For those of you who don’t know, I’m here to tell you…there’s life outside of the Premiership! Those provincial towns outside of London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham all have their own teams, and they have fans who go to watch them. And they have good players who play an exciting brand of football. Half a world away from the superstar wages, glamourous WAGS and International caps of the Premiership there’s another league out there. 3 leagues in fact!
But we’re only going to talk about 1 of them today, and that’s the Championship. Firstly, let me just say I’m a Newcastle fan (but don’t hold that against me…too late, 106 words in and you already hate me!) When we got relegated in 2009, you can imagine how I was feeling. Gutted, distraught, broken, depressed…these words couldn’t even begin to describe my emotions. But…and here’s the strange thing…I met the result with a tinge of excitement. As a fan who had only known the Premier League, and considered the lower divisions only during cup matches, I was excited to see what the Championship had to offer. I read the names on the Newcastle fixtures list, the way people read holiday destinations. Doncaster, Swansea, Plymouth, Cardiff…they all sounded like far-away, magical places and I couldn’t wait to see Newcastle take them on.
Since we came back up, I’ll admit I haven’t really given the Championship a second thought. It’s like a dream world, where every week we scored and mostly won. But today, after looking at the Championship stats online, I’ve realised that there’s alot of talent in the league that needs to be brought to the attention of the Premiership. Who knows, maybe your club should be looking at one of these 5 instead of abroad, during the summer…
Adel Taarabt, QPR – The hoops are currently top of the Championship, and it’s largely thanks to the efforts of this man. He’s scored 15 goals, and created another 15 for QPR and manager Neil Warnock can’t believe his luck for once! The 21 year old Moroccan joined Rangers from Spurs, after playing just 9 games for Tottenham in the Premiership. Warnock will be desperate to keep hold of the midfielder as his side push for promotion, but there will no doubt be a number of admiring glances (and substantial financial offers) from the Premiership if they don’t manage it.
Danny Graham, Watford – 25 year old Englishman Graham has been around for a while now. The Gateshead born striker has so far played for Middlesbrough, Derby, Leeds, Blackpool and Carlisle. After 3 seasons at Carlisle, where he scored an impressive 37 goals, he moved to Watford where he currently tops the Championship top-scorers table with 22 goals so far. With Watford struggling to break into the play-off places, it’s astounding there’s not one Premiership club willing to take a punt on the striker. Seriously, Alan Pardew are you listening??
Luciano Becchio, Leeds – I don’t know about you, but I really want Leeds to come up this season. And no, that’s not a cynical attempt to curry favour with Leeds fans (of which I have many good friends) it’s just that I think they’ve been in the wilderness for too long, and have shown how far they’ve come as a club with some great results in the cup and by storming up the Championship.
Arguably their best player has been Luciano Becchio who so far this season has scored 16 goals and chipped in with 8 assists. The 27 year old Argentinian has been with Leeds since they were in League One, and has scored 47 goals for them in 121 appearances.
Jay Rodiguez, Burnley – Novembers Young Player of the Month and also one of the League’s top-goalscorers, Rodriguez is probably familiar to most fans of the Premiership given that he was one of the player’s who came up with Burnley in 2009. Although he didn’t feature for the Lancashire based club that season, the 21 year old has been in superb form for them this season, chipping in with 11 goals that has seen his club reach 8th in the league. Burnley born, English but with a Spanish name, Rodriguez is definitely one to watch for future seasons.
Conor Wickham, Ipswich – Probably the best known of the players on this list, Wickham has already been linked with moves to Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle. An exciting prospect at Ipswich, Wickham has been voted both Young Player of the Month and Player of the Month already in the Championship. 18 year old Wickham has scored 6 goals for the Tractor Boys this season, and is hotly tipped for a move away from Portman Road in the summer. As well he should be!
I’m not saying that the Championship is some sort of untapped gold-mine. To be honest, most of you out there knew this stuff already. It would also be wrong of me to suggest that the Premier League clubs should pillage the lower leagues for all the best players and leave clubs to get on with it. What I am saying though, is that there is as much talent within our own leagues as there is on the continent. Why spend £15 million on a forward who’s scored 13 goals in the French League when you’ve got Danny Graham at Watford? That’s all I’m saying….
Here endeth the lesson….
Follow Peter Turner on Twitter @petermagpie