What’s the best league in England? The Championship of course | Soccer


SECOND TIER CHEER

For every TNT or Sky Sports cheerleader who would have you believe that the Premier League is without question the best league in the world, there are plenty of fans who insist it’s not even the best in England. And while Football Daily stands firmly in the latter camp, today is probably not the time to champion the Isthmian League Premier Division as the best of its kind in the world, even on the spurious grounds that our local team plays in it. Entry to nearby home games only costs around a tenner, you can drink beer in the stands and nobody really cares who wins.

Much further up the football food chain, the Championship is once again making a compelling case to be a far more intriguing, if not “better”, competition than the supposedly superior league above it, if only because of its inherent stone-hatchet mad unpredictability. After all, in what other league in the world could an apparently doomed team such as Sheffield Wednesday go on an unlikely streak of five wins out of six matches without moving a single place up the table?

Following the Owls’ latest win over Plymouth Argyle last night, their manager Danny Röhl could scarcely have been more pleased. “When you see now, it’s the first time we are not some points behind the line, it’s just the goal difference now,” said the German with the boyband haircut that belies his 34 years. “It’s massive, massive! Today, I take this win and we go forward and we go again.”

While Wednesday may remain second from bottom, so compressed is the lower half of the Championship that neither relegation nor a late surge towards the playoffs can be entirely ruled out. And while bottom side Rotherham’s relegation is now a mere formality, the nine teams directly above them are separated by just four points. So unpredictable is the English second tier, that with their team occupying the comparatively lofty position of 10th, albeit on a run of five consecutive defeats, longsuffering Sunderland fans daren’t look up for looking down.

The Mackems’ latest defeat came at the hands of league leaders Leicester, who had Jamie Vardy to thank for arresting a worrying three-match losing run. The Foxes remain clear at the top of a table in which three of the top four places are occupied by teams relegated from the top flight last season, as well as the comparatively impoverished church mice of Ipswich who came up from League One. In any other season with 78 points to their name and just 10 games to go, Ciaran McKenna’s Tractor Boys would almost certainly be guaranteed automatic promotion but in this particularly bonkers season, Championship safety is their only current cast-iron guarantee.

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Join Simon Burnton at 8pm GMT for red-hot updates on Manchester City 4-0 Copenhagen (agg: 7-1) in their Big Cup last-16 second leg, while Taha Hashim will be on hand for Real Madrid 3-0 Leipzig (agg: 4-0).

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“No one said ‘no’ to being the club captain, it was just for certain games … but they didn’t want to say it themselves, they had other people come up to me and say it. It was disappointing. It’s a different generation, it’s Gen Z. It’s petty and shows a lack of ambition” – Ole Gunnar Solskjær on the allure of the Manchester United armband in his time at the club.

Oh Ole! Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images/Reuters

And toppermost of the poppermost (some say top of the pops) in the tempting fate charts is this from Big Website. Germany will now probably go and win it won’t they … on penalties … against us” – Noble Francis.

Re: Monday’s snow joke section – oh, how quickly people forget the USA USA USA v Costa Rica in March 2013, a match almost stopped in the 56th minute due to the snowy conditions at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in usually sunny Colorado. But to be honest, I’m not sure how much merit I place in claims of advantage due to environmental conditions. After all, the announcements at Colorado Rapids matches, for instance, make a big deal of the fact that teams will be playing at altitude (it’s at about a mile above sea level). Anyone who’s ever followed the Rapids knows that this advantage is rarely reflected in the actual results” – Sarah Rothwell.

If Nottingham Forest fans decide to leave a game at the City Ground early as a result of a dodgy refereeing decision- do you suppose the seats will go ‘Clattety, Clatt, Clatt, Clattety, Clatt?’” – John De la Cruz.

Fascinating and in many ways predictable to see that under the new regime Manchester United have decided to radically shake things up by transferring their scattergun recruitment efforts from the pitch to the boardroom, with presumably the same expectation of delivery? Ashworth, Berrada, Freedman, who’s next? And how many of them will be already on gardening leave by the time you finish reading this sentence” – Jeremy Boyce.

Send letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Jeremy Boyce.



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