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Football League Talking Points This Weekend

Watford wake up hangover free

Often the side who is the unlucky party in the play-off final suffer somewhat of a slump at the start of the new season. So given Watford were not only the beaten at Wembley but were also narrowly piped to the second automatic promotion spot in dramatic fashion by Hull – you would not have forgiven them for feeling sorry for themselves.

Yet having squeezed out Birmingham at St Andrews on the opening day, the Hornets turned on the burners to smash six past Bournemouth on Saturday – a side who themselves were coming into the contest buoyed by an impressive start to Championship life following a win last weekend. The Cherries, though, will not be the first side swatted away by Ginfranco Zola’s men and having shown no signs of any after effects of last season’s disappointments. Further to that, in Troy Deeney they possess one of the most feared strikers in the league and if a start of 4 goals in 2 games is anything to go, has improved yet further from the talented youngster we saw last season.

Worrying start for Brighton

Having sawn off successful manager Gus Poyet in acrimonious circumstances following last season’s play-off misery, there was real uncertainty about Brighton this term – uncertainty that will be starting to turn to concern following two successive defeats.

In truth a trip to Leeds and a home game against an improved Derby was not exactly a straight forward start for new manager Oscar Garcia, however he must have hoped they would have at least registered a point by this stage. Add in a shock League Cup defeat to Football League newcomers Newport and it’s easy to see why there is worry around the club.  There is of course a long way to go and a squad so used to the methods of their ex-Uruguayan manager will take time to adjust to the style of a new man, although the big question remains whether a foreign influence can adapt seamlessly to a league that brings very specific challenges.

The bulk of Poyet’s successful squad though remains and things should pick up soon. However, you have to wonder what affect the summers actions have had on these players.

Walsall & Leyton Orient carry momentum

Having been two of the form sides in the final third of last season, it was difficult to gauge whether Walsall and Leyton Orient could carry their form into the new campaign. Orient were tipped by many as possible dark horses, however Walsall – having lost several of the players who were key in that storming finish – were tipped to struggle.

Both, though, have seen the wave of momentum generated by last season’s finish carry them through to the new campaign – with each clinching victories in their opening two encounters. Having hit five past Carlisle on day one Orient followed it up with another thumping win as they saw off Shrewsbury, in the process enhancing their dark horse tag. The two teams they have faced are hardly the most threatening of League One outfits, however things are certainly looking up for Russell Slade’s men. The Saddlers progress has been more of a shock, again they have only beaten mediocre opponents in Tranmere and Oldham, but having been predicted to struggle they are showing that they are ready to again upset the apple cart.


Brentford show their credentials

Having slipped up last weekend in only taking a point from a tricky trip to newcomers Port Vale, there were many wondering if the Bees were still struggling to recover from the wounds caused by the drama of the closing stages of the last campaign.

However, on Saturday against fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield United they laid down a marker as serious contenders again, completing an impressive 3-1 win over David Weir’s men. Of further encouragement to Uwe Rosler will have been the home debut of Will Grigg who scored twice on his home debut, possibly indicating that he is up to the task of filling the boots of Harry Forrester who has left for Doncaster.

It remains early days but Brentford don’t look to be carrying any flesh wounds following last year’s pain, whether they have been damaged significantly mentally though only time will tell.

Does another season of pain beckon for Plymouth?

Plymouth fans have had little to cheer in recent times having seen their side slide from the safety of being regular Championship mid-tablers to flirting with relegation from the football league last season – in that process also going through their fair share of financial problems.

Whilst expectations were hardly sky high this term, there will have been a hope that this might be a season without danger for Argyle and just maybe they could mount a play-off push. Unfortunately results this far indicate that the trouble’s might not be over just yet for the Pilgrims, as defeats to Fleetwood and Southend will undoubtedly have fans worried. It should though be noted that both of these sides have won both of their games and Plymouth will not face opposition of such calibre every week – so it should not be time for panic just yet.

Has Phil Brown restored the faith?

Following his departure from Hull City, it’s fair to say that Phil Brown’s CV has not exactly improved – having struggled for another assignment he then failed at Preston, whilst his efforts at Southend last season were hardly impressive. Under his leadership the club picked up just one win in eight games at the end of the season, in the process missing out on the play-offs that he was tasked to reach by some margin.

Having lost Britt Assombalonga and Gavin Tomlin during the summer there was little indication that Brown would turn things around, however wins in their opening two fixtures has raised hopes that Southend might be starting to come round to Brown’s eccentric methods. Those wins were both by a single goal and it would be foolish to think the tide has turned just yet, but at least there has been a step forward.