Tony you've helped the site previously with interviews, what do you think of the Championship this season? Particularity Wolves and Leeds' efforts in it?
Hi Keith. It's been a "typical Championship" season in my opinion. You will always have the top 2/3 teams who you can bank on for being up there challenging but anyone can beat anyone on the day.
It's been a season to forget for Wolves. Change of Owners who have taken time to adjust to the demands of The Championship and the aspirations of the Fans.
Changing your Manager a few weeks prior to the start of the season and then signing 12 new players and a Manager with more "clubs than Tiger Woods" and no experience of the English game is setting up to fail.
We seem to be turning the corner and with some quality addition's in the summer we could be challenging next year.
As for Leeds you guys have had a great season and have confidence in abundance of being the 3rd team promoted with Elland Road an intimidating place to come. I can remember back toward the start of the season yoh my friend were not happy with the start under Gary Monk and Chris Wood was a waste of space!
How things change lol! Wood has been phenominal and I wonder where you would be without his goals. Hope you make the playoffs and go all the way... after Monday of course!
Your a big fan of the NFL team the Buffalo Bills. What are the differences between the sports as a spectator?
I think I've mentioned before that football can learn so much from the NFL in terms of the match day experience and the entertainment offered, but the NFL is "built for comfort not speed" with all the breaks allowing for spectator interaction which is not possible at a "wham bam thank you Mam" football match!
I still believe that football should have more on pitch officials to help the referee and make use of the replay technology available to assist him on major decisions.
The NFL can be pure theatre and far more spectacular at times than football.
Who is your player of the season for Wolverhampton and a rising star in your squad?
Player of the season without a doubt is Helder Costa. Rising star Connor Ronan (currently injured) with Donovan Wilson set to break through next season hopefully.
Team of the Championship, only use two from any team and two from your own team;
Smith Jansson Dunk Malone
Knockaert Shelvey Mooy
Costa Wood Gayle
Manager of the year in the Championship?
Probably Chris Hughton for bouncing straight back after last year's playoff disappointment. However if Leeds get promoted it should be Monk.
Who do you pick as your four teams to contest the playoffs?
Huddersfield, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.
Which team do you think who will go up with Brighton and Newcastle?
It could very well be Leeds, you have nothing to fear from the other contenders with the possible exception of The Terriers.
Do you think that the teams who come down from the Premiership will 'bounce' back up after the first season in the Championship?
No there's always one that looks vulnerable to descend into freefall and Sunderland could be that one next season
Prediction and Scorers
Leeds 2 (Wood 2)
Wolves 1 (Weimann)
We'd like to thank Tony for taking the time to answer our questions and wish him and the Wolves supporters in taking a step in the right direction next season.
By Keith Ingham
Dan, your a work colleague and a friend. Can you tell the site how long you've followed the 'Magpie's'?
I have followed Newcastle United since I was about 10 / 11 years old. About 17 years I'd say.
Favourite players, in your time and before?
My favourite players from my younger days and before are some club legends. Love a player with passion such as late great Gary Speed. Alan Shearer would certainly be up there! Loved the club, the fans and the city. He bled black and white, stuck in there through good and bad.
In recent times it's been more difficult as players regularly come and go at Newcastle. We have had some brilliant players, some of these helped us to achieve promotion back to the BPL the first time round.
Players such as Kevin Nolan & Joey Barton. Many fans would agree with Kevin but Joey might be debated. In my view he has done some silly things in his career but in the black and white he played with passion, maybe a little too much at times but I loved the guy!
In the current squad it's Matt Ritchie. The lad came down a division to play for Newcastle and consistently performs. In the recent home game against Burton that myself and Keith attended I watched him ordering the team from start to finish. Motivating the team to stay strong at the death. The lad gives everything for Newcastle and also gave everything for his previous club Bournemouth. A true professional in my eyes!
Greatest games you remember from your youth and those you've seen?
A lot of games from my youth stand out and I love watching them back. Can't list them all so I'll name a few. When we beat Sheffield Wednesday 7-1, the Albert chip against Manchester United 5-0. We had some fantastic entertaining players.
In more recent times the 5-1 victory over our rivals Sunderland was an amazing game. The comeback against Arsenal when we went 4 nil down. When Tiote scored that volley to equalise I went absolutely mental!!
The best era and worst?
The best was the Kevin Keegan days and when Bobby Robson managed us.
The worst era is currently ongoing.. the era of Mike Ashley!
How do you think Newcastle have adapted from life after been relegated from the Premiership?
It's been hit and miss this season. The championship is a hard division to get out of and it's getting harder every season.
We haven't played well in a lot of games this season but somehow managed to find a way to win. Having quality players such as Shelvey, Ritchie & Gayle has been crucial in achieving are current position. Hats off to our defence as it has been great for most of the season. Karl Darlow has been amazing in goal this season so far, he has saved us many times.
We need to pull together for the remaining games of the season and try one final push to secure promotion and try grab top spot.
Both teams have a manager / Head Coach that are well respected within the game, what's Rafa the gaffer brought to Newcastle and although Garry Monk has only managed a couple of teams what do you think of him as a coach
Rafa has brought in his experience. His knowledge of the game is fantastic. The players respect him as a manager and you can see it when he is shouting his orders from the technical area. It's nice to have a manager that we can believe in and trust.
I remember watching MOTD one evening and listening to Gary Monk after one of the Swansea games and I just thought to myself, he is a real honest manager. Says it how it is, doesn't make excuses when his team is beaten. I think he's been amazing for Leeds this season. Always liked the guy and and I hope Leeds stick with him because he has got you playing some good football, achieved some great results and the fans have returned to Elland Road because of it.
Who has over performed and under performed: Newcastle and Leeds?
Karl Darlow for Newcastle has over performed this season. He was second choice this season but has stepped up and would be my first choice on the team sheet.
Under performing would be Mo Diame for me. He has worked hard in midfield for us many times but needs to add a few more goals in my opinion.
Chris wood has been fantastic for Leeds this season, his goals have been one of the main reasons for your current league position.
Another over performer would be Bartley for me, he has been a true leader this season next to Pontus Jansson and with Green in goals you have been good at the back.
Under achieving would be Roofe. Came in with a lot of hype and expectation and hasn't performed enough for Leeds.
Your team of the Championship, only two from any team including your own, Championship Player of the Year?
GK - Stockdale (Brighton)
CB - Bartley (Leeds)
CB - Dunk (Brighton)
CB - Jansson (Leeds)
RM - Knockeart (Brighton)
CM - Shelvey (Newcastle)
CM - Mooy (Huddersfield)
LM - Ritchie (Newcastle)
ST - Wood (Leeds)
ST - Gayle (Newcastle)
ST - Murray (Brighton)
Went for 3 from each team.
Team you think that will go up through the Playoffs and three for the drop?
I think it's Newcastle and Brighton top two. Newcastle need other sides to take points off Brighton if we are to finish top. Brighton have the better form currently.
The play offs are always difficult because anything can happen. You want momentum going into the play offs for sure but as I said before, anything can happen. Huddersfield have been slipping up of late and I believe that they will struggle in the play offs. If Leeds can keep Wood fit and scoring then this is the best chance for you to come back up, and I hope you do!
Prediction and Scorers?
It all depends on which Newcastle team shows up. The loss of Dwight Gayle is a massive blow for us. After watching how poorly we defended against Wednesday you could definitely cause us problems especially with Wood being in such good form.
Newcastle 2 (Ritchie, Murphy)
Leeds 2 (Wood x2)
We'd like to thank Dan and wish him best of luck for the rest of the season.
By Keith Ingham
The race is on, arses are tight and managers and simulating football manager till the early hours! That's right! It's time for the playoff run-in.
Only five games remain for most of the teams (Dog Botherer's -6) and it looks like none of the teams currently hunting the playoffs have what you could class as an easy run in.
Here's a list of the top 5 teams for the playoffs and who they've got remaining, if anything it's going to make you feel a lot better after reading this!
Preston - H
Derby - A
Fulham - H
Wolves - A
Birmingham - A
Cardiff - H
Not an easy run in for a team that a couple of weeks ago was pushing for automatic. Preston will be looking for a reply after being played off the park by us and will still be looking at picking up as many points as possible should another team falter and gift them an opportunity.
The same with Fulham who will be out to win every single last point they can until the rest of the season. The last game against Cardiff could also be a tricky one against a side who have shown up a lot of sides this season.
Verdict: Safe? Not by a long shot.
Aston Villa - A
Rotherham - H
Nottingham Forest - A
Wigan - H
Burton - A
A drubbing on Saturday showed that Jaap Stam's slow tactics won't work against everyone. The next fixture away at Villa could further be a test of the players' resolve as they attempt to beat a Villa team back in form with Steve Bruce.
Games against relegation threatened Forest and a final game against Burton is probably the second hardest fixture of the group of teams we're looking at.
Verdict: A repeat of Saturday could be lethal, two wins needed minimum.
Newcastle - A
Wolves - H
Burton - A
Norwich - H
Wigan - A
Garry Monk needs to be sure of his first team if he wants to finish in the top 6 because Leeds have a hard run of games coming up.
A point needs to be made this Friday at Newcastle and the biggest test will come at Burton away. By then the playoffs could be sorted so Norwich could be playing for pride.
Verdict: Should have enough steel in the dressing room to push forward. Needs a settled XI.
Cardiff - H
QPR - A
Derby - H
Ipswich - A
Fulham - H
I would not like to be a Wednesday fan right now biting all 6 nails on their right and left hand. Cardiff and QPR are form teams that have already proved they can beat the big teams.
An in-form Derby also chasing the playoffs is no mean feat and to play Fulham on the final game is probably one of the most entertaining ends to a season in a long time.
Verdict: This will go to the wire and I'll have the popcorn ready for Sunday 7th May.
Norwich - A
Aston Villa - H
Huddersfield - A
Brentford - H
Sheffield Wednesday- A
You have to feel for Fulham after looking at that. No easy game in sight and the first two teams have just been revitalised by new managers. Next is Huddersfield and that is a task on its own.
A final game at Hillsborough could be a decider and what a game that would be!
Verdict: The hardest games remaining and little hope. Hopefully goes to the wire.
So there you have it! I bet you don't feel as bad about Leeds' upcoming fixtures now that you've seen the toil that the rest of the clubs around the playoffs have to go through.
By Ryan Ingham
-Leeds are unbeaten against Preston in their last four games.
-Leeds haven’t lost three on the bounce since Uwe Rosler was in charge October ’15.
-Leeds haven’t failed to score in a three game period since April ’14.
-Callum Robinson has scored 2 and assisted 2 in his last two games.
-Simon Grayson’s stats as Leeds boss P169 W84 WR 49.7%. At Preston P229 W104 WR45.4%
-Preston have only lost twice since Leeds beat them on Boxing Day 4-1
Leeds vs Preston: LWWDW
At home vs Preston: DDWLW
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, Phillips, Roofe, Hernandez, Pedraza, Wood
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Taylor, O'Kane, Dallas, Barrow, Doukara
Preston: Maxwell, Vermijl, Clarke, Baptiste, Huntington, Cunningham, Pearson, McGeady, Gallagher, Robinson, Barkhuisen
Subs: Lindegaard, Horgan, Browne, Spurr, Johnson Makienok, Beckford
Leeds brought back some normality to preceding as they went back to winning ways at Elland Road as they beat Preston 3-0 to continue their promotion push.
The whites were a step above their promotion challengers from the off and were in control for large parts of the game as chance after chance dropped to a multitude of Leeds United players.
Garry Monk chose to make some changes to his starting XI from Tuesdays defeat at Brentford and chose a midfield of youngsters Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira; with the later replacing a suspected injured Liam Bridcutt. Their were also changes on the wings as Roofe and Pedraza replaced Barrow and Dallas.
Leeds took the lead in the 19th minute with a brilliant piece of play from Kemar Roofe and Chris Wood as the winger played a neat one-two with Wood before delaying his shot and chipping the onrushing Maxwell. Further proving that if the players can support Wood wth forward runs, there’s more chance of a goal.
Remembering David Rocastle who sadly passed on this day in 2001 aged 33.
Reading v Leeds
Team News: Jansson absent from the 18 through injury (hamstring), Phillips returns to the bench after his two game suspension.
Team: Green, Berardi, Bartley, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt(c),Vieira, Sacko, Hernandez, Pedraza, Wood.
Leeds had the earliest opportunities, Kyle Bartley heading into the side netting and both Pablo Hernandez and Alfonso Pedraza missing the target when in great positions. It was a open game but when Reading had a chance they took it in style, the player (Kermorgant) who had been verbal in his criticism of Leeds' style of play profited on a poor clearance by Charlie Taylor and he slammed the ball past a despairing dive of Rob Green.
It could have been worse but Reading past up another opening when Green saved Leeds with a save, Kermogent was then unlucky when his shot struck a post and went clear. 1-0 at the break.
Leeds knew they had to impose themselves better in the second half than they had in the first half and they did a lot better without causing Al Habsi a lot of difficultly, although he nearly gifted a equaliser when letting a shot go through his hands, unlucky for Leeds it went into the side netting.
Doukara, Phillips and Roofe were introduced and despite the largest slice of possession it came to no avail, Reading stood firm to see out the game to win the game.
A few players had a off day and the fools throwing on bottles in the second half did little to enhance the club's reputation. Leeds sit fifth after the defeat whilst Reading move into fourth, Huddersfield's late home defeat did little to help their push for the top two places.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how long you've been a Preston fan?
I'm 17, currently a college student, born in Preston and raised in a little village called Bamber Bridge that is south of Preston. I grew up with football really, I used to love watching it on TV as a little kid and now it's my passion. My very first Preston memories was when my Grandad took me on my first Preston game, around 2007 when I was 7 years old, Hull City at home, I remember it being 3-0 to Preston and I was over the moon to be honest, and that's when my Deepdale days started.
I picked Preston as my team because of obvious reasons, I was born and bred in Preston and my Grandad telling me a lot about Preston as he used to go when he was my age, telling me about what it was like and the stand out players such as Tom Finney, Alan Kelly and so on to list the many notable faces that have played for North End'. I was very intrigued when hearing about their history, and what the club is like now, going on the up after an impressive first couple of seasons back.
Who have been your favourite players?
My favourite players from the time I've been watching Preston is quite a tricky one really. We've had some excellent players come and go. One that stands out is David Nugent. Although he signed in 2005 and left in 2007 and I didn't really see him play from my own eyes, he gave Preston that something. A genius in front of goal and quickly became a fans favourite at Deepdale. It was sad to see him go, as he gave the Preston fans a lot to cheer about.
What's been your favourite era?
The best era we've had is probably the Finney Era. Although that's way before my time, he was said to be one of Prestons and at one point England's all time greats. I picked this era because it speaks for itself really. With Tom Finney scoring 247 goals for Preston in 490 appearances for Preston. Not to forget his loyalty too, sticking with his hometown club despite there being mega money offers from other worldwide clubs, much bigger than Preston at the time.
You have one great coach in Simon Grayson, what's your opinion of Larry?
We went through quite a sticky patch regarding managers after David Moyes left us for Everton in 2002. Having the likes of Darren Ferguson, Phil Brown, Alan Irvine who all had quite short stays at Preston. We were still looking for the right man for the tough job at Preston. But in came Simon Grayson, who Leeds fans will know very well.
Of course Grayson did a fantastic job at Leeds United, producing some top results and being a fans favourite at Elland Road. Also Peter Ridsdale, another Leeds born and bred. Ridsdale became North Ends' chairman in 2011, and has stuck to the task that is running Preston North End and trying to get them as high up as possible. From my point of view, Trevor Hemmings (owner), Ridsdale, Grayson and all the backroom staff have done a tremendous job. To see where we are in the league today with one of the cheapest teams in the league proves it's not all about money.
Which teams will finish in the playoffs?
The teams that I think will end in the playoffs will be what you see today. Huddersfield, Leeds, Reading and Fulham, not in that order but just the teams. Last month, Preston were getting quite high, and it was getting pretty dizzy being that high up in the league, it was an unusual sight to say the least.
All teams in the play offs now are in exceptional form, Fulham do stand out to me. They're just getting on with it and winning them crucial games, and finally overtook Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend. I just don't think Sheffield Wednesday have what it takes to push. For my relegation teams, excluding the already relegated Rotherham, it has to be Wigan and Blackburn. The remaining fixtures for both teams will be tricky. I just can't see them escaping although it being very tight down in that bottom 6.
What has been your team of the season?
My team of the championship would be
RB: Chris Gunter
CB: Lewis Dunk
CB: Pontus Jansson
LB: Paul Dummett
CM: Tom Cairney
CM: Aaron Mooy
CM: Aiden McGeady
LW: Anthony Knockaert
RW: Eiias Kachunga
ST: Dwight Gayle
Manager: Paul Heckingbottom
Name a player you regard as a real prospect?
One for the future for Preston I would say Callum Robinson. He's still young, he's playing some great football at Preston. He's fast, skilful and is a very good play maker. He's bagged quite a few this season and that I think has give him a massive confidence booster.
What are your thoughts of yours and Leeds' 16/17 seasons?
My thoughts on Prestons season is just incredible. It's been a pleasure to follow Preston home and away this seasons, producing some incredible results and playing some very attractive football. Results we wouldn't think we'd get, it just makes this season that something special. I'm happy with where we are as right now, play offs was a massive shout but realistically I don't think that will happen.
As for Leeds, there's been a massive difference. Bringing in Garry Monk was a brilliant capture and has done Leeds a massive favour. From finishing 16th last season to being right up in the play offs is brilliant to see, as a team like Leeds, its right for them to be up there.
Prediction for Saturdays game?
For Saturdays game I'm going to go for a draw. 1-1. Scorer for Leeds will be Chris Wood and for Preston I'll go for Daryl Horgan.
We'd like to thank Sam for taking the time to answer our questions and wish him the best of luck for the season. Preston should feel safe in the knowledge that they have one of the best managers in the division at the helm.
By Keith Ingham
Myself and my friend Dan, a big fan of Newcastle United had planned since the football fixtures had come out to come up to Newcastle to watch the game between our favourite teams, but as the best laid plans often do, the movement of the game to Good Friday and another bloody Sky game curtailed that.
So undeterred we still came up and if gave me a chance to have a look at our next opponents, a kind of 'scouting trip' with beer.
I also got the opportunity to see Luke Murphy (he's on loan at Burton) and the legend that is Luke Varney, ex-Leeds, Ipswich etc, he's had a few clubs since leaving the Theatre of Everlasting Hope.
We set off Wednesday morning bright and early to travel to see Newcastle's last fixture before they play the Mighty Whites. It was against Burton Albion who surprised our nearest, not dearest neighbours Huddersfield Town last Saturday with a 1-0 injury time win. A Transpennine express got us up to Newcastle, our travel aided by a Dark Fruits and Jack Daniels!
Travelodge found and booked in we went to have a look around St James Park pre-game and without doubt it's an old ground but still a place that has been Premier League for a number of years. I'd been before but it was a charity football match akin to Soccer Aid.
My mate Dan and the statue of Sir Bobby Robson.
Dressed and fed we set off back up to St James' ready for the game, Newcastle were expecting to beat Burton easy. However, I thought that Burton might get lucky and hopefully pinch a point.
Newcastle's line up is pretty impressive, solid at the back, two full backs that like to attack, industrious in midfield, where Shelvey is instrumental in most things they do, Diame is the ball winner with Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie on the wings and a Perez/Gayle attack. The wingers impressed me most and both Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi or Charlie Taylor will know they've been in a game with these two, very direct and fast are numbers 30 and 11.
I can see Pontus and Kyle also being busy with Dwight Gayle, who netted twice earlier in the season at ER but his partner Perez isn't the most popular player and most of their fans would choose Daryl Murphy ahead of him.
Without doubt 'The Toon' have a good squad and will definitely go up this season.
Newcastle won 1-0 but the story was about one of the strangest incidents I've witnessed at a football match, Newcastle were awarded a penalty when Gayle theatrically went over a outstretched Burton's defenders leg, penalty. Matt Ritchie scored it but the referee disallowed the goal as Gayle had encroached into the penalty area, instead of ordering it to be taken again he gave Burton a free kick much to the annoyance of Rafa and everybody in the stadium.
What a farce! Ritchie netted a superb winner twenty minutes from time, they can be good but can be beaten too, Burton with Luke Varney up front caused them enough problems to make me think Chris Wood might get a little joy from the two centre backs, but he will have to be helped, you can't launch it long and expect him to win it every time.
A great day out and if your coming up try the Strawberry public house just outside the ground, that is if the constabulary let Leeds fans in, a lovely pub and both sets of fans mixed without a bit of trouble. It sells beer and cider in two pint 'Stiens' just in case your thirsty.
This 'scout' thinks that Leeds are quite capable of rustling a few magpie feathers next Friday evening.
By Keith Ingham
Today came the bombshell that Liam Cooper had been charged with improper conduct by the FA and ages received a SIX game ban.
The alleged stamp does seem somewhat intentional or stupid in my own eyes, but it does seem to be a matter of perspective.
Cooper or the club made the decision to plead guilty to the charge and subsequently he has been banned for a minimum of three matches for his 'challenge' on Oxford.
Although their is a lack of downward motion, it's perceived that akin to the previous Mings/Ibrahimovic incident; Cooper must have known that the player was their.
The perspective I have mentioned is whether the people looking into the incident are impartial. It's easy to point a finger and say they've have only done it because we're dirty Leeds. The whole of football showed outrage to Cooper after the match. I saw fans from every club tagging Cooper in fouled mouth rants, why? Because they hate Leeds not the challenge. Can you really believe most players would receive the same
We've been made an example of before and it doesn't surprise me that the retrospective ban which was set to be three games has been extended by three additional matches.
The other side to the coin is the fact that Reading defender Tyler Blackett has escaped without any ban or action for his forearm on Chris Wood. A move that would have been more suited to Sunday's Wrestlemania that at the Madejski.
Whereas Coopers challenge may not be as intentionally inclined, you can see the movement of Blackett's arm towards Woods head. To me, trying to stay as impartial as possible, there is intention in his movement.
I would love to see the reasoning behind the FA's decision. Will we? Not at all. But as per usual, we'll march on.
By Ryan Ingham