Tag Archives: forest

Why doesn’t anybody want to get promoted to the Premier League?

Most clubs dream of promotion to the Premier League and all the perks which come with it. Great away trips to some of the top clubs in Europe, increased media attention and a huge cash injection are what most Football League fans dream of at night.

So why are Hull, Watford and Palace so intent on staying in the Championship?

Why don't clubs want to go up?

Why don’t clubs want to go up?

This weekend all three clubs lost and these are not anomalies. The chasing trio have been seriously inconsistent in recent games and none of them seem willing to take advantage of the other clubs’ unreliability. It’s almost as if they don’t want to go up.

The bizarre thing is the way all of these clubs have dragged themselves up the league to get into a position to challenge for second spot, only to lose their nerve just when they have the chance to assert their authority.

Palace, for example, had a great start to the season but the surprise departure of Dougie Freedman knocked them. As Ian Holloway got to know the club Palace lost pace with the division’s front runners.

But at the start of February they began a tremendous run, where they once again clicked, and clambered up the league. This run culminated with a magnificent 4-2 win against Hull, which appeared to signal Palace’s promotion push was ready to blow away the likes of Hull and Watford. But after this impressive result the Eagles slipped up against former manager, Neil Warnock, with a 2-2 draw at home to Leeds.

Then at the weekend Palace failed to lift themselves for the trip to arch-rivals Brighton. They were duly beaten 3-0 by the free-flowing Sussex side.

Watford’s story is similar. Just a few weeks ago Gianfranco Zola was praised on this blog for taking a group of borrowed foreigners and turning them into an elegant, attack-minded team. But just when they looked set to take the reins and pull away from the chasing pack they’ve stumbled.

They’ve now lost their last two games, firstly against a Blackpool team who have been far from spectacular (at least on the pitch) this season. Then on Saturday they travelled to relegation-threatened Barnsley and lost 1-0. Even though Barnsley have seen a resurgence since David Flitcroft was appointed manager this was still a frustrating result for Watford who are tiring at the wrong time of the season.

Hull are currently second in the Championship, but are inconsistency personified. Their last five results read:

Lost away to Bolton 4-1

Won at home against Birmingham 5-2

Lost away to Palace 4-2

Won away against Burnley 1-0

Lost at home against Nottingham Forest 2-1

At times Hull look confident, solid and goal-hungry. At other times the Tigers seem meek, vulnerable and overly conservative.

Champions-elect Cardiff now lead the league by seven points with a game in hand over the chasing pack. But Cardiff have been extremely sporting in the last few weeks, giving their rivals plenty of chances to catch them. Cardiff’s scrappy win against Wednesday was only their second in their last six games. The Bluebirds have given Hull, Watford and Palace more than enough chances to catch up and even overtake them, but they’ve failed to capitalise on the Welshmen’s slip ups.

This inconsistency presents two big problems for these three clubs.

First of all it goes without saying if they’re reluctant to snap up the second promotion spot, somebody else could sneak up on them. At the moment Nottingham Forest look the most likely option to take over. Billy Davies has transformed Forest since he took over and the brilliant victory at the KC Stadium was their sixth in a row.

They’re still eight points off Hull, but if they can keep up their scintillating form, who’s to say they too can’t snatch automatic promotion from the stumbling front runners?

The second big problem concerns the play-offs. It’s always difficult for players to raise their game for the play-offs if they’ve narrowly missed out on second, and are still depressed about it. But if they’re not in good form anyway the play-offs suddenly become a daunting proposition.

This year more than ever before we’re looking outside the current top six for potential play-off winners. There are plenty of good sides who have probably underperformed this season but could do very well in the play-offs if they can find some good form.

We’ve already discussed Forest’s good form, and even though Leicester are by now out of automatic promotion contention the Foxes have proved in the past when they are at their best they are possibly the best team in the league. If they can recapture their form from the first half of the season, they could be play-off favourites.

Likewise Brighton have underperformed in general this season but Gus Poyet’s team are big match players, and they showed on Sunday what they can do when they click. Dougie Freedman too has had an impact at Bolton and their defeat against Ipswich on Saturday was their first in nine games. They have played themselves into play-off contention.

There are just ten games remaining in the regular season, but this means there are 30 points up for grabs. These are by far the most important games of the season for teams chasing promotion, either automatically or through the play-offs.

If players and teams can’t raise their games and hold their nerves for these matches then they don’t deserve to go up.

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Do the owners of Forest and Rovers know what they’re doing?

This week saw two controversial managerial sackings in the Championship which have raised questions about the way Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest are being run.

Sean O’Driscoll, who was appointed as Nottingham Forest manager in the summer, was shown the door on Wednesday just a few hours after his team spectacularly beat Leeds 4-2. The Al-Hasawi family, who run the club, had insisted they would give the former Doncaster manager time, but with Forest a point outside the play-off spots, they changed their minds.

Meanwhile, in Lancashire, Blackburn’s owners once again displayed questionable judgement, sacking manager, Henning Berg, after just 57 days in charge. This despite giving the deeply unpopular Steve Kean two protest-filled years at the Ewood Park helm before forcing him out earlier this season.

Both Forest and Rovers are owned by vastly wealthy people, with no previous experience in football prior to their investments. And fans at both clubs are wondering, do they really know what they’re doing?

The Trent End in Forest's City Ground

The Trent End in Forest’s City Ground

Forest

Sean O’Driscoll’s sacking was met with widespread astonishment. Forest were playing entertaining football, just a point outside the play-offs, and though they hadn’t set the world alight, there were promising signs.

O’Driscoll, who had gained an army of admirers for achieving success on a budget with a stylish but unfashionable Doncaster side, was brought in with the aim of building a side in his image. He stuck to his beliefs at Forest and looked set to challenge for a spot in the top six.

But halfway through his first season, after one of the most impressive performances of his time in charge, he was shown the door by the club’s Kuwaiti owners.

Forest fans were left decidedly bemused by the sacking, and the vast majority opposed O’Driscoll’s departure. Fans claimed they could see a project in motion and a team being built inkeeping with the ideals and values of the club.

But one of the most worrying aspects of this case is O’Driscoll’s replacement.

O’Driscoll’s seat was still warm when it was announced Alex McLeish would be replacing him.

The Scotsman’s a controversial choice at a club which has always been associated with beautiful football. McLeish’s teams have tended to play an unattractive, but largely effective, long-ball style of football.

Forest’s greatest ever manager, Brian Clough, once said “If God had wanted us to play football in the sky, He’d have put grass up there.”

Not only does McLeish’s style not fit perfectly with Forest’s historic image, on the face of it at least, his direct style doesn’t fit in with the current setup.

O’Driscoll had a side which was familiar with playing patient, passing football. Are the players capable of adapting to McLeish’s more physical, negative style?

McLeish will undoubtedly be given substantial funds in the January transfer window, and he can use it to bring in players who will understand his system. But fans are worried McLeish’s appointment could go badly wrong for the club.

McLeish could take Nottingham Forest up this season, after all, he won promotion with Birmingham City in 2009.

But Big Eck’s image and his football doesn’t fit in easily with that of Nottingham Forest. The fact the Al-Hasawi family have dismissed a football purist like O’Driscoll, in favour of McLeish, shows a basic lack of understanding of the club’s culture. It’s always worrying when wealthy owners begin running the club without consideration for the club’s culture and the fans’ interests.

Blackburn

In 1931, Mahatma Gandhi visited Darwen, near Blackburn, to meet unemployed mill workers who were angry because cheap Indian cotton was undercutting their produce. The people of East Lancashire fell in love with the skinny Indian, and since then there has always been a spiritual bond between Lancashire and the subcontinent.

That was until Venky’s purchased Blackburn Rovers and started running the club in the most chaotic way imaginable. Since taking over, the owners have repeatedly broken audacious transfer promises and consistently angered the fans with outrageous decisions.

Last season’s fan protests against manager, Steve Kean, were particularly venomous, but the owners continued to back the Glaswegian. Even though Blackburn were shamefully relegated from the Premier League, Kean remained in charge for the start of the Championship, but with Rovers 3rd after eight games, Kean was bizarrely forced out.

The club then spent a whole month looking for a replacement before opting for former player, Henning Berg. The Norwegian had previously been critical of the club’s ownership, but he accepted the job, claiming he’d been convinced they had a plan for the club.

It’s unlikely the plan involved sacking Berg after 57 days in charge, but that’s just what Venky’s have done. Incredibly, after defying the fans and keeping the hapless Steve Kean for nearly two years, his replacement couldn’t manage two months.

Admittedly the Berg era has been a joke from start to finish; the football’s been dreadfully low-tempo, he’s only won once and Rovers have rapidly slipped down the table. Uninspiring Blackburn now find themselves 17th in the Championship and dropping towards the drop zone.

The Berg experiment will undoubtedly be viewed as a disaster, and another depressing chapter in the recent history of Blackburn Rovers.

The fact Berg only lasted 57 days suggests those running the club didn’t know enough about him when they appointed him, but scarier still, it suggests they have no structured plan for their football club. Fans have constantly criticised the owners for neglecting the club and allowing it to rot, and their recent activity is a further cause for supporter concern.

Kevin MacDonald will be caretaker manager at Ewood Park until the end of the season. While he is highly respected within the game, and his record as a coach stands up to scrutiny, the appointment of a caretaker for the entire second half of the season (seemingly Roman Abramovich’s invention) stinks of laziness on the part of the owners.

While Forest fans await the beginning of the McLeish era with cautious intrigue, Blackburn fans are simply dreading the next few months, hoping they can evade the drop.

The recent sackings at Forest and Blackburn are cause for concern because on the face of it they show a lack of long-term planning, and a poor understanding of the sport by the respective owners.

L’influence francophone

Aujourd’hui c’est la journée européenne des blogs multilingues. Donc pour commémorer cette journée unique j’ai décidé d’analyser l’impact des francophones sur le Championship (Div 2 anglais) cette saison. Essayez d’ignorer les fautes grammatiques s’il vous plait ; je n’écris pas en français depuis presque 6 moins.

Le Championship est un ligue multiculturel et cette saison plusieurs francophones font un grand impacte, particulièrement les jeunes francophones qui introduisent un élément de classe au ligue qui est rarement associé avec du football superbe.

 

Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace

Probablement la star des premiers moins de la saison, l’attaquant qui était née en Côte d’ Ivoire, prépare maintenant pour son premier match pour l’équipe national anglais. Le sélectionneur anglais, Roy Hodgson,  lui choisit pour encourager Zaha de commettre à l’Angleterre. Avant cette semaine le joueur de Crystal Palace annonçait qu’il désirait de représenter son pays natal, mais l’intérêt anglais a peut-être changer son avis.

Zaha quittait l’Afrique en 1999 mais il parle un peu de français.

Il a des techniques excellent et comme un des attaquants les plus vites en Angleterre il pose plusieurs problèmes aux défenseurs. Zaha a marqué 4 buts mais il a contribué plusieurs passes décisifs pour ses coéquipiers. De temps en temps il fait rager ses supporters et ses entraineurs parce qu’il peut être égoïste. Mais c’est évident que Zaha possède le talent nécessaire pour réussir dans le Premier League.

 

Anthony Knockaert – Leicester

Si Zaha est la star de la saison jusqu’à maintenant, Anthony Knockaert, 20 ans, est le grand surprise. Le jeune milieu français a rejoint Leicester de Guingamp en juillet. Il a déjà marqué un des buts de la saison contre Huddersfield et il semble très confortable dans la ligue anglaise. Knockaert était inconnu en Angleterre avant l’été dernier mais maintenant il est célèbre et quelques grands équipes comme Arsenal et Newcastle suivent son progrès.

Stylistiquement il est génial et Knockaert a donné un aspecte plus créatif aux attaques des Renards. Il m’excite beaucoup et pendant les 12 moins il jouera sans doute dans le Premier League.

 

Gaël Givet – Blackburn

Le français le plus connu dans le Championship est l’ancien défenseur de Monaco, Gaël Givet, 31 ans. L’arrière gauche joue pour Blackburn depuis 2009 et il reste un des joueurs les plus réguliers des Rovers. Dans le Premier League il montrait sa qualité supérieure dans une équipe agité. Dans le Championship son expérience est très importante parce que Blackburn a un des équipes les plus jeunes dans la ligue.

 

El-Hadji Diouf – Leeds United

Le milieu offensif sénégalais reste un des joueurs les plus controversé dans l’histoire du foot anglais. Célèbre pour cracher, pour commettre des fautes et pour énerver tout le monde. Diouf est détesté autour d’Angleterre et avant rejoindre Leeds en juillet, l’entraineur de Leeds, Neil Warnock lui appelé un rat.

Mais il est un joueur très efficace qui a une bonne technique et la capacité de marquer des buts. Cette saison il est le joueur le plus important pour Leeds, et le seul raison pourquoi ils ne sont pas menacés par la relégation. Leeds est tristement célèbre pour la violence sur le terrain et dans les tribunes, donc Diouf est parfait pour le club.

 

Bakary Sako – Wolves

La saison jusqu’à maintenant est difficile pour Wolves, qui n’a pas adapté après relégation du Premier League. Mais un des aspects positifs de la saison pour Wolves est leur nouvel attaquant, Bakary Sako. Le Parisien a marqué cinq buts pour Wolves et il est leur meilleur joueur. Il est rapide est fort, et il est naturellement commode pour le foot anglais.

Sako, qui a rejoindre Wolves l’été dernier de Saint-Etienne, est un attaquant qui peut réussir en Angleterre mais peut-être il faut qu’il quitte Wolves pour le faire.

 

Nadjim Abdou – Millwall

Il n’est pas bien-connu en France, mais Nadjim Abdou est un héros pour des supporters de Millwall. Le milieu combative a passé quatre saisons avec les londoniens. Il est un des joueurs les plus réguliers à Millwall et son détermination fait lui un des joueurs favorites des supporters. Il n’est pas un joueur spectaculaire, mais il travaille pour ses coéquipiers et il protège les défenseurs.

 

Gui Moussi et Adlène Guedioura – Nottingham Forest

Gui Moussi est un milieu français énorme et Guedioura est un milieu offensive algérien, qui était née en France. Ils ont des styles très différents mais ils sont très efficaces. Moussi est un géant défensif très fort qui protège la défense et organise le milieu. Mais il aime attaquer aussi et quand il attaque il rassemble à Yaya Toure.  À Forest il est surnommé l’orignal.

Guedioura est beaucoup plus offensive. Il est rapide et difficile à contrôler. Il est aussi capable de marquer des buts extraordinaires. De temps en temps il semble paresseux mais il est très utile. Il a représenté l’Algérie seize fois.

 

Yann Kermorgant – Charlton

Il y a deux ans Yann Kermorgant était regardé comme un échec en Angleterre. Le milieu a passé une saison peu remarquable à Leicester, et dans les éliminatoires de 2010 il a échoué une pénalité décisive et à cause de son pénalité Leicester était éliminé.

Mais depuis son transfert à Charlton le milieu a réinventé son image. Il était intégral dans la promotion de Charlton de League 1 (Div 3 anglais) la saison dernière. Maintenant il a beaucoup plus de confiance et il joue bien pour les londoniens.

 

Yannick Bolasie

Bolasie est un coéquipier de Wilfried Zaha à Crystal Palace. L’ailier lyonnais n’a jamais joué professionnellement en France, et c’est en Angleterre que ses talents sont appréciés. Avant rejoindre Palace en aout il jouait pour Plymouth et Bristol City. Bolasie est très rapide et il menace des défenseurs. Ses centrales ont contribués à beaucoup de buts cette saison, et il est un des grands raisons pourquoi Palace sont maintenant en premier dans le Championship. Il est un joueur qui a gravi les échelons et il espère de jouer dans le Premier League la saison prochaine.