Football League Expert & Columnist
Baffled by Blackburn
Peter Beagrie looks at the "circus" at Blackburn and how Crystal Palace could replace Wilfried Zaha.
Last Updated: 22/01/13 4:35pm
Peter Beagrie is here every week on skysports.com answering YOUR Football League questions.
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 Blackburn's appointment of Michael Appleton, whether Bolton can launch an assault on the play-offs, and which wingers Crystal Palace should capture if Wilfried Zaha departs...
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Hi Peter, What do you think of Blackburn's appointment of Michael Appleton as manager? I think we needed a proven, experienced boss, but what are your thoughts? Thanks, Stephen Pemberton (Blackburn Rovers fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I couldn't agree more, Stephen, but your club has become a toy for people who don't understand football and have a total disregard form the history of the club and its fans, a situation that reminds me why I didn't move into football management! High-calibre managers like Kenny Dalglish, Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes and, latterly Sam Allardyce - the last manager with any proven pedigree - were employed without an eyebrow being raised, so who would have envisaged the circus that has followed, which has resulted in a series of unsuitable appointments?
Steve Kean's selection baffled the footballing world as did the Venky's decision to bury their heads in the sand and stick with him when the fans felt alienated. Plus, a pantomime played out in public is the best way to describe Rovers' pursuit of Tim Sherwood and Billy McKinlay before they plumped for Henning Berg (pictured) - a great man, yes, but not yet proven as a manager - and forced him to work with Kean's backroom staff and then sacked him after 10 games and ahead of some very winnable, in my opinion, January fixtures.
And now, with so many experienced bosses around, the Venky's appointed Appleton, just 65 days into his tenure at Blackpool; Michael will be a successful manager but at this point, I think Rovers needed a vastly experienced man with the personality to stop the Venky's wreaking more havoc. I hope Blackburn don't have to employ a fourth permanent manager this season - but I certainly wouldn't bet against it.
LACK OF SPARK
Hi Peter, I am a Charlton fan and despite being pleased that we are not in a relegation battle I had hoped for a little more for this season. Do you feel that Chris Powell regrets not bringing in some more Championship and Premier League players to strengthen the side? Cheers Josh Saunders (Charlton Athletic fan)
BEAGS SAYS: That is always a conundrum for a manager when his team gets promoted in such an impressive manner and he brought in so many new players to make it happen. Around 19 players were signed in the summer of 2011, while many more moved out, so realistically Chris had to give the vast majority of his squad the chance at Championship level this term. The problem for the Addicks, though, is that they don't score enough goals; it is easy to blame the strikers but I believe the side lacks creativity, with craft often sacrificed for shape and work rate.
A brilliant November had me believing that a top-half finish was achievable, but a disastrous December where Athletic claimed only three points out of a possible 18 must have left even the most optimistic Charlton fan looking at the deteriorating points advantage over the bottom three, before this current three-game unbeaten run eased a few nerves. I'm sure you realise, Josh, that Chris won't be doing any serious shopping until the summer, but when he does I expect him to purchase a central-midfield player with good distribution and an eye for goal, and a quick winger.
Hi Peter, Is there anyone, in your opinion, in the Football League who Crystal Palace could try to replace Wilfried Zaha with should he be sold? Thanks, Josh Dawson (Crystal Palace fan)
BEAGS SAYS: This is a question Palace fans will hope doesn't need answering until at least the start of next season, but should Zaha depart, I would definitely be in the market for Bristol City's Albert Adomah; he has the pace and trickery to trouble any defence and would cost peanuts compared to the fee that Zaha, and fellow Eagles wide-man, Yannick Bolasie, who has received admiring glances from Stoke to name but one club, would command.
I would also look at Swindon's Matt Ritchie (pictured); the 23-year-old was schooled at Portsmouth but garnered his education on loan in the lower leagues before the Robins snapped him up. Strong, robust and by no means slow, Ritchie plays on the right despite having a wonderful left foot and has been the star in League One and Two for Swindon; he accrued 11 goals and 16 assists last year and has nine goals and nine assists so far this, and would definitely flourish in the Championship.
To chuck in a curveball, Palace could go for Hull's Cameron Stewart; the former Man United youngster, who possess lightning pace and, on his day, great trickery, has struggled with injury over the last year-and-a-half and seems to be surplus to requirements at the KC Stadium, and I think Stewart, who would fit into Palace's system no problem, would benefit from Ian Holloway's magnificent man management. The best-case scenario for Palace, though, would be to keep both Zaha and Bolasie until the end of the season so that their promotion push is not destabilised.
Hi Peter, As Southend are on a poor run, do you think Paul Sturrock has what it takes to get the team promoted? Who are our key players and why in your opinion? Callum Connolly (Southend United fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I don't doubt that Paul is the right man for the job, Callum, but I worry that the recent run of results shows the shortfalls of the squad. The Shrimpers have lost their spring after many games on heavy pitches and the Essex side, seventh in League Two, have now lost three in a row. Paul needs to use the loan market wisely and find a midfield general to supplement the squad and drive Southend through this sticky patch.Now is not the time to panic, though, and let's put this trio of defeats on the spin into perspective as it was against three of the current top six - Burton, Gillingham and Exeter - and in the last defeat against the Grecians, United created several goal-scoring opportunities. My suggestion to you, Callum, is to strap yourself in for a rollercoaster ride as eighth-placed Fleetwood and ninth-place Bradford have also lost their last two games, but your key players over the run-in will definitely be Marc Laird and Gavin Tomlin.
STARS OF THE DUGOUT
Hi Peter, Which Football League managers have impressed you the most so far this season and why? Thanks, John Cardin (Tranmere Rovers fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Malky Mackay (pictured) has done a great job for Cardiff this season; he has made subtle changes within the club and recruited brilliantly and has found a winning mentality with a squad that has a great blend of youth, experience and quality. Middlesbrough's Tony Mowbray has also impressed me; he slashed the wage bill at Boro over the summer but has still assembled a quality squad with great strength in depth, while I also must pay tribute to men who are polar opposites as people and have had vastly different career paths, but both share incredible passion for the game: Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Jackett.
The former has managed to unite a multitude of nations and communicate his ideas so effectively that Watford find themselves in the top six, while the latter gets his Millwall players to stretch every sinew for him and, even after the sizeable loss of loanee Chris Wood, Jackett still has an indomitable positivity that leaves you in no doubt that the Londoners are capable of hijacking the play-offs.
In League One, Ronnie Moore has re-energised Tranmere with his genuine love for the club and ability to find young gems on loan and has ushered the table-toppers four points clear of third-placed Brentford, whose boss Uwe Rosler has also had a stellar campaign. The German has bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the play-offs last season and injected resolution and creative spark into the Bees. He will be looking to gatecrash the top two place in the table, while I'm sure he will be relishing the FA Cup derby with Chelsea, too.
HOT TO TROTT?
Hi Beags, Do you think Bolton are still capable of mounting a playoff challenge this season and if so, in which areas do they need to strengthen in the transfer window in order to do so? Cheers, Jonathan Kent (Bolton Wanderers fan)
BEAGS SAYS: One team always come out of the pack in the Championship and in recent years we have seen Iain Dowie's Crystal Palace and Roy Keane's Sunderland put incredible runs together to gain promotion, while you only have to look at last year's late developers Reading who, by making an inspired signing in Jason Roberts, turned a disastrous start into a monumental finish. Ten points is a lot for Wanderers to make up on sixth-placed Watford, but you would be disappointed if Bolton, given their squad and resources, did not reel them in over the remaining 19 games.
I would like to see Dougie Freedman replace 33-year-old Martin Petrov, on the verge of a switch to Espanyol, with a younger and hungrier, if equally attack-minded, version, sign a proven goalscorer, perhaps DJ Campbell, and at least one other centre-half; Man City's Dedryck Boyata and FC Copenhagen's Solvi Ottesen have been mentioned and I think both are better than the Trotters' current crop of defenders. I am also delighted to see that forgotten man Stuart Holden has finally shaken off seasons of horrendous injuries and cannot wait to see the midfield dynamo back in action.