EFL: WINNERS AND LOSERS SO FAR
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
The start of the season is a very interesting time for any team. You start to see the early pace setters and the teams that are starting to underachieve. We look at the EFL winners and losers from the start of this season…
Winners – Bristol City
When Bristol City announced the appointment of long-time assistant Dean Holden as the first team manager, it was safe to say the fans were not happy. Many felt as if the club was going nowhere and not moving on from Lee Johnson, who while building the club back up to a regular top half finish, had failed to take the Robins to the next level.
However, after four games, Holden’s side sit top of the Championship after four straight wins against the likes of Coventry, Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest. While these teams are all amongst the bottom half of the table, it is safe to say that Bristol City have surprised a lot of people in their start. Whether this will hold up when they meet some of the top competition in the Championship is yet to be seen, but for now Holden looks to have proven his worth.
Losers – Nottingham Forest
Despite their awful end to the 2019/20 season, in which they lost their play-off spot on the final day, a lot was expected of Sabiri Lamouchi’s Nottingham Forest going into the 2020/21 season.
Losing Matty Cash to Aston Villa was a bit of a hit but the general feeling was that Forest would be around the playoffs again. But Forest have been nothing short of poor in their first four games, having collected zero points out of a possible twelve. Because of this, Lamouchi has been sacked and replaced by Chris Hughton who is yet to take charge of a Forest game yet.
The lack of goals will be a concern to the new manager, while letting one their club-record signing Joao Carvalho go out on loan has not helped the lack of creativity. We all know how good Hughton is in the Championship, and with the signings of Scott McKenna and Harry Arter, Forest will certainly be more solid, but can Hughton arrest the current slide.
Winners – Accrington Stanley
Accrington will never have the strongest financial backing in the league. Despite the fact they are fantastically run, the natural size of the club means other teams will have more to play with in the transfer market. This emphasises the great job that John Coleman and co have done with Stanley as they have started to assert themselves as a consistent League One side.
After a winning start, Accrington suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat at home to Oxford and a 2-1 loss away to Burton. Despite this, they have managed to bounce back with two straight 2-1 wins against Wimbledon and Rochdale. This run of form has Accrington sat in sixth which defies any expectation set for Stanley, especially in these testing times. If they can carry on beating the teams below them, it could be an exciting season for Coleman’s side.
Losers – Oxford United
4-1 win against Accrington aside, it has been a really poor start to the season for last season’s play-off finalists. Karl Robinson’s Oxford currently sit in 21st and will need to pick up their form soon if they want to come anywhere near where they did last season.
Having lost to Lincoln, Sunderland and Gillingham, you could argue that the fixture list has not been too kind to The U’s, but if they want to be up there this season then those are the games they should be at least drawing. Having retained the services of Liam Kelly and Matty Taylor, the sale of Rob Dickie and Ben Woodburn’s return to Liverpool did not look like the biggest deal, but it may have affected Robinson’s side more than we think. While it is unlikely for Oxford to go down, form does need to pick up if they want to be in the Championship next season.
Winners – Morecambe
When Morecambe beat Cheltenham 2-1 on the opening day, most thought that it was just an upset. This belief was strengthened after Derek Adams's side got thrashed 5-0 at home to Cambridge. After that, Morecambe have gone on to shock everyone and now sit at the top of League Two.
The recovery from that defeat to Cambridge has been nothing short of excellent, winning against Southend, Port Vale and Oldham. Adams has gotten out of League Two before and while he doesn’t have the same resources that Plymouth did when he guided them up, there is no doubt that he has the managerial nous needed to take a team to the next level.
Recapturing Adam Phillips looks to have been an inspired signing and having the likes of Kelvin Mellor and Yann Songo’o means that Adams has some of that promotion-winning Plymouth squad available to him. The wins against Cheltenham and Port Vale show that the Shrimps can mix it up with the best.
After 12 years of consistent bottom-half finishes in League Two, will Derek Adams be the man to take Morecambe forward? Who knows, but this start certainly has everyone on notice.
Losers – Mansfield
Mansfield have always been one of the biggest spenders in League Two. Every summer transfer window, fans are surprised with the level of players that the Stags manage to bring in, but they always seem to underachieve.
The arrival of Graham Coughlan towards the tail-end of last season was a promising acquisition after the good job he had done at Bristol Rovers. As mentioned before, Mansfield did make some good signings in the summer, this time bringing in Marek Stech, Jamie Reid and re-signing Nicky Maynard.
However, this season has started poorly for Mansfield, mainly due to their inability to see-out games, having led in both of their losses and their one score draw against Leyton Orient. Two nil-nil draws at home against Southend and Stevenage, are also not encouraging results as any team with promotion ambitions should be beating those sides at home. Time will tell whether Coughlan is the man to take Mansfield to the next level and the Stags will really need to turn those draws into wins if they want to finally get themselves into League One.