Paul Jewell given vote of confidence by Derby County

After securing his first league win as Derby County, Paul Jewell has been told that his job is secure by Tom Glick, the club’s chief executive. This ‘vote of confidence’ comes after plenty of speculation surrounding the former Wigan man’s future.

Derby earned their first league victory in 10 months by beating Sheffield United 2-1 on Saturday. This meant they avoided the unwanted record of going a whole year without a victory. They will now be hoping it will kick start their season and they can start winning games on a more regular basis. The fans will certainly not want to wait another 10 months for the next victory.

It now seems that Paul Jewell is the man that will continue to lead Derby into the future, despite the horrific run of games without a win before Saturday’s success. Tom Glick says that the Rams boss is ‘the man for the job’ and is excited about the team he has put together.

The Coca-Cola Championship Football League odds at the beginning of the season were backing Derby for promotion and although this has changed somewhat after their poor start to the season, they will still want to be towards the top of the Championship by May next year.

Paul Jewell will know that one win doesn’t change everything though – they need to continue to win games in the coming weeks to restore belief amongst the players and fans. The next test for Derby comes tonight against Swansea City at The Liberty Stadium.

Will Birmingham win the Championship?

Last season’s Coca-Cola Championship race was closer than ever.  After Watford sprinting off to what seemed like an uncatchable lead, they began to leak goals and points come the Autumn.  And by Christmas it seemed like no one team was able to keep the lead.

Whether seen as a very tight exciting league or a scrappy league without any real outstanding talent, the addition of the three relegated Premiership teams – Reading, Derby & Birmingham, along with the three teams promoted from League One – Swansea, Nottm Forest & Doncaster, it looks likely to be another close call between many teams pushing for Premiership promotion who, with a few bad results, turning their sights to a relegation battle.

So who are my favourites for Premier League promotion?

I expected QPR to have made a few top signings by now, thinking their owners are gagging for promotion; and the appointment of Ian Dowie as manager may turn out to be a level headed choice, but it certainly isn’t going to attract any big name stars.

I’m not sure what is happening at Reading, though it looks like they are going to lose Nicky Shorey to the Premiership, along with striker Dave Kitson, who will be a big loss.

Both Derby & Birmingham are my favourites for promotion.  Not only have they added to their squads but both have relatively new managers that appear to have written off last season before it had finished, so as to concentrate on gaining promotion this season and starting afresh.

Both teams are going to be lead by strong attacking options.  Derby have splashed out on the striking partnership of Rob Hulse (from Sheffield United) and Nathan Ellington (loan from Watford), while Birmingham will have quality striking options as they have brought in Marcus Bent (Charlton) and Kevin Phillips (WBA) to fight for places with James McFadden, Cameron Jerome and Garry O’Connor.

Birmingham look like they have the strongest squad in the league, especially with the additions of Lee Carsley (from Everton) and the Dutch under-21midfielder Kemy Agustien on a season-long loan from AZ Alkmaar.

The Coca-Cola League season 2008/09 begins this Saturday at 12.45 when Birmingham take on Sheffield United and have the chance to go top from the very start.

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.