Alan Pardew sets sights on managerial return in England

/r/Championship's Championship club by club season preview - part 1!

Part 2 here - Part 3 here - Part 4 here

On Friday at 8pm UK time, Reading and Derby County will kick off the 127th season of the English second division - also known as the Championship! 24 clubs will compete for 3 promotion spots to the Premier league (2 via automatic promotion and 1 via playoffs) and to avoid the 3 relegation spots to the third tier a.k.a League One.

Its looking like a really tight and competitive season. The league is absolutely full of ambitious player and managerial talent - the more time goes by the more it looks like a Premier League 2. If you want a competitive league with proper English football, that also has the spice of skilful players and forward thinking managers, it really is the place to go.

This is guide written by the fans who have come together on /Championship - an absolutely huge thanks to them. Do check out the sub, we try to keep it a good place to discuss the EFL, away from the rancid gloryhunting shithole that is /soccer (just kidding - I like this place). Lots going on, including a score predictor thread which is running all season.

This guide is in table order with the PL demoted sides first. Only 5 clubs today (because the Swansea one is a fucking novel and I can't fit any more in), the rest will be submitted tomorrow and Friday. Do bare in mind that not all the transfer news will be up to date as these guides were largely written a week ago. Point out to me if there are any clear errors with formatting or spelling.

Championship info, links and media

/Championship's 17/18 player of the season review

Season previews: The Guardian | Sky Sports | The Mirror
EFL focused podcasts: Not the Top 20 | The Totally Football League Show
The 17/18 table - Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham went up. Barnsley, Burton and Sunderland went down. This season West Brom, Swansea and Stoke join from the PL and Wigan, Blackburn and Rotherham join from League 1.
These are the bookies' favourites for promotion (via Oddschecker):
Club Odds
Stoke 2.75
Middlesbrough 4
West Brom 4
Nottingham Forest 4.5
Leeds 4.75
Swansea 5
And relegation:
Club Odds
Rotherham 2.2
Bolton 2.25
Ipswich 4.5
Reading 5
Hull 6
How to watch in the UK: Live rights are owned by Sky Sports. They are upping the number of televised matches this season. Reading v Derby on Friday is televised. The weekly highlights show previously on Channel 5 is moving to Quest TV, which apparently is on Freeview.
How to watch abroad: Depends, but in most territories, the iFollow Service is available, which is £110 to watch all a single club's matches. Bargain. I think the clubs that aren't on iFollow have their own similar streaming services.
Check out club Youtube channels - quite a few of them post extended highlights now with their own commentary, including Derby, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford and more. (You may need VPN to watch if you're abroad.)

Swansea City by RafiakaMacakaDirk and my_knob_is_gr8

Location: Swansea, Wales
Nickname: Swans, The Jacks
Major honours: Football League Cup (2013), Championship Play-off Winner (2011), League One Winners (1925, 1949, 2008)
17/18 finishing postion: 18th (Premier League)
Transfermarkt squad value: €115.5 mil NOTE: This number is as of July 22nd, when we still have Mawson (€15 mil), A. Ayew (€15 mil), Bony (€10 mil), Clucas (€8 mil) and Fernandez (€8 mil), who are all pretty much expected to be sold, or loaned out, before the season starts. Without all of these players except Bony (who's injured for a while so it makes it unlikely he'll be sold soon), the squad value would be around €70 mil.
Manager: Graham Potter joined the Swans on 11th June 2018. In 2010, he became head coach of Östersund, who were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. 5 years later, he got the club promoted into the Swedish top flight and in 2017, they won Svenska Cupen which qualified them for the Europa League where they managed to get through the group stage. He’s been applauded for what he did at Östersund and the way he managed to build the club up from nothing. The year after his success in the Europa league he signed a 3 year contract with Swansea.
Potter is well respected by The Swans and after a few years of poor managerial and financial decisions his appointment is seen as a step in the right direction to bringing us back to our old ways of being a well-run club. Potter has been recognised for his "progressive" and "unconventional" coaching methods. At Östersund, he encouraged his players and staff to engage in community activities, such as performing in theatre and music productions which was designed to take them out of their comfort zone. Potter describes his style of football on the pitch as "tactically flexible, attacking, and possession-based". At Östersund, he deployed a flexible 3–5–2 formation centred on ball possession.
Best player(s)/ talisman:With many of our best players being rumoured with a move away what good players that remain at the start of the season is yet to be seen.
Alfie Mawson is probably our standout player. He’s been amazing for us since we got him and was a bargain at about £3m. He’s great in the air and is just an all round tank. Keeping him will be a huge boost for us and should be solid in the championship.
Federico "El Pajaro" Fernandez has also been strong at the back with Alfie. The pair played with each other for the majority of last season and together became a solid unit. We will most likely sell him to reduce wages though.
Jordan Ayew put in a great shift last season and was our top goal scorer. His work rate was immense and was able to drop back and defend when needed. He’s fast, able to beat a man and a decent finisher. Sadly all these players are transfer targets for other clubs and might not even be here at the start of the season. If we can keep a lot of our players we should have a decent season but who knows who'll be left by the end of the window…
Rising star: Swansea’s U23 had a great season last year and with Potter wanting a young and fresh squad, a handful have moved up into the first team.
Our standout youngster, Oliver McBurnie, joined Barnsley on loan in January last season where he went on to win a Championship player of the month award after 6 goals in 8 games and went on to win Barnsley’s Player of the year award. While only 22, he’s struggled to break into our first team but will most likely be our main striker for the coming season. Be on the lookout for his long legs, miniature shinpads and ridiculous sock length! LEGS LEGS LEGS!!!
Connor Roberts performed well at RB last season and adapted quickly to the premier league where he battled Kyle Naughton to be in the starting line up and did great when given the chance. Decent at going forward and professional at the back. Hopefully potter puts him ahead of Naughton.
What happened last season?: What Happened last season?: After our great escape the season before and with Paul Clement at the helm there was optimism that the 17/18 season could be our turning point where we start rebuilding 'The Swansea Way". How wrong we were.
After a disastrous transfer window where we sold Sigurdsson and never replaced him and started panic buying the week before the transfer window closed we were left an obvious hole in our team. We had no creativity in midfield and no one could kick the ball into the box to save their life. And just to rub it in further Renato Sanches turned out to be more disappointing than Bob Bradley. With the team sitting bottom of the table Clement was sacked in late December.
Then along came the wise talking Carlos Carvalhal who managed to rebuild the confidence the team had lost. Our results took a turn for the good, beating Liverpool, Arsenal, Burnley and West Ham consecutively at home. He pulled us out of the relegation zone and things were looking good. However, the good times were quickly followed by the bad times. Our form turned and we didn’t win a single one of our last 9 matches. We were quickly relegated after pitifully losing to both Southampton and Stoke in our last 2 games of the season.
Highlights (Or lowlights):
The pass by Renato Sanches that summed up his and our season
Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal
Summer transfer business (so far): At the end of last season, it was clear we needed several transfers, both in and out. However, this would all depend on the manager we got.
Yan Dhanda (Free, Liverpool): A 19 year-old Midfielder, Yan Dhanda left Liverpool this summer and joined the Swans in a free, before we even hired Graham Potter. At one time one of the most promosing youngsters in Liverpool's Academy, injuries slowed down his progress, and ultimately made him fall behind other players. Citing lack of first-team playing time, Dhanda decided to join us this summer in hopes of getting regular playing time in the senior squad. Through 3 pre-season games, Dhanda has been one of the brighest and most impressive players in the squad, even scoring a game-winning goal and smashing a penalty in a shootout against Genoa. With our current injuries and shenanigans involved in our midfield, Dhanda has a good chance of becoming a starter and hopefully guide our midfield during the season.
Jordi Govea (Free, Real Madrid): Another 19 year-old from Ecuador, Jordi was the first signing under Potter. Not much can be said about the lad, but this is what Real Madrid had as his bio:
Jordi is an Ecuadorian defender who possess three key qualities for a player in his position: he's skilful, is able to go past a player and has a good shot on him. He's left footed and is able to send in good crosses on the run.
With Martin Olsson currently as our starting LB, and Kyle Naughton as the backup, the hope is that Jordi can develop on our U-23 squad and hopefully move up to the senior squad in coming years. Also the only man I've seen do a medical while wearing jeans (
Joel Asoro (€2 mil., Sunderland): Yet another 19 year-old, a Swedish winger who has represented his country in the younger levels, he was Potter's first senior signing. With world-class speed, and some impressive skills, Asoro was able to score 3 goals and get 2 assists last season in 26 apperances for Sunderland. While these numbers may seem a bit disappointing, many of these games were sub appearances on a very dysfunctional team. Along with Dhanda, Asoro has been one of the most impressive players during preseason, constantly beating his man with either speed or skills, and whipping in good balls to Legs. At the current rate, Asoro appears to have a good chance of starting on the right wing spot, with Nathan Dyer and Luciano Narsingh backing him up.
Predicted starting XI: NOTE: This is gonna be assuming Mawson, A. Ayew, Clucas, and Fernandez are all sold by the start of the season. If by some reason they end up staying, they are pretty much guaranteed to start. Based on the pre-season games so far, a lineup looking like this would be plausible, with Rodon most likely to be replaced by a CB (possibly Scott McKenna) when we buy one. Our second unit is looking something like this.
Best case scenario: Graham Potter is able to motivate and make sure our senior players (Fer, Carroll, etc.) stay fit, along with our youngsters being able to make an impact as expected, and also we retain Mawson, Fernandez, and Clucas, we can finish in the top 2 and get promoted automatically.
Worst case scenario: Our worst case scenario, and something many of us fear of happening, consists of primarily 3 things. 1. Graham Potter isn't given enough time to build an identity with our squad and is sacked by the midway point of the season by the greedy, dumb American owners. . 2. We end up not replacing the players we sold properly like last summer, therefore having a squad with holes everywhere and no chemistry. 3. Our youngsters such as Asoro, McBurnie, Dhanda and company don't pan out and progress at all, thefore becoming mediocre players. This would all culminate in us looking like Sunderland, and making relegation a probability.
Prediction: Realistically I see us selling Mawson and company in the last days before the season starts and not replacing them properly until later on. Because of this, as well as our current injuries with Fer and Clucas, I can see us initially struggling to build an identity but over time, we will start playing like Potter wants us and finishing the season strongly.
8th place, missing the play-offs by 4 points
What will happen to your closest rivals?: The scum that is known as Cardiff City will break the record for lowest points ever accumulated in a Premier League season, getting 5 points all from draws, and will therefore get relegated with 17 games to spare.

West Bromwich Albion by Joelwba

Location: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, West Midlands
Nickname: The Baggies, The Throstles
Major honours: 1x League title, 1x League Cup, 5x FA Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 20th in Premier League (relegated)
Transfermarkt squad value: £101.16m
Manager: Darren Moore or Big Dave as he's known to Albion fans. A club icon as a player in the early 2000s, he returned to look after our U23 squad before being promoted to assistant manager by Alan Pardew in January. Following the end of Pardew's horrific reign, Moore took temporary charge with Albion facing inevitable relegation. He led us to wins over Newcastle, Spurs, Man Utd and a draw with Liverpool, somehow taking our futile battle for survival to the final week of the season. Following this he earned the head coach role permanently. Moore is loved among the Albion faithful, largely due to his reputation as a player here. He heavily favours a 4-4-2 formation and at the back end of last season, tended to soak up pressure and play on the counter attack. It will be interesting to see how his approach differs in a league where we are one of the favourites, not fighting to survive (hopefully)
Best player(s)/ talisman: It's an interesting situation for Albion currently. There are plenty of Premier League quality players still in the squad. A lot depends on if they are picked off before the deadline shuts. Chris Brunt is a club stalwart and likely to be reappointed as captain. He is adored by the fans and in my opinion will be an incredible asset in the championship. His set pieces alone will bring 10+ goals to the side. Kieran Gibbs is a high quality player who appears to be set to stay and should make a big difference. Jay Rodriguez, Craig Dawson, Salomon Rondon and Nacer Chadli should all make a big difference in this division IF they stay. In all honesty I expect to lose a few of the above. Sam Johnstone appears to be an astute signing to replace the outgoing Ben Foster.
Rising star: Sam Field he's one of our own! He looked completely at home against some of the top Premier League sides last campaign. A box-to-box midfielder, he's full of energy and looks so comfortable on the ball. I expect him to be a major part of our side this season, having just signed a new long-term deal.
Kyle Edwards is an exciting attacking midfielder who has been impressing in pre-season. He may have a part to play following a loan spell at Exeter last campaign.
Jonathon Leko looked like a potential world-beater when he first came through a couple of years back. A lightning quick winger full of tricks. A loan spell at Bristol City and limited appearances later he seems to be losing his way. Will be an interesting one to watch.
Finally, the enigma that is Olly Burke. After signing with us last summer for £15m, he failed to impress any of the four managers we had over the season. He looks exciting when he comes on, without any end product so far, and was unfairly blamed for a loss at West Ham by Alan 'Coward' Pardew. We all know the talent he's got. Hopefully we can see it this season.
What happened last season?: Let's not talk about it... We finally escaped the stranglehold of Tony Pulis, only to opt for the human joke that is Alan Pardew and duly hurtled towards relegation. Four of our players stole a taxi and then played (and lost) the following weekend.
Pardew was sacked about 3 months too late, and Moore took over, restoring pride with some notable wins over Man Utd and Spurs.
This season we also lost the great Cyrille Regis, and the outpouring of emotion and the coming together of the club during the weeks after his passing was something special.
Summer transfer business (so far): We started by releasing Claudio Yacob, Boaz Myhill and Gareth McAuley. Yacob and McAuley will be greatly missed but it is perhaps the right time for them to go.
Jonny Evans departed for Leicester for a cut-price £3m, Ben Foster left for Watford and James McClean has departed for Stoke City.
Sam Johnstone has been bought in to replace Foster, with Jonathon Bond arriving as backup. Kyle Bartley has joined from Swansea City and it appears that Harvey Barnes will soon be arriving on loan from Leicester.
Finally, James Morrison is currently out of contract but still with the club. His future is uncertain.
I am very happy with Johnstone and Bartley. It has been a quiet window for Albion so far but that is largely a good thing. The squad is packed with Premier League talent and the window is more about keeping hold of them.
There is major interest in Dawson and Rondon, along with interest in Rodriguez, Hegazi and Chadli. If any of the above go, then we would need to replace. Otherwise I would be happy with another striker and another CB.
It is also worth mentioning that every player in the Albion side suffered a 50% wage cut upon relegation which means that we are financially sound despite relegation, but may lead to more big names leaving.
Predicted starting XI: This is my best attempt. It will undoubtedly be 4-4-2. We may see Nyom in at right back and perhaps Barry in for Field.
Obviously about half of this side could leave, so we shall see.
Best case scenario: The bulk of the side remains and the quality in the side shines through as we breeze to automatic promotion.
Worst case scenario: The better players leave or do not put the effort in. Moore cannot transfer his great start into his first full season in management. We become embroiled in a relegation battle
Prediction: It will be somewhere in the middle. I'd like to think we'll go up automatically but I think play-offs are more likely. 6th
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Villa won't go down but will settle into mid-table, despite the recent takeover.
I think Wolves will do well in the PL, although I don't know how long Nuno will last before a big club comes in.

Stoke City by mrmariomaster

Location: Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Nickname: The Potters
Stadium: bet365 Stadium, 30,089 seats
Major honours: 1972 League Cup
17/18 finishing position: 19th, Premier League
Squad value: £127.8 million
Manager: Gary Rowett signed from Derby in May. His honest attitude has brought lots of optimism to fans, who are looking forward to an overhaul of the Club. His style of play seems to change based on the squad he has available.
Best Player: Joe Allen was vital to the Club last season, giving us hope that we would avoid relegation. His massive new contract signed this summer shows how loyal and committed to the Club he is, and will be a vital player this season.
Rising star: Tom Edwards is a local lad who has won the Under 18 Player of the Year award twice in the Club. In the latter parts of last season he played some good first team football.
What happened last season: A pathetic attempt at a season that had been coming for a while under Mark Hughes. Paul Lambert was appointed in January, but a win rate of just 2 in 15 matches wasn’t enough for him to keep his job and miss out on the million pound bonus offered to him.
Transfer business so far: So far this has been a decent transfer window. Peter Etebo had an amazing World Cup for Nigeria and Benik Afobe looks really promising. Adam Federici has also been appointed to replace Lee Grant. Xherdan Shaqiri has left along with a few players like Stephen Ireland and Glen Johnson who will not be missed. Badou Ndiaye also looks to be on his way out, but it looks like Jack Butland will stay with us, which is massive. Perhaps most surprising are the new contracts signed by our 2 best players last season, Joe Allen and Moritz Bauer.
Predicted Line up: Here is our predicted squad. I’m not sure what formation we will have. EDIT: This is a new version, complete with our rumoured new signings and in the right formation.
Best case scenario: Stoke will finish top with an all-time Championship points record.
Worst case scenario: A mediocre start to the season will see Rowett sacked and Stoke with a disappointing mid-table finish.
Prediction: I think with our squad and our new manager, we will finish 1st.
What will happen to our closest rivals? Port Vale will be relegated to the Vanarama National League.

Aston Villa by trueschoolalumni

Location: Villa Park, Trinity Rd, Birmingham B6 6HE
Nickname: The Villans, The Villa, Prince William's Club, David "Twat" Cameron's Second Club.
Major honours: 7 First Division wins, 7 FA Cups, 5 League Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intertoto Cup
17/18 finishing postion: 4th
Transfermarkt squad value: £67.77m and dropping fast
Manager: Steve Bruce (for now). Former Man Utd playing legend who's been a fixture of English football for decades. He joined Villa in 2016 after successful runs at Hull, Sunderland (yes they were good once) and Birmingham City. A bit of a promotion specialist, he's taken Championship clubs up to the Premier League 4 times in the past and just missed out last season, losing 1-0 to Fulham in the Playoff Final. Tactically, he's fairly old school who prefers 4-4-2 or a 4-1-4-1, usually involving a big man up top. Fun fact: while managing Huddersfield in 1999 he wrote three novels, "Striker!", "Sweeper!" and "Defender!", which focus on main character Steve Barnes, a football manager. Barnes solves crime and takes on terrorists, and the books have become prized rarities. The Guardian's Football Weekly podcast managed to get a copy and read out some of the copy - suitably awful.
Best player(s)/ talisman: There's only one Jack Grealish. A Villa boy through and through, he's been with the club since 2001 (aged 6), and made his way into the first team in the 2013-14 season. He's been the centre of controversy a few times, most notably getting on the beers and passing out on a Tenerife street. Playing as a number 10, his quick feet and dribbling skills provide a number of goals and assists, as well as fouls. He probably went down a bit too easily when first in the Premier League, but time in the gym has noticeably toughened him up and he's a much more solid player as a result. One of the better players in the Championship, and due to Villa's abject finances, a transfer target for the likes of Leicester.
Rising star: Keinan Davis could possibly be it, potentially Andre Green and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy as well.
What happened last season?: Have you ever walked into a casino, spotted the roulette table and popped £10,000 on red? It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off. You've doubled your money if you win, but look like a right git if you lose. Villa figured this was a good way to approach 2017-18: spend millions on players, get in lots of loans, gamble everything on achieving promotion. After a so-so start, Bruce got the team playing well, stringing together a number of wins and moving through the playoff spots. Unfortunately they ran into a few teams playing out of their skin - champions Wolves ran away with the league and boasted a squad that included several Champions League players. Neil Warnock's Cardiff couldn't stop winning and grabbed the second automatic promotion. In the playoff final Villa came up against a Ryan Sessegnon-led Fulham and were just pipped at the post 1-0.
Summer transfer business (so far): It's one-way traffic, due to absolutely abysmal finances. Loan spells for Lewis Grabban, Robert Snodgrass, Josh Onomah and Sam Johnstone have all ended, which is almost the spine of the team (Johnstone in particular - he was arguably the best keeper in the Championship and personally bagged a number of wins). Plus clubs are circling to pick off whatever assets we have left (eg. Jack Grealish, James Chester). With no prospect of anyone new coming in, it looks like the youth academy will be getting a lot more game time.
Predicted starting XI: Possibly this, but half these players could be gone before the first match.
Best case scenario: Mid-table anonymity would have to be best case - Villa are a mess and could go down this time around.
Worst case scenario: Our finances are the real issue - they are dire. Villa need to find £9 million this month to avoid going into administration. Owner "Dr." Tony Xia is a billionaire, apparently, but tax bills went unpaid and the question remains if he's able to support the club as generously as he has in the past. Administration, points deductions and potentially relegation to League One are all real possibilities right now. It's not looking good.
Prediction: Due to financial irregularities in the 23 clubs above us, Villa will get into the Champions League and take out the likes of Atletico, Bayern and Real Madrid on the way to our second European Cup. "Taylor, Green, prepared to venture down the left. There's a good ball played in for Jack Grealish. Oh, it must be and it is! It's Keinan Davis!"
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Unfortunately the Scum managed to avoid League One in the final rounds of the season. Here's hoping they go one better. Agbonlahor to re-sign for one game: the Derby. And score the winner, again.

Middlesbrough by OneSmallHuman

Location: The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Founded: 1876
Nickname: The Boro (Or just Boro)
Major honours: The League cup 2003-2004 season
17/18 finishing position: 5th
Transfermarkt squad value: 79.34m
Manager: Tony Pulis became manager of us in late December 2017, replacing the sacked Garry Monk after a pretty lacklustre few months of the campaign (despite where our league position was). Pulis is known in England for being the man that is never relegated when in charge of someone in the top flight. We are all aware of Tony Pulis' style of football. You start by having a strong and massive defence and maximise your use of set pieces to gain an advantage. Pulis is a lover of all set piece plays, whether that is crossing the ball in from a corner or free kick, or launching a ball into the box from a throw in, they're all in his arsenal of weapons. 'Pulisball' as it is pretty much known. Pulis has achieved promotion from the championship once before with Stoke, and I hope he achieves it again with us this season
Best player(s)/ rising star: I mean, where else do I begin. Adama Traore. Arguably the best player in the championship on his day and is one of the most frightening dribblers in English football, maybe even world football. The winger is known for his speed and dribbling ability although is usually criticised for his lack of end product. Before last season I would've agreed, however 5 goals and 10 assists, with all but 2 assists coming before Pulis' arrival show the progression of the Spanish winger.
As for other members of the squad, Ben Gibson, the prodigal son. Boro through and through he's progressed into a commanding centre half with the ability to play out from the back thanks to Karanka. He gained attention and emerged as one of the few given credit after our disappointing premier league campaign but was only the subject of one bid upon our relegation, from now manager Tony Pulis. It remains to be seen whether he'll be here come the first game of the season, but I hope he will be.
As for future stars, Dael Fry, already has played 2 championship campaigns for us and looks as assured as a veteran of the game. Another centre half produced by our academy and he is being played in cdm this pre-season by Pulis, to add to his versatility. Hopefully a standout season for him, especially if Gibson does end up leaving. Finally, yes, he does always look as confused as images of him show.
What happened last season?: Well, the first half of the season was tragic under Monk. We played really poor football at times and looked like we hadn't defended a day in our lives. There was also no consistency in the team, we'd win one game then lose the next. A key theme under both managers however, was our inability to beat those around us in the table. After Pulis' appointment the results picked up and it ended with us finishing 5th in the table. We ultimately lost in the playoff semi finals to Aston Villa but honestly, we didn't think we'd even be in the top half around Christmas.
Summer transfer business (so far): Just the three deals to talk about so far. We've acquired Paddy McNair from Sunderland who looks like a decent player. He's been utilised in right back and midfield during pre-season so it looks like they'll be his positions for the season. I imagine he'll play alongside Clayts and Howson in a midfield three.
Aden Flint was signed from Bristol City and I think I'm in the minority when I say I don't like how much we paid for him. Obviously the man is a Pulis player but I'm a bit unsure about his defensive ability. That being said he's looked strong during pre-season and I'm sure Pulis will get the best out of him. Fabio departed our club for Nantes so we'll need more full back cover.
As for the rest of the window, I expect Gibson to leave but will be delighted if he doesn't. One of our strikers will also leave and Braithwaite should follow after his decent World Cup performances. We'll probably bring in a striker and a winger and hopefully hold onto Adama. That'd be a successful window in my eyes.
Predicted starting XI: My best guess The only other guess I could make is that Gibson might leave and then Ayala would start, but he's injured at this point in time. Britt might play over Gestede too if Pulis is feeling fancy.
Best case scenario: It has to be top of the pile right? It's not out of the question to imagine us up there and if everything clicks then we've got a chance. A defence that scores more than some teams' strikers, Adama channelling his inner Messi and finding consistency, Rudy/Britt/Bamford scoring for fun. It could be carnage.
Worst case scenario: I can't see us finishing outside the playoffs, if we did then that would be gut-wrenching. But if we did then that would most certainly be the worst. Realistically, it'd be losing in the playoffs... again, and if it were in the final again then god help me. Although saying this, now losing Bamford and maybe Traore will be a worst case scenario in itself, definitely if they're not replaced.
Prediction: Have to be confident, although it always kills me. 1st or 2nd. Tony Pulis and his nice white trainers carry us to the promise land. That being said, we never do it the easy way.
Best Match of Last Season Sorry Leeds fans, but it had to be. "Hattrick Bamford" as our Twitter account tweeted, 3-0 against Leeds with Adama running the show. Leeds clearly found some positive from the game as they're set to sign him off us. This was the sign of what we should've done more last season. Showed what Paddy could've been too if given an even more extended period in Striker by himself. Oh well.
What will happen to your closest rivals?: Who even are our closest rivals in this league? We're in geographical purgatory. Can't say Sunderland anymore so what? Leeds? Bielsa either turns them into the well oiled machine they hope for or he succumbs to the old Leeds ways and is sacked by December. As for the Mackems, probably promoted from League 1.
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Alan Pardew, Surely Time is up for the Crystal Palace Manager

Saturday must have felt like a true kick in the teeth for Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew, his team had battled back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3 against struggling Swansea as the clock reached 90 minutes, but his side travelled back home without a single point as Fernando Llorente poached 2 goals in extra time to secure Bob Bradley’s side a much needed win.
Pardew has given Palace fans some memorable moments during his stint in charge, reaching the FA cup final last year for example, but the magic seems to have worn off and the former Newcastle man is now the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked with the bookies.
The writing does appear to be on the wall for him as the Palace board surely have to be considering who could replace Pards should he depart because the 5-4 loss is just the icing on the cake of Pardew’s problems…
Inability to Arrest a Slump
This weekend marked Palace’s 6th straight defeat in the league and unsurprising they have the worst form in the division at the moment. 6 losses on the spin alone sounds like a hellish time but Pardew-lead sides have been in this position before as he often struggles to battle against the tide and prevent his side from sliding down the table.
Last season Palace suffered a similar fate as they lost 7 in 9 fixtures, which was glossed over by the aforementioned FA Cup chase, but here in November, there is no such competition to cover the cracks. An awful train of results also occurred during his time at Newcastle United as in the last 20 games of the 13/14 season the team lost 14 times and at the start of the 14/15 campaign Newcastle started horrendously and didn’t bag a win until the 8th gameweek where they beat Leicester to kickstart a their season.
Clearly then this is a problem for Alan. A drop in form often happens to different managers at different times (it’s the nature of the Premier League beast) but regularly dropping a ton of points over the last few seasons is a cause for concern. Why is he so incapable to regain momentum? Short of ideas outside his main gameplan? Is he picking the wrong 11?
No matter what the reason, inability to arrest a slump in form is almost becoming part and parcel of an Alan Pardew season and he really needs to put the brakes on Palace’s current worries otherwise he will certainly be out the door.
A Strong Squad but a Defensive Nightmare
Correct me if I am wrong Palace fans but this, in my opinion, is undoubtedly the strongest squad Crystal Palace has had in the Premier League era. This summer an already decent squad was bolstered by the arrival of record signing Christian Benteke, former West Ham defender James Tomkins, England international Andros Townsend and experienced goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Loan signing Loic Remy has yet to materialise due to injury but having shifted a lot of deadwood and having an impressively low net spend of just £9 million Palace’s squad looked in very good shape for the current season as many predicted a mid-table finish or higher.
But even with this strength the team are leaking a tsunami of goals, meaning that despite having only blanked once in the last 10 games, they have dropped a number of points due to conceding in every single one of these matches, shipping an average of 2.3 goals per game. Furthermore, they haven’t kept a clean sheet in 18 top flight contests.
Not only that, but Palace have conceded a season-high 13 goals from set plays this season, which is five more than the next worst side, Stoke City. Whereas last season they were joint-top in this aspect, alongside defensively sound Spurs, so something massive has changed here. Can it be as simple as Tomkins in the back line instead of Delaney? Pardew returning to his old centre back partnership could be an option to perhaps patch this up, but realistically changing one man shouldn’t cause such a large drop-off in this department.
Palace’s attacking playstyle is commendable but defensive stability is certainly favourable when enduring a relegation scrap. Just look at relegation avoiding extraordinaires Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce; the football might be shite but they get results, whereas Palace are doing the opposite, their football is pretty easy on the eye but they as porous as a sponge.
Perhaps playing with 2 very defensive midfielders in front of the back 4 could help reduce their awful record; maybe adding Joe Ledley or Mathieu Flamini in there will give the defence some much need cover, after all, their defensive record cannot get much worse.
Being a Bolton fan this seems very comparable to our relegation season under Owen Coyle as we couldn’t defend a thing despite our attacking play being pretty sharp. With no plan B under Coyle we went down and a similar situation could be very real if Pardew fails to pull a defensive remedy out of his arse.
The Worst Calendar Year in the Football League
It is no secret that Crystal Palace have the worst record in the entire football league during 2016, averaging a tiny 0.68 points per game over their 32 currently played. Simply put, that’s a farce. It’s a worse record than MK Dons, Dagenham and Redbridge, York City and Aston Villa, all of whom got relegated from their respective divisions last season, should they keep this up Palace will be joining that undesirable club.
Not only that, but Grimsby Town, who were promoted to League 2 this summer, have managed to capture more points in their 19 games in the football league this season than Palace have in their 32 – gaining 26 points so far in comparison to the Premier League team’s frankly awful 22. With Pardew’s struggle to rectify his side’s frightening form the thought of relegation must be on the mind of the board at the club and it will be Pardew who pays the price should they fall below their current position of 17th.
Upcoming Fixtures
Realistically Pardew doesn’t have a lot of games left in the hot seat unless he starts to pick up points very, very quickly. With Swansea beating them this week, Sunderland winning 2 of their last 3 and Hull City level on points with them right now, Palace are only out of the dreaded drop zone on goal difference. So where might their next win come from?
Up next is Southampton at home, the Saints are finding their feet and their defensive rock Virgil Van Dijk is more suited to dealing with Benteke than most centre backs, so getting a victory will be tough. The side also welcome Manchester United and Chelsea to Selhurst Park before Christmas, both are challenging games, especially when then come so close to one another. But the real danger fixture in the next 4 is away at Hull on December 10th.
Should they fall to Southampton, nothing more than a win against fellow scrappers Hull will be good enough to save Pardew in my opinion and a loss would almost certainly signal his departure, especially if Swansea and Sunderland are able to pick up vital points in their December fixtures, pushing Palace into further trouble.
Overall Pardew can still save himself, usually if he is able to regain momentum he rides the crest of the wave very well, but if he can’t lead Palace to at least a couple of wins in the next month the board really will be left with little choice. After all, staying in the top division is now more important than ever due to the heaps of cash being thrown around.
A silver lining may be that there isn’t too many names out there to replace Pardew with (Big Sam looming perhaps?) but if I was a betting man I would predict that, based on all the points above, he won’t make the New Year and it may not be such a Merry Christmas for Pardew this year.
submitted by SneakyBradley_ to soccer [link] [comments]

The reasons behind Newcastle fans dislike of Mike Ashley

As yet again a 'Preferred Media Partner' of Newcastle United release another piece on Mike Ashley and the club, I feel the need to set some things straight. Many users here at /soccer do not understand the reasons behind our strong dislike of 'good owner' Mike Ashley. Here comes a short history lesson, to hopefully enlighten the masses:
2007 Beginning in May, and ending in July, Mike Ashley takes full control of the club, for approximately £134 million. This was seen as a good thing, because the club was kinda in trouble, and needed debts to be paid.
2008 Things were looking good for Mike, as he appointed club legend Kevin Keegan as manager. This offset somewhat the negative press he received for hiring Chris Mort, a lawyer, as Club Chairman, and former Chelsea legend Dennis Wise in an 'executive role'. Things then started to get weirder. Mort stepped (or was pushed) down, and Ashley hired a long time associate, Derek Llambias as Chairman. This guy had an extensive background in Entertainment, Bread and NightClubs. Such a perfect fit for a football club it seems :(
Things really started going downhill, when Kevin Keegan publicly slammed the clubs management for not financially supporting the team, and also taking away all player recruitment responsibilities from the manager. Even going so far as to reportedly sign a player based off of a viewing of a YouTube highlights video: Ignazio Gonzalez. Cheers for that Dennis Wise. By September, with the season only about a month old, Kevin Keegan resigned, to be replaced by:
Joe Kinnear There's a joke in here somewhere.... Joe Kinnear is an strange guy, and a stranger appointment. After managing clubs in the UAE, Malaysia and India, he even managed the Nepal national team. It was 1989 before he came back to England, eventually getting the top job at Wimbledon in 1992. To be fair, he did quite well with them, before leaving due to a heart attack. A few years later he gets the job at Luton Town as Director of Football. He summarily fired the manager and appointed himself. Oh oh. Luton Town were relegated from the old Second Division He was sacked 2 years later, after gaining promotion back to the Second Division, then a poorish follow up season. About a year later he gets the job at Nottingham Forest. He saved them from relegation in his first year in the Championship, then won only 4 games from the first 23 the next season. Sacked in 2004.
2008 We pick up the story again, as Ashley hires Joe Kinnear as the replacement for Kevin Keegan. So, a man who's been out of football for nearly 4 years at this point, and after failing miserably at his last job in the Championship (sound recently familiar?) gets the gig at Newcastle United. A solid Premier League team, an iconic club. This doesn't feel right. And it gets worse. He goes on a tirade at a journo, swearing 52 times in one interview, even going so far as to refer to a journo as a cunt. He also forced Charles N'Zogbia out of the club after calling him 'Insomnia" during an interview. After this he refused to talk to the media, instead sending First Team Coach Chris Hughton. The results were mixed to poor. In Feb 2009, the club won their first game since Christmas. Joe Kinnear had another heart attack, and Alan Shearer came in to try and save the club from relegation. He couldn't. Newcastle United were in the Championship.
Side note: so far, these had been the 'good' years under Ashley, with the obvious exception of the Joe Kinnear disaster, the resignation of Keegan, the appointment of non footballing people into executive roles at the club, and general dirty scumbags such as Dennis Wise. Who am I kidding. This place was in a shambles.
2009/10 Chris Hughton gained automatic promotion back to the Premier League in a dominating season. Things were looking good, and the fans were happy again. On December 6 2010, Newcastle were 12th in the league. Not bad for a newly promoted side. But not good enough. Hughton was sacked due to 'lack of top level experience' and Mike Ashley's old gambling buddy Alan Pardew was hired on a FIVE YEAR DEAL!!!
Alan Pardew I'll try and keep this short. Does well at his first big job at Reading. Goes to West Ham United. Does reasonably well for them, gaining promotion in 2005. in 2006 however, he leads West Ham to their worst run of defeats for more than 70 years. Sacked. Goes to Charlton Athletic. Took over the strugglers, and couldn't keep them up. They were 19th when he took over at Christmas, but I guess that's the wrong half of the season for him. Finished 11th in the Championship. Bad. The next season he's sacked in November as they were in the bottom 3, and quite a run of games without a win. Sacked. It's 2009 now, and gets the gig at Southampton, in League One. Sacked in 2010 due to conflicts with the board and low player morale.
Back to 2010/11 On deadline day in January 2010, Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool. No repleacments were available at such short notice. SO whilst the club did very well to get £35 million for him, it's not ideal to sell a player at the last minute. Still, the club maintained and finished 12th.
2011/12 The Graham Carr years. Ashley had hired a 'manager' that he didn't trust with player recruitment, so he made that the job of head scout Graham Carr and a committee put together with club executives. This began the new transfer policy. Buy low, emerging foreign talents, and try to sell them on for max profits. We saw some incredible players come our way via France, and Pardew did really well, getting Newcastle 5th and Europa League Qualification. Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse lead the way.
2012/13 European Football is back at St James' Park. But not many players were bought in to top up the squad. This hurt. 10 losses in 13 games early in the season set the marker, and the club managed to survive on the 2nd last day of the season. By this point the fans were getting well and truly worried. Europe was good, making the final 8, before losing to Benfica. Troubling times.
I'll just put this snippet in form wikipedia. Joe Kinnear is back!
*On 16 June 2013 in a series of telephone interviews Kinnear claimed he had been appointed as Director of Football for Newcastle United. In a Talksport interview over the telephone on 17 June 2013, Kinnear claimed to have replaced someone called "Derek Lambesi" as the club's director of football, signed Dean Holdsworth at Wimbledon for £50,000 (actually £650,000), sold Robbie Earle (retired a year after Kinnear left), signed goalkeeper Tim Krul when he was previously manager (actually signed by Graeme Souness three years prior) and has been awarded the LMA Manager of the Year award three times despite only winning the award once, he also said he'd never been sacked in his life. Kinnear claimed to have signed John Hartson on a free when he in fact paid £7.5 million for the striker. He also mispronounced the names of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Shola Ameobi, and others in the Talksport interview. The appointment, a three-year contract, was confirmed by Newcastle United on 18 June.The confusion around Kinnear's appointment to the role was criticised by former club chairman Freddy Shepherd in an interview with BBC Sport. Kinnear drew criticism when the 2013 summer transfer window closed with Kinnear failing to make a single permanent signing, lone recruit Loic Remy having been signed on loan from QPR. This criticism intensified at the end of the 2014 winter transfer window with Kinnear failing again to make a permanent signing, this after the £20 million sale of midfielder Yohan Cabaye, with Luuk de Jong having been brought in on loan from Monchengladbach.
On 3 February 2014, Kinnear resigned from his position of Director of Football at Newcastle United*
2013/14 Newcastle lost 15 out of 21 games to start the season. Pretty bad. Not a sighting of Mike Ashley, and the fans were pissed. just have a look here to see some of the things that happened during this time. Including losing 4 consecutive games at home without scoring a goal. A new record. Still nothing from the owner, and Pardew keeps his job.
In the 2014/15 season things didn't really improve, and we didn't win any of the first 7 games. That's poor form. Then a bit of a run happened, 6 wins on the bounce, and Pardew was off to Palace. He left of his own volition, he wasn't sacked. But the only reason he was able to go was because Palace paid a release to Newcastle for him. The fans were delirious. Until John Carver was appointed as the replacement. A career 'Caretaker" with his biggest job managing Toronto FC for a year. Oh boy. But I bet he was cheap. Well needless to say, nothing much happened, and the club survived relegation on the last day of the season, thanks to a goal by Jonas Gutierrez. The guy had beaten cancer, then got told he no longer had a job. Over the phone. Fuck me.
Onto the current season, and Ashley appoints a new manager. Former England boss Steve McClaren. Who had just ended the previous season with a massive implosion of form and therefore promotion chance at Derby in the Championship. Sound familiar? We all know what happened next. He spent lots of money, did jack all with it and then got the arse. But lets clarify a few things here:
I can't go on, as i doubt anybody will actually read any of this, and I also can't properly put into words the anger and frustration at the way this club has been managed, even to the way it's being 'media managed'.
Many people always talk about how Newcastle fans are too demanding, and that we think we have a right to not only Premiership football but also Champions League. THIS IS FALSE. All we want is signs of progress from the club, and 11 players showing some kind of effort on match-day. We like exciting, attacking football. If we get that, and don't always get the results, we're mostly pretty happy. There's 52,000 out there every week that would bleed to wear that shirt, and that's all we want to see from the players that represent us. And that is the key to all of football fandom. Those guys represent us, our city, our history.*
Howay the Lads!
*I'm actually not a local. 23 year fan from Australia. So take 'us' with a large grain of salt. It's the only way to articulate this point to its fullest.
If you did read all of this, thanks.
submitted by LordCommanderKeef to soccer [link] [comments]

The transfer we've all been waiting for? Is Flamini headed back to OM?!

Enough about Alexis' dogs, contract extension angst, Xhaka's fouls, rightback coverage, and ideal midfield pairings: it's time for an update on the career of everyone's favourite gentleman footballer, Mathieu Flamini!
Return to Olympique de Marseille?
After Mathieu returned to Arsenal, the romantic in everyone wanted his next step to be back to OM, to complete his career in a feat of palindromic perfection: OM-Arsenal-Milan-Arsenal-OM. Unfortunately, Mathieu couldn't resist the lure of Crystal Palace, where Alan Pardew proposed that he could be a squad leader, and presumably where he'd get a Premier League-level salary (likely an important consideration for someone who appears to be still ploughing money into multiple start-up ventures).
We don't know what's going on inside CPFC, so while it's possible that Mat has increased responsibility and a role as a mentor / player-coach, and may indeed be "pushing" the other central midfielders, what is clear from the outside is that he's not getting much playing time. OM was one of several clubs pursuing Flamini last summer, and are making another push in January to shore up their squad defensively; they are betting that his desire to actually play some football gives them the edge they need to pry him away from Palace.
Word of OM's interest started sweeping across the French press a couple of weeks ago (original story credited to France Football), but now we're hearing that OM and Flamini are actually "in negotiations", although it's difficult to source this rumour since British papers cite "the French press" and vice versa. But, after a decade of "Flamini to OM!!" every time he's been anywhere near the transfer market, last summer was the first confirmed interest by the club, and Friday is the first rumoured negotiations. So after a stormy separation and 12 years apart, it's starting to look like OM may finally get Flamini's signature on that professional contract.
Other notes:
A few stories: Foot sur7, MaxiFoot, Foot01, Marcato Football Club
incl Debuchy & Sagna: Onze Mondial, MaxiFoot
Talisman for Crystal Palace
So we all know that Flam has been largely riding the bench at Palace, but did you know that the team have won every game that he's played in? His record is 3-0-0, and may I say that his last appearance v Southampton was classic: six minutes of full intensity, all box-to-box, part centre-back, part centre-forward, highly animated and typically bossy with much wild gesticulating and shouting. All that was missing was an audacious two-footed tackle, but we live in hope for his next appearance.
Conference speaker
On the non-footballing front, you may recall from last time that Mat was due to speak at a couple of industry conferences in Lisbon during the last intl break: Sports Trade and the closed-door Venture. No leaks, but here are a few glimpses into his Venture talk, "Winning, both on and off the pitch":
Globo tv feature
His presence in Lisbon has brought his business career to the attention of the Lusosphere. As a result, there have been a few stories, including this Brazilian Globo tv feature, which includes a brief interview & a few shots of the GF Biochemicals lab and plant.
  • Mat's instagram
  • Globo tv feature - including comments from his former Milan teammates Kaká and Robinho. In Brazilian Portuguese with heavy dubbing, but luckily it was reported on by print media...
  • article in Torcedores. It's in Portuguese too, but translatable via the magic of Google translate - see below
Business news
He's been featured in some business stories
  • New Statesman "Mathieu Flamini: the footballer tackling climate change": article and photo
  • Financial Times "A new breed of footballers": article and photo
edit: articles pasted in comments below
photo - Thanksgiving dinner with "family and friends", one of whom must be a cousin since he's a veritable clone of our Mathieu


by Eduardo Caspary Posted at 08:00 of 11/21/16
On the one hand, an introspective and genial Messi, able to sit his markers on the pitch with a simple gingado body. Unbelievable goals, titles and moves mark the career of one of the greatest players of all time. On the other, the self-confidence and efficiency of Cristiano Ronaldo, star of Real Madrid, the selection of Portugal and so many brands that represents the world. Which of the two can be considered the richest player on the planet?
Neither of them. Who has this enviable label is the French midfielder Mathieu Flamini, who recently signed a deal with England's Crystal Palace after being out of a club after failing to renew his contract with Arsenal. The good marking power and accurate passes made him a top player in Europe, with a long pass for Milan, but it was not those technical attributes that made him fill his pockets more than Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
While working for Milan in 2008, Flamini met Pasquale Granata, a businessman who encouraged him to invest in scientific research in the field of chemistry. Dividing himself between training and matches, the Frenchman created, with his new partner, the company GF Biochemicals, specialized in climatic issues and focused on the search for new experiences.
"Climate and environmental issues have always caught my attention, and I've always wanted to do something about it. For me, it was a big challenge. I met a scientist and he told me that nothing had ever been done, so I decided to do it. Let us go in this direction, "said Flamini, in an interview published by Sports Spectacular, Globo on Sunday.
After so much investing in his newest business, Flamini finally managed to celebrate a great discovery. GF Biochemicals focused its studies on levulinic acid. One of the first acids capable of replacing petroleum. So far, nothing new in the world of chemistry. The legacy of the athlete is to have been able to initiate an industrial scale production of the compound in a sustainable way.
"What is also very interesting is that we produce levulinic acid from biomass, which comes from cellulose, grass, wood, corn. Of all these types of raw material, "he explains.
With the production formula in hand, the company of Flamini reaped the fruits of success with the achievement of important awards in the field of chemistry. Currently, the group's shares have increased and are worth around 25 million euros. Large-scale production of levulinic acid is able to move something close to 78 billion reais in the market, which potentially makes Mathieu Flamini the richest player in the world, surpassing even Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a fortune of 766 million reais according to Forbes.
"I am very proud, even without having any training in chemistry we have achieved this enormous achievement. Win these best product awards of the year and for being one of the most influential people in bioeconomics. For me, it's a great satisfaction."
With an expanding factory in Caserta, Italy, which already employs 400 employees, Flamini's company is revolutionizing chemistry and planting hope for a healthier future and a less polluted environment. On the pitch, the Frenchman will never be recognized as a star and perhaps not even a sporting idol of any team. But gratitude will surely come from all the twisted ones.
ed: typos
submitted by Searocksandtrees to Gunners [link] [comments]

Next Leicester manager betting odds: New clear favourite emerges, latest on Alan Pardew Olly Dawes Leicester City sacked manager Claudio Ranieri last week – less than a year since winning the Next Rangers manager betting odds: Latest on Alan Pardew, two Scottish managers linked today Olly Dawes Rangers parted ways with manager Mark Warburton earlier this month. Pardew a 9/1 punt to be next England manager. Coral’s bet of the day focuses on the next England manager market, following on from the Three Lions’ fallout on Monday night, when Roy Hodgson resigned from his post after a shock Euro 2016 last 16 loss to Iceland. Alan Pardew. Alan Pardew is next in line at 9/1. Harry Redknapp was close to becoming appointed the England manager at the time Roy Hodgson was put in charge, but unfortunately he missed out By PA Sport Staff; Alan Pardew says he is likely to return to England for his next managerial role. The former Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham manager left Dutch side ADO Den Haag by mutual

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