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  1. The three (almost) promoted clubs: Who can stay up?

    AFC Bournemouth and Watford have already made it to the Premier League, with Middlesbrough and Norwich due to battle it out for the third promotion place. They may be fresh faced young whippersnappers starting the first day of Big School right now, but who’s going to end up with their dinner money pinched, head flushed down the toilet and ‘Kick me’ written on their back? (That sound you can hear is a metaphor being stretched to breaking point)

    by Matthew Harris

    The knee-jerk reaction of the average football fan is to opine, sadly but wisely, that all of the promoted teams are clearly going to struggle, such is the gulf in class and finances between blah blah blah… but the truth is more nuanced. Only once in the last 17 years – 1997-98 to be precise – have all ...

    Updated 21st May 2015 at 01:13 PM by Veritas

    Competitions , Premier League
  2. Play-Off fairness?

    I have to admit that the Play-Offs have been good for football, creating interest deep into the season, end of term tension and excitement and giving fans of many clubs the thrill of a great day out at Wembley.

    But part of me still thinks that a team is quite often not rewarded for an excellent, consistent hard slog of a season as the ‘best’ team entering the end of season lottery is often sunk by a team that has come up on the rails and snuck into the Play-Offs right at the end of the campaign.

    A look through some of the results from this season’s versions that have already been concluded in non-league football shows what can and does happen in these tricky to predict end of season matches.

    In the Conference North, fifth place Guisley were promoted ...

    Updated 16th May 2015 at 12:00 PM by Veritas

    Competitions , Football League
  3. Who was the best player in the Championship this year?

    It has been yet another wonderful season in the Championship, with 2014/2015 seeing one of the closest races for the title, play-off spots and relegation places in recent years. The quality of football continues to increase year-by-year, with the ability for any team to beat anyone illustrates just how difficult it is to secure promotion to the Premier League. Top flight teams who have recently dropped down a division will vouch for how hard it has become to bounce straight back up, with former Premier League side Wigan and Blackpool suffering the ignominy of being relegated to League 1 after a season to forget on and off the pitch for both clubs.

    Although there is still plenty to play for in the final game of the season, the Football League awards have already been handed out ...

    Updated 13th May 2015 at 10:14 PM by 11v11

    Players , Competitions , Football League
  4. Santi Cazorla: Premier League Player of the Year

    After another year of poor showings in the European competitions, and with the star players of the last couple of seasons leaving for the La Liga giants, the criticism of the Premier League as a league has come from all directions; and it has been coming hard. Actually, it is becoming a little tedious.

    However, some improved decision-making (Manchester City, Manchester United) and further development of existing sides (Chelsea, Arsenal) down the line, and the top Premier League teams – fueled by ever more ridiculous amounts of TV-money – will compete for the big international trophies again.

    But if we return to this year’s edition, looking at the 2014-15 season as it is nearing its end, one sign of the small step down in quality is the lack of truly exceptional ...

    Updated 29th April 2015 at 08:19 AM by Veritas

    Players , Competitions , Premier League
  5. Please sign here – the power of petitions

    It’s time to sneak in another of the quirky challenges set for me by the ever resourceful Nicola.

    This time, however, I think I manage to turn it into a serious football blog.

    It started when I opened a Mission Impossible style text message:

    “Your mission Steve should you choose to accept it, is to find a link to football for something Kardashian and Kanye West related.

    “And did you know that over 100,000 people signed a petition for Kanye not to play Glastonbury this year.”

    I have to confess I have no knowledge of the Kardashians, or any interest in such reality programmes – the "famous for being famous" syndrome.

    Apparently, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ is an American reality television ...
  6. Tim Sherwood's chance of FA Cup glory

    Aston Villa wrestled our hypothetical FA Cup baton from West Bromwich Albion at the Quarter-final stage of this year’s competition, as Tim Sherwood’s men marched into Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Liverpool.

    Tim Sherwood has galvanised the Birmingham club, as the recent Premier League win at Tottenham Hotspur clearly demonstrated. He now has the chance to take that form to Wembley with his star striker Christian Benteke full of praise for Sherwood’s impact at Villa Park:

    “The first day he came he said we have to play without fear. You can see when he speaks he has a lot of charisma and confidence.”

    As a player, Sherwood reached the 6th round stage with Glen Hoddle’s Spurs side in 2002 only to be beaten 4-0 at home to Chelsea, courtesy ...
    Competitions , FA Cup , Clubs
  7. Key games at the bottom of League One

    Yeovil Town have already been relegated with new boss Paul Sturrock now planning for life in League Two, but who will be joining the Glovers in the basement division in 2015-16?

    This week’s fixtures have some more of those clichéd six-pointers for the sides still fighting for their League One lives. Next to bottom Colchester United entertain Scunthorpe United and third from bottom Crawley Town play the team just above them, Notts County.

    By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    Elsewhere, struggling Crewe Alexandra host Walsall, who look to be safe while Port Vale visit high-flying Preston North End on Friday night and Leyton Orient make the short but tricky trip to promotion chasing Milton Keynes Dons.

    If these latter games go with ...

    Updated 16th April 2015 at 10:14 PM by Veritas

    Competitions , Football League
  8. Best strikers in the English Championship

    As we near the end of another fascinating Championship season, the best strikers in the league are battling it out to finish as the division's leading scorer. There has been no shortage of prolific front men in the Championship this year, and at this point of the season it could well be one of those strikers who fires their team to the play-offs or better still, the Premier League.

    With it as close as it has ever been at the top of the table at this stage in the season, those teams vying for promotion will need their forwards firing on all cylinders between now and the beginning of May.

    So who have been the Championship's sharpest shooters this season, and what might the future hold come for those players who have in fact caught the eye this year.

    Updated 15th April 2015 at 07:40 AM by Veritas

    Players , Competitions , Football League
  9. The battle for Football League survival

    As 2015 took its first tentative steps, it seemed that putting your mortgage on Hartlepool United to be relegated was one of the safest investments you could make for the New Year. Not only were Pool bottom of the league, they had just been dumped out of the FA Cup by non-league Blyth Spartans in front of a national TV audience.

    by Steve Sands (AFS contributor)

    But Hartlepool weren’t just rock bottom of League Two, they were cast adrift without a paddle, ten points behind third from bottom Carlisle United and seemingly doomed.

    When you look at the table today it makes unbelievable reading, as the north-east side have lifted themselves out of the bottom two and can now look down on both Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers with a degree of satisfaction ...
  10. Conference goes National

    The Football Conference will be re-named the Vanarama National League from the start of next season.

    Following the announcement of a new three-year TV deal with BT Sport, in a re-branding initiative, the Vanarama National League will aim to engage fans, not only of the competition’s 68 member clubs, but football throughout the UK and beyond.

    The new `Vanarama National League` will officially be launched on 6 June and the changes will include a new look logo, whilst acknowledging the past it looks to the future, to strengthen the competition's identity.

    The National League will also launch a new broadcasting company, NLTV, which will be the first fully dedicated broadcasting channel focusing solely on the 68 member clubs, creating a regular narrative ...
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