League Insider - The Pope
Graeme Bailey looks at why the Pope's visit to the UK is a good omen for one Championship side.
Last Updated: 27/09/10 12:53pm
Queens Park Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Championship table this weekend, but is there more to it than just Neil Warnock's brilliance?
Nobody can deny that QPR's appointment was a hugely shrewd one, but few could have anticipated that they would be five points clear by mid-September.
Rangers are the only unbeaten side in the Championship, and now promotion is very much the word on everyone's lips around Loftus Road.
Whilst many can look at Warnock's transfer dealings, some may suggest a higher influence in the shape of... the Pope.
The last visit of the Pontiff to the UK came in 1982, when John Paul II came to the country - the following year QPR celebrated promotion.
Now in 2010, Pope Benedict's first visit to the UK coincides with QPR's push for promotion back to the top-flight, surely an omen if there ever was one.
QPR's latest success came at Leicester, but the ever pragmatic Warnock refuses to be carried away with the fact that they are now the odds-on favourite for the title and have now had their best start to a season for 23-years.
Following the win at the Walkers Stadium, Warnock in his own charismatic way described his squad as: "They've all got something to prove and they're a little bit of a bunch of misfits really who are doing quite well."
Whilst QPR remain the only undefeated side in the Championship, they are not alone in the Football League, there are two others. One in League One and another in League Two.
In League One, and probably the most surprising of the unbeaten sides to date, are Carlisle United.
The Cumbrians have not started a season this well since they were in the Conference five years ago, but Greg Abbott has guided his side to three wins and four draws, and they sit just one place off the top.
"Whatever the outcome, this group will work exceptionally hard and they will give a completely honest performance," is Abbott's honest assessment.
And to League Two, Chesterfield - like Carlisle - remain unbeaten and sit in third, just a point off top spot.
But whilst Carlisle were not expected to be competing at the top end, the same cannot be said of John Sheridan's men.
The Spireites are suddenly one of the teams to watch out for in the lower leagues, and not just because they have equalled a 43-year club record of seven league games without defeat at the start of a season.
But they now boast one of the finest stadiums outside the top two divisions having moved into the 10,000 capacity B2net Stadium.
And Sheridan appears in confident mood for the season ahead, "I think all season we have shown glimpses of how we can play. The game's changed over the years you have to take care of the ball and play it simple at times.
"I think we are showing that at times and if we can do that consistently we will be a big threat."
Now obviously there is the odd victory which stands out from time to time, but even as early as September, there will be few more notable scorelines than Watford's 6-1 humiliation of Millwall.
It must be emphasised that Millwall were unbeaten at The Den for 10 months, and this was their biggest home loss for eight years.
Hornets boss Malky Mackay has described the performance as his best day as a manager so far.
And finally a big congratulations to Preston North End for their push to bring fans back to Deepdale.
North End have endured a tough start to the season and their crowds had been below 10,000 all season.
But for Saturday's game with Norwich, they charged £1 for juniors and £5 for adults. The result? Over 18,000. A remarkable feat considering it is also Preston's worst start to a season for 87 years.