A look at the Football League Championship; May’s Poll of the MonthPosted: May 4, 2011
So according to our last poll, Barcelona will win the Champions League. What a shame that would be if it turned out to be true. I use the word “shame” there after their total lack of class was shown to the world in their recent semi-final victory over Real Madrid. Diving, play-acting and endless barrages surrounding the referee calling for red and yellow cards after every small foul committed upon them.
Well this poll now takes a look at England, and the nation’s second tier of football. Congratulations go to Queen’s Park Rangers and Norwich who, this weekend secured the Championship title and automatic promotion respectively. But we’re taking a look just below them at the ever-enthralling play-offs.
Right now (Wednesday, May 4th), the teams contesting the play-offs will be; Cardiff City, Swansea City, Reading and Nottingham Forest. The first three of those teams are definitely going to finish the season in the play-offs, but Leeds United could possibly take Notts Forest’s place there. There’s only one game remaining, with three points separating the teams and a goal difference of 6 in favour of Forest. For all intents and purposes, we feel that it’s safe to assume Leeds will still be playing Championship football next year.
Our Poll of The Month for May asks of you; who will be victorious in the race for play-off promotion?
A Look At The Teams
Cardiff City came agonizingly close to the promised land last year, when beaten in the final of the mini competition by Blackpool. For the past few years Cardiff have been steadily improving and building towards promotion. At the moment they sit in third place, the highest positioned team in the play-offs – but this counts for little as Blackpool finished 6th and won promotion last year. Against Swansea, Reading and Nottingham Forest combined, Cardiff have only amounted one win in all 6 encounters. They won and lost to Swansea, were beaten by Forest twice and drew with Reading on both occasions they played.
Swansea on the other hand have four league wins over their play-off rivals, including the double over Reading and one win against both Cardiff and Notts Forest. They have the best record against play-off teams that are in the play-offs. This means that Swansea have already shown us this season that they are able to get the better of the teams they’ll have to face, and this is something that could bode very well for the south Welsh club.
Reading, like Cardiff, have just the one win against their newest closest enemies. This came in a thrilling 4-3 away victory in Nottingham. However, three of the other games ended in draws which shows us that they’re a tough team to break down. Only Swansea have been able to gain all three points against them in a single game in this mini league. The Royals are the side competing in the play-offs now who have most recently played Premier League football, after being relegated in the 07-08 campaign.
Nottingham Forest, bottom of this four team mini league actually have the second best record against the teams also competing in the play-offs. With three wins, two against Cardiff and another against Swansea, Forest will feel no fear heading into the play-offs as the lowest finishing team in the league. Notts Forest are the only play-off team to have ever won a European Cup. Their two successes came under Brian Clough in ’79 and ’80.
Once more, the post-season competition for football’s richest prize is going to be incredibly tough to predict the winner from. Blackpool looked the underdog in every game they had to play, but still managed to find their way to the Premier League. This year I wouldn’t say any of the four teams could be described as the underdog though. Cardiff I would imagine will be the bookies’ and most people’s favourites to win it, after their constantly growing team have come so close before to promotion and have plenty of play-off experience to draw from.
So, who do you think will win the Championship play-offs?