You may have read my recent post on this site regarding what being a “big” club means and how we can attempt to rank teams on size: https://tbrfootball.com/manchester-united-premier-leagues-biggest-team/
Reading the previous piece will make this article more comprehensible.
So according to my calculations Manchester United are the “biggest” team in the Premier League.
A waste of time? Well no, actually. With just minor modifications we can apply an almost identical set of categories to rank the second tier sides. In the second tier the debate over being a “big” club is rather more hotly contested than in the top flight, as relative size is less clear cut and fans desperately require something to cling onto, to make their weekly pilgrimages more socially acceptable to non-football fans. Hopefully these categories will give a definite answer to the age-old discourse between Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Derby County fans (amongst others).
I shall use the same ‘fan base’ sub-categories of stadium size and Twitter followers. The ‘History’ category will be altered ever so slightly, however. As only a few Championship clubs have European pedigree, the ‘domestic trophies’ sub-category shall also include the Football League Trophy, whilst the ‘European trophies’ category remains untouched (only major European honours are noted). Simply, the Football League Trophy will count, but not for nearly as much as European honours – which seems fair enough.
Finally, under ‘History’ a third sub-category will be added – ‘seasons in the top flight’, which does exactly as it says on the tin. The number of accumulated years in the top division of English football is a good yardstick of a “big” club.
Again, the Formula One style points system will be utilised, as follows: 1st position = 25 points, 2nd = 18, 3rd = 15, 4th = 12, 5th = 10, 6th = 8, 7th = 6, 8th = 4, 9th = 2, 10th = 1.
So let’s get started, as I’m sure Bolton Wanderers and Wolves fans are keen to prove just how big they really are.
|Elland Road||37,914||Leeds United||2nd||18|
|Pride Park||33,597||Derby County||4th||12|
|Cardiff City Stadium||33,280||Cardiff City||5th||10|
|FalmerStadium||30,750||Brighton and Hove Albion||8th||4|
|Stadium MK||30,500||MK Dons||10th||1|
|Number of followers:||Club:||Position:||Points:|
|Number of domestic trophies:||Club:||Position:||Points:|
|4||Preston North End||5th||10|
|Number of Europeantrophies:||Club:||Position:||Points:|
Seasons in the top flight:
|Seasons in the top flight:||Club:||Position:||Points:|
|Preston North End||14th||10|
|Brighton and Hove Albion||16th||4|
|Milton Keynes Dons||17th||1|
Sheffield Wednesday: the biggest team in the Championship. Historic success earns the Hillsborough outfit the title, with worthy mentions to Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers.
Is this table definitive and categoric?
Well, yes and no. I hope I haven’t wasted your time in reading this (or if you skipped straight to the conclusion I don’t really care) but in all honesty, this debate will rage on and on. This measures used are simply what I deem to be reflective of a “big” club. Others will disagree, but that is the very essence of football, especially in the Championship: debate between fans. This table is not definitive, but it a good indication, and let’s leave it at that.
Although I do struggle to believe that Cardiff City are twice the size of Bristol City. In fact I don’t believe it at all. Is bigger even better anyway?
Featured image: All rights reserved by John Bunny
Staying at Hearts is best option for Leeds United linked Harry Cochrane
The 16-year-old has had a brilliant breakthrough campaign at Hearts this season.
Leeds United were seemingly in the hunt for Hearts midfielder Harry Cochrane this summer.
The 16-year-old was apparently a target for Leeds as well as Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion, according to the Scottish Sun.
But the news this week suggests Cochrane is going nowhere.
According to the Scottish Sun, the teenager is set to sign a contract extension at Hearts, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2020.
Such a move would be the wise choice for the immensely talented midfielder.
Leeds United have a history of bringing through young players so, on the one hand, Cochrane could not pick a better team to join.
That said, at just 16 years of age, playing in the Championship looks a very unlikely scenario.
Considering the current influx of players into the under-23s under Victor Orta’s reign, Cochrane would have a battle on his hands to play regularly at that level.
Whilst Leeds have struggled in centre-midfield this season, summer improvements are likely. If Leeds bring in experienced options in the heart of midfield then Cochrane is again likely to miss out on playing regular first-team football.
Staying at Hearts is a far more sensible option. The teenager has played 16 times in the league for the Edinburgh side this season and that highlights how highly rated he is at Tynecastle.
Moving to Leeds would see him move into a youth team. Staying at Hearts will see the Scot playing regularly at a first-team level.
As tempting as a move to England – with a club the size of Leeds – must be, remaining at Hearts and playing on a regular basis is easily the best career choice for this precocious talent.
Is Oscar Borg’s Aston Villa career at an end?
The young left-back is out of contract at Aston Villa this summer.
Back in March 2016, Aston Villa snapped up promising left-back Oscar Borg from West Ham United.
According to the Daily Mail, the defender had trials with Manchester United and was highly thought of at West Ham, but he made the move to Villa and was soon making an impact in the reserves.
Recently Aston Villa found themselves short of left-back options.
Neil Taylor was out of action and Alan Hutton was also missing. With Axel Tuanzebe struggling, Villa found themselves short in the position.
But instead of calling on Borg, Steve Bruce called up James Bree, playing out of position at left-back.
It seems Borg may not have been available for Bruce, even if the 20-year-old was set for a first league call-up.
He has not featured for Villa’s under-23s since the 6-1 win v Wolves last month, with Mitchell Clark featuring at left-back instead.
Borg is undoubtedly a top talent at Aston Villa but injuries have been a major problem for him since arriving at Bodymoor Heath.
He spent most of last season on the sidelines and this year needed to be a breakout campaign for the talented full-back.
Borg has played 13 times for Villa’s under-23s this term, as they hunt for success in the Premier League 2, where they are currently second in their section behind Blackburn Rovers.
But, despite being Villa’s only other natural left-footed left-back, bar Taylor, the 20-year-old has made little impact in the first-team.
Borg only signed a two-and-half-year deal when arriving at Villa in 2016 and that contract expires in the summer.
Considering his lack of impact and history of injury problems it will not be a surprise if Borg does not remain a Villain beyond the end of the season.
If he does move on, hopefully, he can remain fit and push toward a professional career elsewhere.
Leeds United fans will be wondering what has happened to Pontus Jansson’s magic hat?
The Swedish defender has been out of form for most of the 2017-18 campaign.
Leeds United’s poor run of form has seen them drop firmly out of play-off contention in the Championship. Since Boxing Day, Leeds are bottom of the form table and look set to finish in mid-table.
Much of the blame has been laid at the door of the club’s defenders. Rightly so, Leeds have been incredibly leaky at the back and conceded heaps of soft goals. One player who must receive a large scoop of the criticism is Swedish defender Pontus Jansson.
Last season he was a colossus at the back for Leeds. Playing alongside the more reserved Kyle Bartley, Jansson’s gung-ho displays were rightly applauded. Soon enough he became a Leeds United hero. The fans loved him and Jansson was back in the Sweden squad being linked with Premier League teams.
This season has been vastly different. Jansson has had periods of good form but overall his campaign has been mixed. His judgement has been poor this season and he often finds himself out of position. It has been suggested that Jansson needs to be playing in a settled defence to play his best.
Last season he was alongside the composed and confident Kyle Bartley with the experienced Robert Green behind him. This season he has played opposite Liam Cooper and Matthew Pennington with the erratic Felix Wiedwald in goal.
Jansson himself has commented on his bad form this season but it appeared to take an upturn in December. However, the last few weeks he has been poor. Once again that was the case against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend and Leeds fans are surely wondering where on earth the Swedish star has laid his magic hat recently.
If Jansson cannot pick up his form for Leeds soon, his place in Sweden’s World Cup squad in the summer must be up for debate. If he carries on the way he has been at Leeds, his place in the Elland Road starting XI could even be up for grabs.
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