TFN’s Chris Francis continues his run down of the top 50 players outside the Premier League…
40. Jason Lowe (Blackburn)
A rangy, strong midfielder who has caps for England at U21 level, Lowe has firmly established himself as a Rovers regular having made his way through their youth system. At the age of 22 he is approaching 100 league starts for the club, and already has a full Premier League season under his belt. One of those that Gary Bowyer needs to build his side around to get Blackburn firing properly again.
39. Franck Moussa (Coventry)
Moussa is not a big man at all, but he combines excellent technical ability with high energy. He has been central to a superb season for a homesick Coventry City in League 1, contributing 12 goals from an attacking midfield position already. Continue reading →
TFN’s Chris Francis runs down his top 50 players outside the Premier League…
50. David Nugent (Leicester)
You either love this guy, or he’s never played for your club. The Nuge continues to show that is a better player than many give him credit for, as his work-rate, persistence and finishing continue to impress. He is a senior professional now and he is an example to the younger members of Leicester’s title chasing squad. 16 goals so far this season.
49. Gary O’Neill (QPR)
O’Neill is a highly experienced box to box midfielder who has played for most of his career in the Premier League. He is tireless, and has been strong this season as QPR have ground out rather than dazzled. A wise head as we move in to the tough stuff towards the end of the campaign. Continue reading →
TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh argues that the globalisation of the Football League can only be a good thing for the national game…
“This is a real change for our club but football is global now…and we were searching for a first-class coach”
In a year when the future of English football has been debated as intensely as ever, Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson’s comments last week made for interesting reading. Gibson was speaking to the media as he unveiled former Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka as Boro’s new manager. By his own admission, he was breaking out of the mould of the “little Englander” in appointing the first non-British manager to the Teesside club. Gibson carried on, “Greg Dyke’s got his self-interest which is the FA and I’ve got my self-interest which is Middlesbrough Football Club”, referring to Dyke’s recent speech bemoaning the lack of English coaches as a contributing factor in the decline of the national game.
The FA Chairman may have had a point that the presence of foreign players and managers can stifle the progress of their English counterparts. However, if handled responsibly, a foreign influence can surely only bring benefits to England’s archaic football convention. Not only is Karanka an exciting appointment for Boro fans, it is a move that hints at a developing symbiotic relationship in Europe’s football landscape. Whilst the English leagues have much to gain from continental involvement, it would appear that European managers themselves are keen to coach in this country. Continue reading →
Chris Francis assesses the fortunes of the Premier League’s three newly arrived teams and asks whether this is the worst promoted trio the league has ever seen…
The identity of the Premier League’s worst ever team is in no doubt.
Derby County were promoted to the Premier League in 2007 and then relegated in March 2008 – the fastest demotion since the restructuring of the English league structure. They ended the season on a paltry 11 points having mustered up one solitary win (at home to Newcastle 1-0 since you ask), and picking up just 8 draws. The fact that they lost 29 games in a season indicated that Billy Davies’ team were way out of their depth, although Davies himself had predicted as much. Having guided Derby to the promised land he demanded the board back him or watch as the club was humiliated and sent back down in flame. Warnings unheeded, Davies was sacked after his team’s inevitable meltdown with the appointment of Paul Jewell as successor having little, if any, effect besides destroying his reputation – a set back his career is yet to recover from.
Since Derby’s demise, in recent years we’ve become accustomed to seeing promoted sides making a name for themselves rather than reverting to playing the role of whipping boys to the more established sides. The gap between the Championship and the Premier League is a massive chasm to bridge, but with good management, a collective spirit and the right players a club can establish itself as a serious fixture in the league, quickly. Last year, Southampton and West Ham played with similar squads to those that got them promoted in the first place and were, on the whole, rather comfortable rubbing shoulders with the mid-table regulars. Norwich and Swansea did the same the season before, with the latter achieving a 9th place finish as well as winning the League Cup last year. Stoke, West Brom, and Newcastle have also each shown that promotion can be more than just a “one year tourist visa”, a remark made by Danny Baker over the weekend as he watched Crystal Palace versus Spurs.
While he was wrong to say that promotion has been nothing more than a short-stay stamp in a club’s shiny new passport, he may well have a point this season. Continue reading →
Leeds fan Kyle Hulme is excited by his club’s new lease of life as it emerges from the shadows of Ken Bates’ reign…
It can be difficult to write about your own club. Constantly fearing your own bias you can quickly fall the other way completely, find yourself typing out controversies in a rather scathing tone. Before you know it you’re calling Neil Warnock words that could get you arrested, or worse, blocked by Caitlin Moran.
I say usually, because today that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Leeds fans find themselves in quite an unusual position – optimism surrounding our club is at a ten year high, yet the expectations for this season are, dare I say it, rather realistic.
This seemingly substantiated optimism is born of all the work that’s been done by the club of late off the pitch. When GFH Capital purchased the club from Leeds fans it saw us embark on a typically rollercoaster-like ride; first we were rich, then we were poor, then Bates looked set to remain as President and supporters no longer knew where they stood.
Leicester City fan Chris Francis extols the virtues of the English second tier…
Bloody hell am I excited. The football season is here already, but this isn’t the beginning of any old league. This weekend we get to watch the start of the most unpredictable league in the land: The Championship.
Over the past few weeks we’ve heard fans from pretty much every team talk about how they think they could reach the play-offs this year, and as ever no one has any real idea as to who will do well and who will fail and fade away.
The Championship is the best league in England because of this unknown quantity. Leicester, Forest, Blackburn, Bolton, and Middlesbrough were ‘the teams to watch’ last year, and it was a pretty poor show from the lot of them, as they finished 6th, 8th, 17th, 7th, and 16th respectively.
Instead, we had Cardiff winning the thing with a rather ugly, if efficient, brand of football, Hull in second and Palace winning at Wembley. In their place we have three teams joining the madhouse who should all fit in pretty nicely. Continue reading →
Jon Wilmore of The Intangiballs argues that Harry Redknapp is looking to be pushed before he has to jump…
For a man who so vehemently declares he is neither a wheeler nor dealer, Harry Redknapp certainly seems keen on doing a lot of both in his alleged mission to get QPR back to the Premier League. His message is clear: let me buy who I want or hire someone else.
I’ve written before about how Harry’s disastrous Rangers reign has been given the sort of free ride the press would only grant their favourite son, so it is hardly surprising to see his latest declaration be treated as an act of defiance – a ‘clear message‘ to those damn tinkering owners just to leave him alone.
I’m not seeking to defend Tony Fernandes. He is, by all accounts, a bit of a clown. But his already numerous failings as the London club’s chairman would be dwarfed by the mistake that letting Harry off the leash in the transfer market would be. As a ‘football person,’ he claims, he and his fellow ‘football people’ should be allowed to pull the purse strings – the same kind of people having already played a part in Portsmouth’s financial nose dive not long ago. Continue reading →