Wednesday, 11 March 2009

MK and Posh show there's more to life than the Champions League

While Sky and ITV are busy hyping the same four teams in the Champions League there was a full programme of fixtures in the Coca-Cola Leagues taking place this week. Bored of the Sky four and their millions I thought I would have a look and see what was going on and while doing so, found my tips to 'do a Hull' and shoot up the divisions.
A quick scan down the League One table and it becomes apparent that a grandstand finish is on the cards. Leicester City, perhaps predicably, are topping the pile but a famous managerial name is also ruffling feathers at the summit.
Darren Ferguson's Peterborough moved up into seocnd following a 2-1 at home to Scunthorpe on Wednesday. They were only promoted last season but possess an array of talent across the side. Aaron Maclean and Craig Mackail-Smith, who have been the subject of big money bids from Championship clubs, provide pace, power and crucially goals up front. Meanwhile defenders Craig Morgan and Gabreil Zakuani have been solid at the back.
Chairman Darragh MacAnthony, also chairman of MRI Overseas Property, was declared the "biggest signing in the club's history" when he became a shareholder in 2006. He has since backed the boss with cash, begun plans to move to a new 20,000 stadium and declared his ambition to take the club into the Championship.
Just as Swansea and Hull are showing in the two divisions above Peterborough, a team with momentum, confidence and a clear vision for the future can make light work of the football league's lower reaches.
The Posh have been out of the second tier of English football for 15 years but with that delicious combination of a talented squad, a canny manager and ambitous chariman I feel we could be seeing a lot more of the London Road club in the years to come.
Another team who is set for promotion is MK Dons. But when talking about this club I must admit I do so through gritted teeth. I have friends who supported the old Wimbledon and remember talking to them when their club was literally having it's heart ripped out, put in a shiny plastic box and dumped in a hockey stadium in Milton Keynes. It is a football fans worst nightmare. I can understand to a certain extend the boards intentions - they wanted to keep the club viable, but moving a club 50 miles up the road is not how it works over here. MK Dons have since severed any ties with their Wimbledon past and donated all trophies to AFC Wimbledon, the club started by those deposed fans in 2004. However you can't help feeling that it should have been MK Dons starting out life in the Southern Leagues rather than AFC.
Anyway enough of my rant and back onto my point. MK Dons, under another ambitious chairman Pete Winkleman, have slowly become a steady, well-run club with a nice stadium and lofty ambitions. The appointment of high profile managers in first Paul Ince, and then Roberto Di Matteo have proved to be masterstrokes and whatever you think about the clubs formation, you can't deny their football over the past three or four years has been impressive. Promotion to the Championship and beyond seems inevitable. Meanwhile, AFC are just one division away from a return to the football league. Perhaps we will have a happy ending for all sides after all?

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