Football League Expert & Columnist
Fight to the last
Bournemouth, Swindon and the battle for Championship survival... Beags looks at the Football League.
Last Updated: 14/02/13 3:38pm
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 the scrap for Championship survival, Bournemouth's promotion hopes and the best three goals he scored for Stoke...
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Hi Peter, With all the bottom teams in the Championship starting to win matches and the teams above the relegation zone being rapidly pegged back, how do you see the relegation places being filled at the end of the season? Thanks, Matt Price (Bristol City fan)
BEAGS SAYS: The battle at the bottom of the table is as finely balanced as the tussle at the top, but at this moment in time, it is impossible to say which teams will lose their Championship status at the end of the season as the relegation picture is changing week by week, match by match and minute by minute and I'm sure it will remain that way until the final seconds of the final games. Huddersfield and Wolves appear to be in free-fall, and Ipswich's revival under Mick McCarthy seems to have stalled, but Sheffield Wednesday have taken 21 points out of a possible 30 to leap out of the drop zone and the present bottom three - Peterborough, Bristol City and Barnsley - have recorded most of their nine wins in the last 10 matches. Barnsley's form under David Flitcroft has been remarkable and new signings Chris O'Grady, Jason Scotland and Rory Delap have hit the ground running, garnering the Tykes 13 out of a possible 15 points and teeing them up nicely for relegation six-pointers against Wolves, Bristol City and Bolton, while Peterborough's five victories in their last 10 has ensured they have not been cut adrift. Bristol City, meanwhile, have recovered from three defeats on the spin to gain three victories from four under Sean O'Driscoll (pictured) but face daunting trips to Cardiff and Crystal Palace next. However, with eight points separating the bottom nine teams, only a fool would pick the three sides to go down.
Hi Peter, After losing Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth, and lots of speculation about Paolo Di Canio's future, do you think Swindon have what it takes to do the double promotion and reach the Championship? Cheers, Adam Lawes (Swindon Town fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I do, Adam. Only four points separate the top seven teams in League One and it is a flip of a coin as to who eventually gets promoted, but a goal difference of +31 shows you that when Town get it right they are the most potent force in the division. Ritchie will be a huge loss, considering the goals and assists he provided, but I believe Paolo is someone who can triumph in adversity and the new consortium who sold Ritchie must do all they can to appease Di Canio, who has performed incredibly well in his first bash at football management. I would back Paolo and his green combat jacket to succeed every day of the week, but with no money for new signings and last year's promotion, you could not brandish the Italian a failure if the Robins do not secure Championship football this term. He is called mad as a hatter and daft as a brush but I prefer to call Di Canio a misunderstood mastermind who wears his hear on his sleeve and makes more outrageous comments than Eric Cantona.
Hi Peter, I remember standing at the Old Victoria Ground watching a certain Peter Beagrie running up and down the wing turning full-backs inside out. Could you tell me what your favourite goal for Stoke was? Mine was the one against Bournemouth, when I think it was the first time you did the summersault. Thanks for the memories, Simon Rouse (Stoke City fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I loved my time at Stoke, Simon, and was very fortunate to score some good goals for the Potters, though three stick in my mind. The first was against Leicester on a very snowy pitch where I cut inside and shot from distance, and the second an equaliser against Barnsley where I dribbled past a few bodies in the last minute and netted to earn a 3-3 draw - but the third, the one you mentioned, against Bournemouth, was really special. I picked the ball up on the edge of my own box, nutmegged someone, surged forward over the halfway line and down the left-wing, bypassing a host of opposition players, before crossing onto my right foot, feigning to shoot, dragging it back onto my left and smashing it into the top corner. Unfortunately, the footage is very grainy but Chris Kamara has tried to claim an assist after he tackled someone on the edge of our penalty area and poked the ball to me. Typical Kammy! By the way, Simon can you remember Boxing Day 1988 when, inflatable bananas and all, we beat Man City 3-1? The stadium was packed-out and rocking and both sets of fans engaged in friendly humorous banter. They really were the good old days.
CONNOR WILL COME GOOD
Hi Peter, Connor Wickham is back on loan in the Championship at Sheffield Wednesday having seemingly failed to make the grade at Sunderland. Are you surprised that he has not pushed on and become a Premier League star? Thanks, Kieran Quinn (Ipswich Town fan)
BEAGS SAYS: A high fee and big expectation have weighed heavily on Connor's young shoulders, it seems. Sunderland purchased a good player who may become a very good player at Premier League level, but his development has been hindered by a lack of opportunities. It shows how important it is to learn by playing every week, as he did in the Championship with Ipswich, where had the trust of everybody. The arrival of £5million Danny Graham from Swansea has paved the way for Connor's loan switch to Sheffield Wednesday and the talented frontman - who scored his fourth goal in five games for the England Under-21s against Sweden on Tuesday - made his debut 30 minutes into Saturday's 2-2 with Derby, helping the Owls fight back and earn a point. Wickham, a similar player to Leicester new boy Chris Wood, could combine with fellow Wednesday loanee Leroy Lita and fire the Owls to safety, but he has a long-term contract at Sunderland and I, and most importantly Martin O'Neill, think he can put pressure on first-choice Black Cats strike duo Graham and Steven Fletcher next season.
THE EX FACTOR
Do you think Paul Tisdale will ever be given the opportunity to manage in the Championship? He has done wonders at Exeter playing a bright, attacking brand of football, but never seems to get a mention when bigger jobs become available. Thanks, Alex Mayhew (Fulham fan)
Do you think Bournemouth will win League One? Cheers, James Sandhurst (Bournemouth fan)
BEAGS SAYS: A one-point lead at the top of the division having played one more game than everyone else cannot count as a healthy lead, but considering the points deductions and transfer embargos that the Cherries have had to contend with over recent seasons, they have climbed a proverbial mountain and deserve to admire the view from the top - and, in my eyes, they are now favourites for the title and certainties for promotion, as they have amassed a quality squad with excellent strength in depth. Eddie Howe was handed a king's ransom to go back to Bournemouth and has justified his massive contract by guiding the Dorset side, currently on a five-game winning streak, up the table, while Brett Pitman has scored and assisted many goals. Matt Ritchie, meanwhile, is a snip of a buy at $500,000 and along with fellow winger Marc Pugh, will destroy teams - and the board need a massive pat on the back, too, for putting their money where his mouth is and breathing life back into the club.