Welcome to the first part of the 2014/15 club by club previews. Hopefully I’ll have all 24 clubs finished by Friday but there’s a possibility that the annual ‘What To Expect’ post may appear first thing on Saturday morning.
All prices quoted below came from the Oddschecker website on 1st July 2014. Even if you aren’t a punter, they’re usually worth checking now and again to see how much they’ve changed.
Manager: Lee Clark (since June 2012)
Last Ten Games: 2-1-7
Fourth season in the Championship. Spent almost all of last season in the bottom ten but weren’t ever really really threatened with the drop until the last day and the question remains: are there three teams worse than them this season? On last season’s evidence, there may not be: along with Blackpool and Millwall, the Blues recorded the fewest wins of the teams that weren’t relegated and they lost as many home games as Yeovil – who were. Factor in a dreadful defence (Birmingham kept more clean sheets on the road than they did at home) and a manager who can’t be sacked for financial reasons and there’s a potential disaster waiting to happen.
Manager: Gary Bowyer (permanent manager since May 2013, de facto manager since March 2013)
Last Ten Games: 5-5-0
Third season in the Championship. Were never higher than eighth (final position) but twelve game unbeaten run as well as being mathematically able to reach the playoffs on the last day was indication of the progress that’s been made at Ewood Park. One of the reasons Rovers only had a mathematical chance of playoff glory was a terrible away defence: they conceded as many goals as Millwall and Barnsley and conceded three or more goals in nine matches: at home they kept more clean sheets than Leicester. Automatic promotion is a realistic aim.
Manager: Jose Riga (since June 2014)
Last Ten Games:2-2-6
Fourth season in the Championship. The same sort of predicament as Birmingham City, but at least the Blues didn’t find themselves having to cancel a pre-season training camp because they suppposedly only had eight players – none of whom was a goalkeeper – under contract. The Tangerines were actually top of the table in mid September, but a 17 game streak without a win between November and March saw them plummet like a stone even though they were only in the bottom three once: the statistical highlights include the joint Fewest wins of the teams that weren’t relegated (with Birmingham and Millwall), the three relegated teams scored more goals and Barnsley and Doncaster scored more goals at home than the Tangerines did. There may only be two relegation places to contest at the end of March because Blackpool may be left behind early on.
Manager: Dougie Freedman (since October 2012)
Last Ten Games:5-4-1
Third season in the Championship. A terrible start saw them bottom three until a win at Birmingham City (where else) at the start of October and the Trotters were never higher than fourteenth after that and even showed some reasonable form towards the end of the season, when it didn’t matter. Earned a reputation as draw specialists last season and although turning a couple of those ties into wins might see them briefly threaten the playoffs at some point in 2014/15, the glory years – such as they were – are well and truly over.
Manager: Eddie Howe (since October 2012)
Last Ten Games:6-6-2
Second season in the Championship, last time that they achieved that was in the late 1980s. The Cherries were the only club to score 40 or more goals at home that didn’t finish in the top six, but after a bright but inconsistent start their playoff chances were scuppered by an indifferent spell between November to February. A decent end to the season (only two defeats in their last ten) indicates they should be fine at this level again and they may even be surprise candidates for promotion. Bonus fact: haven’t been in an away goalless draw at this level since earning a point at Stoke in March 1990.
Manager: Mark Warburton (since December 2013)
Last Ten Games:4-3-3 (in League One)
First season in the second tier since 1992/93, when they were relegated after finishing a point behind Sunderland but the last time they managed two seasons at this level was in the mid 1950s. Were in the top three in League One from mid December onwards, but failed to win any of their home games against the other three sides in the top four and failed to beat three of the four relegated sides away from home. Could struggle defensively away from Griffin Park, but recent League One runners up have only been relegated once in the last ten seasons and a mid table finish wouldn’t be out of place.