Over the last few seasons, the Championship has become one of the most unpredictable and competitive divisions in European football. After a fairly unsurprising start to the campaign, that reputation looked to be under threat but after a week in which the top three picked up just six points from a possible 18, un-normality has been resumed.
The top three places are still filled by the three relegated Premier League sides but the gap between second placed West Brom and eleventh placed Coventry is now just five points.
West Brom had enjoyed a fine start to the season and found themselves in top spot after a 5-0 win over Middlesbrough but successive defeats to Crystal Palace and Barnsley and a draw on Saturday with Preston, have put the skids on their campaign. Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo thinks that supporters may have to be a little more realistic about their expectations.
“We had a bad week, which is a long time in football, but we are still OK.” said Di Matteo after the Preston match.
“Maybe the good start we had at the beginning of the season gave the public a different level of expectation.
“We know how hard it is to win.”
Three points clear at the top of the Championship league table are Newcastle United but like West Brom, they are currently experiencing a blip; two points the sum total of home matches with QPR and Bristol City. Off pitch instability will do nothing to aid the Magpies promotion challenge and fans will be hoping that reports about an impending takeover are proved to be correct.
At the other end of the table there was welcome relief for Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock, who had appeared to be on the verge of the sack, before two wins in a week provided a much needed shot in the arm for the Argyle faithful.
Momentum is crucial in any division and Sturrock believes that it played a part during his side’s see-saw 2-1 win against Scunthorpe.
“The thing about football is that winning becomes as much of a habit as losing.” he said.
“The win in the week has buoyed the boys. Before if they had got pegged back they would have let it affect them.
“Today they have gone straight up the other end and got a goal back, which turned out to be the winner.”
Plymouth now sit in 22nd spot, two points behind Reading and three ahead of bottom of the table Ipswich, who are still awaiting their first victory of the season after a last gasp 2-1 defeat to Barnsley.