League Insider - New start

Chris Burton finds that the opening weekend of Football League action conjured up inevitable relegation hangovers and promotion boosts.

Last Updated: 12/09/11 1:49pm

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Managers can prattle on until they are blue in the face about how a new season brings with it a new dawn, with the events of the recent past counting for nothing by the time a ball is kicked in anger at the start of a new campaign.

It is, however, difficult to argue against cold, hard facts - and they suggest that relegation hangovers and promotion boosts are as much a part of the Football League fabric as terraces, bobbly pitches and Barry Fry.

The opening weekend of the 2011/12 season has added further weight to the argument that teams are - as much as they would like to think otherwise - directly affected by results at the end of the previous campaign.

The disappointment of slipping down a level can be difficult to shake off, even with an influx of fresh faces, while the joy of promotion, and the momentum that comes with it, can help to fire sides out of the blocks.

Just ask West Ham, Birmingham or Preston - three sides who looked more than a little bleary-eyed over the weekend.

Of the 10 sides that suffered the indignity of relegation in 2010/11, only five were able to pick up maximum points in their first contest of the new campaign - and three of those came in League Two.

Sam Allardyce's arrival at Upton Park failed to inspire West Ham, as they went down 1-0 at home to Cardiff, while Chris Hughton's first game in charge of Birmingham also saw him left empty-handed, as Derby claimed a 2-1 victory at Pride Park.

Elsewhere, Scunthorpe drew 1-1 with Wycombe in their first fixture back in League One and Preston were thumped 4-2 on home soil by Colchester as they dropped into the third tier with a bump.

Plymouth were able to salvage a point away at Shrewsbury, which should be considered to be a decent result, but, given their troubles, they really need to hit the ground running.

It was not all doom and gloom for relegated clubs, however, as the irrepressible Ian Holloway guided Blackpool past Hull City at the KC Stadium in the opening game of the new Football League season.

Sheffield United saw off Oldham 2-0, suggesting they should go well in League One, while Dagenham, Bristol Rovers and Swindon - under the guidance of Paolo Di Canio - all stand on three points in League Two.

It remains to be seen whether those clubs that opened with a win can build on that success in the coming days, allowing them to put any relegation woes firmly behind them, but for now they can rest easy.

The same can be said for a number of those sides who found themselves on the up last term.

The Championship is considered by many to be the most competitive division in English football, but Brighton, Southampton and Peterborough had no problem finding their feet at that level on Saturday.

All three of the second tier new boys picked up morale-boosting victories, proving that a winning habit can carry you a long way.

In League One, Wycombe, Bury and Stevenage all picked up a point, with Chesterfield the only promoted side to taste defeat.

Finally, in the fourth tier, League debutants AFC Wimbledon and Crawley put in positive performances.

The Dons slipped to defeat at home to Bristol Rovers, in a five-goal thriller, while Crawley would have picked up three points were it not for an untimely red card for John Dempster and an injury-time leveller from Port Vale.

All in all, Football League action returned with a bang over the weekend, startling some of those still finding their feet after a hard summer and exploding some of those still full of running out of the traps in style.

Fresh approach

Having discussed the fall-out which often follows a promotion or relegation, it is also worth noting how often the arrival of a new manager can have a positive impact on results.

Since the 2010/11 Football League regular season came to a close on 7th May, 15 clubs have welcomed a new boss into their respective dugouts.

Of those, only four suffered defeat in their first competitive game in charge.

West Ham's Sam Allardyce, Birmingham's Chris Hughton, Rochdale's Steve Eyre and Morecambe's Jim Bentley make up that unfortunate quartet, but everyone else was celebrating at least a point over the weekend.

It just goes to show, change is not always a bad thing.

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