Richard Hercock: No need for inside track when betting on clubs to go down

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson.

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A builder I know was interested to know all about my job when he knew I worked in the sports department.

I think he was expecting all sorts of exciting stories, like attending the Beckham wedding, or rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

Unfortunately, the closest I get to celebrities are their numbers in my phone book.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a sports journalist, or as my wife likes to refer to it as “getting paid to watch sport”. Something she knows I would do for free every day of the week.

But this builder seemed to think I would get the inside scoop on stories which might earn him a few quid at the bookmakers, like who the next Premier League manager to get the sack will be.

Now, I don’t know if it will be Arsene Wenger or Nigel Pearson, but if he had asked me who I thought would be relegated from the Premier League come May then I could have given him a reasonable shout.

I would not even have to look at the current Premier League table to tell him which three clubs will get the chop.

I would just look at the final Championship table from last season, and point to the three clubs who got promoted as the ones to come straight back down.

It is not rocket science, but it is a strategy well-served in recent years.

Of the three clubs, Leicester City, QPR and Burnley, all of them sit in the bottom four of the Premier League this morning.

The club who are threatening my prediction is Hull City, and even though the Tigers face a difficult game with Chelsea this afternoon, I believe Steve Bruce has enough quality in his squad to finish fourth from bottom, at least.

None of the three clubs promoted last season were world-beaters, and came from a Championship where everyone was capable, and did so on numerous weekends, of beating each other depending on which way the wind was vlowing.

Burnley were the best team but relied too much on their front two of Sam Vokes and Danny Ings.

The Foxes were well-organised under Pearson, but never stood out as a team which would excel in the top flight. Rangers were only there because they got lucky in the play-offs against a Derby County side who had enough exciting young talent to suggest they could emerge as something special.

We have been told the gap between the Premier League and Championship is growing financially, and I believe this is evidence of this. Gone are the days when a club like Leeds United could be promoted one season, and win the title the next. Money talks, and the elite like Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool will not release that power.

Southampton are probably the best model of success. Invest in your youth system, bring in teenagers to the first team, and develop a team which has potential. The Saints achieved it, Derby are looking to do something similar, and it is the only way forward for Championship sides aspiring of better things.

As for the next Premier League manager to get the boot? I told my builder mate...

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