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2011/12 Championship Preview

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One would expect Eriksson's Leicester to be favourites for automatic promotionIt’s been a summer of restlessness for many football fans, with no World Cup or European Championships to fill the void, and many of us having to spend more time with our loved ones!

But fear not, because on Saturday the football season is officially back underway as the three divisions of the Football League kick-off.

Over the next few days, the SFTS lads are going to be previewing the Npower Championship, League One & League Two. Today, we focus on the Championship:

Which signings have impressed you this summer?
Tony: Matthew Mills has been the stand out signing for me, I saw quite a bit of him at Reading last year and am shocked he is not a Premier League player. Kevin Nolan is obviously an impressive signing and has always worked well under Allardyce, while Craig Mackail Smith was a great buy for Poyet I’m shocked he’s not plying his trade in an already established side with genuine promotion ambitions ( no disrespect to Brighton).
Laurie: I think Mills could be the crucial piece of a heavily-invested jigsaw for Leicester, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better centre-half outside the Premier League. Mackail-Smith is definitely the coup of the summer, while Paul Jewell may have found a cracking strikeforce in Michael Chopra and Nathan Ellington.

Who will be the favourites for automatic promotion?
Tony: It is clear from the above statement that Leicester are without a doubt in my mind the CLEAR favourites for the title and it will be a travesty if they don’t come up. According to the bookies, West Ham have the same odds as Leicester for coming up but i think Leicester have a better chance because they will not have the culture shock of coming down a division. I think West Ham will come second but they won’t have things all their own way as some fans and pundits seem to think.
Laurie: Leicester would only be able to justify automatic promotion come May with their outlay this summer. The test for Sven Goran Eriksson is making sure the new arrivals gel, but with his experience in management there shouldn’t be any worries regarding this. West Ham are the other standout team, but the only thing that may work against them is that they haven’t strengthened a defence that was poor last season, with both Upson and Gabbidon going. But they have a shrewd operator in Sam Allardyce.

Who could be this season’s dark horses?
Tony: Southampton could cause some shocks if people think “they have just come up they will just be looking to survive” then surprises will be in store. They won’t challenge for the title, but they are easily capable of a mid-placed finish if not better. I’m tipping them to do the best out of the promoted sides – Peterborough still leak goals and have lost their 2 main goal threats from the last time they were in this division and Brighton for me have moved to a nw ground at the wrong time, it always takes time to settle in at a new ground and with them being new to the division they will have to settle in to that too which could prove tricky.
Laurie: Brighton are definite dark horses. A new stadium, an ambitious owner and manager, and a vibrant attacking outfit that is only strengthened by the additions of Mackail-Smith and Will Buckley. Securing the loan deal of Tresor Lua Lua is another big boost.

Who could struggle?
Tony: Doncaster are favourites for relegation every year, they are written off and every year they surprise us. I don’t think they have the quality and would tip them to go down but who knows their spirit could see them through.
Laurie: I worry about Watford, who have lost key players in Buckley and Danny Graham as well as their manager Sean Dyche, although bringing in Chris Iwelumo could be a smart deal. Coventry also struggled at the back-end of last season, and could face a difficult campaign this time around.

Who could be the player of the season?
Tony: Signing of the season is always tough to call it generally goes to a player who can find the net. If a team surprises and they have a regular scorer they will get it. If Carlton Cole adjusts to life in the Championship and doesn’t sulk my moneys on him. However, if Ipswich have a good season then I can see someone like Chopra getting it.
Laurie: Kevin Nolan got Championship Player of the Year for Newcastle 12 months ago, and if he has a similar effect with the Hammers, then his leadership abilities and goal-scoring exploits from midfield should make him a serious contender once again.

Which young player should we look out for?
Tony: I am not sure if he comes under a Young player but i think Jack Collison is an outstanding player and if injuries are kept to a minimum he could be the standout player in the whole division, I don’t think he would win player of the year because that goes to goal scorers usually but he could be a big driving force in the division.
Laurie: Last year Scott Sinclair was outstanding for Swansea as he finally began to realise his potential. This year I think Jack Cork could have a similar effect for Southampton. Already an England U-21 international, Cork will play a pivotal role for the Saints in their first season back in the Championship.

Tony’s predicted final table:
1. Leicester
2. West Ham
3. Birmingham
4. Forest
5. Cardiff
6. Hull
7. Reading
8. Ipswich
9. Leeds
10. Burnley
11. Bristol City
12. Middlesboro’
13. Blackpool
14. Southampton
15. Pompy
16. Millwall
17. Brighton
18. Derby
19. Watford
20. Coventry
21. Crystal Palace
22. Peterborough
23. Doncaster
24. Barnsley

Laurie’s predicted final table
1. Leicester
2. West Ham
3. Reading
4. Ipswich
5. Nottingham Forest
6. Leeds
7. Millwall
8. Brighton
9. Cardiff
10. Blackpool
11. Bristol City
12. Middlesboro’
13. Birmingham
14. Southampton
15. Portsmouth
16. Burnley
17. Hull
18. Doncaster
19. Barnsley
20. Derby
21. Watford
22. Coventry
23. Crystal Palace
24. Peterbrough

So what do you think? Will your team fare well this season? Let us know your thoughts.



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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. USA Dave

    August 3, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    1) To say West Ham have done nothing to improve their back line is nonsense. Five clean sheets on the spin?! And losing Gabbidon and Upson is an IMPROVEMENT! Matty is still unemployed, so clearly he isnt rated too highly. And Gabbs is injured and older. He was utter garbage last season.

    As for Leicster, I believe they will be the big disappointment. Sven does not have the stomach for the kind of fight this league will be. West Ham are to me the clear favorites.

  2. fitzy1999

    August 7, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    @USA DAVE Yes it must be fantastic having 5 clean sheets on the spin – IN PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES. I just find it a shame that West Ham couldn’t have done the same last season…

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Barnsley

Burnley v QPR live streaming: Burnley aim to end QPR’s unbeaten start as the two top sides clash at Turf Moor

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Burnley and QPR are at equal odds as the two runaway leaders clash at Turf Moor meanwhile the South Yorkshire derby could have a significant impact at the bottom of the table.

Both Burnley and QPR have been virtually unstoppable so far this season and the top two sides will meet in Lancashire knowing that the winner will end the day as the leader of the standings.

Burnley has been the side to beat in the Championship so far and the league leaders have looked almost unstoppable winning 9 out of their first 12 games this season.

Boss Sean Dyche will be boosted by the return to full fitness of Kieran Trippier who was a concern going into last week’s game aginast Ipswich but is likely to start on Saturday afternoon.

Apart from that, Burnley have virtually a full squad to choose from although Ross Wallace’s long term injury problems still put the Scotsman out of contention for as starting place.

QPR have been on fire since they were relegated from the Premier League and the second placed side are the only unbeaten team left in The Championship nearly a quarter of the way into the season.

QPR will be boosted by the return of striker Andy Johnson who has missed the last month out with a thigh injury and could come straight into the squad as a replacement for the injured Bobby Zamora.

Meanwhile, former Newcastle defender Oguchi Onyewu could make his debut for QPR as the American signed on a free deal earlier this week and could act as a replacement for the injured Nedum Onuoha.

Heading further east, there is also a lot riding in the South Yorkshire derby between Barnsley and Sheffield who are both rooted to the foot of the table in 22nd and 23rd place respectively.

Barnsley will be brimming with confidence having picked up their first win in seven games against Middlesbrough last weekend and manager Gary Flitcroft are likely to stick with the same side that picked up the three points for the relegation candidates.

Sheffield Wednesday will be without Portuguese Jose Semedo who is suspended after getting sent off against
Bolton last weekend whilst Matt Fryatt is set to make his last appearance for Wednesday before his loan spell ends at the end of the month.

With a lot riding on both games, it could mean that we see a dramatic change at both ends of the table and teams start to learn of their possible fates for the rest of the season.

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Barnsley

Championship Live Streaming: Burnley Reading highlight of online tv coupon

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The Championship continues with Derby Leeds, Burnley Reading live streaming, Brighton Nottingham Forest, Doncaster Leicester available to watch with Bet365.

The Stoke based unit has announced it is continuing its live football service, enabling punters and fans alike to watch a live stream of a match from a variety of leagues, including the Championship through the Bet365 website.

The standout tie of the afternoon sees Burnley as slight 13/10 favourites as they take on red-hot Reading in a clash between two strong promotion contenders.

The Championship Live Streaming – How to Watch

You can watch all the action this week with Bet365. Simply click here to forward to the special landing page and navigate to ‘Live Streaming’ at the top of the page and continue. You can also claim £200/€200 in free bets as you watch! Exclusive!

Both Burnley and Reading have had recent flirtations with the Premier League and both sides will be hoping to get a win at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon to boost their promotion chances.

Burnley are perhaps the most in-form side in The Championship at the moment wit the side sitting on top of the league after the first 10 games.

There have been a lot of smiles around Turf Moor as not only did Sean Dyche win the September Manager of the Month award but striker Danny Ings is sitting pretty on top of the goalscoring charts with 10 goals in 10 games.

With Dyche also facing no new injury concerns or suspension problems, it’s likely that the Burnley boss will stick with the same side that has won their last 5 games.

But Reading will arrive in just as good as form with last year’s Premier league participants keen to extend their 6 game unbeaten streak and close the gap to Burnley down to just 1 point.

The Royals will likely welcome winger Jobi McAnuff back into the side after he featured as a sub during the draw against Barnsley in mid week.

Aside from that, Reading will stick with the exact same team that has only conceded 2 goals in their unbeaten streak helping them maintain one of the best defensive records in the entire league.

Both teams though will know that they will need a good result to keep fellow rivals QPR at bay as they host bottom side Barnsley in another of the afternoon kickoffs.

QPR are looking strong favourites to make a quick return to the Premier League having won their last 5 games and are level on points at the top with a game in hand over both Leicester and Burnley.

Harry Redknapp has maintained several of their main players from their Premier League campaign with the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Rob Green having shown some consistent form throughout the past few games.

It’s been the opposite story for Barnsley though who have had a miserable start to the season and have found themelves bottom of the league with just 1 win in their first 10 games.

Having picked up their form a little bit over the past few games, Barnsley will be hoping that the likes of Chris O’Grady will be able to score more crucial goals to help The Tykes pick up any points against the larger teams.

With QPR in form and Burnley facing one of their hardest matches of the season so far, it means that the top of The Championship could look quite different come the end of Saturday afternoon.

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Accrington Stanley

A vote to kick Sepp Blatter out of football

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Surely it is now time for Sepp Blatter to step downThere comes a time in any business that heads have to roll and where football is concerned it is now high time that the FIFA President Sepp Blatter hang up his suit and tie.

Not only has he been at the centre of the most controversial issues regarding football since he became President in June 1998 but he has made so many slip ups, followed by quick apologies that he really can’t be considered to take football forward anymore. If the madness of King George is anything to go by, then the madness of Joseph Blatter, in footballing terms, has absolutely thrashed the King 7-0.

Even when Blatter was first elected in 1998 there were rumours of backhanders with some suggesting they were offer up to $100k to vote for the Swiss at the time. Under his control FIFA became a closed shop despite allegations of financial mismanagement, Blatter, as FIFA President always came out of the issue unscathed, mostly due to him being in control of the investigations.

With regards to womens football, in 2004, he even suggested that they wear tighter clothes in order to bring more male fans in to watch the sport. Add to this that he has publicly criticised referee’s displays at World Cups, criticised the EPL for allowing too many foreigners to play the game within the English game, allowed the French to join the 2010 World Cup despite there being an obvious handball leaving the Irish at home, still dismissing the fact that technology is required in the modern game, and his latest remarks that if there is racist banter between players on the pitch, a handshake at the end of the game should see that all is forgotten.

The biggest balls up of all was the latest vote on the next World Cup which was crowded with controversy and proven to have involved backhanders once again, most involved were suspended or expelled from football. Blatter? Well he was again voted in as FIFA President but did not ask for a re-vote on the 2022 Qatar Olympics despite it obviously involving so much corruption. The fact that it will be too hot during the competition is something he nor FIFA representatives really thought about at the time and now he is even suggesting it be moved to winter.

There is not really much to find that is good about Sepp Blatter and what he has done for FIFA but the facts speak for themselves. He is 75 years old, has lost the plot and has no idea about the modern game of football.

It’s time for a new FIFA President and we realise that normally it is a case of “better the devil you know” in this case we shall make a large exception and ask that a new, younger devil be brought in to replace him.

Please find time to vote below, pass on to family and friends and if we get enough votes we shall pass this on to FIFA.




Quotes made by Sepp Blatter.

“Because I love football and I love the footballers.”

On Governments aasking for FIFA to be investigated.

“If governments try to intervene in our organisation then something is wrong, I think Fifa is strong enough to deal with the problems inside Fifa. I am sure that the day after tomorrow at the congress we will prove we can solve the problems – if there are any – inside the congress.”

On Foreign players involved in club teams.

“It’s up to the national associations and their leagues to limit the entry of foreign players.”

On rich owners taking over football clubs.

“The source of wealth is from individuals with little or no history of interest in the game, who have happened upon football as a means of serving some hidden agenda.”

“What I am most proud of is the legacy of hope that FIFA and football leaves around the world. It makes all of the efforts and energy I pour into this job worth it.”

On the recent uprising of racism in football.

“I would deny it. There is no racism. There is maybe one of the players towards another – he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination.”

On the FIFA corruption and voting scandal crisis.

“Crisis? What is a crisis?

Quotes on Sepp Blatter.

PFA Chief Gordon Taylor:

“I just feel it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.When you see the corruption they’ve had at Fifa, the comments he made about homosexuals not going to Qatar, the way he talked about women’s football, the style of the arrangements for the World Cup, the fact he won’t have technology.”

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand:

“Your comments on racism are so condescending it’s almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that OK?”

Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts:

“For him to say this in public is either very honest or very foolish. I am absolutely disgusted, lost for words, I cannot believe he has said something like that with all the issues that have gone on. I am absolutely fuming.”

BBC Presenter Garth Crooks:

“Clearly Sepp Blatter is a man who’s never suffered from racism. I’m shocked and somewhat dismayed.”

SkySports Pundit Chris Kamara:

“Enough is enough. He has to go. He has overstepped the mark this time. It has to be resignation.”

“He has never been in the position of being abused for the colour of his skin. I’m an ambassador for the Kick It Out campaign. He should just be saying ‘Let’s get rid of it from the game, worldwide, so football is clean’. It is a flippant remark. Time after time he does not seem to think about what he is saying. He has no idea what goes on on a day-to-day basis. If he did, he wouldn’t have come out with that. People can’t be as ignorant as him and stick their heads in the sand.People do say things in the heat of the moment. But you can’t brush that under the carpet with a handshake. You have to take action.”

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