For me, it’s a no-brainer, the Skybet Championship is THE most exciting league in England, and one of the most entertaining in the world. I often find myself racking my brain as to why this there is such little coverage of lower league football, it’s terribly frustrating. Obviously the top leagues and players are going to monopolise news and blogs such as this, nothing is ever going to change that but surely there’s room for greater consideration of the smaller minorities and fan bases up and down the country.
The Premiership has undoubtedly become a lot more competitive since the demise (and revival) of Manchester United, Brendan Rogers has rejuvenated Liverpool to some extent, Manchester City have invited others into the title race. Arsenal look better than they have for a long while and Mourinho’s brought his charisma back to Chelsea, but it’s got nothing on the second tier.
Down to the wire, a phrase used to denote whose outcome is not decided until the very last minute. That quite literally was the case for the top two, Wednesday’s late goal ultimately handed Bournemouth the title and forced Watford to make do with second place. Here is a league that saw a newly promoted team not only get promoted, but win the league, scoring 98 goals in the process.
Third and fourth place respectively, Middlesbrough and Norwich played their part in sharing first place among themselves and the top two throughout and eventually had to settle with comfortable play-off positions. Unbelievably, the next two play-off places were decided by a matter of just a few goals. Brentford, Ipswich and Wolves finished on the same points but either of the three could have been knocked out of the top six by one goal from Derby at one point. Reading destroyed the Rams hopes though with a three nil lead, however the other three teams were far from secure and a possible, but highly unlikely swing in scorelines could have seen either Brentford or Ipswich drop out too.
As a Derby fan it pains me to even think about the final day, never mind write about it, but amid the disappointment there was an undeniable excitement watching the goals come in through Sky Sports, what a day!
Forest looked likely to run away with it right from the start, they had a strong starting eleven and support in abundance. Andy Reid and Britt Assambolonga were unplayable, the ex Peterborough striker fed off their Captain and was soon favourite to finish as top goalscorer. It did turn sour though; to my delight, when it was announced Reid would be out for the rest of the season. A total capitulation was confounded by their star strikers unfortunate injury and a transfer embargo that condemned them to a mediocre season. This was enough to blow the title race wide open! They allowed Norwich to top the table and a total of six different teams were in first position at one point or another, culminating in an unbelievable finish.
While the standard of football might not be as good as the big hitters in the Premiership, I argue that there are some teams that played much better than some of the lower Premier league teams. At their best, Derby would play silky passing that would have the likes of Newcastle panicking. Bournemouth have played some fantastic attacking play and would easily outscore Aston Villa and Watford’s front line was just as dangerous.
Players like Patrick Bamford, Troy Deeney, Matt Ritchie and a whole host of others have lit up the Championship and without doubt would be more than able to hold their own in the Premiership.
When the Championship highlights are aired on channel 5 next season at a much more practical and earlier time at night, I get the feeling that it’s popularity will soon rise. I may have always carry some bias due to the fact that Derby have been in the second tier for a while now, but after watching their highlights, given the choice I think I’d stay glued to the Championship action.