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Many Happy Returns? Championship midweek action…
11 February 2019, 15:23
Many Happy Returns? Championship midweek action…

Championship action returns this week as the midweek fixtures are spread across Tuesday and Wednesday night, and the latter provides us with two matches in particular where former managers return to their old haunts…

Firstly, Preston North End’s manager, Alex Neil, takes on his former club, Norwich City at Deepdale on Wednesday night and I daresay Neil would love nothing better than to knock the high-flying Canaries off their perch in this clash.

Four years ago yesterday, on January 9th 2015, Alex Neil was appointed manager of Norwich City after having guided Hamilton Academical back to the Scottish Premiership in his first full season at the  club where he ended his playing career.

Neil’s first game in charge of Norwich City saw his side beat Championship league leaders at the time, Bournemouth 2-1 and his side went on to win 17 of his 25 matches at the helm which took Norwich City to the play-offs.

A 4-2 aggregate win over fierce local rivals, Ipswich Town in the semi-finals saw Norwich City progress to the play-off final where they beat Middlesbrough 2-0 to send The Canaries back to the Premier League for the 2015-16 season.

However, Norwich City lasted just one season in the big time in which Leicester City pulled off a 5,000-1 miracle by winning the league title, but the miracles ended there as the East Anglian side, along with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, were relegated down to the Championship.

Neil was sacked in March 2017, but promptly returned to the game as manager of Preston North End in July 2017, and since taking over the reigns at Deepdale, Preston’s head-to-head record against Norwich have seen them draw 1-1, 0-0 and a 2-0 defeat away from home.

You could say Neil owes them one.

Brentford vs Aston Villa

Another manager returning to their old club on Wednesday night is Aston Villa’s, Dean Smith, whose side travel to London to face Brentford where Smith is likely to face a hostile reception at the East London outfit where he spent almost three seasons with The Bees.

During his tenure, Dean Smith guided the unfashionable Championship outfit to 9th,10th and 9th place finishes in the second tier respectively, but although they were widely regarded as the divisions ‘entertainers’, playing an attractive brand of passing football that was easy on the eye, Smith lacked the budget to fulfil his ambitions of getting Brentford into the play-offs.

The lure of managing a big club like Aston Villa was too much for Smith, who is incidentally a Villa fan, and he took over at Villa Park back in October 2018, but it’s been far from an easy ride for Smith so far as Villa sit in a disappointing 10th place in the division and two points behind their bitter rivals, Birmingham City.

Smith has overseen just 7 wins from his 20 matches in charge to date, and with just one win from their last seven matches, a sequence that includes no fewer than five draws, he’ll be very aware that defeat at Griffin Park on Wednesday night could have serious repercussions.

The last encounter between Aston Villa and Brentford ended in an entertaining 2-2 draw back in August of last year, and this upcoming clash could well see another stalemate.

Predictions for Championship

Home team - Away team Forebet
flag_2 CH
Birmingham CityBlackburn Rovers
23/02/2019 15:00
1
flag_2 CH
BrentfordHull City
23/02/2019 15:00
1
flag_2 CH
Leeds UnitedBolton Wanderers
23/02/2019 15:00
1
flag_2 CH
MiddlesbroughQPR
23/02/2019 15:00
1

England Championship - predictions, tips, statistics

Featured match

Home team - Away team Forebet
PR
Burnley
Tottenham

23/02/2019 12:30
2

Regular Season
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. Norwich City 63 33 18 9 6 65 42 23
2. Sheffield United 61 33 18 7 8 58 34 24
3. Leeds United 61 32 18 7 7 53 36 17
4. West Bromwich 60 33 17 9 7 67 42 25
5. Middlesbrough 54 32 14 12 6 36 24 12
6. Bristol City 53 31 15 8 8 40 30 10
7. Derby County 51 32 14 9 9 43 37 6
8. Nottingham Forest 47 33 11 14 8 46 38 8
9. Birmingham City 46 32 11 13 8 49 40 9
10. Aston Villa 44 33 10 14 9 56 52 4
11. Preston North End 44 33 11 11 11 50 47 3
12. Hull City 44 32 12 8 12 45 42 3
13. Swansea City 44 32 12 8 12 42 39 3
14. Blackburn Rovers 43 33 11 10 12 43 50 -7
15. Sheffield Wednesday 41 32 10 11 11 36 47 -11
16. Brentford 40 31 10 10 11 50 43 7
17. Stoke City 40 33 9 13 11 34 41 -7
18. QPR 39 32 11 6 15 41 50 -9
19. Millwall 34 32 8 10 14 35 45 -10
20. Wigan Athletic 34 32 9 7 16 32 46 -14
21. Reading 29 33 6 11 16 34 49 -15
22. Rotherham 29 33 5 14 14 33 53 -20
23. Bolton Wanderers 26 33 6 8 19 21 51 -30
24. Ipswich Town 20 33 3 11 19 25 56 -31

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