The Biggest Talking Points in the English Football League This Season
The 2022/23 English footballing system has been one for the ages. In the Premier League, Arsenal have stunned everyone with their title challenge. Way down in the fifth tier, both Wrexham and Notts County have been embroiled in a championship battle that looks set to go down to the wire, with both teams tied on 100 points with just five matches remaining.
But what of the English football league? As you can imagine, the EFL has been chaotic this season with three divisions each consisting of 24 teams. Burnley became the first team to finish their story on Good Friday, as their victory over Middlesbrough secured promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The Clarets took a huge risk last season when they fired long-time manager Sean Dyche and were subsequently relegated from the English topflight after a six-year stint. It’s safe to say the gamble didn’t immediately pay off, however, as those that play sit–and–go poker will tell you, you can occasionally hit it big when gambling and good things come to those who wait with patience.
The Lancashire outfit appointed former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany as manager last summer and the Belgian has transformed the club’s fortunes. They have moved away from the direct and physical brand of football they had become synonymous with. Nowadays, the club prefers a patient possession-based style of play, and that has resulted in the club being promoted back to the Premier League with several games still yet to play.
The Championship relegation battle was already promising to be a close-run thing however, in early April, the dogfight had another participant. That’s because former Premier League side Reading were plunged into the mire when they received a six-point deduction due to financial irregularities. The Berkshire club is stacked with former Premier League stars such as Andy Carroll, Shane Long, Junior Hoilett, Tom Ince, and Jeff Hendrick however, they are without a win in their last seven, and the points deduction has seen them drop into the relegation zone.
At the foot of the table lies Wigan Athletic, who are all but relegated. Above them is Blackpool, however, The Seasiders also look doomed following a 3-1 defeat at the hand of fellow relegation candidates Cardiff City. Then comes Reading.
Above the Royals is Huddersfield Town. The Terriers have had a disastrous campaign however, the club has enjoyed a renaissance under new manager Neil Warnock, with the appointment of the 74-year-old back in February looking like a masterstroke. The aforementioned Cardiff City and Queen’s Park Rangers are tied with the West Yorkshire outfit on 42 points.
Then, two points clear of them comes Rotherham United, who are aiming to avoid relegation to League One for the first time in their last four Championship campaigns. In the last six seasons, The Millers have either been relegated from the second tier or promoted from League One, but the South Yorkshire outfit is looking to shed their yo-yo tag at the end of the current campaign. Whoever falls through the trap door will feel hard done by none more so than Reading, and it will be interesting to see who ends up facing the axe.
Throughout the preseason, there was one team that everyone thought was guaranteed to secure promotion from League One. That team was Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls raided local rivals Rotherham United for star players Michael Smith and Michael Ihiekwe, both of whom penned mega-money contracts at Hillsborough. And it looked like the decision to invest heavily in the playing staff would pay off.
Following a 1-0 victory away at Portsmouth on March 11th, The Owls set a club record 22 games unbeaten and secured their spot at League One’s summit. They were five points clear of the playoff places and had two games in hand on their nearest rivals, however, in the month that followed, the club has gone seven games without a win.
Defeats at the hands of local rivals Barnsley and rock-bottom Forest Green Rovers have seen Wednesday’s handy points deficit evaporate. And their misery was compounded even further on Good Friday when they threw away a lead late on away at Oxford United. The slip-up saw them drop down to third and now, it is their rivals who have a game in hand on them, rather than the other way around.
The Owls still have the time and quality required to turn things around and their fans will be hoping that they do exactly that. If they cannot, another trip to the dreaded playoffs may await and the postseason showdown has not been kind to the Owls in recent years. They have lost out in the playoff semifinals on their last two visits to the annual lottery including a heartbreaking defeat to Sunderland last season.
We hope you enjoyed the article ‘The Biggest Talking Points in the English Football League This Season.’ What has been your favourite moment from the EFL this season? Let us know!
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