Well, we are now entering the transfer window as we have reached the half way mark in the Championship season and like many other people, I am fascinated to see what events will unfold this month. I certainly expect to see plenty of activity as clubs look to improve either their promotion, play-off or relegation avoidance credentials.
If we look at the top of the league, Southampton are in a fantastic position, 47 points on the board at time of writing, all be it they are just coming off a poor home defeat to Bristol City. I expect Nigel Adkins men to strengthen with one or two solid additions. They could well be looking for another striker to support Ricky Lambert in my mind, who they are very reliant on. I think Billy Sharp may well be moving down there very soon from Doncaster!
For West Ham, I can see quite a few changes as Big Sam tries to continue to make his mark on the squad. I think Carlton Cole will be leaving in January, with Fulham being his likely destination. With that income I see a couple of strikers coming back in his place. There has been a definite approach for Huddersfield’s Jordan Rhodes already turned down, but I think that Nicky Maynard will be a West Ham player very soon.
Other big movers in the January window will be my beloved Leicester City as Nigel Pearson makes his mark on a failing squad, put together by Sven Goran Eriksson. The pre-season favourites are languishing in mid-table and as I mentioned in my previous article, money doesn’t guarantee you success. Already Gelson Fernandes looks to be heading to Udinese and Sean St Ledger has been put on the transfer list. I would expect up to 7 or 8 moving out the club this month and I expect three or four new faces arriving. Don’t rule out Pearson going back to his previous club Hull City for one or two and I expect Leicester again to splash some more cash. For me it will take a monumental effort to get City in the play-offs and I think it will be too late this season.
I have also got my eye on other clubs who I think will be doing plenty of business in January. Expect the likes of Leeds Utd, Hull City, Reading, Birmingham, Burnley and Blackpool to be doing plenty of wheeling and dealing as they make attempts to improve their squads to get in to the play offs. Ian Holloway is well known for it and he will be looking to strike gold again for Blackpool as he did with DJ Campbell in 09/10.
So down towards the bottom of the league. I think Doncaster will continue to be busy. However for me, to no avail as I believe the South Yorkshire club to be doomed. The inevitable sale of Billy Sharp should be the final nail in the coffin for them. Coventry City are very limited with what they can do in the transfer market and it will take a huge effort from their staff and players to stay afloat. Maybe one or two good loan signings could do the trick, but for me it will be a bridge too far for them.
So who else will struggle? Well Nottingham Forest are unlikely relegation contenders, but they continue to concede on a regular basis and at the time of writing have gone over ten hours of play without scoring. Not a good recipe for success! I think Steve Cotterill has a big, but by no means impossible task on his hands, to save Forest’s blushes, after two years of successive play-off finishes previously. I see some business being done by Forest in January, with Cotterill going back to Portsmouth for one or two. They may well have to sell one or two also to raise a bit of cash first, but I think Forest will just keep their heads above water.
Bristol City will also be down there long term too. The loss of Maynard will be hard on them, but will also raise a bit of transfer Kitty for Derek Mcinnes. They seem to have plenty of spirit about them and I think they will get their noses over the line.
So who will struggle? Well for me Portsmouth are balancing on a knife edge at the moment, with possible administration looming. I think that Michael Appleton has his hands tied, with their being little chance of improving his squad and I think much of the traffic will be out of Pompey, with the likes of Dave Kitson, David Norris, Liam Lawrence and Hayden Mullins being forced out for financial reasons. There is also the chance that administration could bring a ten point deduction, although that is far from clear yet. For me Portsmouth will be joining Coventry and Doncaster in league 1 next season, although we are a long way away from that and as we know, the Championship offers many twists and turns…..
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