In this edition we take a look through the leagues and give opinion on how certain teams are performing
Is your club an A+, a passing C, must try harder D or a failing F?
It is arguably one of the most interesting years we have seen for a while. Everything is still to play for, no run away leaders, no guarantee of the usual top 4, the reigning champions are in a relegation battle!
Something can literally be said about every club in the league in regards to money spent, players available and current positions held.
It’s fair to say that Leicester are the main surprise package this season having continued the fantastic run from last season that saw them escape relegation.
Other observations such as Spurs could finally make the top 4 having been threatening for the past few years, Palace & West Ham have moved onto a new level under Pardew & Bilic respectively whilst Watford are holding their own at the top table.
A+ =Leicester City – 2nd in the league and done it in style
C = Stoke City – Signing Champions League winners and progressing well
D = Chelsea – The champions are struggling, moody players and conceding for fun this season
F = Aston Villa – £45M spent in the summer and 10 points adrift, going down
Still one of the most competitive leagues in Europe is the SkyBet Championship.
I’d suggest that the current top 4 (M’Boro, Derby, Hull & Burnley) will remain the top 4, with the just the finishing order to be decided. That only leaves 2 play off sports available for number of teams to try and sneak into.
Some “big” names still linger in this league. Wednesday, Forest and Leeds have all been away from the top for too long and harbour play off ambitions again this year.
Bolton have serious problems both on and off the field and rightly find themselves bottom, Charlton change managers as often as the weather and that does nothing for them and MK Dons along with Bristol City are struggling to adapt to the step up in league.
A+ =Middlesborough – Top of the tree and deserve promotion after last year’s playoff final defeat
C = Birmingham – 8th place and Rowett getting a tune from a mediocre squad
D = QPR – 11pts off the play offs and Hasselbaink struggling to settle
F = Charlton – Downward spiral ever since Curbishley left and look destined for League 1
I’ve always seen League 1 as a “half way league”
You’re not quite in the championship and you want to be as far away from League 2 as possible.
It also contains 5 ex Premier League teams and 2 are featured below.
Wigan have slid down to the 3rd tier since finally succumbing to relegation having miraculously escaped year after year, Gary Caldwell has the club back on the up in his 1st managerial position.
Oldham are in trouble of becoming the lowest ranked team in the Manchester area, having been in the original Premier League season. Bury and Rochdale have now overtaken them as they stare relegation to League 2 in the face.
A+ = Walsall – One of the smallest budgets in the game, lost their manager and still 2nd
C = Wigan – Gary Caldwell has steadied a sinking ship, play offs a minimum must though
D = Bradford – 10th place for the cup heroes, league is more important than some of their exploits
F = Oldham – 3rd different manager this season and only 3 wins to their name
The FA Cup 3rd round served its main purpose and showed us that there are some good teams, players and managers down there.
Wycome & Exeter held Villa & Liverpool respectively whilst Oxford and Kemar Roofe despatched Swansea.
Add into these teams Northampton, Portsmouth, Wimbledon and you have a good competitive league that doesn’t get enough coverage.
A+ =Northampton – Plenty of trouble off the pitch with money, joint top after a great run
C = Oxford – Aiming for automatic promotion with a big budget in the league, looked good in the cup
D = Luton – Too big a name to be in the bottom half, sacked John Still achieving little effect
F = Notts County – One of the world’s oldest clubs in danger of slipping out of the leagues
Looks like it’s going to be one of the closest SPL’s in years with Aberdeen and Hearts just behind Champions elect Celtic.
The remaining West Coast teams (Kilmarnock, Hamilton, Partick & Motherwell) are occupying the bottom 6 and are accompanied by a poor Dundee United team with only 2 wins all season.
Ross County and St Johnstone are defying odds with small budgets and Dundee are still moving in the right direction under Paul Hartley’s guidance.
A+ = Hearts – Kicked on from last season’s title win, certainties for top 3
C = Ross County – McIntyre has turned relegation candidates into top 6 material
D = Celtic – Should be far clear at the top due to decimating their rivals, Delia is not the man
F = Dundee United – 10pts from 21 games, bottom spot more than deserved
This is the season that most have been waiting for, Rangers are coming back to the top flight. This time it will be automatic and they won’t have to try via the Play Offs.
Falkirk & Hibs are trying to keep pace and are currently doing well but they will slip further behind as the weeks go by. Peter Houston has done incredibly at the imaginatively named Falkirk Stadium. Last year’s Scottish Cup Final appearance is proving no fluke as they sit 2nd.
St Mirren in contrast have struggled and are looking at a long stay in the 2nd tier.
A+ = Falkirk – 2nd place above Hibs and also outscoring the Edinburgh giants
C = Rangers – 16 Wins and at the top where they should be, struggle where they shouldn’t at times
D = Hibs – Should really be performing better with the players available
F = St Mirren – Disappointing since relegation and already had a change of management, 18pts so far
What grade do you think your club is currently at?
Stoke City image sourced from; www.thetelegraph.co.uk/sport/football
Oldham Athletic image sourced from; www.azurecatering.co.uk/venues/oldham-athletic
Peter Houston image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk/sport