Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool rise to the top of the Championship
James Pozzi reflects on the fifth and sixth round of Championship matches as Blackburn and Blackpool sit on top
Money does the talking as the league table takes shape
The current top six in the Championship illustrates that investment is key when attempting to get out of the division, In the automatic spots, there is Blackburn – heavily backed by parachute payments – and Blackpool, who are also still benefitting from Premier League money. Brighton, Hull, Cardiff and Huddersfield – who all picked up impressive wins this week, have also been heavily backed by millionaire owners. On the other end of the scale, particularly the bottom half, clubs struggling for money find themselves falling into those positions. Despite being early days, the old adages of money talking and the table not lying are as applicable to the Championship as they are in the Premier League.
Steady Solbakken making progress at Wolves
After a mixed start to the season, Wolverhampton Wanderer picked up a hard fought 2-1 win over Midlands rivals Leicester City on Sunday, and followed it up with a 2-0 win at Ipswich, heaping further pressure on embattled boss Paul Jewell. The Midlands club raised eyebrows when they appointed their Norwegian boss, and an influx of names from abroad cast further doubts, but it appears they are beginning to diminish as Wolves march up the table.
Tonge signing illustrates the need for investment at Leeds
After a solid start to the season, Leeds boss Neil Warnock had wanted to use the international break as an opportunity to refresh his threadbare squad with moves in the loan market. Neil Danns, Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Derry were all linked, yet the West Yorkshire club settled for Michael Tonge, a player Warnock knows from his time at Sheffield United. But having admitted Tonge – who has played just over 50 games in four seasons – was a last resort, his signing illustrates just how bare the cupboard truly is at Elland Road. With takeover talks still ongoing and supporter unrest at the actions of chairman Ken Bates growing by the week, Leeds were not helped by consecutive defeats by Cardiff and Hull. Warnock said when taking the job that it represents the most difficult challenge of his long career, a statement that looks like a real understatement right now.
Derby County could potentially emerge as a surprise package
As the division’s longest serving manager with nearly four years in charge, Nigel Clough seems to finally be putting together a competitive team for the first time in a tenure beset by budget issues, selling of star players and numerous injury problems. After battling to a 3-2 win over new boys Charlton Athletic on Tuesday after losing unluckily 1-0 away at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, the Rams now find themselves in 12th, but with a steady record so far. With new signing Richard Keogh catching the eye by filling the boots of summer departure Jason Shackell at the back, the team is looking solid and ready to match their east midlands rivals Nottingham Forest. With Eddie Howe’s struggling Burnley up next at Pride Park on Saturday, Clough will be hoping to build further momentum with a win.
Blackburn v Middlesbrough could be a thriller
Although the Friday night fixture does not read as one that will whet the appetites of purists, both sides are among the most open and attacking in the division. Both have no problem in finding the opposition net, having scored 24 goals between them already. But fans have pinpointed suspect defences as key weaknesses, so a high-scoring game looks set to be on the cards.