Here we go again – Championship Football

Domestic football returned on Friday night with the two games in the Championship. Relegated Sunderland kicked off at home to promotion hopefuls Derby. The result was a 1-1 draw which Sunderland fans would have been more happier about on the opening weekend. The other game saw Nottingham Forest host newly promoted Millwall. It was joy for the home side as they sneaked home with a 1-0 a few minutes before half time. It was Nottingham Forest’s fifth win in six opening round fixtures. The Lions were left to rue missed chances. Despite the lack of possession, they had a total of 23 shots but could get only six of those on target. If they are to stay in the Championship, they will surely need to make more of their opportunities as tougher games ahead.

The other two relegated clubs had mixed results.Hull City who were relegated could only manage a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, now managed by former Tigers boss Steve Bruce. The second half goal from the visitors not only denied their hosts an opening win, but also denied an opening clean sheet for John Terry making his debut with the club. Middlesbrough though were not so lucky and went down to Wolves after Leo Bonatini scored the only goal of the game.

It was mixed results for the other two teams promoted to the Championship. Bristol City had the honour of being top of the table with a 3-1 win over visitors Barnsley. The Robins record signing Famara Diedhiou netted on his debut with Bobby Reid netting the other two. For the Barnsley it is the opening day curse striking again. They have not won on the opening day for the last five seasons. Surely it can’t continue? Sheffield United were victorious but Bolton Wanderers went down 3-2 at home to Leeds United.

QPR got off to a good start as they beat ten man Reading. Conor Washington’s two goals was enough to see the West London club beat last seasons play off finalists, who found themselves with another defeat on their opening away day game. They have managed only one win in the last thirteen away games. On the other hand it was an extended record for Ian Holloway. He has yet to lose an opening game of the season with QPR, how some would love for an unbeaten start to the season.

Promotion hopefuls Fulham and Norwich saw their game finish one  a piece whilst Ipswich put their final day blues behind them to beat Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City.


In 1977 -Reds joy & Lillywhite gloom

So 1977 saw the reds of Liverpool and Manchester claim the League and  FA Cup and Liverpool successful in the European Cup. Liverpool had in fact retained the League title. Liverpool had  battled in a three way title challenge with Ipswich Town and Manchester City, who would finish second. It was also Liverpool’s tenth league title and a new record.

The FA Cup that saw the final between Liverpool and Manchester United, had seen United along the way avenge their Wembley defeat against Southampton the season before. Liverpool in the Semi Final faced their Merseyside neighbours Everton. A 2-2 draw at Maine Road meant a replay at Goodi. It was definitely a case of the blues for the hosts as Liverpool stormed to a 3-0 win.

It was double misery for Tottenham as not only they ended up finishing bottom and relegated, they also went out in the third round to second division Cardiff City.

The 1976-77 had seen the introduction of yellow and red cards and a change from goal average to goal difference. The change to goal difference was designed to encourage more goals scoring.

International football saw a disappointing run of summer games for England compounded by Don Revie’s controversial resignation as he went off to manage in the Emirates. It was also the yeat that saw the famous scenes at Wembley where Scottish fans invaded the pitch and break the goal posts.

 1977 saw the beginning of the rise of Wimbledon, who were elected into the fourth division. Having seen a successful run in non league football, they were rewarded with League football participation and for the Dons, life in the league was about to get interesting and in ten years time it would become even more special.

It was soon time for a new season and newly promoted Nottingham Forest were making themselves known as they topped the table at the end of the first month. Other promoted sides, Birmingham City and West Ham both started winless.

Newcastle were in all sorts of trouble, bottom of the table, they found themselves sacking their manager Richard Dinnis who had also criticised the club chairman.

International misery for England once more as they failed to qualify for the 1978 World Cup, making it an absence of eight years for the 1966 winners.

Finally it was big transfers as Kenny Dalglish became the most expensive player signed from a British club when he moves from Celtic to Liverpool. The price was 440,000. Pricey for the Scotsman, not sure whether it would work out though for the defending champions…..

Well that’s all for now on the opening Flashback 40 series. Be sure to check out more.

The changing face of the boss – Dan Raywood’s thoughts

The continuing fiasco at Nottingham Forest has convinced me of one thing – don’t employ a club legend as your manager.
As a Spurs fan, I can speak from experience with memories of Ardiles and Hoddle having been manager. The former struggled with the initial power sharing between Alan Sugar and Terry Venables, as well as a fantastic attacking line combined with a poor defence, while Hoddle lost Sol Campbell within months of starting and struggled with a poor crop of players, failure to match Arsenal’s achievements and Levy’s expectations.
Of course the fans would never turn on a club legend and there are instances where this scenario has worked out – Keegan’s first spell at Newcastle, George Graham at Arsenal and Howard Kendall at Everton. In the case of the tricky trees (yes, that is a nickname), Stuart Pearce seemed to start well, but things have taken a turn for the worse and psycho has left the City Ground.
Did the fans still sing his name despite the downturn? I expect so. However the situation changed so fast at Forest that Pearce was out and replaced by Dougie Freedman within a matter of hours, something that stung of a planned removal and the departure of the Chief Executive within the following 24 hours suggests that while the fans of Forest support Pearce, the board made moves ahead of time.
This may be an example of how the modern manager is expected to perform – with immediate impact and effort. The argument could be that the modern manager is replicated of the European and American model, where the club gets the players and the manager/coach is expected to work with what they are given.
Take Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s recent comments in his column in the Arsenal programme ahead of the game against Aston Villa. He talked of signings of how if a player is bought by the manager they are bought by someone who selected them, and “that gives you a certain level of confidence that you’re really wanted and that you have a chance to play.” Wise words from the Professor, but he is speaking the truth about one method of management, while a more modern one is the “top down approach” where a coach is just that, a coach.
Was this the case at Nottingham Forest, where another manager has fallen on his sword because of the actions of the owners? Take last night’s deadline day activity where West Ham United chairman David Gold advised people not to go to bed in a kind of reverse Freddie Kreuger action. Why was the chairman advising instead of the manager? Is the chairman picking the team over “Big” Sam Allardyce?
The role of the football manager is changing and the situation is dividing the new and old schools of ways of doing things. Sadly some eggs are being broken as a result.