Written by David Robinson
With just one game until the half way mark of the season, it reaches an important landmark for each of the twenty four sides where they have laid the foundations for the second half of the campaign. Of course nothing is won or lost at this point, and Championship fans probably know this more than anyone. A ten point gap can be overturned within a matter of just a couple of weeks in what is always a rollercoaster of a season. Despite it all really being about what now happens in the new calendar year, I look at each side’s performance so far and grade how I think they have fared.
Ipswich Town – 15th – B
Mick McCarthy faces a harder challenge each season under difficult financial constraints. Therefore the Tractor Boys are about where you would expect them to be and have probably had the season you would expect overall. They’ve not had a particularly poor or good spell so far and that should suit them fine. Eight points clear of the drop they should be a stable side and for me that means you still have to give credit to McCarthy so no problems for Ipswich although I’m sure their fans will be wanting to try and go on a run of wins in the second half of the season.
credit Chris Robertshaw
Leeds United – 5th – A
Garry Monk has done a fine job with Leeds after recording 1 win in 6 at the start of the season. 7 Wins in the last 10 has propelled the club into the play-offs and they seem to be building momentum at a good time. Never an easy job, Monk seems to be the ideal candidate at Elland Road and is stamping his mark on the club. He has a talented group but he has definitely done a good job to take them to 5th at this stage. While a host of teams are around them threatening their play-off place, they should be very pleased with the opening half of the season.
Newcastle United – 1st – A+
High pressure on Newcastle to deliver, they have made a great start to their season nine points clear in the automatic places. That’s an ideal gap to have although they should be aware they will have to be focused otherwise it could be lost in a matter of weeks but under a top class manager you cannot see that happening. They have of course had big investment into the squad but due to the large transfer fees they received, the business they have done has been smart and calculated. I really don’t think their squad is anywhere near as special as it’s sometimes talked about so Benitez has once again done a good job and it puts them into poll position to get the job done, something that may have been expected by many but doing it is a whole other task.
Norwich City – 10th – C-
The Canaries have plenty of experience, ‘know how’ and ability in their squad so 10th has to represent a poor start particularly when sitting 15 points off 2nd. They’ve endured some particularly poor results and just 2 wins in the last 10 games played is an unacceptable record for where Norwich will want to be. Thankfully for them a play-0ff place is easily within reach still but it hasn’t been a good first half of the season.
Nottingham Forest – 17th – C
Another club who haven’t been helped from the owner meaning it’s difficult to see them emerge as a side further up the table. Nottingham Forest have probably produced at times what has been expected of them, the odd impressive victory to be wiped away by a lacklustre defeat which is never helped by a constantly leaking defence made up of a free transfers and limited investment, combined with injuries to match. They’ve had to plan most of it without Britt Assombalonga as a maintstay in the team so considering how difficult a job it is, you wouldn’t expect an awful lot more. You feel they’ll be looking over their shoulders if nothing else and the inconsistencies must cause concern but with some impressive wins it’s been an ‘average’ start that Forest will look to improve on.
credit Matt Churchill
Preston North End – 11th – B+
1 win in 6 wasn’t the ideal start for Preston but they certainly have character and for me, continue to exceed expectations at Deepdale. An 11th place position means they sit nicely again in the Championship and allows them to have aspirations to look towards the play-offs rather than looking down. They don’t have the best squad by any means so Simon Grayson has definitely made them an efficient unit. Just the 2 losses in the last 10 is a great record to take into the second half of the season.
Do you agree with the grades? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by mari