What can be learnt from matchday five in the Championship.
Leeds United are playing the football that Dave Hockaday wanted
Following the departure of head coach Dave Hockaday from Leeds United, his former employers went on to record an immediate 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. However, it was not the result that caught peoples eyes, it was the style of football on show - with the passion and close ball control that Hockaday wanted to bring to Elland Road being played without him charge. Goalkeeper Marco SIlvestri performed admirably to keep a clean sheet, making save after save to deny the Bolton forwards, whilst the Whites midfield controlled the game - set up in the 4-4-2 diamond that Hockaday was trying to implement. Tommaso Bianchi, Alex Mowatt and Casper Sloth consistently played intricate football, averaging a pass completion rate of 88%, and Billy Sharp was dropping into the midfield to link up play in the final third. Hockaday would have been distraught watching on and seeing his former players performing in the way he requested them to, and being rewarded with a much needed victory.
Wolves are showing their Championship credentials
Wolves ended close-of-play on Saturday sitting in third place in the Championship table - just one point off leaders Nottingham Forest. Their only defeat of the season came at fellow promoted side Rotherham United, who snatched a goal despite a dominating performance from Wolves, and they have recorded wins against promotion hopefuls Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff. What promised to be an excruciating start to the season has turned into a suggestion that Wolves have all the necessary traits to achieve back-to-back promotions and return to the Premier League. Despite having just scored six goals, Kenny Jackett’s men have conceded just twice, and it is this impressive defensive performance - they have conceded fewest goals in the Championship - that has seen them rise to the promotion end of the table. Whilst it is too early in the season to draw any conclusions, Wolves are looking like serious contenders in these early weeks.
Positives are still rare for Blackpool
At the other end of the table, Blackpool have still failed to register a single point, with five losses in five games, and a total of just three goals scored. They fail to control games, averaging just 49% possession, and their 76% pass success and 46% of aerial duals won are some of the lowest in the Championship. Whilst the situation has improved from the opening day of the season, with the Seasiders now able to name a full matchday squad, it does not appear as if results will be improving in the immediate future. Nile Ranger scored his first goal for the club, although he failed to display a complete performance, whilst Nathan Delfouneso is still looking to add to his seasonal goal tally of one. It promises to be a long season for Blackpool, and it remains to be seen how long Jose Riga remains at Bloomfield Road for.
Wigan are soldiering through their striking problem
Wigan were struggling in the opening four games of the season, netting just four goals and registering an average of just two shots on target per game. Head coach Uwe Rosler revealed the need to sign a new striker to help with the goal scoring problem, but in the 4-0 victory over Birmingham, Callum McManaman’s brace may show that the problems have finally been solved. Rather than locating himself around the edge of the opposition area, McManaman dropped much deeper to involve himself in the midfield game more. He played three key passes and netted two goals to highlight his attacking abilities, whilst Oriol Riera played just off him to shore up the midfield. Placing the goal scoring weight onto McManaman created a focal point for his teammates to aim for, allowing the rest of the team to work upon creating chances. Former FC Tours striker Andy Delort should offer another attacking option to Rosler, having joined the club on deadline day.
Ross McCormack is starting to impress
Former Leeds striker McCormack has suffered an ignominious start to his Fulham career, failing to score in his first five games since moving to West London - whilst recording a measly average of just two shots per game. His bad form has coincided with Fulham failing to record a victory so far in this Championship season, although he played an important part in the Cottagers securing their first point of the season on Saturday. The Scottish international set up the goal that opened the scoring, and, although opponents Cardiff managed to equalise to tie the game, McCormack’s actions were enough to properly start Fulham’s season. Last seasons Championship top scorer played three key passes with an accuracy of 82%, and managed to register a high of three shots during the game. Whilst not a big enough step to start scoring, the Fulham faithful will be hoping that the Championship record signing will find his shooting boots in the next weeks.