Championship so far: Cardiff

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It would be fair to say there was plenty of controversy at Cardiff last season, after the Bluebirds opted to switch their famous blue shirts for a red strip due to commercial reasons.

Such a move came off the back of a playoff defeat although following large-scale investment, most supporters are relatively happy with the decision their foreign owners made. In fact, the investment made into the club seems to already be paying off, with Cardiff regarded as one of the big tips for promotion as they lead the division after twenty one games.


The Results

Having amassed forty four points from their opening fixtures, it doesn’t take a genius to see that Cardiff are well on the way to promotion. While there may have been one or two shaky spells, such periods have been few and far between and have generally lasted for just a couple of games.

Instead, Malky MacKay’s men have dominated the majority of games they have been involved in and the fact they have won every single game at home highlights their success.

At the time of writing, they have won five out of their last six matches and with poor runs being so rare, you really cannot see them giving up their lead at the top and throwing away another promotion chance.


The Summer Buys

Following the investment over the summer, Malky MacKay took full advantage of his additional resources and proceeded to bolster the Cardiff squad in as many ways as possible. Craig Bellamy was probably the most high-profile purchase, with the Welsh international returning to his hometown club for a second time, although fans will have been hoping for more of an impression following a return of three goals in twelve games.

Instead, it’s probably Heidar Helguson who has been one of the more promising attacking buys, with the ex-Watford forward managing seven league goals already. Defender Matthew Connolly has been a surprising hit in front of goal as well and after finding the net on no fewer than four occasions, this summer purchase looks shrewd on a number of levels.

The jury is still out on Joe Lewis, who is yet to start a league game, while the same can probably be said of Kim Bo-Kyung who is taking his time to adjust to English football following his big money move.

Some were surprised when MacKay splashed out around £1m for Craig Noone in the summer yet the former Brighton man has made a sterling impression at Wales and has been a key figure in their promotion push.

The impressive Noone going Gangnam style with summer signing, Kim Bo-Kyung.

Tommy Smith, who was arguably seen as a more encouraging piece of business when he joined, has not yet opened his account, while the same can probably be said of Jordan Mutch who has also struggled since his switch from Birmingham.


The Verdict

Many people were intrigued as to how Cardiff would perform this time around, after seeing their squad undergo so many changes over the summer.

On current viewing, it looks as though MacKay’s men are firm favourites for promotion and it really is difficult to pick any faults in their team.

They have yet to sustain any sort of poor form, while on paper they are also very strong and this leads me to think that nobody will even come close to challenging the Bluebirds for that top spot.


Author Biography

The latest addition to the Championship so far series was written by Liam. He’s an avid follower of football and will compare free bets on his website to help fellow enthusiasts turn a profit from the sport.


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Championship so far: Burnley

Taken from Flickr

Taken from Flickr

Many people seem to forget that it wasn’t too many years ago that Burnley were playing in the Premiership. However, even though the Clarets were playing top flight football just several years ago, they are rarely considered as a big force in the Championship.

It would be fair to say that the Turf Moor outfit have experienced a hugely turbulent start to the new campaign and with the club currently in 15th place, many have already written them off for a push on the top places.


The Results

Having amassed a total of twenty three points from their opening seventeen games, it’s clear to see that Burnley have been the victim of a lot of inconsistencies over the course of the season.

In fact, following an indifferent start, few supporters were too bothered when Eddie Howe decided to leave his post and join League One outfit Bournemouth - allowing the highly rated Sean Dyche to take over. In terms of Howe’s reign, the Clarets got off to a terrible start and actually lost their opening four games of the season.

Things never really got much better and even though the club experienced some positive results, they never really forced any sort of prolonged form. In terms of the impact Dyche has made, it really is too early to tell. The initial signs were certainly promising, after Burnley won their first two games under his leadership in 2-0 and 1-0 fashion against Wolves and Leeds respectively.

However, since then they have proceeded to lose against relegation battlers Ipswich and Charlton and bearing this in mind, it will certainly be interesting to see how they fare over the next few weeks.


The Summer Buys

Out of all of the transfers that Eddie Howe was responsible during the summer, the acquisition of Jason Shackell was probably the most significant. However, despite arriving from Derby with a fantastic reputation, some fans have voiced concerns that Shackell might not be the ideal centre half the club were looking for.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on another big buy, with Sam Vokes struggling to make an impact despite signing from Wolves for several hundred thousand pounds. He’s hardly started a game for the Clarets, while his goal returns stands at a meagre one.

Vokes….. poor form.

Perhaps the best piece of business that Howe masterminded was Brian Stock, with the former Doncaster midfielder managing to force his way into the Burnley midfield and while he has struggled to become a threat in front of goal, he’s at least impressing in other areas.


The Verdict

Even though Eddie Howe arrived at Turf Moor with a sterling reputation, most people would agree that things just never really worked out for him and the club are probably better off with Sean Dyche – who performed miracles at previous club Watford.

It’s certainly going to be interesting to see just how Dyche will fare in this post although if he can keep hold of top scorer Charlie Austin, we don’t see any reason why Burnley can’t make a push for the top half by the end of the season.


Author Biography

This was another addition to the ‘Championship So Far’ series written by Liam. He owns his own sporting website and attempts to compare betting offers for fellow sports enthusiasts.

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Championship So Far: Bristol City

It would be fair to say that Derek McInnes had his hands well and truly tied behind his back last season, after he took over from Keith Millen with City languishing in the relegation zone. While he managed to save them from the drop in relatively comfortable fashion, the pressure was always going to be cranked up for this season as he bid to put his own stamp on the Robins.

Unfortunately, it looks as though he has struggled to mastermind any wholesale improvement, with City seen as big candidates for the drop as they currently sit bottom of the Championship.


The Results

Any City fan should probably look away now ahead of this section, with City’s results over recent months being absolutely disastrous. There was plenty of optimism at the start of the season, with the Ashton Gate outfit managing to record two victories from their opening three games. Moreover, these weren’t any old wins, but they were comprehensive 4-1 and 4-2 results over high-flying Crystal Palace and Cardiff respectively.

Unfortunately, these were the only shining lights in a truly miserable season and as this piece is being written, City are on a run of seven straight losses. These defeats haven’t been against hugely strong opposition as well, with the likes of lowly Charlton and Birmingham taking points off the Robins over recent weeks.


The Summer Buys

After suffering huge financial losses over the past couple of years, Derek McInnes was quite restricted in the transfer market through the summer. However, he did manage to bring in several players and actually paid significant fees for strikers Sam Baldock and Steve Davies. It would be fair to say that the former started his City career on fire and after scoring four times in his opening four games, there were hopes he could be the key replacement for Nicky Maynard who left last year. However, his form over recent months has been poor and he’s managed just one goal since mid-September - meaning the jury is still out.

It’s gone the other way for Davies meanwhile, who has managed an impressive six goals in his last seven matches. Bearing this in mind, it’s clear that both players have clear potential and if they can correlate their form, there could be a chance of City experiencing success.

Davies…. goals galore.

Elsewhere, George Elokobi managed just one game before having his season prematurely ended due to a dislocated ankle, while nobody quite knows what has happened to Jody Morris with the former Chelsea midfielder making just two appearances despite arriving with a decent reputation.

The same can be said of Paul Anderson, who just hasn’t managed to get a look in and with other signings Mark Wilson and Greg Cunningham struggling for form and fitness, it looks as though Tom Heaton is one of the few who have made a solid impression after starting all but two of the club’s league games.

Bearing the above in mind, it is clear to see that most of McInnes’ recruits have really struggled and this could be the big reason why City are in the lowly position they find themselves in.


The Verdict

It is clear to see that Bristol City are set for a long, hard season and it could take something of a miracle for them to avoid the drop. Derek McInnes should have plenty of sympathy as the Ashton Gate outfit are not blessed with huge resources anymore, yet some of his signings are still bewildering.

Nevertheless, on a slightly more positive note, if he can get the likes of Baldock and Davies playing well together City might have an outside chance of survival.


Author Biography

As you will have probably gathered through the last few weeks, Liam is a massive fan of football and follows the Championship closely. He also publishes the best betting offers on his sporting website.

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Championship so far: Brighton

After emerging in the Championship last term, many were not sure what to expect from Brighton this year. While the Seagulls were very impressive last season, there was a worry that they could suffer from the dreaded second-season syndrome this time around.

Following the opening couple of months of the campaign, the jury is certainly still out on Gus Poyet’s men and as the team currently sit in 10th position, coincidentally the same place they finished last term, it remains to be seen if they will launch any sort of improvement over the next few months.


The Results

It would be fair to say that Brighton started the opening few games of the season in very indifferent fashion although it didn’t take long for the club to find their feet. They started an excellent run of form with a 5-1 win over Barnsley and proceeded to win their next five games which put them right up there with the top teams in the division.

Unfortunately, their form has drifted somewhat over the last few weeks and the Seagulls are currently on a winless run of six games.
While three of these results have been draws, it has still halted their playoff push significantly and supporters will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes in the very near future.

It has to be said that they are only three points adrift from 6th place but considering the competitive nature of the Championship this term, it could still take some very good form to re-establish themselves amongst the top cluster of sides again.


The Summer Buys

There’s no doubt that Brighton signed two exceptionally high-profile players in the summer in the form of Wayne Bridge and Tomasz Kuszczak.

In the case of the former, Bridge has performed admirably and not only has he been an ever-present in the Seagulls team, he has also managed a couple of goals which is something he has struggled to do throughout his career. Kuszczak has also played in every league game and is starting to show the form that caused Manchester United to sign him all those years ago.

Kuszczak…. impressive summer signing for the Seagulls.

However, while the above two may have performed well, others have struggled to break into Gus Poyet’s starting eleven - mainly due to form and fitness concerns. The likes of Andrea Orlandi, David Lopez, Stephen Dobbie and Andrew Crofts have all struggled to be regulars for various reasons so it’ll be interesting to see how their careers at the Falmer Stadium turn out.

Spanish defender Bruno has made a slightly better impact and after managing eleven appearances, the full back already looks to be a decent acquisition for Poyet.


The Verdict

In comparison with a lot of teams in the Championship, Brighton brought plenty of players to the club although at the time of writing, a lot of these men are still trying to acclimatize to life with the Seagulls. Nevertheless, Gus Poyet had a very good squad from last term and after starting the season so well, it’s clear their team has potential.

Therefore, we don’t think it will be long before the club shake off this string of poor form and start to make a serious push for the top six places.


Author Biography

Liam runs his own sports betting website which aims to publish betting bonuses from all of the bookmakers in the country. He also follows cricket, horse racing and tennis.


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Championship So Far - Bolton

Our fifth Championship so far feature takes a look at Bolton, a side who were relegated from the Premiership only last year. However, even though most people thought that the Trotters would be in very good shape to make an immediate return to the top flight, this has not been the case at all.

In fact, following a dire start by their own standards, the Reebok Stadium outfit have already handed Owen Coyle his marching orders and are currently without a manager.

They sit in 16th place in the table and while it’s still early days, the gap is slowly increasing between them and the top places.


The Results

As you may expect from Coyle’s dismissal, Bolton have experienced a very poor start to the campaign and have only amassed fourteen points. Prior to this weekend, that tally was even lower and the club really had to dig deep to muster a 3-2 victory over Bristol City after falling two goals behind in the first half.

However, that win was certainly very rare and prior to that, they had won just one other fixture in nine attempts. On a more positive note, they have only lost one match at the Reebok Stadium, but there have been far too many draws for a side that has only just been relegated from the Premiership.


The Summer Buys

Despite their relegation from the top flight, Bolton’s squad wasn’t depleted too much and this meant that Owen Coyle was quite reserved in the transfer market.

Undoubtedly, his most significant purchase was Matthew Mills from Leicester and while the big money signing has played in the majority of fixtures for the Trotters, the fact that the club have quite a poor record at the back suggests that he is struggling to make an impact.

Many were impressed at the club’s ability to lure Keith Andrews to the Reebok Stadium and having made a total of ten appearances, he certainly appears to have been a positive piece of business. Coyle instead seemed to place more attention on loan signings with Premier League trio Stephen Warnock, Jay Spearing and Benik Afobe all arriving from the top flight.

Andrews….. impressive signing for the Trotters.

Just like most of the players in the squad, none of the three have made a huge impact although supporters are hopeful on Spearing following his first goal at the weekend in game against Bristol City.


The Verdict

It is clear to see that Bolton are massively underachieving and considering the squad they have on paper, it’s surely just a matter of time before they recover and launch a serious bid for the top places.

Of course, there is going to be a hell of a lot riding on the appointment on their next manager and as I write this, Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman seems to be the main man in the running.

After he has managed to drag his low-budget Palace team right up the division, this could be a man that could have a sterling effect at the Reebok Stadium if he takes the job.


Author Biography

As you will have read through the past few weeks, Liam loves to watch Championship football and supplements his hobby by publishing a bet bonus on his sports website every so often.


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Championship so far: Blackpool

Blackpool FC

Considering the fact that Blackpool were regarded as regular candidates for the drop in the Championship several years ago, it’s simply incredible to see how much progress the Seasiders have made over recent times.

However, having lost in the playoff final last term, there were some people who wondered just how the Bloomfield Road outfit would fare on the back of that disappointment.

Fortunately for them, they appear to have taken that setback in their stride and are once again challenging for top honours in the 2012/13 campaign.


The Results

Had this piece been written several weeks ago, it would have been very easy to highlight just how impressive the Seasiders looked. Many tipped them as definite candidates for promotion following their performances in the opening weeks, although since then their form has deteriorated somewhat.

Looking back at the start of the season, Holloway’s men looked unstoppable as they started proceedings with three straight victories over Millwall, Blackpool and Ipswich.

Moreover, after beating the Tractor Boys 6-0 and following that win up with a 4-1 thumping of Middlesbrough a couple of weeks later, it was clear that they still retained that attacking potency that made them so dangerous last term.

Unfortunately, they have become highly inconsistent through recent times. Since that victory over Boro, they have managed to collect just three points and have suffered defeats to Huddersfield, Cardiff and Charlton. Such events have led Holloway to turn on various sections of his supporters, who were criticising the team for their inconsistent ways.


The Summer Buys

Following their playoff final defeat last season, many people thought that Blackpool’s squad would fall apart. However, Holloway kept much of his team together and added several players to bolster the squad. Nevertheless, despite adding five new faces, only a couple have made a serious impact in the team. Tiago Gomes and Isaiah Osbourne have played in the majority of games for the club and many fans would agree that they have made a very positive impact at Bloomfield Road.

Tiago Gomes….. an excellent summer acquisition

Some would suggest that Nathan Delfouneso has also made an impression following his two goals, but the fact that he has largely appeared as a substitute shows that he is well down the pecking order in Holloway’s plans. Elsewhere, the likes of Kirk Broadfoot and Nathan Eccleston have barely played and have made just one start between them.

Bearing this in mind, Blackpool’s business hasn’t been a resounding success and following their inconsistent nature, we think Holloway might be tempted to dip into the market during the next transfer window.


The Verdict

With Blackpool currently outside the top six in 8th, it’s no surprise to see some fans slightly concerned. However, they sit just three points away from 3rd place and considering the attacking prowess the club have showed, we don’t think their supporters should be worried too much.

They may be in a poor rut of form at the moment, but we fully expect them to return stronger after the international break and put in a strong push towards the promotion places.


Author Biography

Liam is an avid follower of Championship football and tries to publish lots of betting bonus offers in relation to the matter. He also covers horse racing, rugby and cricket through his blog.


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Championship so far: Blackburn

There is no doubt that there was plenty of attention focused on Blackburn last term, mostly for the wrong reasons. Protests were constantly made at Ewood Park for the removal of Steve Kean as manager and following the club’s relegation from the top flight, most people expected Rovers to finally remove Kean from his position.

As it turns out, they waited until they were sat in 3rd position in this division to make their decision – although officially Kean left by his own accord.


The Results

After starting the campaign with a dour 1-1 draw with Ipswich, Blackburn soon started to rack up the points and proceeded to win four of their next five games.

In fact, having drawn to Leeds in the middle of that run, Rovers soon established themselves as clear favourites for promotion and following that, many simply couldn’t believe the pressure that Kean started to come under following a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.

That was actually the club’s first loss of the season in the league although with the Ewood Park outfit fixed on fourteen points at this time, this was understood to be two fewer than a target set by the owners at the start of the season.

Following Kean’s exit, the club have proceeded to record draws against Charlton and Nottingham Forest and this means that they are now in 5th place at the time of writing.


The Summer Buys

Even though Blackburn’s owners have come in for plenty of criticism over recent months, few people can argue that they invested significant money in the transfer market over the summer.

Undoubtedly, the big purchase was Jordan Rhodes for a whopping £8m, although the former Huddersfield striker seems to be living up to his huge price tag having already scored three goals for his new club.

Jordan Rhodes (right)…. Blackburn’s big summer signing.

However, while that transfer has paid off, the acquisition of Leon Best certainly hasn’t, yet. Despite splashing out £3m on the Newcastle striker, Best has not played a single minute after suffering a serious knee injury in pre-season.

Players such as Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy have played a big part in Rovers’ midfield, while Nuno Gomes has perhaps raised a few eyebrows with his return of four goals, despite his advancing years.

Colin Kazim-Richards is another one who has certainly reaped the rewards in front of goal and he already looks like a warranted purchase following his two strikes.


The Verdict

There is no doubt that Blackburn hold a hugely talented squad for Championship level - perhaps the best in the division. Even though Steve Kean had his critics, few can argue that he made some impressive summer acquisitions and this has made Rovers into a very strong outfit.

However, how they perform depends entirely on the next appointment and while the likes of Alan Shearer and Tim Sherwood are both being suggested as potential candidates, whether or not these two possess the required experience for a promotion push would be debatable.

Therefore, this next appointment is absolutely massive for Blackburn Rovers.


Author Biography

Liam is a big fan of football and publishes a variety of betting offers to help fellow fans profit from the sport. As well as this, he also likes to watch horse racing, cricket and tennis.


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Championship so far: Birmingham City

In the second installment of the “Championship so far series”, it is Midlands outfit Birmingham that will be looked at.

After managing to experience a hugely successful campaign last term which saw them finish in 4th place, the Blues missed out on the chance to return to the Premiership after suffering a defeat in the semi-final of the playoffs.

It would be fair to say there has been plenty of upheaval at St Andrews since then, with the popular Chris Hughton replaced by Lee Clark - a man who has yet to prove himself at Championship level.


The Results

As most people read this, they will probably be thinking of Birmingham’s most recent outing.

It would be fair to say that the Blues fared disastrously and despite playing against a Barnsley outfit who had recorded just one point out of the last thirteen away games, the club were hammered in 5-0 style. That defeat also put an end to a long unbeaten run at home and it will certainly be interesting to see just how the Blues fare in their game at the weekend.

Prior to that, their form had been average to say the least although they had at least managed to record successive home wins over Peterborough and Bolton. However, it is clear to see that there are big problems on the road for Clark’s men, with the club picking up just one point out of three Championship away games.

Clark…. struggling.

Now that the home record has been blasted to pieces, Clark certainly needs to reshuffle his outfit and sort out this form on the road.


The Summer Buys

It could be said that Birmingham’s major piece of business during the summer was bringing Clark in and at the time of writing, his position is certainly questionable. Nevertheless, we’ll now move onto players and the Blues certainly did manage to bring in several experienced heads during the summer months.

Darren Ambrose was arguably the most impressive purchase at the time although on current viewing he has struggled to replicate the form that saw him become such a hit at Crystal Palace and has chipped in with just the one goal.

It would be fair to say that most of Clark’s additions have struggled for game time, with the likes of Ben Gordon, Peter Lovenkrands, David Lucas and Ravel Morrison all struggling to establish themselves in the first team.

At this moment, Hayden Mullins seems to have been the most impressive purchase, with the former Portsmouth defender proving valuable with his versatile performances.

Mullins…. impressive addition for the Blues.

Recent signing Paul Caddis also made an immediate impact, although his career at St Andrews has stuttered somewhat in recent days after he was forced into surgery for a dislocated shoulder.


The Verdict

With Birmingham currently positioned in 19th, Lee Clark certainly hasn’t experienced the start that he would have hoped for at his new club.

Moreover, the fact they were humiliated in 5-0 fashion in their most recent clash is unlikely to have endeared him to his own supporters and for this reason, we have major concerns about the Blues.

They looked absolutely dreadful in the game against Barnsley and now the home record has been broken, it remains to be seen how much pressure will be on their shoulders in their away fixtures.


Author Biography

Liam is a huge follower of football and writes his views in his own bonus sports blog. As well as covering football, he likes to watch tennis, golf and rugby league.


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Championship so far: Barnsley

Barnsley FC

In the first of the “Championship so far” series, South Yorkshire outfit Barnsley will be analysed. It would be fair to say that most people regarded the Tykes as definite candidates for the drop at the start of the season, yet Keith Hill’s men have started rather successfully by their own standards and currently sit in 13th place in the table.


The Results

Having played a total of five games, the Tykes have managed to accumulate seven points. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic record considering their reputation in the division, one has to question if they do rely on their form at Oakwell too much.

At the moment, Hill’s side have yet to record a point on the road, with all of their points arising following results at home. Victories over Middlesbrough and Bristol City as well as a draw to Blackpool have been the catalyst for their position and first and foremost, a return of seven points against sides such as these is certainly impressive.

However, having lost 3-1 and 5-1 to Wolves and Brighton respectively, it’s clear that they are a completely different outfit on the road.

Over the past few campaigns this has always been the case and it remains to be seen if Hill can manage to change things in this regard, or if Barnsley are going to simply rely on their home form throughout the season.

If it is the latter, it’s certainly a huge ask and might put too much pressure on them as the season progresses.


The Summer Buys

Barnsley started the summer with a bang after bringing in Egyptian striker Mido, although the former Tottenham ace has not even started for the club after sustaining an injury in pre-season. Considering the fact that the 29-year-old is probably one of the most seasoned strikers in the division, it will certainly be interesting to see how the club fare once he returns to full fitness.


Elsewhere, former Chelsea midfielder Jacob Mellis has undoubtedly made a huge difference following his switch and many supporters claim that he has filled the big hole left by ex-captain Jacob Butterfield.

Elsewhere, after managing to regain his place in the team following a shock red card in the League Cup, Ben Alnwick appears to be a decent buy and has performed well in recent encounters between the sticks.

However, most supporters will state that Tomasz Cywka is the most impressive summer purchase, with the former Derby man putting in several eye-catching displays that have contributed heavily to Barnsley’s success.


The Verdict

All in all, Barnsley’s campaign can be described as a resounding success so far. However, even though they are in a comfortable position now, the next few weeks are of huge significance for Keith Hill and his men with successive away games on the horizon.

Following their clear struggles on the road, Hill will be hoping that his team can at least net a point to relive some pressure off their shoulders for their next home game in a couple of weeks’ time.


Author Biography

Liam is an avid follower of English football and voices his opinion on the sport through his bonus sports blog. As well as football, he also classes rugby league, golf and tennis amongst his favourite sports.


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