Arturo Lupoli looks to revive career at Norwich City

One time Arsenal youngster Arturo Lupoli has joined Championship side Norwich City in a one-year loan deal from Fiorentina. The 21-year-old spent the majority of last season at Serie B side Treviso and despite not making an appearance for Fiorentina, is on the move again.

Arturo Lupoli does have experience at Championship level and this would have played its part in Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder making a move for the striker. He enjoyed a successful loan spell at Derby County during the 2006/2007 season when the Rams won promotion to the Premier League.

The players’ comments suggest that he is very happy to be moving back to England, speaking about the move he said that he was ‘hoping to contribute’ to a ‘great season for Norwich City’. One thing for sure is that if Arturo Lupoli fulfills some of his potential during his spell at Carrow Road, the Norwich fans are in for a treat. He is a very skilliful player with an eye for goal and I think he will shine – like he did for Derby – at Championship level.

Glenn Roeder seems to have an excellent relationship with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as it is rumoured that the Frenchman recommended Lupoli to the Norwich boss. Considering everything he has achieved in football, there are certainly worse people to take advice off than Arsene Wenger!

Glenn Roeder – who has now made seven additions to his Norwich squad – is now looking to add a ‘more physical striker’ to partner either Arturo Lupoli or last season’s top goalscorer Jamie Cureton in attack. Whoever this player turns out to be, they will be joining Ryan Bertrand, Dejan Stefanovic, Elliot Omozusi, Sammy Clingan, David Bell, Wes Hoolahan and of course Arturo Lupoli as the new signings at Carrow Road.

The Norwich squad is certainly looking stronger in my opinion. The players they shipped out in the summer included Dion Dublin and Darren Huckerby, but they are slowly building a squad that may alter the Championship football odds somewhat.

Of course time will tell how well the new set of players gel together, but after three wins out of three in pre-season; it is so far so good for Glenn Roeder’s Norwich City revolution.

Derby Must Be Favourites For Promotion To The Premier League

With the start of the Championship season less than three weeks away, there is much discussion as to who will be fighting for promotion this time around. As ever, you would be brave to bet on Championship football, given the unpredictability of the last couple of seasons. However, one team who are almost certain to be there or there abouts are Derby County.

That is my opinion anyway. It is never easy to bounce straight back to the Premier League, but the amount of signings Paul Jewell has made cannot go unnoticed. The have brought in Martin Albrechsten, Kris Commons, Rob Hulse, Nathan Ellington, Przemyslaw Kazmierczak, Jordan Stewart, Ruben Zadkovich, Paul Green, Liam Dickinson, Paul Connolly and Steve Davies. They also have former Reading midfielder John Oster on trial and are by far the busiest team in the Championship this summer.

Considering these players are being added to a squad which already contains players such as Giles Barnes, Robbie Savage, Gary Teale and Emanuel Villa – Paul Jewell is certainly putting together a strong set of players. The former Wigan boss has admitted that he wants at least two players fighting for each position. If this becomes a reality – like it is shaping up to be – the biggest challenge for Jewell will be keeping all of his players happy.

After the abysmal attempt at Premier League survival last time around, a good start to the season is crucial for Derby. They start with games against Doncaster, Bristol City, Southampton and Barnsley, meaning they will fancy their chances of topping the table come the end of August to ignite their promotion push.

So, who else will push Derby for promotion? Well, Reading and Birmingham will be fighting it out for an instant return. However, in my view, Birmingham are extremely unpredictable and Reading, having lost Dave Kitson and John Oster could struggle early on. A lot will depend on who they buy with the £5.5m they received for Kitson from Stoke.

Elsewhere, I think that Sheffield United will be strong. They finished the season excellently and will look to continue this at the beginning of this season under Ian Blackwell. Greg Halford and Sun Jihai have been brought in and I expect them to occupy a play-off spot.

Then, of course, there is the likes of Wolves, Watford, Bristol City and Crystal Palace that will be looking to go one better after just missing out last season. It is set to be another fascinating season that’s for sure. Bring on the 9th August.

Derby set to lose Kenny Miller to Rangers

It now appears almost certain that Derby County striker Kenny Miller will leave the club following their relegation the Championship. Both clubs are close to agreeing a £2m fee for the Scottish international and the move could go through in the early part of next week.

His destination? Back north of the border, this time to Rangers. This follows Miller’s move last summer when he joined Derby after a stint at Scottish Premier League Champions – Celtic. To say he can’t quite make his mind up where he wants to be is an understatement. His last five clubs now read Rangers, Wolves, Celtic, Derby and now Rangers.

The amount of signing on money he has obtained over the last few years must be staggering. The fascinating thing is that he is by no means guaranteed a place in Walter Smith’s starting eleven. He could find himself warming the bench as he watches the likes of Daniel Cousin and Kris Boyd lead the line at Ibrox.

However, it is his decision and you can’t argue with that. As a Scotsman, it would be hard to turn down the opportunity to play for either of the Old Firm teams if they come in for him. He will look forward to working with Walter Smith as well – the former Scotland boss got the best out of Miller playing for the national side. He was instrumental in the Scots almost qualifying for Euro 2008.

Kenny Miller would have presumably been a major part of Paul Jewell’s plans as Derby look to bounce back from their nightmare of a Premiership season. He had a good record at Championship level with Wolves and would have been a big player for the Rams next season. They have already lost Robert Earnshaw, another proven goal scorer at this level and will hope that Nathan Ellington can hit the net on a regular basis.

Referring back to Kenny Miller’s decision to leave Pride Park, the big thing for me is that you would bet on Championship football being more competitive than the SPL for the majority of the season. He could have been a regular starter as Derby storm the league – who knows?

However, it seems that the lure of higher wages, European football and reuniting with Walter Smith proved influential. If Derby continue in the same manner that they finished last season than, I guess, no-one can blame him for jumping ship. Just don’t be surprised if he is linked with a move to a lower Premiership or upper Championship side in January after he can’t get a game for Rangers.

Every team will be eyeing Premiership promotion

The Championship is now recognised as one of the most competitive leagues in the world. Last season reflected this in no uncertain terms. Everybody was beating everybody and instead of being described as the most competitive league, perhaps it should be known as the most unpredictable league in football.

On the final day of the 2007/08 season, everything was still up for grabs. Teams were promoted, teams made it to the play offs and teams were relegated. It was a dramatic final day that summed up the rollercoaster football season of which it concluded.

The 2008/09 season kicks off in August and is not likely to be any different. Everyone will believe they have a chance of at least a play-off place. The teams coming up include Nottingham Forest who have already signalled their intentions by splashing some cash on Robert Earnshaw. The other two arriving from League One, Doncaster and Swansea, will look to emulate Bristol City who came so close to securing back to back promotions.

Those coming down from the Premiership will obviously back themselves to bounce straight back. They all have strong squads and Derby especially have been planning for Championship football for some time now. Those who narrowly missed out in the play-offs and those who finished just outside the top six like Ipswich, Wolves and Sheffield United will be looking to go one step further next time around.

Then there is the mid-table crew who will look to record a Hull style improvement on their most recent season. Large, well supported clubs such as Coventry, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich are unlikely to be satisfied with another mediocre season. Even the likes of Burnley, Blackpool and Barnsley know that they have as good a chance as anybody if they can get a decent squad together.

Overall, I would say that you would be a brave man to bet on Championship football. Every single club will rightly believe they have an outside chance of reaching the play-offs. Last season proved that if you put a solid run of results together, you have a chance. This can still be the case if you start badly to the season – look at Crystal Palace. They came from nowhere to finish in 5th position.

Due to the high expectations of the majority of teams, I expect there to be a lot of managerial changes in the first couple of months. If things aren’t going right, the manager will be under pressure and in a Milan Mandaric style swoop – they could be given the chop.

Whatever happens, it is sure to be another thrilling Championship football season with plenty of twists and turns along the way. When these twists will occur and who they will turn in favour of though, is anyone’s guess – that’s the beauty of it. Bring it on.

Derby to sell David Jones

After paying over £1 million to Manchester United in January 2007, Derby are ready to sell the 23 year old talented midfielder David Jones.  Reports have linked him to a possible transfer to either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Preston North End, according to BBC Radio Derby.

Derby County manager Paul Jewell is apparently looking to offload up to 10 players after their poor season in the Premiership ended in releagtion to the Coca-Cola Championship.

David Jones made four appearances for Man Utd. and played for the England Under-21s before moving to Derby last year.  But he has only scored seven goals in 47 games for Derby.

With Paul Jewell at the helm Derby will be some crtitics favourites to gain automatic promotion next season, though Wolves will certainly be one of my tips.