Football League Expert & Columnist
Which teams have impressed most in the Championship this term? Beags names his top three.
Last Updated: 01/11/12 2:58pm
Peter Beagrie is here every week on skysports.com answering YOUR Football League questions.
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about your team, a player, match or incident that has caught your eye, or a wider point on the Football League, make sure you send it in.
Read below for this week's column where Beags gives his take on Coventry, MK Dons, Ian Holloway and the the best manager he played under...
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PETER'S TOP TRIO
Hi Peter, Which three Championship teams have impressed you most so far this season? Ben Bicknell (Arsenal fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Hi Ben, there are a whole host of teams in the Championship that have impressed me so far this season for different reasons, but as I have to pick three, I will say Cardiff, Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace. Cardiff's recruitments have been many and of real quality and the squad has been able to withstand the long-term losses of Nicky Maynard, Jordan Mutch and Craig Bellamy and, as a result, they have marched to the top of the Championship table. They have a magnificent home record of seven wins out of seven and the class of midfielders Peter Whittingham and Craig Noone is really shining through.
Middlesbrough have a great blend of youth and experience and are in a rich vein of form at the moment with four league wins on the spin against tough opposition - Watford, Brighton, Hull and Bolton - and a master-piece of a victory over Sunderland in the Capital One Cup, which will warm the cockles of all Teessiders. Boro are well-drilled at the back and creative in midfield and Tony Mowbray now has genuine pace in the side, too, as well as options up front with Ishmael Miller, Scott McDonald, Lukas Jutkiewicz and the devastatingly-effective Marvin Emnes. There are reasons to be cheerful up at the Riverside.
But taking budget and squad size into account, the most impressive side this season has been Crystal Palace. A run of 10 games unbeaten speaks volumes for their attitude, work rate and organisation under the recently departed Dougie Freedman; they are a real tight-knit band of brothers and have shown a consistently high level of performance, no more evident than in Saturday's 2-1 win against a high-flying Leicester team looking to emulate Cardiff's record of seven consecutive home wins. It is difficult to see this small squad staying injury free and maintaining their current position, but they are in brilliant form.
IS MARK MAD?
Hi Peter, Given his lack of cash to spend, the huge expectations from fans, a board with a propensity to deflect blame by sacking managers, a squad used to losing and a ground in the middle of nowhere which brings in no income, do you think new Coventry boss Mark Robins is the bravest or the craziest man in football? Thanks, Andy Heath (Coventry fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I cannot pick holes in any of your well-thought out and bang-on-the-button remarks, Andy. Financial mismanagement and delusions of grandeur have seen your football club fall from grace alarmingly quickly. As a knowledgeable fan, you realise the only way clubs can fill new stadia is if they have a team playing well and in the higher echelons of the leagues, but plenty of businessmen have produced grounds that are empty, white elephants that prove to be a financial millstone around the neck of the clubs that play there. That has been the case at Coventry. Mark Robins is an honest man with good footballing principles and I suggest that given time he can bring progress to the Sky Blues. He is not the maddest or the bravest man in football as within days of Andy Thorn leaving there were 80-odd other willing men ready to take the reins.
Hi Peter, Ian Holloway seems to be linked with a lot of Championship jobs at the moment. What do you think the chances are that Blackpool can keep him? He is always saying he is happy, but some papers say he is restless due to Karl Oyston's tight grip on the purse strings. Grahame Wilkinson (Blackpool fan)
Hi Peter, You sang the praises of Karl Robinson a few weeks back, but what do you feel he and his staff have to do to finally get MK Dons promoted? In what areas do you think we are lacking? Thanks, Patrick Callow (MK Dons fan)
BEAGS SAYS: The one thing that would turn your Dons into automatic promotion contenders, Patrick, would be an out-and-out striker who has the ability to score 20 goals plus; a poacher who could capitalise on the fantastic approach play and turn draws into wins. Karl's sides always play attractive football but often lack that ruthlessness in front of goal, which is ironic because he has Ian Wright (left) as his first-team coach and Mick Harford as assistant manager - two former strikers of great repute - and you would think they could cajole the frontmen at the club into getting on the goal trail. Luke Chadwick, Daniel Powell and Dean Bowditch are all capable of hurting teams but without that out-and-out goal-getter it could be the dreaded play-offs once again.
BEST OF THE BOSSES
Hi Peter, Who was your favourite manager you ever played under? Thanks, Billy Alexander (Everton fan)
BEAGS SAYS: That's a tough one but I think the most honest and upfront manager I played under was ex-England captain Mick Mills, who signed me for Stoke. He opened the conversation by telling me that he wanted to make full-backs feel like retiring, like I did to him when I played against him! He allowed me the freedom to go looking for the ball and play in different positions, while he also kept me informed of every offer that came in for me from other clubs, just as he said he would when I joined. Too nice? Probably. Honest? Definitely. But he was the right manager at the right time in my career and put me forward to Bobby Robson for the England B side and his last act as a manager, was, as promised, to sell me to a Premier League club, that being our beloved Everton, Billy.
Make sure you have your say on the issues mentioned by filling in the feedback form below and then tune into this weekend's Football League fare as Brighton host Leeds (7.30pm, Friday, Sky Sports 1 HD) and Bolton entertain Cardiff (5pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 2 HD).