If the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Wolves and Bolton were looking for a quick comeback into the glamorous world of the English Premier League, it’s time to think again! The Championship, popularly known as the Npower Championship, kicked off on Friday night and as Saturday had drawn to a close, the massive task that confronts the three managers of last season’s Premier League is evident. If Blackburn’s Indian owners was looking for a quick turnaround things look mighty tight in this 24-team division. Steve Kean is already under tremendous pressure to give Rovers fans something to cheer for this season which was not helped by the team’s global adviser Shebby Singh, who last week told a fans’ forum that the Scottish manager is three games away from the sack. Well that has not gone down well with the team’s preparations nor does the fact that Mr. Singh termed Norwegian veteran Morten Gamst Pedersen a ‘pensioner’. The player did answer this jibe with a more than satisfactory performance last evening at Portman Road by setting up new signing Colin Kazim Richards for the game’s first goal but the same cannot be said of Kean who saw his side conceded late via a Jason Lowe own goal as Ipswich battled to salvage a draw at home.
If Steve Kean was to answer his global adviser following all the controversies that have plagued the Venky’s owned Lancashire club, he desperately needed the win at Ipswich. Nevertheless a point from a tough opening day away fixture is sure to boost the side and make Anuradha Desai a confident club supremo looking forward to the season. New signing Kazim-Richards scored on his debut and looked a typical striker who is used to the tough challenges of the Championship, having been involved with Sheffield United in his career and he is the player that the club and manager would look forward to scoring goals in the coming days. Former Portuguese international Nuno Gomes was largely ineffective in his debut game but given his pedigree, a lot is expected from the veteran during the course of the long season. But rest assured the knife is very much out for Kean and a slow start to the season would mean that days are numbered for the 44-year old.
Manager’s quote post-match: Steve Kean
“We feel we’ve got a really good, competitive squad and that we’re good enough to bounce back at the first attempt.
“This is the first point on the board at a difficult venue, so I’ve got to be pleased.
“Ipswich are well organised and not too many teams will come here and get three points, so I must give them credit because I thought they were excellent.”
“Full credit to the owners for backing me with signings. We’ve been able to strengthen. And now we’ve got our first point on the board.”
Wolves may have recruited a new manager in the form of Stale Solbakken but the habit of losing, carried forward from last season’s Premier League misdemeanours, haunted the Black country club once again as Neil Warnock’s rejuvenated Leeds United handed the visitors’ Norwegian coach a 1-0 defeat in his first league game in charge at Elland Road. The former FC Cologne and FC Copenhagen strong man has been recruited by the club to instill a steely attitude reminiscent of their new manager in the quest for quick ascent to the Premier League. With all that is attached to Solbakken as a player and a manager, it seemed a bold choice by Wolves owner Steve Morgan but the first outing did not go as planned. Veteran boss Neil Warnock proved a bit more astute in his approach to the game compared to the 42-year old Solbakken as a 17th minute Luciano Becchio diving header froma Ross McCormack cross proved to be the winner for the Yorkshire side. Wolves would have no complaints on the day as they were truly outplayed by a dominant young Leeds side for whom controversial former Senegalese international El Hadji Diouf made his debut replacing the injured Paul Green just before the break. But the former Liverpool, Bolton and Doncaster Rovers player did not disappoint with his usual frenetic display.
A coach boasting of valuable Champions League experience with FC Copenhagen, Stale Solbakken has a lot to think about as his side did not do anything noteworthy going forward and Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny had an easier outing than what he could have hoped for. The likes of Kevin Doyle and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake were starved of any sort of service as the home side marshalled the defensive line expertly. Loan signing Slawomir Peszko came on as a second half substitute and although the Pole managed to liven up Wolves, Kenny’s goal was largely undisturbed by the club from the Molineux.
Manager’s quote post-match: Stale Solbakken
“The only way you can change it [the mentality] is to win that first game and get that winning feeling.
“You can say that you can work hard blah, blah, blah, but you have to win that first game. Today was a fair result, there were not many chances in the game. Leeds protected their penalty area well when they went in front. I have no complaints.
“We are trying to find a winning formula. The team lost many games last season, maybe one win in 26 or 27. But now we have two home games and maybe we can get it then.”
Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle is still disappointed with last season’s last day draw with Stoke City that condemned his side to Championship football this season and the Scottish manager left Turf Moor last evening again believing his side was robbed off points on a difficult return to his former club Burnley. Still coping with Fabrice Muamba’s retirement, the side from the Reebok left Burnley with nothing as Martin Peterson and Charlie Austin were on target for the Clarets on either side of the break to sink Coyle and Bolton on the first day of the Championship. The match started on contrasting note as British Olympic medallists from the Burnley area were greeted with a rousing applause and standing ovation for their achievements but that festive mood turned utterly sour as cries of ‘Judas’ greeted Owen Coyle for most of the match right from the minute that he stepped into the Turf Moor dug-out. The 46-year old Coyle left Burnley in January 2010 after helping them to promotion that season and the fans vented their anger at the Scotsman with scenes of planes flying overhead with the message, ‘Judas Coyle’. Moving on to the football side of a disappointing evening, the visitors were left wondering how a offside looking Martin Peterson was allowed by the officials to be at the end of a Charlie Austin cross in the 38th minute. The day was getting even more forgettable for Coyle and his boys. To be honest, the Trotters did not do enough to show their supporters that they are planning to return to the top flight at the first attempt.
Manager’s quote post-match: Owen Coyle
“I felt we lost a poor goal. We huffed and puffed without really imposing and I think we had one cleared off the line from Zat Knight at a corner but we certainly didn’t create the goalscoring opportunities that I would have wanted.
“I’ll have to look at it again but Martin Paterson looked a couple of yards offside when the ball was knocked to him by Charlie Austin. I’ll need to see that back and it didn’t help but in the second half we were looking to react better to that.”