Monday, January 2, 2012
Saints stunned, Simon seething
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.
Bristol City show Blackburn the way
If you thought Manchester United's Premier League defeat to Blackburn on New Year's Eve was a seismic event, consider Southampton's loss to Bristol City on Friday night.
Not only did the Championship leaders lose to a team 20 places below them, they also ended a run of 25 league games unbeaten at St. Mary's Stadium that stretched back into 2010. Nigel Adkins' team had dropped just four points at home this season before the upset - which owed no small debt to the heroics of the Robins' veteran goalkeeper David James.
The win kept Bristol City clear of the relegation zone, but Saints' main rivals failed to capitalise at the top. Middlesbrough drew with Peterborough, while West Ham were beaten by Nigel Clough's Derby.
This week's "telling it like it is" award goes emphatically to Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who didn't suffer his team's 4-1 loss against Barnsley lightly. It was Leeds' third Championship defeat in a row, and you get the feeling their training ground will be a little prickly on Monday morning.
"There are so many words you can use to describe the performance: embarrassing, shambolic - too many to say," Grayson snarled after the game. "When you play for Leeds United you have to earn the right to wear the shirt. Too many of them didn't do that and that's embarrassing. A lot of stuff is going to have to happen over the next couple of days.
"Any footballer can have a poor day at the office, but unless someone chops your legs off, you can run around. It's embarrassing to be the manager of the club. They're my players and my team. One or two might not play for the club again."
Di Canio corner
Paolo Di Canio provides such a constant stream of entertainment I've decided to give him a regular slot in The Trawler for 2012. The Swindon manager began his residency in typically eventful fashion - being sent to the stands after joining in with the frenzied celebrations that met his team's late winner against Aidy Boothroyd's Northampton in League One.
"My celebration was for my team, not against Northampton, because it was such a close game and it was a fantastic win for my players," Di Canio said. "I apologised to Aidy Boothroyd and he understood my emotions."
Transfer silly season
With the January transfer window now open, Football League clubs up and down the country are scouring the market for deals that could shape their success in the second half of the season.
Some have already been done. League One high fliers Sheffield United have confirmed the signing of Reading defender Marcus Williams, while Blackpool have completed a loan deal to bring Liverpool defender Danny Wilson to Bloomfield Road until the end of the season.
Leeds have also raided the Premier League - with a loan deal for Tottenham winger Andros Townsend. "He is a quality young player with proven experience at this level and we're delighted to sign him," said Leeds boss Grayson - who presumably won't have any trouble finding a player to make way in his starting line-up.
1-0 to the Palace
Crystal Palace are fast becoming the Arsenal of the Championship. The Eagles enjoyed their third 1-0 win in four games against Millwall on Saturday, with Jermaine Easter scoring the decisive goal against his former club. Palace have now won six games by a 1-0 scoreline this season.
Dougie Freedman's team have climbed into contention for the play-off places, and with a Carling Cup semi-final to look forward to are considerably better off than they were when Freedman took over a year over - following the New Year's Day sacking of George Burley.
"We are a different team, a different club. The past year shows we are looking up, not down," Freedman said.
Rovers blown away
Tranmere Rovers' League One match against Rochdale was called off after high winds damaged the main stand at Prenton Park.
"At about one o'clock a piece of the roof came off and then two or three other sheets started moving as well," the club's chief executive Mick Horton explained. "The priority has to be public safety and unfortunately we had no option but to call the game off."
The damage was fixed in time for Friday's clash with Bury, which the home team won 2-0 for their first league victory in seven games. Clearly the rest did them good and perhaps a wind of change blew in.
Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony is not short of a bob or two.
The 35-year-old Trawler regular posted a picture of his wife in a private jet on New Year's Eve - adding that the expense was, "the best £4k ever spent, 40 mins and home for New Year's Eve with kids. Beats a five-hour drive."
That it does Darragh, that it does.