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Matt Holland's Blog 38

8 May 2013

If you didn't love the npower Championship before last weekend, I defy you not to have fallen head over heels with it on Saturday afternoon. The drama and entertainment on offer was absolutely spectacular.

First up I'd like to congratulate Steve Bruce on his third promotion to the Premier League, this time with Hull City.

The Tigers gave themselves a lot more stress than they needed to by missing a late penalty, and then conceding one to Cardiff City straight away at the other end, but it all ended okay in the end for them.

Watching the players huddled around a TV set, anxiously heading and kicking every ball at Vicarage Road was a nice insight, showing how together the squad is. Mind you, Ahmed Elmohamady's bizarre celebration with the camera rather than his team-mates was mildly disturbing - his dancing was horrendous too

Who will join Cardiff and Hull in the top flight next season?

On current form I can't look outside of Brighton and Hove Albion. They have been in consistently sound shape for a while now and must be confident of beating an out-of-sorts Crystal Palace in the semi-final.

I liked the way that Gus Poyet begged the Seagulls fans not to run on the pitch at the end of their final league game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

His instant concern was to preserve the quality of his pitch at the Amex Stadium. Playing attractive passing football on a lush grass surface is crucial to his plans, and I admired his forethought on that one. Not many managers would have given that as much consideration as he did.

The second semi is an intriguing one. Leicester City must be full of beans after pipping Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers to the post in the final minute, and having been in dressing rooms that have done something similar before, I reckon they might start believing this season could be their year.

It's an advantage for the Foxes that Watford are a) devastated at missing out on automatic promotion, b) trying to patch up one of their injured goalkeepers, and c) missing suspended striker Troy Deeney.

I feel for Gianfranco Zola. Losing Manuel Almunia and then Jonathan Bond to injuries on the last day was cripplingly bad luck, and unfair in many ways on young stand-in Jack Bonham, who was at fault for Leeds United's winning goal.

A lot has been made of Bonham's error for the second (I'd exonerate him from blame for the opener) but that's not why Watford didn't go up. They needed to beat Leeds, and they didn't.
Away from the Play-Offs, two managers left their jobs this week; Kenny Jackett and Dean Saunders.

Beginning at the New Den, I was a tad surprised that Jackett tendered his resignation. If you'd have asked any Millwall fan at the start of the campaign if they'd be happy with Championship survival on 56 points, and an FA Cup semi-final appearance at Wembley, they'd have taken it there and then. No doubt about it.

All I can think, is that the budget is low for next season and that the manager feels he's done all he can with the side. Another year of struggle, with little or no cash to spend on improvements may not be a prospect he fancied.

Millwall must be very sad to lose him. I think he's a very good manager - one of the best in the division - so it will be fascinating to see where he ends up next. When possible suitors analyse his record in south London, they will be impressed.

Could he end up at the Molineux? Dean Saunders has lost his job there, opening up a convenient opportunity.

I'd like a penny for Dean's thoughts right now. Seeing Doncaster Rovers - the club he left - replace Wolves in the second tier must have hurt him inside. He wouldn't be human if he wasn't choked.

I know Dean and he's a really bubbly personality. I never saw that from him at Wolves - especially in the last few weeks when he's looked a forlorn figure.

Seeing him that low wasn't right, so maybe it's for the best that he's out of the firing line now.

Last word this week goes to Peterborough United. I feel for them.

I guess Posh ended up paying the price for losing their first seven matches, but I still think they can hold their heads high for coming so close to avoiding the drop to npower League 1.

My hope is that the squad isn't broken up. In spite of relegation, Darren Ferguson has a talented side that are good enough to bounce back.

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