EFL Reporter @simgholam
Sky Bet EFL: Five things to look out for on Saturday
Middlesbrough can't afford to nosedive, Sheff Utd and Leeds can pile on the pressure and more sackings in League One and League Two.
Last Updated: 30/03/19 9:23am
We cast our eye over five things to look out for in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two on Saturday.
Middlesbrough can't afford nosedive
It has appeared pretty much a guarantee for most of the season that Middlesbrough would finish in the top six.
Tony Pulis' side have been there or thereabouts for pretty much the entirety of the campaign so far, but a dreadful run of results before the international break has put their play-off hopes at risk.
Boro have now picked up just one point from their last four games and there are now a stack of sides below them looking to take their place. Aston Villa, Preston, Derby, Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest all reside within four points of them heading into the weekend.
When Middlesbrough initially went down in 2017 and appointed Garry Monk, an immediate return to the Premier League was their only target. If their current form continues, though, a third season in the Championship surely awaits.
It doesn't get any easier, either. With relentless Championship leaders Norwich visiting the Riverside Stadium on Saturday - live on Sky Sports Football. Defeat and Boro could well find themselves outside of the top six for the first time since the first week of August.
Leeds and Blades can close the gap
Norwich's march towards promotion has looked relentless in recent weeks. Six wins on the spin and eight in their last nine have seen them open up a four-point gap at the top of the table and a lot would have to go wrong for them between now and the end of the season to end up in the play-offs.
But Sheffield United and Leeds will retain hope of catching the Canaries, especially with home games on Saturday at 3pm, meaning they can close the gap for at least a couple of hours.
The international break came at a bad time for the Blades, who had just won at Leeds and haven't even conceded a goal since their incredible collapse at Aston Villa in early February. They host Bristol City.
Leeds, meanwhile, will have had to dwell on that defeat for two weeks, but face the proposition of a Millwall on Saturday who would have spent the last fortnight wondering how they managed to blow such an opportunity to reach Wembley.
Victory for the two Yorkshire clubs and any slip from Norwich would see the promotion race once again balanced on an absolute knife edge.
Any glaring omissions from the Team of the Season?
In the week where the EFL Championship Team of the Season was announced, there will always be arguments about certain players who were unfairly omitted.
Liam Rosenior has a couple of suggestions. "I thought Pablo Hernandez was a shoo-in," he told EFL Matters on Thursday. "When he has been fit he has been the driving and creative force behind their good form.
LISTEN: EFL Matters podcast
Liam Rosenior and Kieran Maguire join David Prutton in this week's EFL Matters.
"And as well as Reece James has done for Wigan, I think Ben Godfrey has been outstanding for Norwich at centre-half, but I'm not surprised to see his team-mates Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis in there."
And what about the nominations for Player of the Season? It is three of the contenders for the Golden Boot, Teemu Pukki, Billy Sharp and Che Adams, in the running.
"I can understand because it is the hardest job in football to put the ball in the back of the net and the goal totals those players have got is truly fantastic," said Rosenior. "Being a defender I would like to see different nuances of the game being appreciated as well, but I can't argue with any of those three being in the running!"
Championship fixtures (Saturday 3pm kick-off unless stated)
Two more League One clubs get the jitters
There was inevitably going to be some kind of reaction to how close the relegation battle is in the bottom half of League One.
The sackings of Stuart McCall and Chris Powell, from Scunthorpe and Southend respectively, means we are now up to 12 managerial casualties since the start of the season in the third tier.
McCall leaves Scunthorpe two points clear of the drop zone, with their recent form a far cry from the performances that earned him the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month for January. And it is worth remembering he was backed heavily with a raft of new additions in the last transfer window.
Powell, meanwhile, has seen Southend's season ravaged by injury. But they have won none of their last 11 games and start the weekend outside of the bottom four on goal difference alone.
There remains just five points between Gillingham in 12th and Walsall in 21st, so it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if the number of departures rises from 12 between now and the end of the season as more clubs gamble on survival.
Yeovil show Darren the Way out
And never wanting to be outdone, we also lost a manager in Sky Bet League Two this week, as struggling Yeovil parted ways with Darren Way - the 13th departure in the fourth tier since the start of the campaign.
The 38-year-old had only signed a new contract in November, which was meant to run until 2021, but Yeovil have won just four games since, and they are now precariously teetering just above the drop out of the Football League, just two points clear of Macclesfield in 23rd - and the Silkmen have a game in hand.
Neale Marmon has taken charge of the first team on a temporary basis, and he has taken the interesting step of making all training sessions open to fans - perhaps a move to get the Huish Park faithful back on side after a difficult season.
Some hope for Yeovil lies in the fact they have a relatively kind run of fixtures between now and the end of the season. Four of their seven games come at home, starting with Newport on Saturday, and not a single one comes against a side in the current top seven.
The club were in the Championship as recently as 2014, so relegation back to non-league for the first time since 2003 would be a very tough pill for them to swallow.