This season's Championship is like a box of chocolates...

Friday, 29 January 2010 ·

January is already bidding us a swift exit. It’s where a football season in years gone by might’ve started to show signs of taking shape. Man Utd would be a million points clear at the Premiership summit, with Arsenal and/or Liverpool fighting over the scraps. Occasionally, this order would swap round. Villa would finish mid table. And rest.
Wind back to now, and witness the change. Certainly within the Premierships’ ranks. Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Liverpool, the omnipresent “Big Four”, have conducted themselves with about as much dignity as a Dad dancing at a Disco over recent months.

It has been a particularly unpredictable term, none more so than in the Championship. Blackpool have upset the Lancastrian applecart and stormed into a position where they must be considered genuine promotion and play off candidates. On the flip side, Preston, unmatched in their ability to reach this stage of the division, have suffered an unforeseen dip in form and currently languish in lower mid table. Swansea have announced themselves with even greater vigour than the Tangerine Army, they hover like a bothersome fly around the automatic promotion places. And then there is the greatest absurdity of all; Nottingham Forest’s charge to second, and 17 game unbeaten run.
If there is a form book, it should be rewritten. And then written again, because it wouldn’t make sense. While this on paper sounds like lunacy, it doesn’t take much of an intellectual leap to ascertain why the Championship is the way it is. A simple formula would be :- Club A gets promoted to the Premiership. They struggle, struggle some more and come back down, whilst retaining most of their squad. Repeated with a variety of clubs, even over as small a period as ten years, and the problem becomes evident.
17 of the Championships current roster are ex Premiership. Very similar squads, more often than not built out of players that have played for most of the teams in question. Very similar budgets, as dictated by their yoyo-ing of the divisions. Very similar stadia, for the purposes of playing at this tier of football. It goes on, and on, and on. The only team that is the exception to this rule is Newcastle, and that comes fairly obviously as a result of playing in the Premiership for an extended period of time, finishing second and third on a number of occasions.
Pretty soon you have the same sort of phenomenon that sweeps the streets of any major city. Subway, Starbucks, TK MAXX, Primark. Shaggy and Scooby Doo running past the clock, picture and plant over and over. Bill Murray on Groundhog Day. Hmmm. Forget that one. In any case, the point is made. So whilst initially appearing absurd as League tables go, it’s actually absurd to expect any different. This is why my tips for automatic promotion this year are Peterborough and Doncaster. And just to tie things up, the initial mention of the Premiership deserves its own Meat and Two Veg explanatory formula as well. Club A gets bought.

Tom Parmiter

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Written and edited by Graham Matheson, a Liverpool and Deportivo La Coruna fan.
Writers:-
Omar Malick, an Arsenal fan and season-ticket holder since being brainwashed as a child by his equally deluded father. Omar writes on all the unsavoury aspects of a game with all the moral equilibrium of an arms dealer at an arms fair.
Tom Parmiter, the resident expert on all things Championship

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