Yesterday I got a fair bit of stick, mainly from Reading fans, after The Mag published my article, entitled ‘We have to accept the Championship is rubbish really – Exhibit A’.
In that article I talked about what had happened to Reading since they got stuffed 4-1 at St James Park, an average Newcastle (nervous after two defeats in the first two games) performance more than enough to put away a poor visiting side.
In their next eight games Reading went unbeaten, winning six and drawing two. This was a Reading team who had finished 17th and 19th in the previous two seasons, lost rising star Tshibola to Villa for £5m and spent just over half of that bringing in a number of bargain buys and free transfers.
My point wasn’t to slag off Reading, though their touchy fans took it that way, it was more the fact that this summed up the real level of most teams in the second tier – Reading ending up in fourth place before last night’s matches, above Newcastle.
Again they missed my main real point, I wasn’t suggesting Newcastle had any automatic divine right to be walking this league BUT considering the profile of many of our players and the massive investment in the squad, NUFC should be imposing themselves and setting out to dominate the league.
After everything that was said yesterday, I then watched last night’s results with interest in the Championship, and I now give you exhibit B as to why the Championship is really not very good/rubbish.
The positions in the league are where the teams were in the table going into last night’s games:
2nd place Huddersfield struggle past 23rd place Rotherham with a narrow 2-1 win.
3rd place Brighton draw 0-0 at 14th Ipswich.
4th place Reading are stuffed 4-1 at 9th Brentford.
6th place Birmingham draw 2-2 at home to 19th Preston.
7th place Barnsley draw 1-1 at home to 17th Aston Villa.
8th place Wolves lose 2-1 away at Wigan who started yesterday in 24th.
Newcastle United are surely capable of raising their game a couple of notches and play at a level that these teams can’t live with. The sudden collapse of Reading in last night’s match surely perfectly summing up the points I am making.
The results above further reinforce the fact that there is next to nothing between most clubs in the Championship.
The players available to Rafa Benitez should be able to be the better team week in week out, even Rafa himself yesterday admitted that he wasn’t happy with what had happened so far and his team should be doing better.
Yes you will get days when luck is against you or some players have an off day and you don’t win BUT on most days that shouldn’t be the case.
I think that quite clearly Newcastle and Norwich have by far the best teams and strongest squads, the Canaries showing every sign of potentially putting daylight between themselves and the pack of average teams.
Newcastle United need to go with them and leave the rest fighting over the play-off places.
Newcastle have the players with most ability, the best paid team, the most expensively assembled squad, the best manager and the biggest support on the terraces.
It is about time that the players started living up that billing.