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Claridge Kicks Off

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Steve Claridge | 15:42 UK time, Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hello, and welcome to 'Claridge Kicks Off', the video blog where Steve Claridge tackles all the big talking points in the Championship, League One and League Two.

This week, in his final blog of the season, Steve looks back at a weekend of drama that saw Swansea, Peterborough and Stevenage triumph in the play-off finals.

He looks at how the three promoted teams will fare next season and what might be in store for Reading, Huddersfield and Torquay, the three sides who lost out at Old Trafford and Wembley.

Non-UK users can see a special international version of Steve's video blog here.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Steve also chooses his teams of the season in all three divisions and gives his reasons for his selections.

Non-UK users can see a special international version of Steve's video blog here.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice blog! I think Reading were desperately unlucky on the day, I felt Phil Dowd's refereeing played into Swansea's hands, and some of Dobbie's gamesmanship was terrible to see. That aside, Swansea's style of football should be thrilling in the Prem and they seem like a Blackpool with the ability to defend! I think Norwich will stay up too, and It's hard to not think QPR will with the finance they have available! Here; is another blog previewing next season, don't think he's got his way to the bottom 10 yet, but the top sides are a good read and I think he plans to write about the next batch too. Another interesting article in that blog about 2 weeks before the P/O final, about Swansea/Cardiff and the prospect of a British Premier League!

    Anyway, how does everyone else thing the promoted 3 will fair? And I think Forest, Birmingham (automatic) and Leicester City for the play-off's next season!

  • Comment number 3.

    "I felt Phil Dowd's refereeing played into Swansea's hands"

    Oh give over.

    If Dowd did anything wrong it was not dismissing Khizanishvili, so to be honest Reading can count themselves a little fortunate that they had the chance to get back into the game. Otherwise he handled the game well, got all the major calls spot on and tried to let it flow as much as possible.

  • Comment number 4.

    Spot on LR: Khizanishvili should have gone - no doubt. Was the last man an clearly prevented a scoring opportunity. Straight red or yellow (his second). Take your pick. I was at the game and watched the whole thing again on TV, and for the life of me I cannot see where Dobbie showed any signs of 'gamesmanship'.

    Reading were unlucky on the day and did well to come back into it, but they lost it in the first half and can't really complain. Can see how Sinclair got MOM but I'd have given it to Dobbie - made 1, scored 1 and was the most influential player on the pitch imo.

    Now we gotta stay up!

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    The fact was that Shane long couldn’t get into the game during the first half. He was constantly getting fouled or should i say man handled without getting noticed. This is one of Shanes strongest attributes and the fact the Dowd failed to see this any of the 8-9 times just topped off a poor display of reffing. Then the icing on the cake was Andy Griffin gets booked for a brilliant challenge that even the great psycho would be proud of.

  • Comment number 7.

    Might be a little bias here, but surprised Lewis Mcgugan wasn't in the Championship team- thought he was magnificent for the most part this year. I don't understand why Raddy Majewski didn't play more, he seems to have a little bit of class and creativity not many players in the Championship have.... Apart from that, pretty sound choice. Don't know how well the teams going into the Prem will do; I think QPR will survive if they can get a few more players, Swansea might just about stay up, I really have to admire the way they play, certainly after you beat us in the playoffs, so fair play and good luck to you (although you were a bit lucky to beat us!), but I can't see Norwich doing anything to be honest. As for next year, I think West Ham and Birmingham up automatically, then play off is a lottery really. Could be anyone. But if I had to say now who I think it will be I'd have to go for Forest, Leicester, Leeds and Southampton! I don't really know why, but I fancy them to do quite well. I think any of them could go up to be honest.... But we'll see.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    Reading were unlucky. Whilst Swansea just about nicked it, on another day RFC would have won - the match stats go to indicate that. Phil Dowd was itching to make a big decision and Swansea got the benefit of his whistle - 18 fouls committed by Reading in a game which wasn't dirty. I left before the end so does anyone know if Dowd went up with the Swansea team to collect his winners medal with them?

  • Comment number 10.

    Dowd reffed the game well. As 3 and 4 pointed out, the biggest mistake he made was not sending off Khizanishvili when he gave away the 1st penalty. This would have probably led to a different dynamic in the 2nd half we would more than likely be discussing a comfortable Swansea victory instead.

    Reading did well to come back early on in the 2nd half but it was their lack of cutting edge in front of goal that ultimately cost them (two good headed chances in the 2nd half, Long's sitter in the 1st half). Long in particular seemed to go missing when Reading needed him to shine.

  • Comment number 11.

    stevesmith , i do not understand where you got bad gamemanship from dobbie? when khizanishvili pushed Borini over isn't that bad gamemanship? and also i believe that swans with a few good signings can survive, norwich will give it a good go and it will be close and QPR with Warnock will survive

  • Comment number 12.

    The referee got the big calls right, apart from the decision not to send off the Reading defender. However that player was so bad on the day, that even this favoured the Swans. Of course over the season, Swansea finished 3rd and thus deserved to go up anyway.

    A few bad losers Reading fans methinks. However McDermott and Madejski were superb in their comments and grace after the game, and given the great atmosphere between the 2 sets of fans before and after the game, Hopefully Reading can join the Swans in the 2012-13 season, if we can stay there.

  • Comment number 13.

    All the comments about Swansea fouling and man-handling Shane Long are pure sour-grapes. Nothing went on that does not go on in every game, Readings defense included. In any other game Reading would have been down to 10 men and would not have staged the admirable fight-back that they did. Had the game been a league game they would not have made the same fight with 11 men either. Dobbie's gamesmanship? Give me a break! Do you watch other games at all? Anything that you feel Swansea got away with pales besides the non-sending off. But I am glad Khizanishvili stayed on as that makes the win even more legitimate

  • Comment number 14.

    #1. Comment implies one actually has/had something to say/worth listening to. If you've got nothing to say then you're not the first to 'comment'

  • Comment number 15.

    always the same - you lose you wuz robbed you win can be magnanimous in between a great game of football that justified yet again the playoff system. swansea werent great and will be better in the premiership and i guess three wins over reading in one season must say something surely?
    even mr claridge is coming round to seeing the beauty of swanselona

  • Comment number 16.

    but it could be argued that had Khizanishvili been sent off, Reading would have had a better chance of winning!!!..fantastic game though and both sets of fans a credit to their clubs, I thouhgt

  • Comment number 17.

    I have forest, West Ham and Cardiff going up

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    This is utter tripe

  • Comment number 21.

    no bournemouth players in the league 1 lineup? ridiculous

  • Comment number 22.

    Fair summary Steve.

    As a Saints fan, I'm always seeing ex-Saints players getting recognition. Once again, the Championship and League One sides are heavily dusted with Saints, Ex-Saints and Ex-Saints Academy. Just shows that our club just keeps on churning them out. The difference is now that we'll be keeping more of them from here on in. Two of Steve's highlighted players from the Championship were Matt Mills and Andrew Surman. Both wanted to stay with Saints, both couldn't, at the time.

    Once again, thanks Steve. Nice blog. See you all in August. COYS..!

  • Comment number 23.


    Perhaps you could answer on this blog, or on your show in August, this question:

    Do you think Danny Wilson is the right man for Sheffield United?

    What is your reaction?

    The protests were quite substantial...

  • Comment number 24.

    Next Season the 3 teams going upwill be:

    Middlesbrough, Blackpool and Cardiff

    Boro are undergoing arenaissance under Mowbray and in their last 15 games showed promotion winning form averaging 2 points plus per game.

    Cardiff have a good sqaud anda new manager will motivate them.

    Blackpool will have enough left to bounce back after the likes of Adam have fled the ship.

    Not sure who will be playoff or straight up tho.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Next Season the 3 teams going upwill be:

    Middlesbrough, Blackpool and Cardiff. Cardiff have a good sqaud anda new manager will motivate them"

    Blackpool were a fluke, good luck to them but no chance of going up with the likes of West Ham, Birmingham, Leeds, Forest et al
    As for Cardiff having a decent squad... LOL
    You do realise their team was made up of loan players don't you? As of this moment, they couldn't put out a first 11, so no, don't put your hard earned cash on them.

  • Comment number 26.

    MayhillBoi beat me to it regarding Cardiff. With no manager, no cash and no team, I'd reserve judgement on their chances for the moment.

    I'd say Dowd's performance on Monday was spot on. 2 stonewall penalties and the 18 fouls against Reading reflecting the more physical approach Reading took against Swansea. It used to be the case that you could get more physical (not dirty as such, just more physical) with Swansea to put them off their game but a strong referee and some behind the scenes work with the tactics seems to have put that approach to bed.

  • Comment number 27.

    LOL Cardiff don't have a team or a manager.

    I think Reading, Leeds or possibly Birmingham (depending who they keep) will be in the top 2 - the playoff is a lottery.

    I think Gold, Sullivan & Brady will finish what they've started, in RUINING West Ham, media loving chumps.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ah, right... Let me defend the point I made at 2; (and no, I wasn't just slating Swansea, congrats to them, I just felt you got rub of the green in all 3 play-off matches)

    Swansea's play; dominating, control the ball, technical, through balls, incisive passing.

    Reading's play; pressing, when they get the ball, be direct, channels out the Kebe or long to well, Long.

    My point is, you could tell the only chance Reading had, was if they stopped Swansea having the ability to outplay them, as Swansea were the technically better side. To do that; it's all about early tackles, firm tackles, getting 'stuck in'. Phil Dowd stopped that from happening.

    As Phil Dowd went on a one-man quest to book the Reading back line, he took away their ability to press and be more agressive. Rightly or wrongly. Andy Griffin makes a firm, fair tackle, and is booked - I couldn't see why. Borini then goes in late on Federici (booked) then theatrically throws himself to the ground when confronted by Khizanishvili (god love google - spelling, but lets call him ZK), to me, Dowd quickly got word in his ear that he shouldn't of booked ZK, hense why he was perhaps wrongly saved from the walk at the penalty incident. However, had ZK and AG not been on bookings, I think Dyer would been crunched in the build up to the pen, and they'd of took a fair booking then - This is my point.

    However, in the bookings to the back line, your 2nd goal was made possible, because as Dobbie turns, he's allowed to do so because the defenders have dropped deeper, and became less aggressive - Something I think was a tactical change because........ Dowd kept booking people for nothing challenges! - Therefore....

    Dowd booking people = less aggresive defenders = Suits Swansea's style of play more.

    Reading only pulled their goals back because at 3-0, they didn't care about being booked, were getting desperate. Swansea couldn't handle the fight they had and looked nervy.

    As for Dobbie, I seen him asking for people to be booked on 4 different occasions, I don't like that.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nice blog - Totally agree with andy kings selection in the championship team of the yea he has had an unelievable season this year for the foxes - how do you think leicester will get on next season? i think going up west ham and either birmingham or middlesborough

  • Comment number 30.

    I go in to every season with a degree of optimism and for that reason dont discount Bristol City for promotion next year. We were bottom at Christmas and finished closer to the playoffs than the drop.

    We have as good a forward line available as their is at this level, and they are making all the right noises about signing CB's and creative midfielders.

    There is a way to go and we are no where near favourates, but I think we could be dark horses.

  • Comment number 31.

    Surprised that people think Cardiff have a chance of promotion next season. Managerless and losing loads of player, I think they'll be at the wrong end of the table. Birmingham, West Ham, Leicester, Leeds, Coventry, Reading all have a chance .... this is what makes the Championship more excicting that the Prem.

  • Comment number 32.

    OK, Reading fans, we beat you at your ground, beat you at our ground and also beat you on "your home turf", that's what a lot of your fans were calling Wembley. Also, we finished above you in the League!!!! So, I'm sure the complaints about the ref etc are just sour grapes, right ?

  • Comment number 33.

    I see West Ham, Birmingham and Burnley going up. Allardyce has a point to prove and will prove it, McLeish is a fighter and Eddie Howe is a clever manager with a big future. I think Reading will do respectably but not as well as this season. Forest always look dangerous but Cardiff could end up closer to releagtion than promotion - losing their best players and in a terrible hole financially.

  • Comment number 34.

    Come now Reading, as Chris #32 says, we beat you at your place, we beat you at ours, finished higher in the league and then spanked you at Wembley. We're the better team. End of.

    Next then are 14 Reasons in no particular order why Cardiff will most certainly not be making a play for the premier league next season, and will in fact be struggling to survive.

    1) Jay Bothroyd
    2) Chris Burke
    3) Adam Matthews
    4) Craig Bellamy
    5) Jason Brown
    6) Stephen Bywater
    7) Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
    8) Jason Koumas
    9) Seyi Olofinjana
    10) Jlloyd Samuel
    11) Gavin Rae
    12) Martin John
    13) Dave Jones
    14) A hideous financial situation

    So in conclusion, SWIM AWAY, SWIM AWAY, SWIM AWAY

    Up the Swans - We Are Premier League!!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    not sure we were that lucky - zurab didnt deserve the first yellow at all. whislt they were both pens, the rest of dowds decisions were pretty bad. he gave long nothing in the first half despite having ashely williams hanging off his back all game. im not saying we lsot becasue of dowd - we lsot cos swansea scored 3 goals from 3 shots, and we werent as clinical. that and monks superb stop to deny hunt. hope swans ruffle some feathers in PL

  • Comment number 36.

    I think it says a lot about how one result can change a club, Stevenage were in a similar position to York two years ago, both challenging for promotion. Stevenage won promotion and York got beaten in the Play Offs. Stevenage also beat York in the FA Trophy that year. If York had beaten Oxford, we could be in a hugely different situation than we are, languishing in mid-table. Good luck to Stevenage though

  • Comment number 37.

    So people think Birmingham and Leeds could be top 2, but not Leicester?

    Get real.

  • Comment number 38.

    Ncnaughton better than Naughton? Ridiculous Steve.

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting no body is considering the prospects of the three promoted teams from Division!! I think one of them could make the play-offs (Southampton?)

  • Comment number 40.

    Dowd didn't have a good game. If you watch the highlights again you will notice every 50/50 decision went to Swansea, besides the kishnisvilli incident. However the tussle that zurab and dobbie faced resulted in two yellow cards from dobbies dramatic reaction, now would you rather have a centre back on a yellow or a striker in a playoff final? - a no brainer. The swans were lucky that karacans effort didn't go in, and if the 'experienced' andy was in touch with the football rule book I could see reading scoring again in a nervy last ten minutes. But swansea won and good luck to them in the prem

  • Comment number 41.

    Very surprised Luke Chambers or Lewis McGugan didn't get in your Championship team of the year.

    McGugan being left out i can understand because although generally over the whole season he was outstanding, he did have a couple of months where he went a bit quiet, well in goalscoring terms anyway.

    But Chambers has been the most consistent centre-back by far. Chambers not even getting a mention is criminal really, especially when you must have seen the game against QPR that was on tv and he was absolutely outstanding and has been as consistent as that all season!

  • Comment number 42.

    Can only agree with the comments re: Cardiff City, and seeing the poisonous comments posted on their message boards I would not be sorry to see them relegated next season. It might force some of their fans to grow up a bit, knowing they are no longer the media darlings of South Wales.

    I hope that Swansea City stay up, and I can certainly see them finishing 16th or better - they should aim for survival next season and look to consolidate the season after.

    By the way Mr. Claridge, any truth that you are quitting Auntie Beeb to take over as Weymouth chairman?

  • Comment number 43.

    The thing is, Swansea Scored 4 and Reading scored 2, so all this 'rub of the green' stuff is nonsense! Reading had chances to finish and they didnt take them, we had chances and we took them, Karacan's effort didnt go in down to a great block from Ashley Williams and Noel Hunt didnt put the rebound in thanks to a great block from Garry Monk. If we sign the players we are rumoured to we will do well

  • Comment number 44.

    I have to say - i dont believe in fate - but drawing against a very good forest side when you are down to 10-men. Playing at home and winning when Forest hit the post & cross bar on numerous occassions. Then the long haul to wembley - again playing a very good royals side. The Ref played it cool and kept the game on track ! The sending off was NOT to be! the man handling of Shane long - was not to be ! As a season ticket holder - I know - this is football - hopefully the Swans can be a credit to the premiership.
    the Royal supporters were great and added to a great wembley atmosphere.
    Long may the positive buzz in swansea continue.

  • Comment number 45.

    Blackpool were team of the season. Value for money and great to watch!

  • Comment number 46.

    Don't know why anyone is questioning Swansea's victory against Reading, as they were easily the best team. Reading fans may look to the statistics if they like, but they don't tell the real story, and 4 goals don't just happen by accident. Reading will get promoted next season anyway.

  • Comment number 47.

    Paulo D C success or failure? At Swindon he has been doing and saying all the right things and is impressing 99% of the fans. Supporters of other teams tend to think his United Nations team is going to fall flat on their nose. Where do stand before a ball is kicked?

  • Comment number 48.

    Whilst interestingly watching MOTD and a comment made by one pundit that he thought it right 'a striker has every right to look for a penalty'...... clearly upset me. Surely it the defenders right to defend and the strikers right to attack but not to blatantly try to con the referee into giving a penalty. To me it is quite clear if a striker is running at full pace if he is making an attempt on goal then is fouled and falls to the ground then perhaps if he has a goal scoring opportunity then yes, however if the striker falls with his arms above his head then it is a clear dive and should follow in the footsteps of Tom Daly. The Football authorities should do the same as in Cricket, the ref has already stopped the game then the fourth official should review, today's strikers have much more pace than twenty or thirty years ago and referees clearly need more help to make the right decision. For everyone's info I do not support a premier league team.


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