I’ll start by reporting another managerial change: unsurprisingly, Alan Stubbs was sacked by Rotherham after only five months in charge. The Millers are currently on target to be even worse than Blackpool were a couple of seasons ago; Rotherham set a club record for consecutive away defeats on Tuesday when they lost 4-2 at Birmingham. It didn’t take long to confirm Stubbs’ replacement: welcome back Kenny Jackett, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
On to this weekend and any of the top four could be in pole position on Saturday evening. At the bottom it’ll be an interesting round of matches for the three clubs currently between Derby and Rotherham: Blackburn travel to Bristol City and Cardiff visit Nottingham Forest. I’ll come to Wigan‘s game in a moment.
Here’s the shortlist for game of the week:
Burton v Birmingham (this evening, Sky Sports 1, 7:45pm)
Nigel Clough’s side aren’t that bad at home (just two defeats so far) but those defeats – along with a 3-1 reverse at Norwich last month – were against the better teams in the section, something that does not bode well for their televised game against the Blues. You know what’s coming next: having written that, both of Birmingham’s defeats so far this season have been in derbies and Burton is closer to Birmingham than Nottingham is…
Huddersfield v Derby
I’ve not had a reply for the Terriers fan who contacted the site a few weeks ago to take issue with my description of Huddersfield’s form as being unsustainable, so I’ll just comment that they’ve lost four of their last seven and are 12th in the current six game form table. That being written, they’re still the most improved team in the competition although I think they may just miss out on the playoffs.
Derby have only lost once in their last six outings and still have a formidable looking defence – only Brighton and Ipswich have conceded fewer goals – but the combination of a poor start, managerial chaos and no discernible goalscorer may well have ended their hopes of automatic promotion this season. If they can find a striker, the playoffs may not be out of contention but they’d need a hell of a run of form to pull that off.
Fascinating fact: Derby won 2-1 at Huddersfield almost exactly a year ago, but that was the Rams first win there since Boxing Day 1995.
Wigan v Brighton
Wigan seem to have turned some sort of a corner: after losing four of their first six games after promotion they’ve only lost once since the middle of September – even though they had to rely on a late goal to earn a point at Leeds on Tuesday night. Overall the Latics are not much better than the side that was relegated two seasons ago, but it’s probably fair to say that their fixtures have been tougher than average.
Brighton’s only away defeat so far was at Newcastle at the end of August and although they’ve only conceded two goals in seven games against teams currently in the bottom half, they’re slightly off the pace they set themselves last season. Let’s not forget that was good enough for the playoffs though – and they’ve yet to concede a goal in six games against clubs currently in the bottom ten positions.
Fascinating fact: Wigan have won our of the last five meetings between the sides in Lancashire. Considering they’ve only ever played Brighton in the North West seven times, that’s not bad going.
Finally this week, A reminder that I won’t be posting next weekend. I’ll be back in a fortnight with the next market report so I’ll see you then.