EFL Reporter @simgholam
Sky Bet EFL talking points: Swansea flying high in Championship, more misery for Stoke and hope for Bolton
Swansea beat Leeds to move top of the Championship, Stoke and Huddersfield beaten again and hope for Bolton despite another thrashing...
Last Updated: 02/09/19 12:37pm
Swansea edge past Leeds to go top
Five games in was too early to call it a promotion battle, but the two early pace-setters in the Championship did meet at Elland Road on Saturday.
Leeds were expected to be there or thereabouts this season, but Swansea have been a bit more of a surprise package so far. They both had 13 points heading into the game, but it was the Swans who ended the day clear at the top of the table thanks to Wayne Routledge's late goal to secure a 1-0 win.
Leeds may have dominated possession and the number of shots (21 to seven), but it was telling they had just three on target to Swansea's two. For Steve Cooper, it has been a dream start.
"It is the perfect result, a clean sheet away from home and scoring one," he said. "It is a good return. I'm not going to be too reserved, but there are 40 games left.
"I feel like we have played 30 already! Of course, it is a good start, encouraging. A good tally so far, no doubt about that. But we need to keep going, keep working and get ready for the next game."
And Charlton join them in the top two
But if Swansea have been a bit of a surprise package, well then what does that say about Charlton?
Tipped as favourites for relegation in pre-season, Lee Bowyers's side won 2-0 at Reading on Saturday to move above Leeds and into second. They have picked up 14 points from their six games so far.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this side Bowyer has put together, however, is how he has cobbled it together and so quickly turned them into an impressive unit. Five of his starting 11 from the game on Saturday only joined in the summer, and four of those are young loanees who only arrived in early August.
"They're fearless," said Bowyer. "They're in that place at the moment and they're in that zone where they believe that they're going to win every game, and I make them believe that they can win every game."
More misery for Huddersfield and Stoke
There's no surprises, then, that Bowyer has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Huddersfield. They, along with Stoke, remain rooted at the bottom of the table, with both having picked up just a single point so far this season.
Huddersfield sacked their manager Jan Siewert after just three games without any kind of plan to replace him, losing all three since under caretaker boss Mark Hudson. On Saturday they even took the lead at Luton, but ended the day with a 2-1 reverse.
Of bigger concern will be their lack of goal threat aside from Karlan Grant, who has scored four of their five goals this season and eight of their 15 league goals in 2019. No one else has scored more than a solitary goal for Huddersfield in that time. Grant must be wondering whether leaving Charlton in January was such a good idea after all.
Then there is Stoke, who also took the lead on Saturday at Birmingham, but were hit by two goals in three second-half minutes to lost 2-1 at St Andrew's. The winner came from 16-year-old Jude Bellingham, scoring his first goal for the club.
"We have to change our luck, we were the better side up until we scored, we hit the post and then we seemed to lose all control of the game," said beleaguered boss Nathan Jones. "Apart from Preston and Leeds we have probably been the better side in every game but we have got no points for it.
"The chairman will see the same as me because he is an educated guy but you can't continue like this - you can't continue losing games. We have to change the momentum. But nothing is going for us at the minute and that's the frustrating thing."
Hope for Bolton despite another thrashing
It is not often a third 5-0 thrashing in a row would be greeted with such a warm reaction by a group of fans, but 750 Bolton supporters made the long journey to Gillingham just to celebrate the fact they still have a club to support.
In the first game since the takeover that saved them from potential oblivion, Bolton's young side were routed again to be left bottom of the Sky Bet League One table on minus 11 points, conceding 17 and without a goal yet to their name.
But things are looking up. A new manager was appointed on Saturday in Keith Hill and they are hoping to make a raft of new signings on Deadline Day. They are still highly unlikely to stay up this season but there is hope on the horizon. What Bury fans would give for some of that.
"The history books will show a 5-0 win for Gillingham, but any Bolton Wanderers fan in attendance will realise the insignificance of the score line when compared to the bigger picture," Bolton fan and blogger Tom Jenkins told Sky Sports.
"There was a real air of positivity amongst the travelling fans who were both relieved and delighted to be able to watch their team play a game of football, something we didn't think would be possible earlier in the week. Something that sadly isn't possible for fans of Bury. There are better times ahead both on and off the pitch and despite all the uncertainty, the future is looking a lot, lot brighter for Wanderers."
Rochdale earning style plaudits
Brian Barry-Murphy initially replaced Hill as caretaker manager last season to save Rochdale from relegation, but he swiftly made a big enough impression to be handed the job permanently.
Now, the club seem to be making strides under him, at least in a style sense. The first goal in their 3-0 win at Southend on Saturday comprised of 16 passes in the build-up, and it was not a one-off either. It is the third time this season already that one of their goals has comprised at least 10 passes, while no other team in League One has done so more than once.
Barry-Murphy was left praising their "amazing" attacking play that earned them a second win of the season. They currently sit 10th in the table and are a way off pushing for promotion, but mid-table obscurity would be a good look after back-to-back campaigns of battling against the drop.
Hurst philosophical in defeat
Scunthorpe had the opportunity to climb away from the bottom of the Football League on Saturday as they hosted Carlisle - another side who had suffered a poor start to the season - but another 1-0 defeat left them on just a single point so far.
Paul Hurst was the man who was supposed to rebuild them following their relegation from League One, but it has not worked out as of yet. His time at Ipswich and Scunthorpe means he has won just one of his last 20 games in charge. It is starting to bring him down.
"It's extremely frustrating that yet again I'm talking about a defeat," he said. "I feel like I've done something wrong somewhere - whether it's in a previous life or this one. The players put a lot in and couldn't have done much more, aside from getting on the scoresheet, which is the most important part admittedly.
"I don't think we'll dominate a game like that again all season in terms of nullifying the opposition and creating the chances that we did ourselves. But it's not quite happening for us at the moment and we're left scratching our heads at what we can do to try to change that."