Tales from not-the Top Flight

Given Middlesbrough’s impending relegation, I thought it was about time the maddest, most exciting league in the world got a bit more spotlight here on Tales. So friends, I give to you ‘Tales from the Second Tier.’ An original name, I know. Hopefully this will be a regular column keeping you up to speed with all the events unfolding in the Championship, with the usual ‘Tales’ spin on things.

The biggest story in the second tier this week is of course Brighton and Hove Albion securing promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their history. The seagulls were in the top flight in the early 1980’s but as we all know football didn’t exist before 1992. The club were on the brink of non-league in 1997 and have been in the play offs for three of the last four years, so to see them promoted is exciting.

The second automatic promotion slot is very much up for grabs as Newcastle are really trying their hardest to throw away automatic promotion. I don’t know if Kevin Keegan has been made director of football but we are certainly witnessing a Keegan style implosion as The Toon lost 3-1 to Ipswich on Monday. Huddersfield couldn’t capitalise though as they only managed a draw away at Derby. This leaves the Terriers seven points behind Newcastle, but they do have a game in hand.

Reading, everyone’s favourite Berkshire based club, just about managed to beat Rotherham at home. The Millers of course were relegated back in September. Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday picked up crucial victories as well while Leeds dropped out of the play offs for the first time in ages as they lost 1-0 to Wolves. Wednesday, Fulham and Leeds are all within three points of each other and Fulham and Wednesday play each other on the last day, so that will be exciting.

Down the bottom end of the table things are getting very exciting. Rotherham are gone and Wigan are basically gone as well, as they are five points from safety with three games to go. Blackburn have been much improved under Tony Mowbray and a 1-1 draw with relegation rivals Bristol City has left them just one point from safety. Nottingham Forest are in deep trouble, as new manager Mark Warbuton has won just one of his first six matches. They sit just one point above the dreaded dotted line. Also credit to Burton Albion, who following consecutive promotions sit four points above the drop zone, tied with Bristol City.

Birmingham City may well be the story of the Championship this season. Under the ambitious Gary Rowett the blues were out of the play offs on goal difference alone back in December. The board fancied a selfie with Gianfranco Zola however so sacked Rowett and brought in the ex-Chelsea star despite his pretty woeful record as a manager. The Blues were awful under Zola, picking up 16 points out of a possible 66, with just two wins. So after a loss to Burton on Monday Zola resigned with the club just three points above the drop. So who do you bring in to sort this absolute mess out? Harry Redknapp, of course!

Despite his home in Sandbanks being a whole 169 miles away from St Andrews, Harry was so desperate for a job that he’s taken the position at Birmingham. While I’m sure his wife is delighted to get him out of the house, it will be interesting to see how Harry adapts to the freezing conditions in the west midlands, given that he’s never managed outside London or teams on the south coast before. Harry could be the man to galvanise the Blues but it’s pretty evident the second city club is in need of a massive overhaul.

Player of the day: Ryan Sessegnon. The young Fulham fullback scored again this week to take his tally to seven this season. The 16 year old has been impressive for Fulham this season and to be so good at his age is even more impressive. Expect to see young Ryan in the Premier League sooner rather than later.