The Championship turned upside down

Preston recently sacked struggling manager, Darren Ferguson

Going into the New Year, many Championship clubs will be looking at their prospects of getting a play-off, or automatic promotion place by the seasons end. But while everyone is discussing how close the league is, and how any number of teams are in contention for these places, we often overlook the state of affairs at the other end of the table; more often than not it mirrors the close situation at the top.

The clubs at the foot of the table will be recovering from their festive hangovers knowing that action has to be taken soon, to stifle their demise. While other teams in the bottom half of the Championship will realize that just a short run of bad form could see them pulled down into a relegation battle. That’s why January is such an important month for these teams. The transfer window is open, so new recruits can be brought in, and there is still enough time left in the season for a new manager to make an impact, and save a club from relegation.

George Bruley was recently sacked by Crystal Palace


Crystal Palace and Preston North End fans will certainly hope this is the case as both have sacked their respective managers George Burley, and Darren Ferguson. Coincidently they played each other on Monday in a relegation six pointer. Palace came out on top winning 1 – 0 courtesy of goal from, Burley signing, Steffen Iversen.

So what now for these two clubs? Firstly I feel that Preston need to find, and appoint, a new manager soon, so that the transfer window can be taken advantage of. This is even more important because after the sacking of Darren Ferguson his father, omnipotent Sir Alex, recalled the three players who were on loan from Manchester United, while Stoke City boss Tony Pulis also recalled his two players at the club. If that was not enough for Preston, their prolific striker Jon “The Beast” Parkin signed for Cardiff over the weekend for the sum of £100,000.

The loss of six first-team payers would be a hit for most teams across the Football League, but the impact is going to be even greater on a team in Preston’s position. Therefore the new manager will almost certainly have to bring in some permanent signings or loanees to steady the ship. Whether it is up and coming talent from the Premier League, or experienced players who have seen a few winters, Preston fans will want to see their club putting up a fight over the next couple of months. Two areas for new additions will be the back line, who have had only three clean sheets so far this season, and improvements to the strike force will be needed, especially with the loss of Parkin.

As for Crystal Palace, they know all too well how it feels to be in this situation. Last season saw them just manage to narrowly avoid relegation thanks to a draw on the final game of the season, this was after a 10 point deduction incurred because of entering Administration.

They now find themselves in a similar situation to Preston, albeit six points better off. A new manager is needed during January so some stability can be brought to the club, and 2010 can be put behind them. So far, four times previous Palace manager, Steve Coppell seems to be number one in contention for the job. But if I were a Palace fan I would think twice about welcoming back Coppell to Sellhurst Park. Earlier this season he left his position as Bristol City manager, after only four months in charge. He cited a lack of enthusiasm for the game and announced his retirement from management. In a league, as competitive as the Championship, I feel that a manager in two minds about his passion for football would certainly be detrimental towards Palace’s survival hopes.

So the next few months will be important times for both these sides. The new signings they bring in off, and on the pitch, will be paramount to their Championship existence, and will make almost every game from now on edge of the seat stuff. But if either team does put together a short run of form, it will be surprising how soon they could be out of the relegation zone, and any number of other teams could be back in it.

Any Palace or Preston fans it would be good to hear your points of view, what manager/players would you like to see at your clubs? Please comment below.

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