Irons show fire, Leeds hunt new boss
Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
Irons show their fire
Sam Allardyce's West Ham are no closer to charming the East End with their brand of no-frills football, but you could only admire the fighting spirit of Big Sam's team as they survived with 10 men to beat London rivals Millwall 2-1 on Saturday lunchtime.
The Hammers lost captain Kevin Nolan to a two-footed tackle early on, but proceeded to go ahead through Carlton Cole's close-range header. Millwall equalised in the second half, only for defender Winston Reid to smash home an emphatic winner and move the Irons four points clear at the top of the Championship.
"We managed the disappointment of Kevin going off, we didn't sit back and we got our reward," Allardyce said afterwards. "It could be a defining moment.There's a pressure in this fixture and you have to handle that."
West Ham fans now find themselves torn. Continue to berate Allardyce for the perceived negative approach of his team, or accept he's getting the job done and look beyond the aesthetics?
"You've got eight forwards and you're playing one up front - do one Allardyce." posted a Hammers friend of mine before the game. For some fans, promotion by any means necessary just isn't enough.
Weather hits fixtures
The weekend's Football League fixtures were hit hard by cold weather up and down the country. A combination of frozen pitches and safety concerns put paid to three games in the Championship, six in League One and all but one of the fixtures in League Two.
Clark and Warnock linked to Leeds
Neil Warnock and Lee Clark have emerged as frontrunners for the vacant manager's job at Leeds United, following owner Ken Bates' controversial decision to sack Simon Grayson.
Bates has been widely criticised for sending Grayson on his way, with Brighton manager Gus Poyet among the chorus suggesting he'd made the wrong call. The timing was also questionable, with the former Chelsea chairman waiting for the end of the January transfer window before removing his manager.
Some reports have claimed the availability of Warnock forced his hand; the recently departed QPR boss has won promotion from the Championship twice before, and is considered somewhat of a specialist in the field.
Huddersfield manager Lee Clark could yet beat him to the job. With his side vying for promotion from League One, Clark's reputation is soaring and he may be tempted by the challenge of a bigger club like Leeds. Other names flying around include Steve Bruce, Dave Jones and Roberto Di Matteo.
Dons draw on Smith's full debut
Clark's Huddersfield were held to a 1-1 draw at home by promotion rivals MK Dons on Saturday, in a League One clash that saw Alan Smith make his first start for the visitors.
It was Smith's first inclusion in a starting XI since breaking his ankle a year ago, and the former Manchester United midfielder impressed his new manager Karl Robinson with a typically tenacious performance. Smith lasted 66 minutes before being substituted, and left the field shortly after picking up a yellow card for a reckless tackle.
"Alan showed how good he is winning tackles and headers," Robinson said. "He knocked on my door on Monday and said he wanted to play even though he probably needs four weeks of training to get him fully fit."
Forest mourn owner
Nottingham Forest and their fans are mourning the loss of owner Nigel Doughty, who was found dead at his home in Lincolnshire on Saturday morning.
Doughty rescued Forest from administration when he bought them in 1999, and is said to have invested around £100 million in his beloved club since then. Reports suggest he died owed £75.6 million by Forest, and with a further £23 million of his own money committed towards keeping them afloat over the next two years.
Doughty resigned as chairman last October following the sacking of Steve McClaren, but remained Forest's owner.
Di Canio corner
Paolo Di Canio used his column in the Swindon Advertiser to reinforce his commitment to the County Ground cause, and talk down the possibility of him leaving Swindon Town for a job in the Championship anytime soon.
"If any Championship side offered me the money to go then I would say that I am very happy and it a nice honour, because they recognise my work, but no more than this," Di Canio wrote.
The Italian went on to say his destiny may ultimately lie elsewhere, but added that Town fans would be happy to see him progress. "The fans would be honoured to hear Paolo Di Canio linked with Barcelona for £10 million … it can make them feel proud because I started with Swindon."
Bad advert for the game
This week's "telling it like it is" award goes to Barnsley manager Keith Hill, who didn't find much to enjoy in his team's 2-1 loss at Watford on Saturday.
"It was very boring and not great to watch," Hill said of the Championship encounter. "I thought about getting on the motorway to avoid the storm after 10 minutes. That's how bad it was.
"I like my football but that resembled rugby. We lost the game and maybe that was down to Watford. They stopped us playing and have plenty of quality."