Championship Predictions: Gameweek 19

Neil Adams

Neil Adams

There’s a bottom half clash at the Macron Stadium, as Bolton Wanderers and Huddersfield have both benefitted from a change of manager this season. Two sides who may be about to are Norwich and Reading, as Neil Adams and Nigel Adkins respectively are coming under increasing pressure, and both desperately need a win at Carrow Road.

Bolton v Huddersfield

Bolton have won their last 3 home games, and look likely to start climbing the league. Under Neil Lennon, they are not a side that is too obsessed with keeping possession, but they are very competitive and energetic. 10 of the 13 goals they have scored since the change of manager have been scored in the 2nd half, and that highlights the stamina and level of work rate in this Bolton side. For example, Darren Pratley was struggling under Dougie Freedman, yet Lennon has seen his commitment to the cause and been keen to get the best out of him in midfield. So far, Pratley has put in some good performances, most notably against Norwich and Wigan.

Huddersfield played out a drab 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday last week. The main positive they can take from that match is the impressive 2nd half performance from goalkeeper Joe Murphy, who came in for the injured Alex Smithies. Smithies has struggled slightly for Huddersfield over the past year, and it may be the right statement for Chris Powell to start Murphy, even when Smithies is fit, and send out the message that he needs to work for his place in the team. Despite the recent improvement under Powell, Huddersfield still have the 2nd worst defensive record in the league. If they had a reliable goalkeeper, they may have a chance of pushing into the top half. However, the likelihood is that Smithies will start, and given Bolton’s recent home record it is hard to back against the Trotters.

Norwich v Reading

These clubs are united by 2 things. Firstly, they were recently in the Premier League, as Norwich were relegated last season, while Reading went down the year before. Secondly, their respective managers are coming under scrutiny.

Norwich’s problem is that they have only won 1 of their last 7 home games, albeit they only lost 1 of them too. They drew 3-3 against Brighton at Carrow Road last week, and even though they scored 3 goals in that match, the turning point was their poor finishing. After captain Russell Martin had scored a fantastic long range effort to put them 2-1 ahead, they missed a host of chances to kill the game off. The Canaries were also very poor defensively, with Brighton’s Bruno allowed a free header at the back post for his goal, and later nobody closing down Lua Lua. Thankfully for Norwich, they had a late goal from substitute Gary Hooper, who did well in his time on and perhaps deserves to start this match.

Neil Adams will see this as a big chance to get that all important win, because Reading are just 3 points above the relegation zone. We should read little into their recent 3-0 wins, because they were at home to Blackpool and Rotherham, arguably 2 of the worst sides in the Championship at the moment. Reading have lost 6 of their last 8, and on current evidence, they look more likely to go down than challenge for a play-off place.

Nigel Adkins wants to implement a patient passing style of play, but lately, their play has been simply slow and lethargic. Whenever they get the ball, they always seem to pass it sideways a few times in midfield, and then cross it into the box from deep. They lack variation in their play, their players seem unable to increase the tempo or run at a defender, and these problems are due to a shortage of confidence. Unfortunately for Adkins, it may take a change of manager for that confidence to come.