BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher

Archives for August 2011

West Ham & Leicester for the Championship?

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Paul Fletcher | 11:44 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

It is difficult to look beyond West Ham and Leicester City when picking the two teams to win automatic promotion from the Championship.

"Last season there was not a one clear outstanding team in the division, and I include QPR in that," said Rangers midfielder Shaun Derry, who played 45 league games last season as the London club won the second-tier title.

"I think there are two this year in West Ham and Leicester. Looking at their squads, they blow the rest of the chasing pack away in terms of quality."

The gritty Sam Allardyce and traditional footballing purists of West Ham might not appear to be a natural fit but the former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn boss has the experience and leadership skills to oversee an immediate return to the top flight at Upton Park.

Realistically the club might lose some of their proven Premier League performers before the transfer window closes but so far pretty much all of their key players remain. In addition, the Hammers have signed two excellent Championship performers in Matt Taylor and Kevin Nolan, who skippered Newcastle to promotion back to the top flight in 2010.

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Brown plotting promotion at Preston

Paul Fletcher | 06:03 UK time, Thursday, 4 August 2011

Phil Brown is arguably best known for his exploits at Hull City.

To supporters of the Tigers he was the man who took the club into the Premier League and defied the odds to keep them there (for one season at least), winning at Arsenal and Tottenham, and grabbing points at Chelsea and Liverpool.

He made headlines with his half-time team-talk on the pitch at Manchester City on Boxing Day 2008 and his ropey rendition of Sloop John B after securing survival on the final day of the season.

Brown is now hoping his upbeat and colourful management style can revive the fortunes of Preston North End, who were relegated to League One last season after a decade of second-tier football.

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Branston determined to set Bradford buzzing

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Paul Fletcher | 07:12 UK time, Wednesday, 3 August 2011

There was very little wrong with Guy Branston's life in Torquay.

He enjoyed the relaxed seaside lifestyle and the relatively temperate weather on the English Riviera, he met Kelly and fell in love, and his football team were on the rise, reaching last season's League Two play-off final.

But Branston, a strong and uncompromising central defender, has given it all up to join the fourth tier's perennial under-achievers Bradford City.

Bye bye palm trees, hello two-bed in Pudsey.

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