forget the last disastrous season in the topflight and start afresh and have a go at the Championship.
Manager - Steve Kean for me was the main reason for the poor form and play of Blackburn. He seemed to lose the dressing room with poor management. He seemed to publicly criticise players, was constantly chopping and changing the team and was setting them up in defensive formations and employing negative tactics. He was hardly helped by constant fan barrackings and the team were hammered each game too. This is counter productive and it's no wonder they lost games with players going missing. If the team starts badly they may be in for another struggle. Kean needs to attack from the start and hope that wins changes the fans attitude. He stuck with a 4-4-1-1 last year but the change of personnel could see a 4-4-2 or even a 4-3-3.
Championship Odds:13.0. Promotion Odds:5.0. Relegation:21.0. Top Scorer:Nuno Gomes 41.0.
Blackpool (5th/Prem/6th/16th) Blackpool nearly bounced back into the Premiership straight away with a near miss in the playoff final. Losing 2-1 to West Ham was deserved though as West Ham were the better side in the game and over the course of the season. Blackpool continue to over perform as they have to work within financial constraits set by charmain Oysten.
Squad Analysis - Blackpool have a huge squad pieced together using Holloway's "quantity over quality" style. Using free transfers and players from far reaches of Europe he has unearthed a few gems. Unfortunately he has been stung a few times with rank bad players. The current playing squad has a few players of Premiership quality in Ferguson, Phillips and Taylor Fletcher. He has some exciting prospects too, especially winger Tom Ince who has an excellent 1st season. Emile Heskey is expected to sign in the next few days and although his best days seem behind him he should be good enough to do well in the lower league.
Manager - Ian Holloway is an excellent man manager and motivator. His team play good football and he is not afraid to make changes to formations and tactics throughout the game. Prefers the 4-2-3-1 but again is comfortable moving to 4-3-3 depending on opponents. Has performed miracles on such a limited budget. Has made some errors in the transfer market but this is more to do with the lack of backroom team and the massive restrictions he works under.
Championship Odds:19.0. Promotion 6.50. Relegation 19.0. Top Scorer:K.Phillips 41.0
Bolton (Prem last 4 years) Bolton's run of 11 years in the top flight came to an end as they finished 1 point behind Q.P.R. Over the year they were generally poor and unravelled towards the end of the season.They have released a few players to ease the wage bill but they still have an excellent squad, one for sure capable of winning the league.
Squad Analysis - The squad is packed with Premiership quality and international players. All position are covered and they really should be challenging for the title.Zat Knight and David Wheater is an excellent central partnership. Holden and Lee in midfield would fit in most Prem teams and are complimented by Andrews,Eagles and Petrov. Up front Kevin Davies will cause problems for defenders and Sordell, Ngog and Arsenal starlet Afobe are four dangerous strikers. It really is an excellent squad, the best of the covered teams by far. If they can keep hold of these players they can win the league.
Manager - Owen Coyle trys to play football but ended up reverting to a more direct game to win points, neither tactic worked last year as they sank lower and lower. Formations were tried and disgarded throughout the season. He usually prefers the 4-4-2 but as the season wore on and games lost he tried virtually every formation going with little success. Expect to see the 4-4-2 return with Davies and Sordell unleashed on Championship defences.
Championship Odds:9.0 Promotion:3.75. Relegation:41.0. Top Scorer:M.Sordell 26.0
Brighton (10th/D1/D1/D1) Brighton season was the proverbial game of two halves, they were flying until the new year and then they started stuttering and ran out of gas. A credible debut season and a 10th finish is something for them to build on this season. Gus Poyet is another manager destined for greater things, he is happy for the time being trying to gain Premiership promotion for a Brighton team he has moulded over the last few years.
Squad - Puyol has added three top level players to the squad in Bruno, Wayne Bridge and Tomasz Kuszczak. All three players will greatly improve the fairly decent squad they already have. Vicente has rather surprising chosen to stay on at Brighton. They have several quality players,Inigo Calderon and Ashley Barnes in particular. Mackail-Smith is their only top level forward though and early indications are he is leaving. Would be a massive blow as their forward line is the teams major weakness. They need another top line scorer and losing the Scot would be catastrophic. Brighton under Poyet play the passing game and move the ball around with ease, as pointed out they need someone to finish these moves off and suffered in the second part of the season with this.
Manager - Gus Poyet and Mauricco Taricco have taken the latin style of play and somehow transplanted it into the south coast league 1 side. They entertained last year and looked a serious contender for the playoffs. They ran out of steam towards the end and finished a creditable 10th. He has managed to talk three top level players into joining the project and is actively scouring the globe for a top level striker. He prefers a 4-4-2 but has tried numerous different formations, usually returning back to the 4-4-2.
Championship Odds:19.0. Promotion 6.50. Relegation: 21.0 - Top Scorer:Mackail-Smith 34.0
Parts 2-4 to follow.