Review of the English Football League Championship- Season 2011-2012
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Review of the English Football League Championship- Season 2011-2012

The forty six game league season of the English Championship, the second highest of the leagues came to its conclusion recently and while four clubs continue with one promotion place left to play for the remainder of the teams have all finished until they return to pre-season training sometime in July.

The season began back in August 2011 with three teams promoted from the third flight of English football to join the three relegated from the English Premier League the previous season and the remaining teams in the Championship to compete in a forty six game season with each of the 24 teams playing each other once home and away to determine the final positions.

Before a ball was kicked the predictions came in from many football experts from around the country with their predictions as to which teams they considered to be favourites for promotion and relegation once all the matches had been played. Of the three teams that dropped out of the Premier League, West Ham United, Birmingham City and Blackpool each were expected to do well with the team from the east end of London, West Ham expected to make an immediate return to the top flight of English football.

The three teams promoted into the Championship of Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Peterborough United the first two were expected to compete well and finish around mid table as predicted by the experts. The third promoted team Peterborough were predicted to be amongst those teams struggling at the foot of the table and could be one of those to make an immediate return to the division below as had happened to them on their previous promotion two years earlier.

As the opening day began another team highly expected to do well was Leicester City, their owner had spent the most money in assembling a large squad of players and finishing in the top two places and automatic promotion was his target. The club also had an experienced manager in former England boss Sven Goran Erikson; the pressure was certainly on the Swede to ensure his players achieved the expected results on the pitch.

After the opening few games the sides at the top had not read the script written by the experts as none of those highly rated teams appeared in the leading positions. Newly promoted teams Southampton and Brighton, together with Middlesbrough and Derby County were the early pace setters.

As the season progressed Southampton were the team to emerge from the chasing pack as their perfect home record continued until the month of December when they were held to a draw at home by Blackpool. A difficult period of matches over the months of December and January meant the lead built up by Southampton was slowly clawed back until West Ham were just behind them eventually catching them and for a short period of time overtaking the side from the south coast at the top.

At the bottom one of the sides hotly backed by the experts for at least a play off place found themselves in the relegation positions, Nottingham Forest were not having a good season and eventually the club and its manager went separate ways and the head coach of Portsmouth sitting in the middle of the league left that club to take over in Nottingham. A relatively inexperienced coach took over at Portsmouth and soon after his arrival the club found itself on the brink of survival as financial irregularities by the owner led to warrants being issued for his arrest in his native Lithuania.

Portsmouth would later go into administration, be deducted points and find them embroiled in a relegation battle as well as legal one as the finances revealed losses of over £58 million, the second time the club had been in this position in less than three years.

Leicester City were not performing to the expectations of their board and the head coach was replaced hoping this would bring a change in their fortunes on the pitch. Reading had lost the play off final the previous season and started this one badly. Their season improved and their run of form in the second half of the season meant they emerged as late contenders for one of the two automatic promotion spots.

As the season came into the final few games it was two teams from three in contention for those two coveted places with Reading, Southampton and West Ham all trying desperately to avoid the lottery of the play offs. Reading were the first to be confirmed promoted with three games to go and after the next round of matches were confirmed as champions. Southampton and West Ham continued until the final day with the red and white stripes of Southampton emerging victorious on the final day with a 4-0 defeat of Coventry City.  Coventry was one of the three teams to be going in the opposite direction having finished their season just one place off the bottom.

Joining Coventry in relegation were Doncaster Rovers after four years playing in this division. Coventry would be playing their football in English football’s third tier for the first time in almost 50 years at the start of the next season. The final relegation place was taken by Portsmouth, after a point’s deduction and selling or loaning out many of their players to be able to compete financially to the close of the season it still remains unclear as to what the future holds for that club.

At the top Reading return to the top flight for the second time in their history, their previous stay was just two years and ended in 2008. Southampton will be back in English footballs top flight for the third time after being relegated seven years ago. This was their second successive promotion after finishing runners up of English footballs third tier the previous season. Their previous run in the top flight lasted 27 years and they will be looking to at least emulate that feat this time around.

That just leaves four teams vying for one remaining place through the play offs. West Ham will play Cardiff home and away while Birmingham and Blackpool compete over the same format. The winners of the two legs then play off the final at Wembley Stadium in London for the rich prize of a place in English football’s Premier league next season. Sponsorship, televised matches and greater exposure said to be worth around £90 million to each of these three clubs making that step up and competing against the biggest club sides in English football.

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Comments (1)

Very well written review! Thank you.