Day: August 5, 2011

The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: The Championship

For the purpose of our Football League reviews, we will be taking a look at the respective divisions in an overall sense rather than trying to make predictions or inspecting the clubs concerned too closely. If you are here looking for in-depth predictions made by the supporters of each of the seventy-two clubs of the Football League, we would recommend the venerable When Saturday Comes and its annual pre-season preview, which is available now from all good newsagents, or alternatively this collaborative project between two Football League blogs, The Seventy Two and The Two Unfortunates. The promised land or football’s equivalent of purgatory or worse? One of the most fascinating things about the Championship in recent years is the extent to which it has come to mean all things to all people. At one end of the spectrum, it remains the fourth most-watched domestic league in Europe, living proof of the the fact that English football is far from being all about the Premier League. On the other, though, for those relegated from the Premier League it begins to loom large on the horizon as the realisation starts to sink in that relegation is a certainty or a possibility – an ogre, scaring supporters with the promise of empty seats, a summer clear-out of the players that were sensible enough to get relegation release clauses written into their contracts...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Predictions: League One

With the division in general overviewed by Ian yesterday, it’s time for the second of three of the official twohundredpercent Football League pre-season previews. For those that haven’t seen League Two’s preview, we’ve gone about them slightly differently this season. With the transfer window affecting some managers psychologically to the point that they build their team by the end of the transfer window, rather than the start of the season, predicting how it all ends up before teams have finalised their squads is tricky. It also means that Huddersfield fans don’t need to read it between their fingers as I describe the Terriers as “contenders”, rather than called them nailed on promotion certainties for the third season in a row.   NOTE: Each group of teams in alphabetical order, rather than the order I think they will finish in. Yes, I’ve bottled it that much. PROMOTION CONTENDERS With all arrival of Paolo Di Canio at Swindon taking all the headlines in terms of unlikely Football League managers, the appointment of Uwe Rosler at Brentford almost went unreported. Unlike Di Canio, Rosler has mainly tried to bring in players who are used to English football, with defender Marcel Eger the only arrival from abroad. Jonathan Douglas looks a great signing in midfield, while Shaleum Logan proved last season at Tranmere that he has what it takes to play at this...

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The Twohundredpercent Pre-Season Previews: Stoke City

Twelfth, eleventh, thirteenth. Stoke City start their fourth season in the Premier League having been a model of consistency during their time back in the top flight, but this season will bring new challenges that the club has not faced before. The club’s run in the FA Cup came to frame their season but, even though they ended that run at Wembley with a defeat at the hands of Manchester City, their reward came with City’s fourth place finish in the Premier League, all of which meant that Stoke City would go on to play in this season’s Europa League. Whether this proves to be a double-edged sword, however, may come to be the defining story of the coming season for the club. If nothing else, Stoke City has come to be the living definition of the football club as a bunker mentality. There were points during last season at which the criticism of the club, its support, its manager and his methods crossed a line and became mere outright abuse, but the supporters of the club ended their season in dramatic fashion, defiantly belting out their song, “Delilah”, as Manchester City walked away with a trophy that may well come to be regarded by the winners as little more than a stepping stone on the way to greater glory. Stoke City, though are one hundred and forty-eight years...

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