Another key week of football has come and gone with the first two promotions of the 2016/17 season confirmed, more on them later. However, despite the drama in the Football League, normal service in the Premier League has resumed with a Sunderland defeat, a Chelsea victory and a certain manager in North London being forced out by angry Twitter users. Who therefore, makes the winners and losers list this week?
1) CHRIS WILDER
Just 364 days after guiding Northampton Town to promotion into League 1, Chris Wilder was at it again with his new club Sheffield United. After a tough start to the season, The Blades have been almost unstoppable as they sealed their position in next season’s Championship for the first time in six seasons. Wilder has shown himself to be a very capable manager over the past two seasons and will no doubt be on the shortlist for managerial jobs in the summer, should the managerial merry-go-round occur.
2) DONCASTER ROVERS
The second side to confirm promotion this week, Doncaster Rovers will return to League 1 at the first time of asking. Spearheaded by Player of the Season John Marquis, Doncaster have seen off a late charge by Stevenage in fourth and have a cushion of six points ahead of second placed Plymouth. Rovers look a good bet to win League 2 and after scoring 15 more goals than any other team in the division, it is clear how they have managed to accomplish promotion so easily. A special mention also to Darren Ferguson who was named the Football League’s Manager of the Year.
Under Antonio Conte, the Chelsea mission to be Premier League champions once again looks unstoppable. A confident and assured 3-1 victory away to Bournemouth showed why, barring a miracle, Chelsea will be champions. After seeing Tottenham dispatch Watford earlier in the day, Chelsea knew they could not afford a slip up. Goals from Eden Hazard, an unfortunate own goal by Adam Smith and a succulent free-kick by Marcos Alonso ensured Chelsea remained top, making the title run-in rather boring for us neutrals.
Everton fans have been treated to a wonderful display of attacking prowess over the past six days as they have seen their team score seven home goals in two games, securing six points in the process. Everton have now temporarily moved into fifth place above Manchester United and are putting pressure on the top-four. A Champions League place looks unlikely for Everton but Ronald Koeman’s balance of experience and youthful exuberance means a spot in the top four could be on the cards next season.
Where to start? Seemingly the most used used hashtag on Twitter ever, #WengerOut has gained serious momentum after last week’s defeat to Crystal Palace. Numerous pundits have had their say on the Arsenal players and management with seemingly no one at Arsenal immune from criticism. Whether Arsene leaving is best for Arsenal is up for debate, however, their top-four credentials have been severely damaged and they look set on missing out on Champions League football next season.
2) COVENTRY CITY
The Sky Blues have had a mixed fortnight in football. After lifting the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley two Sundays ago, Coventry City’s relegation to League 2 was confirmed this week after a 1-1 home draw with Charlton Athletic, a game dominated by fan protests against owners. Coventry have had a very poor season and with all the off-field problems their club are facing, Coventry fans must be fearful for their club next season. A promotion straight back to League 1 is required for the Sky Blues if they are to turn their poor fortunes around.
3) MARCUS BIGNOT
Bignot took control of Grimsby Town just six months ago, yet this week, he was relieved of his duties as manager, with Grimsby in 14th position. Rumours have circled that player-power may have been responsible for Bignot losing his job with a lack of trust in the manager leaving, reportedly, some first-teamers refused to sign new contracts with Grimsby Town. Although they haven’t set League 2 alight this season, Grimsby have been solid and a rebuilding job next year could see them sneak into the playoffs. However, what remains is that Marcus Bignot has been a huge loser this week.
4) NEWCASTLE UNITED
Two pivotal games live on Sky Sports for Newcastle could have, if results went their way, seen Newcastle’s promotion to the Premier League confirmed. However, a disappointing defeat away to Sheffield Wednesday was followed by a last-minute Chris Wood goal for Leeds United who left St James with a point topped off a poor week for Newcastle. These results have allowed Brighton to take control at the top of the Championship and although Newcastle’s promotion looks likely, they have allowed Huddersfield to come back into contention. Newcastle have not had a good week and are deserving of their place on the losers list.