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Desperation hangs over England football Championship madhouse

SoccerNews in English Championship 8 Aug 2008

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A sense of desperation hangs over the Championship as the race for the Premier League promised land starts again this weekend.

Everywhere you look clubs who have dined at English football’s top table are struggling to come to terms with their reduced status ahead of Saturday’s kick-off.

Even those who are well used to competing outside the elite are struggling to maintain their cool. Such is life in England’s most cut-throat division.

The majority of the 24 teams will believe they can win the 60 million pounds jackpot that comes with promotion, even though most would struggle to survive more than a season against Manchester United and company.

In such a heated environment, Birmingham, Derby and Reading, fresh from Premier League relegation last season, should take nothing for granted.

All three have expectations of promotion but Birmingham look to have the best opportunity following the astute signings of former England striker Kevin Phillips and ex-Everton midfielder Lee Carsley.

Carsley, who will captain the side in the absence of injured skipper Damien Johnson, is desperate to help his hometown club get back into the top-flight.

Before the first ball has even been kicked Birmingham chairman David Gold piled unneccessary pressure on his team by making it clear that he expects not only promotion but also the Championship title.

So Carsley’s experience will be vital at a club where the next crisis is always just around the corner.

“I grew up 10 minutes from the ground and I know what it means to the people of Birmingham. It’s a very passionate club,” Carsley said.

“I think many of them aren’t happy that a club of this size is in the Championship. It belongs in the Premier League.

“I want to get promoted and stabilise the club in the Premier League. That would be the sweetest moment for me.”

Reading boss Steve Coppell decided to come back for another season because he felt he owed the fans who pleaded with him to stay.

He may come to regret that decision after the departures of Dave Kitson, Nicky Shorey and Glen Little left him with a threadbare team.

Paul Jewell will have to issue name-tags to his squad soon following the Derby manager’s Pride Park clearout.

Jewell has carried out his threat to dismantle a squad relegated with the lowest points total in Premier League history by selling seven first-team regulars and signing eight new faces.

QPR’s attempt to ensure Chelsea aren’t west London’s only glamour club is already in danger of dissolving into farce after reports that manager Iain Dowie could be sacked before taking charge of his first match.

Rangers have spent big to try to win promotion, but Dowie, who only joined the club three months ago when he replaced Luigi De Canio, has clashed with co-owner Flavio Briatore over a proposed transfer of an unnamed forward from the Middle East.

Briatore reportedly told Dowie that he would be fired but it is unclear whether the Italian will follow through with the threat.

Real Madrid’s highly-rated young midfielder Daniel Parejo, who joined QPR on loan this week, must wonder what he has let himself in for.

Welcome to the Championship madhouse Daniel.

Fixtures (all 1400GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Birmingham v Sheffield Utd (1245GMT)

Blackpool v Bristol City

Cardiff v Southampton

Charlton v Swansea

Coventry v Norwich

Crystal Palace v Watford

Derby v Doncaster

Ipswich v Preston

Plymouth v Wolverhampton

QPR v Barnsley

Sheffield Wednesday v Burnley

Sunday

Nottingham Forest v Reading (1315GMT)

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SoccerNews

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