Five things we learned from this weekend’s EFL Championship results

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Villa starting to realise that money can’t buy you happiness

Despite spending an outrageous £55m on players in this summer’s transfer window, Aston Villa have failed to lead a resurgence to get back into the top tier of English football under ex-Champions League winner Roberto di Matteo. Since their relegation from England’s elite league, Villa have managed just one win from their nine league games since the start of the new campaign as well as being dealt a humiliating blow in the league cup at the hands of League Two Luton Town.

The signings of established regulars such as the prolific Ross McCormack from Fulham and defender James Chester from West Bromich Albion would’ve certainly given the Villa faithful an increased sense of optimism ahead of their first league match in the second division since 1987. However, Villa’s seven new recruits haven’t seemed to gel with the current regulars yet which is beginning to look a big worry for the hierarchy who have invested more than double the amount of some teams in the league on new signings.

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Villa players look dejected after conceding to Huddersfield Town.

 

This weekend saw Villa draw for the sixth time this season which is a stat the players will want to cast aside sooner rather than later. Although a draw against in form Newcastle United will be seen as a good result for the Villans, many will be puzzling over how long Di Matteo will take to turn draws into wins.

New billionaire owner Dr Tony Xia has already shown fortitude when expressing opinions over Villa’s results on his twitter feed stating how he was “still struggling with the disappointment” of drawing 2-2 with Nottingham Forest. Di Matteo may have Champions League pedigree on his CV but is struggling to cut it in the Championship and with the immense expectations Villa hold, one can only wonder how long it will be before people start questioning his position at the helm of Aston Villa football club.

 

Experience isn’t always a requirement for success

Many pundits and fans are critical of new managers upon appointment for their lack of experience in the game and it has, in fairness, proved to be an invaluable asset to in particular managers. Neil Warnock is one of those whose experience has proved to be indispensable winning four honours in the second tier with promotion to the Premier League with his most recent two coming since the turn of the century with Sheffield United and Queens Park Rangers. A man with similar Championship pedigree is new controversial Derby manager Nigel Pearson whose experience at this level would’ve almost guaranteed him the role at the Rams.

However, Pearson has struggled to get things going at the IPro Stadium winning not one of their home games and losing to teams they’d hope to sweep aside such as Burton Albion and Barnsley. This weekend saw a third straight defeat at home for Derby against a Blackburn Rovers side who, before the weekend, hadn’t won an away game since April last season against Rotherham.

This shows experience isn’t always a necessity to succeed and new Reading manager Jaap Stam is a prime example of this. Like Pearson, Stam only joined Reading at the start of the season and despite it being his first managerial job, he is proving to be an unexpected success with Reading sitting fourth in the table nine games in.

Derby will need to start replicating the performances of Pearson’s Leicester side who won promotion to the Premier League in 2014 if they are to maintain the level of performance expected at Derby.

 

Tammy Abraham proving to be essential to Bristol City

Unknown to many before this season, Tammy Abraham has burst onto the scene scoring 10 goals in 9 games for the Robins. With his parent club Chelsea spoilt for choice with attacking options in Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi, Abraham was allowed to join City on a season long loan to gain some experience and it is proving beneficial with the striker the leading Championship scorer heading into October.

Whether Abraham can keep experienced forwards in Aaron Wilbraham out of the team is yet to be seen but should the striker get injured during the course of the season, the likes of Wilbraham and Lee Tomlin may not have the same attributes that Abraham possesses which has seen him prove illusive to Championship defences. Should Abraham become unavailable, City’s fortunes could change for the worst as they may not have a consistent supply of goals from their bench that could replace the under 23 international. Abraham is becoming a real poacher in front of goal and if he maintains his form, Bristol City could very well find themselves in the play-off race by Christmas.

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Garry Monk’s philosophy starting to sink in at Leeds

After Leeds’ fourth defeat in the league at home to Huddersfield Town, unsurprising doubt was cast upon Garry Monk as owner Massimo Cellino was reportedly considering sacking Monk after defeat to their West Yorkshire rivals. The ‘manager eater’ has already been through six managers during his tenure at the West Yorkshire outfit and none would be surprised to see the ruthless Italian give Monk his marching orders. Despite the enormous pressure Monk received after the defeat, Monk has seemed assured and confident in his last four matches which has seen Leeds climb from the bottom four to the top half of the table.

During Steve Evans’ reign as Leeds United head coach last season, the Scot showed promise having one of the best win ratios out of United’s five previous coaches. However, Evans failed to get Leeds playing an attractive style of football which is what many fans would like to see and despite Monk losing the majority of his first few games, the former defender has had Leeds playing some stylish football. That type of football has only recently started to bear fruit with Leeds winning three league games on the bounce and keeping two consecutive clean sheets. Cellino may not be the most accommodating owner but giving Monk time to bounce back has been beneficial for the Whites and in particularly New Zealand striker Chris Wood who’s found his form at the right time scoring 3 in 3. Those goals could’ve been paramount to Monk keeping his job and with his position looking secure for now, the New Zealander may have given Monk an opportunity to fulfil the lofty expectations at Leeds and kick on for the season.

 

Expected relegation candidates starting to shape up

It might be early days but teams that struggled last season are starting to look like they are going to struggle again this season. Rotherham escaped relegation in the previous campaign with a 21st place however they are starting to replicate that form despite the appointment of former Hibernian boss Alan Stubbs. Having never managed in the Championship before, it will hard to see Stubbs lasting at Rotherham with no real knowledge of how the Championship works because although anybody can beat anybody, you can be easily punished which is why Stubbs will need to pick up some decent results to spare another relegation dog fight.

Cardiff City finished in an impressive 8th place last season under Russel Slade but this season decided to take on a new challenge which saw the Welsh outfit bring in Paul Trollope who had been out of management since 2010. Despite a victory at lowly Rotherham on Saturday, Cardiff are still battling at the foot of the table and many will be wondering whether Trollope will be able to solve Cardiff City’s fatalities across the pitch if they want to avoid a scrap for survival.

Despite a very successful season for Wigan Athletic which saw them finish as champions of League One, the second tier of English football is a big step up and can be hard to adjust to. Wigan’s start to the season has seen them sitting at the bottom of the EFL table. Although results may be due to an adjustment period, they will need to produce better than of late with Nick Powell and Will Grigg in their ranks who are potential match winners on their day. Gary Caldwell is fairly inexperienced at this level and even though some inexperienced managers have good fortunes, the ones who suffer misfortune early on are likely to learn quicker and be prepared for challenges later on in the season.

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