Monday, September 12, 2011
ESPNsoccernet: September 19, 10:48 AM UK
Sven's end, All Black hat-trick
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.
The end for Sven?
Just six games into the new Championship season and Sven-Goran Eriksson is already under pressure, with reports suggesting Leicester City have provisionally lined up old boy Martin O'Neill to replace him.
Eriksson's expensively-assembled outfit took a disappointing 1-1 draw away from Barnsley on Saturday, leaving them eight points adrift of league leaders Brighton and sparking further speculation that the club's ambitious owner is losing patience with their manager.
Thailand's King Power is the financial force behind Leicester these days, and the duty-free giant sees Premier League football as nothing short of an essential requirement for next season. If Eriksson continues to falter, it seems highly likely it will look elsewhere to achieve its ultimate aim - and O'Neill knows better than most how to get the club into the top flight.
The Northern Irishman secured Leicester's promotion to the Premier League in 1996 and kept them there until he left for Celtic five years' later. He also won two League Cups in that time. O'Neill has been out of work since resigning from Aston Villa in October 2010.
Eriksson needs to turn things around, and do it quickly. So where better to start than the visit of Gus Poyet's high-flying Brighton side on Saturday?
Reading in freefall
Reading produced a devastating run at the back end of last season, winning nine in a row on their way to the play-offs. Even though they lost in the final to Swansea at Wembley, the club's fans must surely have emerged for the new campaign in optimistic mood. But things have certainly not picked up where they left off.
Reading have lost their last five games in a row, four of them in the Championship, and find themselves languishing in the relegation zone. Most recently they succumbed to Watford, who hadn't won a game under new manager Sean Dyche before they arrived at the Majedski on Saturday.
"There is no reason to panic, we have to keep plugging away," said Reading manager Brian McDermott after the game. But judging by the messageboard on fan site royals.org, the club's fans don't necessary share his patience, or his sense of hope for that matter.
"Team in selling all its players and being **** shock," wrote one, in reference to the departures of Shane Long to West Brom and Matt Mills to Leicester this summer. "Like watching a Sunday pub team, with most of the players having a hangover," offered another. "That was very, very poor indeed Reading. We need to click and quick," said a third.
Fortunately for McDermott he has a great chance to end the losing streak on Saturday. Reading take on hapless Doncaster, who've taken just a solitary point from their opening six games. Lose that one and the Royals' drama will quickly become a crisis.
Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell produced arguably the most shocking scenes of the weekend, grabbing the stadium announcer's microphone to address unhappy fans after a 3-0 home defeat to Chesterfield left them second bottom in League One.
With chants of "You don't know what you're doing" ringing out at the Seward Stadium, an incensed Mitchell had to be surrounded by a ring of security guards as he approached the end occupied by fans who had stayed after the final whistle to protest.
One man in particular sparked his attention. "The lad in the leather jacket whose eyes seem to be popping out of his head - why don't you jump over the fence and come and have a chat with me?" he said. "Come on then. One to one." As he headed for the tunnel, Mitchell couldn't resist one final rant. With fans calling for his head he barked: "Who do you want then ... have you got somebody?"
Crawley manager on the defensive
This week's "telling it like it is" award goes once again to Crawley's straight-shooting manager Steve Evans, who saw his team hammered 6-0 at Morecambe on Saturday.
When you consider Crawley are the Manchester City of League Two, and favourites for the title, it was a result that few predicted - least of all Evans. And the man expected to lead the Red Devils to promotion was clearly fuming after the game. "I think we were quite fortunate Morecombe didn't score 12. We were that poor," he said.
Evans' best was to come. "If you've got a young centre-back who can't defend, you're going to leak goals. But it's not about naming individuals," he said. Based on that quote you wouldn't fancy 20-year-old Charlie Wassmer's chances of being in the starting line-up next time out.
All Black hat-trick
If he'd chosen a different path, Chris Wood could have been part of the All Blacks squad at the Rugby World Cup back home in his native New Zealand. Thankfully for Birmingham City fans, the burly striker chose the round ball over the oval one and bagged a hat-trick in their 3-0 win against Millwall on Saturday.
"I played rugby until I was 13 or 14. I was a centre," Wood said. "I love playing rugby. If I'd carried on, I would have liked to play for the All Blacks. A lot of people have that dream and you never know.
"I had a decision to make about which route I went down. It was cricket, rugby or football. My dad played football and my mum didn't like me playing rugby. So I chose the football option."
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