Owen Coyle, who just two seasons ago was being touted for bigger Premier League jobs, has since seen his stock fall with Bolton’s relegation last season, and their poor start to life in the Championship. Currently lying just above the drop zone in 20th after crashing to a 3-1 away defeat by Steve Bruce’s Hull City yesterday, a failure to improve results could well ensure the Scot becomes the first manager to lose their job in this season’s Championship. Having joined the club where he was fondly remembered as a player from Burnley in January 2010, Coyle is long-serving by today’s short-lived standards. But with considerable parachute money for the next four seasons offset by a hefty wage bill, loss of Premier League windfall and a growing debt believed to be around £90m, owner Eddie Davis and Chairman Phil Gartside could move swiftly to save the club’s season and give any new manager the best possible chance of taking the Trotters up.
Four games in and there is surprisingly little indication of how the majority of teams will fare this season. Blackpool, who fell to their first defeat 1-0 away to a slow off the mark Leicester, remain top by a point ahead of Blackburn Rovers, who battled to an entertaining 3-3 draw away at Leeds. While no one would have been foolish enough to suggest a league as competitive as the Championship would have a runaway leader, the fact that there are no undefeated teams left after just four games is a clear illustration of how unpredictable it is. Breaking the mould are Peterborough, who in crashing to their fourth straight defeat of the season, 1-0 at Birmingham City, are looking a safe bet to be in the bottom three come next May.
Having lost Jordan Rhodes to Blackburn on deadline day, albeit for a very healthy £8m fee, Huddersfield boss Simon Grayson has moved to ensure the exit of the Terriers’ key man will be minimised. With a steady five points from the first four games after a 2-2 draw on Saturday away at Ipswich, the season could be a promising one at the Galpharm Stadium, even without the departed Scotland international. With goals from new boys Adam Clayton and James Vaughan, Grayson has brought with him the attacking mentality that worked so well during his Leeds tenure. The one question mark could be over Town’s defence, and their inability to keep leads and turn them into wins, a problem that many believe ensured the team had to go up through the playoffs rather than automatically last season.
Having touted Sheffield Wednesday as a surprise package last week, it was typical that the Owls fell to their first defeat in 19 games against Crystal Palace, who in turn picked up their first win of the season. But the defeat illustrated just how good a job Dave Jones has done since taking over earlier this year from Gary Megson. For the Eagles meanwhile, the win surely warranted a sigh of relief from boss Dougie Freedman, who having been backed in the close season and getting star man Wilfried Zaha tied down to a five-year deal, would surely be hoping for a top-half challenge this year. With both goals coming from Glenn Murray, who will be looking to better last season’s disappointed six goal tally, Palace will now be looking to climb up the table and improve on last season’s 17th-place finish.
Andy Keogh, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers last January for £500,000, netted twice yesterday in his side’s excellent 3-1 win against Middlesbrough at the New Den. Scoring either side of the half, with Liam Trotter also netting, the Lions find themselves in a healthy 10th with two wins and two defeats. Keogh, whose career record is far from prolific, has come into his own as a goal scorer since the enforced absence of team mate Darius Henderson. Having scored 10 times in 18 games last season, Millwall will hope Keogh continues last season’s rich vein of form. The striker, recently recalled to the Irish national side, will be hoping to impress manager Giovanni Trappatoni and play an integral role in a new look Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
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