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A happy Christmas at your club?

Paul Fletcher | 08:06 UK time, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas is, so the old saying goes, the season to be merry.

But for some of us this is only possible if we blank out the current position of the club we support, while for others it in itself is a reason for festivities.

The Championship season recently passed its half-way point, while League One and League Two lag just a couple of rounds behind.

By now we have a very good idea of which teams are shaping up to be Christmas crackers and which have the look of a bit of a turkey.

This is my take on the lay of the land in the Football League - be sure to let me know what you think.

Chris Eagles celebrates scoring for Burnley My star performers in the Championship are Burnley. Huge credit must go to manager Owen Coyle, who in 13 months has transformed the famous Lancashire club not only into a side challenging at the top of the division but has masterminded victories over Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal as the Clarets have reached the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

His club do not have the most money or the biggest crowds but his squad has a blend of youth and experience and a couple of shrewd additions in January could ensure they have the necessary staying power.

Somebody by the name of spiritual wolf regularly comments on the inadequacies of my blogs.

He is obviously a Wolves fan and has suggested that any person or club I profile then experiences a dip in form - and could I please, please, please leave his side alone.

Well spiritual wolf, I could hardly talk about success stories so far without mentioning your club.

Manager Mick McCarthy, ever the Yorkshireman, likes to play down his team's position but they too have exciting young players who express themselves with freedom and the men in gold currently have a handy lead at the top of a very fierce competition.

Interestingly, at a time when we often see congested midfields in the Premier League, both Burnley and Wolves operate with old-fashioned wingers.

Mention must also go to Doncaster. They are bottom of the division but remain true to Sean O'Driscoll's footballing principles and if they do return straight to League One they will at least have done so playing eye-catching football.

I sometimes wonder whether they should start to scrap and battle to pick up some points, but I'm not sure there is any guarantee that would work any better than the formula that won them promotion.

Fellow strugglers Charlton could definitely do with a little cheer, perhaps in the form of Santa delivering a manager who can haul them up the table. They have been terribly disappointing and, as with Southampton, the Premier League seems light years away.

And what sort of Christmas is it for Blackpool fans when their manager walks out on them days before the 25th?

Simon Grayson did a cracking job at Bloomfield Road but the timing of his departure has definitely taken the ho, ho, ho out of the festive season.

Just about every manager and player you speak to in the Football League comes back to the importance of consistency in such a tight and congested landscape. League One leaders Leicester seem to have developed the winning habit. They have a big squad packed with experience, draw big crowds and play in a stadium worthy of the Premier League.

The Foxes looked very well placed compared to the division's other big hitters Leeds, who are outside the play-off places, struggling for form and on Sunday sacked Gary McAllister. Chairman Ken Bates did not waste any time in appointing Grayson and it will be interesting to see if they now start marching on together.

Supporters of MK Dons, Peterborough and Stockport have plenty to feel smug about, with back-to-back promotions a distinct possibility, while Millwall, after finishing in lower mid-table last season, are looking pretty good in second.

Stockport in particular work on a modest budget and play in front of modest crowds but Jim Gannon is an innovative young manager who has some excellent players in the likes of Tommy Rowe and Anthony Pilkington and it will be interesting to see whether the Irishman can keep his squad together in January.Stockport County manager Jim Gannon.

Hereford were the fourth team to win promotion from League Two last season. Graham Turner did it by working the loan market in a manner many applauded - and some felt to be an abuse of the system. The Bulls have found life in League One a different proposition, but not as difficult as Crewe. Dario Gradi is back in temporary charge, but whether the experience of Turner and Gradi can keep their respective teams in the division remains to be seen.

Talking of wily old foxes, Peter Taylor knows all about promotion in the lower divisions and his Wycombe side are top of League Two.

But top marks must also go to Bury boss Alan Knill. The Shakers seem to be one of those clubs that are permanently minutes away from going bust despite the best fundraising efforts of a certain Neville Neville and many others at the club. The rest of us might be reeling in this uncertain economic climate but the credit crunch arrived at Gigg Lane years ago.

However, they have become an extremely competitive proposition on the field and sit second in the table.

Exeter are fifth and Aldershot sit just outside the play-off zone - and both are making a very decent fist of their first season back in the Football League, while Dagenham & Redbridge boss John Still working well on a limited budget.

Down at the bottom end it will be a desperate few months as team scramble for their Football League survival.

It will be a very cold Christmas for Luton fans.

The Hatters have been in the Football League since 1919 but are the only club that remain on minus points after suffering a deduction during the summer. They are currently 18 points from safety. Put another way that amounts to six wins - the same number of league games they have won all season.

Bournemouth - a club that permanently seems to have financial troubles - are six points adrift of third-from-bottom Rotherham. Again, it is not a situation to inspire much festive cheer.

I imagine that Notts County fans are feeling far from bullish as yet another season appears to have mediocrity written all over it, but then again fellow blogger Gavin Strachan is in a much better position to talk about that.

Not, I guess, that anything is actually decided at Christmas and I'd like to sign off on this blog by wishing you a very Merry Christmas. Don't drink too much, whether you are celebrating or drowning your sorrows.


  • Comment number 1.

    Cardiff City fan here.

    I have to say I am really please with the way we have been performing this season, arguably playing the best 'football' in the league.

    We have made some shrewd signings in Routledge, Bothroyd, McCormack and Chopra who have helped to propel us into the play-off Bombay Mix.

    With good run over this festive period then who knows what can be achieved by us - I for one am excited.

    My only worry is the January transfer window. The Ledley contract saga has gone on too long now. If we get offered £7 million for him and insert a sell-on clause then I think we should probably accept this.

    The loss of Ledley would be a significant blow, but it can be smoothed out by making the permanent signing of Routledge and getting in a few others either on loan or permanent basis. With Ledley currently filling the central midfield role, a GREAT person to get in would be fan favourite and enigma Jason Koumas. Would love to see him back in City colours!!

    Would love to start the next season in the Premiership in our Brand new stadium!!

    C'mon Lads!!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Cheers Paul, Good Blog,
    nice to know that people in the media do know things outside of the top league in our humble little island of a country?!

    Good informative and interesting writing on the football leagues where the majority of fans support their humble hometown club!

    Wishing your a Good Christmas

  • Comment number 3.

    Being a Leeds fan living in Doncaster I sincerely hope they go down with as few points as possible. I used to wish them well until the playoff final last season, needless to say all the proverbial that I took had a hand in changing my attitude. So good luck to the rest of the Championship! I'm not bitter ;)

    I must say I wish all the best for Luton though, obviously we know the pain they're going through and it's going to be a massive struggle, but I hope they can scrap their way to survival, slim though it may be. They deserve better.

    As for us, well I'd snatch anyone's hand off for a playoff position at the minute. I don't hold out much hope for Friday's game in the meantime... ever the optimist!

  • Comment number 4.

    Leicester fan here

    We’re going into Christmas with a massive smile on our face. Sitting top of the league, playing the best football we have done in years and look like we are making an immediate return to the Championship. Nigel Pearson has done a smooth job thus far blending experienced seasoned pro’s like Matt Oakley, Steve Howard and Chris Powell with exciting youth [Andy King] and incredible talented foreign internationals [Aleksander Tunchev].

    And on top of that, the league’s top score Matty Fryatt has signed a new 3 and a half year contract with the club. 23 goals before Christmas is top notch at any level, so well done the young man.

    Nigel Pearson is a no-nonsense man and knows what he wants from his squad. He plays football the right way and is a credit to the club.

    Merry Christmas to everyday, especially Southampton fans, your loss is our gain. I don’t like seeing the dire state you are in and hope you get yourselves sorted asap.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would also like to wish Merry Christmas to Peterborough United, Hartlepool United and Crewe Alexandra amongst others.

    Before our relegation to League One I had this rose tinted view of this division where defenders are big bar stewards kicking the lump out of players, where hoof ball is being played and natural talent is unheard of.

    I must admit I have been proved completely wrong. Teams down here play excellent football, they are just let down badly by their defenders. Hartlepool surprised me a lot when they visited us, played 2 men up front and played slick passing game, but without the cutting edge.

    Crewe tried their best and played good stuff and Posh are really a good footballing side. - They are all a credit to this league.

    The gulf between League 1 and Championship is not really as big as I thought.

  • Comment number 6.

    Great blog. Missing one team. The MIGHTY SWANS. The swans have adapted well to life in the championship after a 24 year absence.
    Under the great leadership of Martinez (the greatest manager outside the premiership) we have only lost one game at home. We are currently in 10th after loosing some influential players.
    We are proud of our footballing side that ran away with the league one title last year.
    A few additions in the transfer window and we are play-off contenders.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good blog this time Paul! Sorry to be so carping before..... Now you've mentioned us, I hope we don't crash and burn!

  • Comment number 8.


    I appreciate that you are unable to talk about every club in the football leagues, but there is one glaring omission in this article in my opinion.

    You mention Burnley and Wolves as your star performers in the Championship. But surely the form of the Royals is worth a sentence. Beating both Wolves and Birmingham away from home this season, not to mention scoring 3 goals in each must qualify them as a "Christmas Cracker"? And how about a goal difference of nearly +30 by Christmas? And with the recent controversy surrounding Stephen Hunt and his infamous interview on (dare I say it) Sky last Sunday, that sentence must be growing to an entertaining paragraph?

    Merry Christmas


  • Comment number 9.

    What are your thoughts about Brentford's quest for promotion this season Fletch?

    Merry Christmas.

  • Comment number 10.

    Now then - shouldn't you all be out buying those extra special last-minute gifts for your loved ones? I know I should be.

    Right - there is a definite case for including Swansea, Cardiff and Reading in the blog. I would tentatively suggest the claims of the first two are stronger than Reading. I only say this because with Reading's squad I fully expect them to be up there and challenging. As RoyalDutchAlliance - great name - points out, they have had some cracking wins this season, but they have also had a few disappointing results as well. I reckon that in a month or two they might be very solidly in the frame for automatic promotion (more than just two points clear of third) but at the moment I think Wolves and Burnley are the two to shout about.

    As for Brentford - there are a few Bees fans in our office and they seem quietly confident at the moment...

  • Comment number 11.

    Even as a Wolves fan I think RDA is right. Reading should get a mention.

    They played us off the park at the Molineux and are one of only 2 teams to stop us from scoring so far this season.

    Quite a large number of people have been constantly dismissing our chances of automatic promotion, so each and every point that goes on the board is all that bit sweeter. I just hope that come May, we have ultimately proved these people wrong!

    Have a great Xmas everybody......

  • Comment number 12.

    can i just ask anyone who knows, what was so controversial about stephen hunts interview on sky,i didnt see it!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Excellent article. I echo the comments of others. Real football is alive and well in the Football League

    One more shout out to the Royals. We could have lost Coppell in the summer, and looked as if we were becoming a 'selling club' with the likes of Sidwell, Shorey and Kitson departing. Take one look at the team from the first year in the Premiership (a mere two years ago) and 9 of 11 probable starters have either left the club or are currently out on loan or injured. A testament to intelligent signings and teamwork.

    On a final note, sad to see Crewe languishing at the foot of League 1. Dario Grady's legacy deserves more than this.

    Merry Christmas to all and may 2009 bring everyone their footballing wishes

  • Comment number 14.

    i_amlukechadwick: He basically stated that he deserved to be playing for a top Premiership club and pretty much said he didn't want to play for Reading.

    Merry Christmas to all Football League fans. I'm looking forward to our game against Cardiff on Friday, I just hope we can follow up our great result at St Andrews with another 3 points otherwise that effort would have been worthless.

    Good blog by the way Paul.

  • Comment number 15.

    Paul, did you not look at the tables when you wrote this? Exeter ARE in the playoff places, not just outside it, infact we are 5th and level on points with the team in 2nd place with a game in hand!

  • Comment number 16.

    wilsonaj9...i dont know this for a fact so apologies if im wrong, but isnt 9 of 11 of the starting lineup a bit of an over reaction. I mean Reading still have Hahnemann, Ingamarsson, Harper, Hunt & Doyle, who were all starting in Readings first season in the prem.

  • Comment number 17.

    stuExeterCity - quite correct. I've tweaked that. I've got to hold my hand up - I was looking at the wrong table when I wrote that paragraph. I hope the slight will not have a significant impact on your enjoyment of Christmas.

  • Comment number 18.

    Burnley fan here, thanks for the nod!

    I've got to say the clarets' league position this season is something I don't think many of the ans would've anticipated, and despite playing some fantastic football at times we've also been saved on more than one occassion by keeper Brian Jensen who is, as anyone who watched the clarets last year will agree, playing way above what we all believed to be his potential!

    Eagles, Chris McCann and Martin Patterson have made all the difference to us this year, and Burnley ans everywhere are just praying this christmas that come the end of January they're all still at Turf Moor and not chasing the Premier League dream elsewhere.

    Nice to know the world's starting to sit up and take notice!

    Bring on Spurs and Up The Clarets!

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm Countying down the days to Stockport getting promoted again. Jimbo!

  • Comment number 20.

    Back down in League Two, what are the chances of Lincoln City making our customary appearance in the playoffs this season, followed by the usual disappointment come final day? I know we've had some strange results, but with Jackson in charge and the Romanian hitman Adrian Patulea firing in the goals surely theres a case?!
    oh, and merry christmas......

  • Comment number 21.

    I think a mention of Swansea City wouldnt go a miss

  • Comment number 22.

    Sheff Wed fan in peace

    Good blog
    Agree very much that John Pearson is doing a great job at Leicester, Sean O'Driscoll at Doncaster - hope they stay up, they play football and were very unlucky to lose to us for example.
    Also Blackpool - everyone I know , including me, had them down for relegation.
    Don't know too much about League Two, but Macclesfield still struggle on mightily well.

    But what you have missed is Brian Laws at Hillsborough. 25 Million debt, no money anywhere, on-off take-over saga enough to try the patience of Job, last week about 11 first choice players injured - the bloke is working wonders - and really pleasing is the number of - potential at least - good players coming through the academy who are either Sheffield lads or thereabouts or feel like Sheffielders.

    Deserves a mention.

    Up the Owls and all the best health for 2009 to everyone

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm hoping Larry does a good job at Leeds. But I really hope Luton Town are able to scrape together enough points to stay up.

    I think what the football league did to them was wrong. They should penalise financial mismanagement directly, rather than crippling the club and fans. Good luck Luton!

  • Comment number 24.

    How can Wycombe, who sit 9 points clear of second place and have lost just one game all season be worthy of no more than one line.

    Peter Taylor has worked wonders (no pun intended) at our club.

    Merry Christmas everyone! Here's hoping all your clubs do well in the new year (with the exceptions of Franchise, Colchester, Leeds & Cheski).

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry Nigel Pearson of course ( John Pearson was a Wednesdayite, got carried away )

  • Comment number 26.

    Reading fan here, enjoying this blog. Happy for the Royals to get a mention, if only for the Wolves and Birmingham results, but as was pointed out, we probably should be up there given our recent pedigree and I agree, Burnley look excellent this season.

    I just wanted to add a nod to Donny, who I reckon were probably the best looking side to come to the Mad Stad this season so far. We nicked it, but only just and I said walking away from the ground that they'll be fine come the end of the season and they'd take points off our rivals. I really hope thats the case as they play some good football. We've seen a lot worse than Doncaster so far, so best of luck in 2009 Donny fans.

    And obviously, come URZ !

  • Comment number 27.

    There’s been a lot made of the fine results Reading have achieved away at Birmingham and Wolves this season. What hasn’t been mentioned in that there were five differences in the two teams which started those games. Federici, Duberry, Henry, Cisse and Harper played against Birmingham whilst Hahnemann, Bikey, Kebe, Gunnarsson and Karacan were in the team against Wolves. So, almost half the starters were different; those players form what most people recognise as the “backbone” of the team.

    This prompted me to think about the changes that have been made to Reading’s squad over the past few years and the continuing success they have had despite those changes.

    First of all, I think most people would be surprised at the number of changes that have occurred. The teams which started the Championship winning season and the Premiership first season were, perhaps unsurprisingly, very similar. Only Seol, for Little, and Kitson, for Lita, were starting changes between the Championship game v Plymouth in 2005 and the first Premiership game against Boro in 2006; Lita came on as a sub in that game and, of course, Little was injured.

    However, what is most interesting is that, since then, there have been what could be described as wholesale changes. Only three players who started either of those games at the start of 2005 or 2006 played in the 3-1 defeat of Birmingham; Ingimarsson, Harper and Doyle, and Harper didn’t play against Wolves. Of course Hahnemann would probably have also played against Birmingham had he been fit, making four players in total who played both against Birmingham or Wolves and in the first games of 2006 or 2005.

    Sonko, Shorey, Little, Seol, Sidwell and Kitson, all very good players, are all gone and Lita is out on loan. Murty can’t regain his place after injury because of Rosenior’s fine form and Convey, in my opinion the catalyst that led to promotion, can’t find a regular place in the squad after his long term injury.

    Federici, Rosenior, Armstrong, Duberry, Henry, Cisse, Long, the Hunt brothers, Kebe, Mateyovsky, Bikey, Gunnarsson and Karacan have all come into the team since the start of the 2005 season and have all made starting appearances this season.

    There is evidence here of a number of Reading’s key strengths. The scouting system clearly is excellent. The strength of the squad is that the backup players are at the same level as the players in possession of the shirts; that was and will be why the “controversy” caused by Steve Coppell’s use of his “reserves” in cup matches is ridiculous. In no position is there a player who is irreplaceable. Any player in the first team squad could play and would make little difference to the overall quality of the team. Because of Coppell’s consistent management messages all his players are hungry to play, they all know that they will receive opportunities if they work hard and are patient and, if they do well whilst in possession of the shirt, they will keep their place. Of course there are exceptions but they are few and far between …

    Here’s hoping that Coppell stays forever and that Reading can secure promotion again this season; I think that the club’s financial and management philosophies will eventually ensure a solid Premiership future.

  • Comment number 28.

    Fletch, you forgot Shrewsbury! 3rd in League 2. Made some sensible signings. We are a classic example of how to acheve relative succuss while living within our means.
    Hope every club and supportor has a great christmas, and a happy new year!

  • Comment number 29.

    I wonder will Wolves go straight back down just like Sunderland. Or has McCarthy finally learned?
    Just a tip , start with the lower league first I lost interest after league 2. I simply don't get any news about those leagues so I don't know what anyone is talking about unless there is a giant killer or something...Just meant as a thought not as a criticism.
    Cheers and have a peacful and fun loving festival

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm suprised you didn't crack an 'it's -30 in Luton' right now comment, it's ever so imaginative and only a few thousand people have made the joke already.

    Whilst you can quite easily sit behind your keyboard and not care, those of us who DO will be at Kenilworth Road standing by our heroes and the players.

    I'll apologise for the tone of this, but yours was rather 'cold' itself. We'll be just fine whatever happens at Luton, because we now have a belief in ourselves and a spirit that outsiders can't BEGIN to understand.

  • Comment number 31.

    A mention for Bury that is a novel thing, I think a big shout out has to go to alan Knill for his summer signings, we have been crying out for a left winger for longer than I can remember and Jones seems to be doing the business, signing a seasoned pro like Sodje has worked wonders in the defence but I believe the main reason we are doing well is Stephen Dawson.

    If he doesnt play well then the team dont play at all, lets just hope we dont have our customary 2 month slump after christmas!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Good blog Fletch. Good to see more lower leagues airtime.

    Interesting to see you mention Notts County. Probably only because Gavin Strachan does a blog for this site. But I would be worried if I were them, maybe not this season. For a founder member of the whole profession of football, their slide seems inexorable. They just have not moved on. Big ground less than half full every game despite the big catchment area (OK I know the tricky trees are just over the river). There are newer more ambitious clubs looking to take their spot, Dagenham and Redbridge, Yeovil Town, and the like have already established themselves on the league, Histon and Burton Albion look strong this year.

    As a fan of a club that traditionally has a fight every year to avoid the drop into non-league football, I was shocked and disappointed that Luton were deducted so many points, and Bournemouth and Rotherham. It takes part of the thrill away from the season if you know that relegation is very improbable. Surely the whole point of sport is that your deeds in the sporting arena dictate your standing in the sport?

  • Comment number 33.

    Great Blog Paul.

    Im a burnley fan and its good to see we are getting some recognition for a fantastic first half of the season.

    In some of the previous seasons we have played some dour physical long ball football, to be honest it got to the point where watching games wasn't much fun. Owen Coyle has changed all that with his positive pass and move football.

    For as long as i remember if burnley were a goal ahead with 20mins to go, we'd just drop further and further back, trying to hold on for a win. Invariably we'd end up conceding. Under Coyle that particular frustration is a thing of the past, as his solution for the last 20 mins is to attack even more, often making attacking subs rather than bringing o an extra defender.

    We usually crumble at christmas, but not this year. This team is visibly getting better and better the more they play together and im excited to think how good we'll be by May.

    As for other teams, the most impressive were Reading - by far the best team in this league. Also hats off to Cardiff, i would think theyll be there or thereabouts.

  • Comment number 34.

    Another Burnley fan and great to see positive comments about our club.

    As has been said Reading and Cardiff have been by far the two best sides at the Turf this season though I do think Cardiff also caught us on an off day.

    I also liked the look of Wolves at their place and they are going to take some stopping.

    I'd settle for a place in the play offs now and if that is the case I hope Reading and Wolves beat Birmingham to automatic promotion as I was very disappointed with the Blues when I saw them.

    Finally some fantastic football from a lot of clubs this season in the championship. Off the top of my head hats off to Swansea, Forest, Donny, Cardiff, Reading, Wolves for all trying to play football in the right way... and ourselves of course.

  • Comment number 35.

    How can you not make more of a positive comment about Rotherham?! They started the season on -17, the same as Bournemouth and are now only just behind several teams. They would be comfortably ahead of them if their form had not dipped in recent weeks.
    They're through to the Northern Final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy having beaten Leeds and Leicester en route.
    They made it to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup seeing off Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves along the way!
    What other club in the whole country can say they've beaten 5 teams from higher divisions this season?!
    Like many other things you have to be a big name to get mentioned!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Just thought I'd mention Bristol City, actually best not we are heading downhill faster than the ski slopes of Europe

  • Comment number 37.

    I can comment on this - but not on 606. How does that work?

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks for the nod Fletch

    Our festive period was far better this year than for the last few seasons in terms of fixtures.
    It is exciting to be noticed as a top team this year and we weren't much different last season, only this time we have the cutting edge!

    We left ourselfs with too much to do last season and if the second half of the season has a finer cutting edge and more determination from the players will will be cemented!

    The Carling cup run has done wonders and is the most noticable part of our season. It has built up the fans and players confidence and faith from other clubs. If we were asked in August the following questions:

    Will you beat Chelsea and Arsenal this season: 99% of people would have said NO

    Semi finals of the Carling cup: Possible 40/60, did I mention you had to play Chelsea and Arsenal 99.9% say NO

    23rd in league, will you be 4th by Christmas? Alot would have said NO!

    We should have done something like this years ago and I am thinking if there was No run would we be where we are now? or higher in the league? or even lower?
    If we would have fallen at the 3rd hurdle, or even 1st or 2nd with our bad run, we would be scraping low on confidence, but this run only brings more confidence, more determination and the cutting edge, fatigue doesn't come into it despite playing more minutes than any other championship team (and yes more than Derby!) It's all in the heart and those lads have real footballing brains!

    One last thing, I don't believe this year will be like anyother! The game at QPR proved it was all heart and the many wins after proves that our run is no fluke!

    Christmas wishes to all footy fans :D

  • Comment number 39.

    "It will be a very cold Christmas for Luton fans"......

    Maybe. But in the summer we may not have even had a club due to the disgraceful mis-management of our previous Board. Thank you 2020 for saving our club!!

    Sure, minus 30 probably means we're down, but you know what? It's been fun so far - and we might just make it yet! And (if and) when we do, we can justifiably stick the proverbial two fingers up at the FA and Football League who have tried everything to make "an example" of our great club.

    A hundred years of history, a Luton fan I'm proud to be.

    Merry Christmas all!!

  • Comment number 40.

    As you all know Chrismas is a time everbody has to enjoy and feel warm.It's in general a happy moment. here we are sad. nothing to celebrate as things are not good for our club.

    Last year this time ..hmmm we were at the top of the table.this year we are getting down with increasing rate.

    How was the joy last year? I have no words..

    Let Liverpoll and Chelsea fans have Christmass. We celebrate christmas next year. As Arsenal fan, no christmas this year!!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Santa just delivered Gudjon Thorardson... hopefully this might make saturday afternoons slightly less painful for this hardened Crewe Alexandra fan. As it stands, it's not just been a cold Christmas - it's been a cold three months!

  • Comment number 42.

    The best team improvement has to be England. We were a sorry bunch of prima donna losers. Fabio Capello has performed a miracle. He's taken that bunch of no hopers and made England into a team that we can all be proud of. They now work hard, take the job seriously and have the confidence to expect to win important games. Fabio Capello is 2008 manager of the year without any doubt.

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes well done Burnley incredibly consistent and fantastic cup result against the big boys from London town . I Will look forward to our match on the 17th Jan its on the tv hopefully I can track it down in a KZ hostelry . Good luck for the season and maybe we can succeed with 2 in the prem from Lancashire coz as well as your Coylie we have Irvine , bottom of CCC one year ago ! Season's Greetings to all and especially to Luton and Shrewsbury ( PS will succeed ) .

  • Comment number 44.

    hey fletch, spare a thought for us port vale fans. each season seems to get longer and harder,if it hadn't been for the points deductions i guess we would be favourites for the drop,happy times are just around the corner,eh!

  • Comment number 45.

    Thanks for the mention on us Swans, just been reading Martinez's book which he put out not so long ago, and it's a really nice read.

    He is a class act, and will be one of the great managers with time.

    My mention goes to Forest who are getting themselves out of trouble, keep it up guys.

    Well done to Wolves aswell, stay at the top, and we will see you in the Prem in about 2-3 years.

    We all saw the swans potential when we beat the league leaders 3-1 at the Liberty, but we have had injuries since, the most heartbreaking was to the best midfielder in this division Ferrie Bodde, if any of you have seen him play you will agree, Preston fans, he scored from 40 yards, watford 40 yards, and a few others. he will be back next season

  • Comment number 46.

    If we're talking about expectation's vs reality I think the team that's having the most miserable Christmas has to be us... Carlisle United.

    5 games into the season we were joint top, unbeaten and building on the form we showed last season. Most people expected us to be making up for a nightmare end to last season by bagging automatic promotion this time round... even Leeds fans (who if normally asked which 3 teams they thought would get promoted would respond with Leeds, Leeds and Leeds) tipped us.

    None of us envisioned that 3 months, 2 wins and 1 manager later we'd be only 1 point off the relegation zone.

    At least we can take heart in the fact that we have a new manager a decent goalkeeper at last and are probably slowly turning the corner. Transfer window's coming up and I doubt we'll go down. Could be our first mid-table finish since 1985 (I checked, it's true). Hopefully we'll regroup and be back to our promotion-pushing best next season... just look at Millwall.

  • Comment number 47.

    i thinck the winners of football this yr are:
    west brom( tony mowbray never gives up)
    hull city

    and the loosers of football this year are:
    charlton athletic

    (west brom fan)

  • Comment number 48.

    Wolves are flying at the moment and will easily win the league not because they are neccessarily playing better football than the likes of their promotion rivals burnley, birmingham or reading but because they have the formula to win whether they're the better team on the day or not and McCarthy isn't above admitting that in some games his teams performances have been second best to the other team, but his players are in such a rich ven of form that they need only one opportunity for their young talented teams with the likes of mancinne, kightly etc. too snatch a goal or a late equaliser and gain more points. It's this ability that makes a winning team, and i can only see wolves improving more and more, while McCarthy struggled to keep Sunderland in the premiership under his charge let's not forget he got them promoted twice in three years, and i think he has a technically and physically more talented squad at his disposal now, and i think they could easily out play some of the teams in the premiership at the moment, ie west ham, no offence to hammers fans but with players leaving to avoid expenditure and no money to replace them and an inexperienced manager i think west ham are likely to get relegated and think they're form is likely to drop off very quickly, despite a brilliant performance at chelsea last week

  • Comment number 49.

    If we're talking about promoted sides coming into the Championship and playing attractive football then surely Swansea City deserve a mention?
    Doncaster might be trying to play football but, as you say, they are at the foot of the table, but for numerous injuries (GK fracturing cheek, 3 LB's getting injured plus our star midfielder out for the season) the Swans would be in the play off positions. Regardless of the 'what if's' we have gained promotion and are holding our own in the division.
    In terms of the season of goodwill the 12 penalties Cardiff have recieved this season are also a very generous offering worth mentioning.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the winners of this season are:
    Hull City (not just great to see the football club rejuvenated and refreshed, but also, their promotion has put the whole of the city in general into swinging amber and black colours and it's a wonderful place to be now !
    Take the crime and down sides to the city of Kingston-Upon-Hull a few years back, when it was regarded as one of the UK's worst cities to live in and that's all cut down now and it's a glowing city. Yorkshire's finest!

    Other teams I'd like to congratulate are Swansea City, Blackpool, Doncaster, Peterborough, MK Dons and Stockport.

  • Comment number 51.

    Yet again Scunthorpe United have been overlooked by the media. Every week I check the papers to see how the iron got on only to find a max of 50 words. I'm sure that it's not only the iron that are forgotten about each week. I wouldn't mind so much if we were an under performing non-league team. But guess what, we're not and what's more we're out playing much bigger and supposedly better teams.

  • Comment number 52.

    It's absolutely right that Bury get a mention here, Alan Knill has done something that the last 3 managers have completely failed to do, in that he's got the team playing as a team, and is getting the best out of players who every year get slated in the press as conference-level. Every year we get written off as relegation favourites, but every year we prove them wrong. This year, we're looking to prove them even more wrong than usual by getting at least a play-off berth. The club is buzzing at the moment, and even a bad run of home defeats hasn't dented confidence. If we keep performing against the better clubs in the division and consistently punching above our weight there's no reason why we shouldn't be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. All credit has to go to Knill for the stability he's brought to us.

  • Comment number 53.

    like to see luton town put 6 wins together soon, starting today. nothing would give me a shrews fan, see the smile disappear from lord mawhinneys face, having ruined league 2's competetive nature and probably ruining the existing blue square league's clubs promotion chances for seasons to come.
    come on fa/fl stagger those points deductions, giving a sporting chance to the three miscreants and ensuring those clubs who have played poorly enough to be relegated are relegated and while you are at it rename the blue square league the blue square league 3. you know it makes sense

  • Comment number 54.

    Here at London Road we found the transition from League Two to League One to be relatively easy - until our 4-0 mauling in the Foxes lair.

    It was not an auspicious start for Darren Ferguson's men with three defeats in the first four games, but 36 points from the next 18 games have left Peterborough United handily placed in the play-off zone.

    Crowds are on the up and we're enjoying some fine football from teams such as Leicester, MK Dons, Scunthorpe, Millwall and Leeds and even Bristols Rovers who lost by the odd goal in nine in a pulsating encounter at London Road.

    Down at this level we don't get any prima donnas or fancy dans, just good, honest pros who do their best to give us some good entertainment.

    As for the referees, that's another story - another blog there methinks!

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    thanks for forgetting about us paul :-)

    we have been an embarrassment to the sport of football this season but hopefully we can give championship survival a go now that we've got rid of mr calderwood

    and a happy new year :-)

  • Comment number 57.

    Oi Fletch!!
    Today saw the mighty Hatters extend their unbeaten run to seven matches. 3 more points today has brought us to within a point of the target our club saviours set at the start of the season. Not a bad achievement considering we were on our knees in August and have had a never ending injury list. Furthermore I'm glad that you're writing us off because that just keeps spurring us fans on especially all 6000+ who were there today!
    Heres wishing all of you a fantastic New Year.

    Forza Luton

  • Comment number 58.

    No cold christmas at Luton!

    A richly deserved 96th minute equaliser at Chesterfield followed by a thrilling win over Lincoln.

    We're going to make the appalling people at the FA and the FL look like the turkeys they are by staying up and winning the FL's trophy at the FA's stadium.

    Their vicious and cowardly assault on our club only made us stronger.

  • Comment number 59.

    I know I'm from the Prima Doma league but am just as enthusiastic about Dagenham and Redbridge from non-league 80's, 90's and up to present. The main contrast I find is the quality is not as good but the effort is always 100% in League 2,plus these lads aren't tainted by 'celebrity, millionaire lifestyles'

    anyway, just wanted to praise the Daggers, the manager and the players; it is somewhat satisfying to watch a team which is overachieving.

    just a bit of reality now; those supporters getting excited re promotion chances need to understand that this club is not ready at the moment for a higher league of football. Secondly, those who complain re the selling of players, firstly every div 2 club is a selling club to the right offer, Dagenham is a very small club, and additionally, how can you deny a player the right to play at a higher level. The football club is completely open about this. Lastly, SECOND LOWEST AVERAGE HOME GATE IN LEAGUE IN DENSELY POPULATED AREA, WHERE ARE YOU!

  • Comment number 60.

    Just like to say that Kilmarnock's first goal against Hibs was quite something special!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Well I think Swansea City should have a mention here as well, taking them up as champions in our manager's Martinez first year in charge, without spending stupid money is a credit to all small clubs who have vision!

    Then getting into the championship playing all the teams off the park with the exception of 1 with a team that cost a lot less than £2m in sum total only highlights the genius of Martinez, and the abilities he has to bring out the very best out of the players he has!

    Also if we had not had season ending injuries to two of our lynch pins in the team I feel we would be in the play off zone now, 6 years ago, we were on the brink of going out of existence, we were playing hull to stay in the league, and were 90 minutes from dropping out entirely. that would have led to I believe too no football club in Swansea.

  • Comment number 62.

    Rather dissapointd that Swansea haven't earned at least a one line mention here, considering the ever-widening gap between the Championship and legaue 1, their performance in not only being comfortably in mid table (play off contention a few weeks ago) but doing so playing good attractive football (as you mentioned Doncaster do) should be applauded, especially as the other two promoted sides are showing just how big a gap there is, Forest especially despite spending millions.

    Martinez has shown himself to be one of the leagues best young managers by first being able to find some great talent that other managers have missed (Scotland, Butler, Bodde, Williams etc.), not only getting them to gel together very quickly but also to be able to play in ana ttractive yet successful manner ina league that usually does not reward such a style.

  • Comment number 63.

    Also if we had not had season ending injuries to two of our lynch pins in the team I feel we would be in the play off zone now, 6 years ago, we were on the brink of going out of existence, we were playing hull to stay in the league, and were 90 minutes from dropping out entirely. that would have led to I believe too no football club in Swansea.


    Indeed no way we could have survived going out of the league.

    Wouldn't it be great to be playing Hull again in a few years in the premiership after that game six years ago ?

  • Comment number 64.

    Re: Post 59

    just a bit of reality now; those supporters getting excited re promotion chances need to understand that this club is not ready at the moment for a higher league of football. Secondly, those who complain re the selling of players, firstly every div 2 club is a selling club to the right offer, Dagenham is a very small club, and additionally, how can you deny a player the right to play at a higher level. The football club is completely open about this. Lastly, SECOND LOWEST AVERAGE HOME GATE IN LEAGUE IN DENSELY POPULATED AREA, WHERE ARE YOU!


    Thanks for the praise but i would like to comment on a few points.
    1) The club may not be ready for promotion but the financial gains of us going up would be phenomenal. Imagine gates against Leeds, Charlton, Norwich, Orient, Southend, Colchester etc and if and when we went down, we would be in a very strong position compared to now. We even might gain a few more supporters.
    2) I don't think any Daggers fan would begrudge a player moving on if the price was right. We know who we are, where we stand etc and we know we cannot compete. If an offer comes in, we have to accept that and we do. Remember we loost our 2 best players in January of our promotion season and still went up.
    3) Where are you??? Probably at West Ham. We are traditionally a non-league club and many people from the area are West Ham fans. I even bet you live in a neighbouring borough. Maybe with a few years of league status we can begin to increase the attendances but we are an unfashionable club in an area with a few more glamorous clubs!


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