Talking the EFL: What to look out for this weekend

After a full round of games in midweek, they go again in The Championship, League One and League Two. Here’s what to keep an eye out for this weekend.

The Championship 

Improvement for Ipswich?

Having recorded just one victory since taking over from Mick McCarthy during the summer, Ipswich owner Marcus Evans has lost patience with Paul Hurst. The former Shrewsbury boss has been shown the door with The Tractor Boys at the foot of the Championship with just nine points to show from fourteen games.

Despite his strong connections with fierce rivals Norwich City, Paul Lambert appears the man primed to take over at Portman Road. Confirmation of his appointment is imminent but it will be the job of academy coach to raise spirits in the meantime, starting with a trip to Millwall. Will they fare any better now Hurst has gone?

Monk making moves

Birmingham have quietly remained under the radar this term, perhaps because they’ve recorded just four wins from their fourteen played. However, they’re on a ten-match unbeaten run and could move to within a point of the play-off places should they beat Sheffield Wednesday at St Andrews on Saturday.

A league high of eight draws has stopped them from making significant strides in the standings and is perhaps why nobody is making too much of The Blues right now. Securing a fourth win on the bounce though will make people sit up and take note, in particular of the job Monk is doing. The former Leeds and Swansea boss has been stopped from making any new signings due to the ongoing transfer embargo hanging over the club but is working wonders with what he has.

Perfect week for Derby?

Can Lampard be the difference for Derby? That was the question raised prior to the season kicking off. But so far, so good for the managerial rookie who has adjusted well to life in the dugout and appears to be mastering the role just like he did the Chelsea midfield.

With his manager’s hat now firmly on, Frank has been rather frank about his side getting too carried away at being just two points off the top of the league. He’ll find it hard to keep playing down talk of this being the year Derby finally go up if his side carry on the way they’re going however. Excellent victories over Sheffield United last Saturday and at West Brom in midweek can be capped with a third win in a row against a fellow promotion rival in Middlesbrough.

League One

Bassong in at The Posh

In one of the more bizarre transfers of the season so far, Peterborough manager Steve Evans has signed up ex-Tottenham, Newcastle and Norwich defender, Sebastian Bassong on a deal until the end of January. The one-time Premier League centre back had been without a club since leaving Norwich at the end of the 2016/17 campaign.

Taking into account how well Peterborough have started – The Posh occupy second place – the move appears a strange one on the surface. But Evans has seen a chance to add to his options at the back where his side have been as consistent conceding goals, as they have been scoring them. Whether Bassong is the man to help remains to be seen.

Bradford to arrest slide?

After competing in and around the League One play-offs for a number of seasons, the demise of Bradford has been quite alarming. Yet, you could say this has been coming with Valley Parade resembling a job centre of late. Numerous names have come in, only to leave a short while after; Stuart McCall, Simon Grayson and Michael Collins have all held the manager’s position at some point this year, with Bradford now onto their fourth in just over seven months.

David Hopkin is that man but like those before him, he too has struggled to reverse the fortunes of the Bantams. Four straights defeats and seven losses in nine since taking the reins at Valley Parade, has Bradford slumped at the very bottom of the division. Another loss at Gillingham and, who knows, the job could once again become vacant.

Mackems making a noise again

Sunderland supporters have endured a torrid couple of seasons with the upheaval on and off the field brought about by back-to-back relegations. Manager Jack Ross has acquitted himself well so far though, slowly rebuilding a club that was on its knees when he joined and, most importantly, helping to bring the fans back onside.

His team can make it four wins in row, and potentially move into the automatic spots on Saturday when they entertain Southend on home turf. The match represents their first at the Stadium of Light since the start of the month so a large crowd will be expectant of another three points as The Mackems push on in their recovery.

League Two

Tisdale and MK aiming for sixth straight success

Two successive play-off final defeats prompted both Exeter and Paul Tisdale to part ways and seek pastures new in the summer. The move seems to be benefitting both parties, not least Tisdale, now at MK Dons. Five straight wins has culminated in his new side riding high in second, just a point and a place above Exeter, of course!

Not that he’ll be getting ahead of himself; Tisdale has been here many times before and won’t be counting any chickens until the medals are handed out in May. Another three points at Mansfield this weekend will do nicely though. Not only will it keep momentum going, it may see them close the gap on leaders Lincoln, who head to fifth place Colchester on the back of a defeat.

Early season six pointer at the Abbey

Macclesfield, having fired manager Mark Yates after failing to win any of the club’s first 12 games, managed to put their first points on the board last weekend, finally. They were quickly brought down to earth though by a thumping 0-5 defeat at home to Northampton and so remain rock bottom.

Next up for the Silkmen, returnees to this level after six seasons in the Conference/National League, is a trip to the Abbey stadium to face Cambridge. The U's sit just five points above in 21st giving the clash the feel of an early season six pointer. A defeat for the visitors could leave a substantial gap between themselves and those above come Saturday evening, not an attractive prospect for the prospective new manager.

Notts County to begin climbing?

Harry Kewell was incensed by the decisions that went against his Notts County side in the week but he’ll be pleased to be back at Meadow Lane after two away games yielded no points. The former Crawley boss had looked to have been onto something prior to these defeats after going five games unbeaten.

Yet, he’s still to find the consistency from his side to see them pull away from the wrong end of the EFL, frustrating for him personally considering he quit Crawley, currently perched around the play-off places, to take over what he only could’ve thought was a club with more potential. Will they soon begin to climb the league?

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