Blackpool early promotion favourites as Birmingham toil in Championship
James Pozzi reflects on the second round of the Championship matches as Blackpool cement their position at the top of the table
Blackpool are emerging as the team to beat
After winning comfortably at Millwall on Saturday, Blackpool brushed aside Neil Warnock’s Leeds United – impressive in their 1-0 victory over Wolves on Saturday – 2-1 at Bloomfield Road to take them top of the table. The scoreline flattered the visitors, who went a goal up through Tom Lees. But two goals in the last 15 minutes from new French signing Nouha Dicko and the highly-rated Thomas Ince gave the home side a deserved victory. Based on their domination of possession and 20 shots on targets to the visitor’s five, Warnock’s side will count themselves lucky to have avoided a drubbing, while Ian Holloway’s Seasiders will hope to continue their good form against Ipswich on Saturday.
Questions may arise over Clark and the Birmingham job
Despite being just a few days into the new season, the manner in which Birmingham succumbed to a 3-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday will alarm their supporters. Despite having the best of the action, late goals from Nikola Zigic and Marlon King were not enough to salvage anything from the match as The Owls picked up their first win of the season. Already wary of the financial crisis that has engulfed the Blues for the last year, new boss Lee Clark has acquired some impressive signings for cheap fees – most notably Darren Ambrose for just £250,000 – and the squad looks competitive on paper. But doubts over Clark’s relative inexperience and track record could be raised further should his side not be in contention at the top of the table within the next month.
Barnsley & Crystal Palace’s look set for a season of struggle
Barnsley and Crystal Palace showed little to dispel their pre-season tags as relegation favourites as both crashed to convincing defeats. Keith Hill’s men were soundly beaten 3-1 away at Wolverhampton Wanderers, while The Eagles crashed to their second successive loss, with a 4-1 drubbing at unfancied Bristol City. Having done so well to defy expectations last season with a comfortable mid-table finish, rookie manager Dougie Freedman will be looking to address his side’s bad start to the season. With other relegation favourites Peterborough also falling 2-1 at home to Millwall, it is conceivable that all three clubs could end up in the dreaded relegation dogfight this season.
O’Driscoll looks the right man for Nottingham Forest
Far from being the big name appointment initially touted by Nottingham Forest’s new Kuwaiti owners, Sean O’Driscoll could turn out to be one of the summer’s most astute appointments. The former Doncaster Manager, who returned to the City Ground where he served as assistant manager before the briefest of spells at Crawley Town, is an undoubtedly low key but reassuringly solid appointment. Getting a 1-1 draw away at newly promoted Huddersfield, O’Driscoll’s managerial experience could be what the two-time European Cup winners require as they aim to end a 13 year exile from the Premier League.
Expect Bradley Wright-Phillips to continue goal scoring form
Off the mark for the season in Charlton’s 2-1 win over Leicester City, the former Southampton striker topped the goal scoring charts in his side’s League One title-winning season last year. With Manager Chris Powell only making relatively minor changes to his team this season and with an undefeated Addicks carrying forward their winning mentality, expect Wright-Phillips to flourish in the same fashion as last time round. And going with the idea that promoted teams carry their momentum onwards into the new season, The Addicks are by no means a bad shout for playoff contenders.