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Quite an open division this year?


Mr Popodopolous
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Is still early days of course, but though WBA and Fulham are both correctly favourites, even they have their flaws.

2-3 playoff places open to a lot of sides IMO, division feels quite even in parts- there are a clutch of sides who might emerge from the pack to challenge for top 6 ie the last couple of playoff places- are we one?

Some sides who on paper seem like they should ostensibly be weaker- Blackburn minus Armstrong, are holding up quite well.

Reading have lost a lot of goals and are lower midtable but Swift is having the season of his life, 7 games and 7 goals! (3 assists too), they're a club who have surely breached FFP and need charging. Wiki says his best in a season is 8 Championship goals (36 games), next best is 6.

As for potential surprise packages.

Coventry, making the Ricoh a bit of a fortress but early days, Huddersfield 13 pts despite finishing below us last year. Stoke seem more adventurous but unsure that persists. Luton and Preston seem reasonable but nothing amazing.

Derby holding up steady but a certain lack of depth, goals and prevailing uncertainty.

Nottingham Forest look a weaker side than last season but this is still worse than it might be.

Anyway it feels like 2, maybe 3 playoff places could be on offer but could we be one of the contenders?

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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41 minutes ago, phantom said:

Good write up, but would say that it is probably the same situation every season

Agree to a point, but I thought the top 2 were sides who looked- and may still well ultimately turn out to be- a cut above. However some possible weak points have arisen, whereas e.g. 2 years ago Leeds clearly looked the strongest side under Bielsa, Brentford had the performance but couldn't quite get to top 2, WBA and Fulham looked fairly nailed on for the playoffs or the last top 2 place and from early.

Fulham first 5 looked fantastic, might still walk the League- yes they lost to Blackpool but totally dominant in every respect except one...the final score.

17 minutes ago, Davefevs said:

Think we will be more informed at the next break (11 games).  At the moment strength of fixtures will be having an effect.

Agreed. 10 games was always a marker under GJ, I'd go a little further and say maybe 15 games- strength of fixtures definitely playing a role.

Changed my view on a couple of sides too, though as you say strength of fixtures- Bournemouth I think once we get past a certain point, lack depth. WBA definitely seemed to have had that risk but topped up with loans later in the window and then add Kean Bryan on a free as well...

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Solanke scored 15 goals last season but has 5 in 7 so far this season, to me it looks like he is about to have a fantastic season as he looks really sharp and Bournemouth have no shortage of players who can play it into him. For me they could compete with Fulham and West Brom but no other teams look likely to me of getting the top places yet. 

As for the rest of division it's very difficult to predict. Personally I don't think City have the quality this season to be much more than a hard working mid table side but things may look completely different in 10 games time who knows.

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10 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

Solanke scored 15 goals last season but has 5 in 7 so far this season, to me it looks like he is about to have a fantastic season as he looks really sharp and Bournemouth have no shortage of players who can play it into him. For me they could compete with Fulham and West Brom but no other teams look likely to me of getting the top places yet. 

As for the rest of division it's very difficult to predict. Personally I don't think City have the quality this season to be much more than a hard working mid table side but things may look completely different in 10 games time who knows.

That's true, one bit I hadn't factored in about Bournemouth too is that Parker is a massive upgrade on Tindall and Woodgate. Not saying that I see him as a brilliant manager in his own right but he's miles ahead of those 2. Even though a variety of players have left again, they can sustain this squad for one more season. Adding Lowe and Christie late on topped up the depth chart, arguably similar with Rogers on loan and Cahill. No promotion for them this year though and it could get signivciantly harder- Parachute Payments drop by £20m, Brooks out of contract and FFP becomes a more pressing issue.

WBA adding Molumby and Hugill on loan late in the window- then Kean Bryan on a free, this ticks a number of boxes about my depth queries earlier in the season. Although they only have one natural RB/RWB and one LWB, taking a bit of a chance? Until the loan of Molumby as well, they only had 2 genuine CMs of note/experience, in Livermore and Mowatt.

Yeah think midtable most likely this season but as you say quite hard to predict- if we can use it to help put some building blocks in place that would be positive as well as trying to play some decent stuff.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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Just now, Mr Popodopolous said:

That's true, one bit I hadn't factored in about Bournemouth too is that Parker is a massive upgrade on Tindall and Woodgate. Not saying that I see him as a brilliant manager in his own right but he's miles ahead of those 2. Even though a variety of players have left again, they can sustain this squad for one more season. Adding Lowe and Christie late on topped up the depth chart, arguably similar with Rogers on loan and Cahill. No promotion for them this year though and it could get signivciantly harder- Parachute Payments drop by £20m, Brooks out of contract and FFP becomes a more pressing issue.

WBA adding Molumby and Hugill on loan late in the window- then Kean Bryan on a free, this ticks a number of boxes about my depth queries earlier in the season. Although they only have one natural RB/RWB and one LWB, taking a bit of a chance? Until the loan of Molumby as well, they only had 2 genuine CMs of note/experience, in Livermore and Mowatt.

Yeah think midtable most likely this season but as you say quite hard to predict- if we can use it to help put some building blocks in place that would be positive as well as trying to play some decent stuff.

Bringing in Woodgate when they were pushing for promotion through the play offs always seemed like a horrible decision to me, Parker has done a similar job already at Fulham and at times got them playing well in the Prem, will be interesting to see if he can do a relatively good job again this time, have only been watching the highlights of their games so far but I have liked what I have saw. Can't say I know too much about their squad depth but like you say parachute payments usually make the biggest difference for this.

West Brom have looked very strong and competitive so far from what I've seen, not as attractive as Fulham or Bournemouth but they can play a bit at times and have the tools for a long championship season, if like you say they have good depth too then I can see them having a comfortable points gap above the teams battling for those last play off spots come the run in. Saying that they dropped points in the last 2 games and needed an injury time goal in the game before that so quite possibly jumping to conclusions.

As for City I am by no means the most knowledgeable on here but I am seeing a team that look much more competent defensively but probably will play things quite safe this season and not be the most exciting to watch. Obviously not an ideal strategy but less risky and having lost many games to the more physical sides in the league over the last couple of seasons I think it's the correct move, however maybe the Luton game tonight will be a cracker and not the battle that I am anticipating.

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2 minutes ago, Baba Yaga said:

Bringing in Woodgate when they were pushing for promotion through the play offs always seemed like a horrible decision to me, Parker has done a similar job already at Fulham and at times got them playing well in the Prem, will be interesting to see if he can do a relatively good job again this time, have only been watching the highlights of their games so far but I have liked what I have saw. Can't say I know too much about their squad depth but like you say parachute payments usually make the biggest difference for this.

West Brom have looked very strong and competitive so far from what I've seen, not as attractive as Fulham or Bournemouth but they can play a bit at times and have the tools for a long championship season, if like you say they have good depth too then I can see them having a comfortable points gap above the teams battling for those last play off spots come the run in. Saying that they dropped points in the last 2 games and needed an injury time goal in the game before that so quite possibly jumping to conclusions.

As for City I am by no means the most knowledgeable on here but I am seeing a team that look much more competent defensively but probably will play things quite safe this season and not be the most exciting to watch. Obviously not an ideal strategy but less risky and having lost many games to the more physical sides in the league over the last couple of seasons I think it's the correct move, however maybe the Luton game tonight will be a cracker and not the battle that I am anticipating.

Luton have their limitations but use what they do have quite well- not a bad footballing side IMO, could be good or bad for us. Could make for a decent game, seem to remember them being reasonably comfortable in possession last season and they've added some, lost some but not too many key/top players.

Agree broadly on your other assessments as well.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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For once I don’t think 10-12 games will be as good a time to evaluate. Personally I think the stretched resources and post covid financial effects will take longer to really bite. The promoted teams are already starting to struggle but others may well do okay until November/December before the unrelenting schedule really bites. I see us as one of the teams who could be stronger in the second half of the season whereas a good few will emulate our recent seasons by really falling away in the New Year. 

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11 hours ago, Johnny Musicworks said:

For once I don’t think 10-12 games will be as good a time to evaluate. Personally I think the stretched resources and post covid financial effects will take longer to really bite. The promoted teams are already starting to struggle but others may well do okay until November/December before the unrelenting schedule really bites. I see us as one of the teams who could be stronger in the second half of the season whereas a good few will emulate our recent seasons by really falling away in the New Year. 

This is a good post, don't necessarily disagree but...I worry if we have a lack of depth, not so much about relegation more as to whether we would push on. I'm wondering which sides might fall away, Coventry's home games, at least if underlying numbers anything to go by performances look competent and convincing never mind just the results in isolation- at home certainly.

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