My wife and I went to France for a short holiday over half term: I bought a copy of the excellent Football League Paper to read on the plane and thought that I was up to date with what’d been happening in the Championship. A couple of days later and suddenly Sven-Goran Eriksson was no longer manager of Leicester City.
I scribbled a few thoughts into my notebook but a couple seemed fairly pertinent: since Nigel Pearson left Leicester in summer 2010, it’s best to describe both Sven and his predecessor (Paolo Sousa) as ‘vanity’ appointments. Despite having a reputation that appears to be built on sand, Sousa hasn’t been at any club long enough to make any kind of a positive impression as a manager and Eriksson hasn’t won anything with a club since the double with Lazio in 1999/2000.
Perhaps they both interviewed well, but my second thought was that Leicester City have a great deal in common with a lot of other teams in the Championship. The Foxes have spent more seasons in the second tier of English football than they have at any other level and haven’t played in the Premier League for eight seasons. Leicester were this season’s ‘trendy’ pick to win the Championship and are thought of as a ‘big’ club in the Championship, even though these days that largely means having foreign owners, a flexible policy over stadium naming rights and being one of the clubs that Eriksson used to manage. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but Manchester City are currently top of the Premier League not half way down the Championship.
I’ve got nothing against ambition, but it has to be tempered with a dose of reality now and again. It’s all very well having superb facilities and no immediate local rivals to compete against, but a quick glance at Leicester’s honours list indicates that they’re very much a second tier club that has historically performed better with managers from the UK and Ireland.
Upon returning from France there was no time write a post last weekend, so it’s double helpings this week.
Unusually for a Tuesday night, there are three games that will have a direct impact on both ends of the table so we’ll start with Hull’s trip to Barnsley: the Tykes – who lost at home to Bristol City last weekend – have a dreadful record against the Tigers at Oakwell (only two wins in the last ten meetings) while Nigel Pearson’s side have only lost two of their last 20 away games and are are one of the best away teams in the Championship despite their lack of goals on the road. Having picked up three single goal wins away from the KC Stadium this season, another one wouldn’t come as a massive surprise.
Despite their away record being as good as Hull’s, Middlesbrough have fallen off the pace a little recently – one win in the last month is hardly promotion form – but they face a Doncaster side that have only won three home league games in the last calendar year. There hasn’t been a draw between these two clubs in South Yorkshire since the first time they ever met in the league, a goalless draw almost a century ago
Despite having picked up a vital win in South Yorkshire at the weekend, bottom of the table Bristol City will be underdogs when they travel to West Ham for a league game for the first time since January 1993, but although the Hammers home record isn’t bad they’ve not won three consecutive games in the league for almost three years. The Robins last won back to back away games in the Championship last season but have only won one of their last five games in the capital and have only ever won once at Upton Park.
I’ll be back on Friday, possibly with news about an appointment at Fratton Park but with a review of the midweek action and a preview of the weekend’s games.