The Championship is not an easy division and many enormous clubs have come down into the second division and were widely assumed to go straight back into the Premier League. This is also the case for the newly promoted sides, who are always expected to find themselves in a relegation battle and fighting to remain in the second tier. In more recent years however, we have seen many a side come flying into the Championship from League One with a head of steam and continuing their form from last season and see themselves in a promotion battle when many were writing them off for reasons such as a lack of funds or quality on the pitch.
The example that springs to mind for many would be Bournemouth who in just their second season in the Championship won the title and are now playing their first season in the Premier League. Brentford also enjoyed a very successful first season back in the second tier and reached the playoffs and will hope to go one better this year. This is the sort of model that every team that comes up hope to follow – Bournemouth and Brentford play slick, attacking football, looking to play through teams and it is a system that is proving to be effective at this level.
In Karl Robinson, Dons have one of the youngest managers going – second only to Alex Neil in fact. However, despite his tender years in management terms; Robinson is the longest serving manager in the Championship by almost two years and this provides a good base of operations for MK Dons. The former Liverpool academy coach is in similar territory to the likes of Eddie Howe and Alex Neil in that he also saw his playing days come to an end for one reason or another somewhat prematurely and very quickly made his way into the coaching and management scene. Robinson is the youngest person to ever acquire a UEFA Pro License at just 29 – the same age that he took the reins from Paul Ince at stadium:mk.
MK Dons also have an exciting squad at their disposal which contains the likes of talismanic captain Dean Lewington, David Martin, Ben Reeves, Dean Bowditch, Carl Baker, and Jordan Spence among others. The Dons have also used the transfer market quite well over the summer break adding the talents of Dale Jennings, Joe Walsh, and Real Madrid Castilla captain Sergio Aguza as well as internationals in the form of Simon Church, Cristian Benavente, and the heavily experienced Matthew Upson. The ability of this team was in little doubt at the start of last season as they put Manchester United to the sword in a thumping 4-0 victory in August 2014. Karl Robinson’s men went on to comprehensively beat a number of other teams on their way to 101 league goals in 2014/15 campaign and have wasted no time showing their goal-scoring abilities this term as they put 4 past Rotherham on the opening day.
Many would expect MK Dons to finish in the relegation zone this season as they would struggle to come to terms with the standard in the Championship – but Karl Robinson has stated that they see this as a motivation to go out and prove the doubters wrong. Following their opening day win over Rotherham; Robinson said “The fact we’re the team that are tipped to go down and finish 24th in the league is tremendous motivation for us, we know where we’re at financially. We don’t need anyone else to tell us that we’re at the bottom, but we are, and we just push that to one side and do our business, we are where we are today because of our work ethic and our togetherness.” This is exactly the sort of togetherness that is required for a promoted side and the Championship isn’t necessarily a league where you need to spend millions to be successful, as has been shown by the likes of Bournemouth and Reading in the past.
It will be a tough campaign for MK Dons as they make their first appearance in the Championship, but should they keep their heads and closely follow the examples of other young managers with teams lacking in experience when it comes to the higher reaches of the game – they might surprise a few people this season as they are a side that can score plenty of goals and cut teams open for fun. The Championship has a reputation for being a league in which anyone can beat anyone on any given day and it will be interesting to see how MK Dons fair in their first campaign in the second tier.
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Hadi Sacko’s Mali call-up says more about their national pool than Leeds form
The French youth international will now play for Mali.
Despite Leeds United’s poor recent form plenty of their first-team players have been called up to international duty this week.
Stuart Dallas, Eunan O’Kane and Pontus Jansson will all be playing for their respective nations in the upcoming week. Another player who has received a call-up to a national team is Hadi Sacko.
The 23-year-old winger has received his first call-up to the senior Mali side. It is a switch in allegiance for the wide-man. Sacko has previously featured for France, playing from under-16 level up to under-20.
Mali take on Japan in an upcoming friendly, who have incidentally dropped loaned out Leeds United midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi.
For Sacko it is a great opportunity to represent his country but for Leeds United fans the call-up was slightly baffling.
Whites fans will, of course, wish their player all the best with Les Aigles. Yet, it is something of a surprise to see him get such recognition.
Sacko’s form this season has not been impressive. Wasteful in possession and lacking an end product, he has struggled immensely in recent times.
Fans have consistently expressed their disappointment at his displays. In fairness, it has been that way for most of his Leeds spell. After initially joining from Bordeaux on loan, Leeds signed Sacko permanently last summer. But his’s tale at Leeds has been one of frustration and inconsistency.
The raw talent is clearly there. Fast, strong and skilfull Sacko has the ingredients to be a success. But it is turning those materials into something tangible which Sacko has struggled with. Garry Monk, Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom have so far failed to make Sacko a credible threat.
Hopefully, Sacko can enjoy a debut with his nation next week. But his inclusion in the Mali squad says more for their pool of talent, then it does his current form at Leeds United.
Once a £1.5m Leeds United target, Anthony Limbombe receives Belgium call-up
The Belgian has been in fine form since joining Club Brugge.
Belgium have one of the most competitive national teams in the world at present. Therefore, making the squad is something of an impressive accolade.
That is certainly the case for Anthony Limbombe. The winger has received his first call-up for the Red Devils after an impressive campaign with Club Brugge.
It comes in the same month as the 23-year-old signed an extension to his deal with the Belgian side. So it is safe to say the Belgian is enjoying a good time at the moment.
Leeds United fans will certainly view the news with a massive hint of regret.
Back in 2015 Leeds had earmarked Limbombe as the man to improve their wide areas. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Leeds made a £1.5 million bid to bring the Belgian from NEC Nijmegen that summer.
Unfortunately for Leeds, the bid was rejected and they signed Jordan Botaka instead. The YEP reported that Leeds continued to monitor his progress that season, but Limbombe joined Brugge instead. Leeds brought in Hadi Sacko as an alternative.
Since then he has proved to be a revelation. Limbombe has played 27 times for Brugge this season. He has six goals and has been a phenom in the wide positions for Brugge.
Such form has seen his side run away with the Belgian Pro League, finishing the regular campaign 12 points clear of their nearest rivals Anderlecht.
Meanwhile, Botaka, who was signed instead, is currently struggling for form at Sint-Truiden. Sacko, who arrived a year later, has yet to establish himself at Elland Road.
Limbombe was a big target for Leeds but after missing out on his services it is unlikely the West Yorkshire club envisaged such a meteoric rise.
Now the 23-year-old will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. Perhaps a place in the World Cup squad is also in the offing for the wideman.
Leeds United will no doubt wish they had managed to bring in the player in 2015 or 2016.
As Tim Erlandsson joins Salford City on loan is his Nottingham Forest career over?
The Swedish stopper is out of contract at Nottingham Forest this summer.
Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Tim Erlandsson has found himself heading out on loan once again this week.
It has been confirmed that the Swedish stopper has made a move to join the Northern League side, famous for being part-owned by several former Manchester United players.
He arrives as the club’s current number one is heading away on international duty with New Zealand. Max Crocombe will be unavailable for two matches this month and Erlandsson will provide cover.
But does the Swede have a chance of making it at Forest in the long-run?
The 21-year-old joined Forest in 2014 from Halmstads in his homeland. The Swedish under-21 international looked a hot prospect when he arrived at the City Ground. However, it is looking increasingly likely that he will not be making it at Forest.
This season he spent time on loan at Swedish side AFC Eskilstuna. The newly promoted Allsvenskan side did not thrive in his command. They finished bottom of the Swedish league, conceding a grand total of 55 goals in 30 games.
For Erlandsson it was a brutal learning curve.
Now he is back at Forest but finds himself in a long queue of goalkeepers. Jordan Smith started the season as the club’s number one.
Forest, however, snapped up both Costel Pantilimon and Stefanos Kapino in January. If Pantilimon’s deal is made permanent in the summer, it would leave Erlandsson way down the pecking order at the City Ground.
With his contract expiring in the summer the Swedish star will not be short of offers come July. As an under-21 international, who also attended the Olympics with Sweden in the summer, his name will be on the radar for plenty of interested parties.
The move to Salford City may be the last big news regarding Erlandsson whilst he is still a Nottingham Forest owned player.
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