Football League Expert & Columnist
Football League: Peter Beagrie on Championship's best attacking midfielders
Beags offers his thoughts on the Championship's best attacking midfielders, Colin Cooper, Walsall and more...
Last Updated: 13/08/13 5:21pm
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about your team, a player, match or incident that has caught your eye, or a wider point on the Football League, make sure you send it in.
Read below for this week's column where Beags gives his take on the Championship's best attacking midfielders, whether Walsall can make the League One play-offs, Hartlepool manager Colin Cooper and more...
Who would you regard as the best attacking midfielders in the Championship? Paul Eldridge
BEAGS SAYS: There are many excellent attacking midfielders in the Championship. Andy King, at Leicester is almost guaranteed to get into double figures every season, while Almen Abdi and Lewis McGugan at Watford carry a real goal threat, too, in open play and in dead-ball situations. Bolton's Darren Pratley has started the season playing as well as he did at Swansea - arriving late in the box to register goals against Burnley and Reading - and Blackburn's Alan Judge, a ball-carrier who always attacks people, will surprise a few this year. Derby's Will Hughes is brilliant at finding pockets of space and whilst Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid's pace may have diminished over the years his vision and range of passing has not. Reid's team-mate Adlene Guedioura can play anywhere in midfield, while Wigan possess three of the best attacking players in the Championship in the three Ms: Shaun Maloney, James McCarthy and Callum McManaman.
Do you think Walsall should be aiming for the play-offs this year? Jake Kimberley
BEAGS SAYS: Well, Jake, Walsall have certainly proved that there is life after the potentially-debilitating losses of last season's scoring sensation Will Grigg and the skill and dynamism of Jamie Paterson and Febian Brandy, and six goals and three wins from three speaks volumes for the quality and resolve of Dean Smith's charges. There have been some new recruits but the stars of last year - Andy Butler, James Baxendale and Craig Westcarr (pictured) - have been great again and made people stand up and take notice of the Saddlers. There is a great sense of optimism at the club after last year and Walsall and Leyton Orient are going to ruffle the feathers of some of the big boys and perhaps, in a division full of fallen giants, little old Walsall could make a big noise.
How do you rate Reading's chances this season? Could Royston Drenthe be the difference in such a physical league? David Lloyd
BEAGS SAYS: Reading have an excellent chance this season, David. New broom Nigel Adkins has swept more than 17 players out of the Madejski Stadium in pre-season and brought in three quality additions. Wayne Bridge starred for Brighton in the Championship last year and is a direct replacement for Ian Harte; Danny Williams will have the physicality to deal with the second-tier rigours as he is a strong central midfielder with proven pedigree; while Royston Drenthe can, quite literally, win a game on his own, but whether he stays fit enough to torment and tease opposition defences all season long is another matter. He is a genius, though, and if Reading play with a counter-attacking flair, he could be their star - but he is a character and will severely test Adkins' man-management skills.
COOPER CAN CUT IT
Is your old Boro team-mate Colin Cooper ready for his permanent crack at management? Do you think he will be an attacking or defensive coach? Mark McGrath
BEAGS SAYS: I think Colin is certainly ready having served his coaching/managerial apprenticeship for several years at various clubs. He has worked through all the levels, from youth to first teams, and is hungry for success. My only concern is that for all managers your first opportunity is the most important and Colin will have to use all his contacts to amass a squad able to compete in a very strong League Two. Money is an issue, as it as at many clubs, but Colin and his assistant, Craig Hignett, will try to play a committed, high-tempo style of football. It may take time to get the Hartlepool playing staff on his wavelength, so hopefully Cooper will be afforded that. A centre-half who could play with fight and finesse and someone who is absolutely in love with the game is how I found Colin. That passion has not diminished and he is very grateful for this chance and I keep my fingers crossed that he can find the recipe for success.
Is this the season when Leyton Orient put everything together and get in the play-offs - at least? Bobby Russell
BEAGS SAYS: If Orient's end to last season and start to this one is anything to go by, all your wishes could come true, Bobby. The O's are a well-run club that are progressing and playing with a freedom and belief - and, at the moment, that means danger for any team they face. A 5-1 win at Carlisle and a 3-0 win over Shrewsbury at home has Russell Slade purring and I suggest if Kevin Lisbie, Dean Cox, David Mooney and the scorer of Saturday's brilliant solo effort, Moses Odubajo, stay fit, a play-off place is definitely attainable.
Do you see Mansfield quickly adapting to life in League Two Daniel Penrith
BEAGS SAYS: It will be a steep learning curve for Mansfield but after an opening-day defeat to Scunthorpe, a draw at home to Exeter should be a cause for optimism. I wondered how much of a loss the prolific Matt Green, who has joined Birmingham, would prove to be and I got an answer this weekend. On another day and with Green still in Stags colours, Mansfield could easily have won 3-0, but John McCombe's experience at centre-half should help, while the highly-rated Sam Clucas (pictured) could be a good acquisition. York took an age to adapt to League Two but eventually found the formula to compete and win games, so while Rome wasn't built in a day, I am hopeful Mansfield's great season last term will not be wasted and their visit to the Football League will not be fleeting.