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just wait until you see Stoke next year....
No no no no no. It's much too early for the Stoke jibes. At least let's get next weekend out of the way first. But also, note: at the start of the season Tony Pulis was pilloried for making no major signings over the summer (an injury-prone Riachard Cresswell from Leeds didn't count), whilst releasing Higginbotham to Sunderland, Russell to Norwich and someone else to somewhere else (it's late). Expectations: low. However, he'd previously shown himself to be a sound wheeler and dealer in the loans markets, albeit having showed little in terms of 'exploiting foreign markets' (the alleged reason for his previously being sacked by Stoke - under different owners). Again this season, it was loan dealings (inc. last season's loan signing of Man Utd's Shawcross) that formed the backbone of Stoke's rise. Recruiting more players with points to prove would be as good an approach as any - though not as extremely as Derby have demonstrated (they'll not be returning next season - sad, really).Horrible possibility for next weekend: Leicester's former Stoke loanee and rejector of The Potters, Lee Hendrie, returns to do the unthinkable.Are Stoke prepared for the Premiership? Absolutely not - just as they weren't prepared to make a serious push for promotion this season.And if I may add one tiny insight into the cultural life of Stoke City FC: Today at the Britannia Stadium, I noticed a chap heading into the business bowels of the stadium - I assumed him to be footballingly connected. As he returned to his car, I noticed the number plate. It was personalised in a way that told everyone that he was affiliated with the club's 1990s hooligan element - probably there to discuss the contract for Stadium Management or some such. The mind boggled, the head shook, the heart sank.
The championship is an amazingly difficult division. Derby could finish anywhere between 1st and 15th next year, I reckon. It's so ludicrously tight that the margin between a great season and a terrible season is so slight.Wolves? 7th, obviously....and I'm only teasing as I know Sarah supports Stoke, not cos I really think they're crap. After all, they've beaten us and they're higher in the table. End of.ST
And before we all feel sorry for Derby, remember that two or three years ago they nearly went under. They've had a tough season, sure, but they've been in the Premiership, they have a good manager (period at Sheffield Wednesday aside) and they ought to be in ship-shape for next season, right? Most fans would see this year as a 'bonus', and they ought to be making some money out of it anyway.
Re Derby: I think that even for the Championship, that some of Paul Jewell's Prem-experienced signings and mooted possibilities (Savage, Roy Carroll, maybe Lee Carsley...) would struggle to excel. To me, Derby look like an old squad, with far too many post-peak players. I suppose that one bonus of relegation could be meeting Forest 'half way' - we shall see.
...and the championship is both a lottery and a quagmire. Many's the year I've listened to the big talk of relegated sides about how they'll bounce back, and many's the time I've watched them struggle to keep up with the pace. Derby, together with whoever else comes down, will find it hard going indeed.
No time this week - can you put me down for 2-1's to the home side in all the games.cheers
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