NOT quite the bleak mid-winter of a year ago for Yorkshire football but there is plenty to do if the recent trend of under-achievement by the county’s clubs is not to be repeated come May.
It is fair to say that 2015 has not been overly kind, with Hull City’s relegation meaning we are once again without a top flight representative. None of our senior teams won promotion, either, so the hope was that this season could bring about a much-needed upturn in fortunes.
Middlesbrough, Hull and Sheffield Wednesday are leading the way in that respect, while in League One, slow starts for both Bradford City and Sheffield United are gradually being overcome to suggest that 2016 may well bring success to the Broad Acres.
Let’s hope so, as the county has a number of clubs deep in trouble with Rotherham United and Barnsley and York City set to spend Christmas in the relegation zone of their respective divisions, the Minstermen continuing to fight for life at the wrong end of League Two.
Read our ‘half-term’ reports
York have endured a miserable time, albeit one that was slightly tempered last Saturday by a long overdue win that took Jackie McNamara’s side out of the bottom two. It was 105 days since York had last claimed three points in a division where the scrap for survival already seems a three-way affair.
In the level above, Barnsley have also suffered a horrible time in the league. An eight-game losing run either side of the clocks changing has brought the possibility of a first relegation to the bottom tier in 37 years honing into view. The flipside to the Reds’ season is that a possible trip to Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy is a potential 180 minutes away but, even so, the thought of Oakwell staging basement football is unthinkable.
At the other end of League One, both Bradford and the Blades are knocking on the door. The December 28 meeting between the two clubs at Bramall Lane looks a clear highlight of the festive season and don’t bet against either making the top six come May.
As for the Championship, the race for promotion is shaping up to be as keenly-fought as ever. Boro lead the way with Hull sitting fourth and it would be a major surprise to see either drop out of the reckoning.
Both Yorkshire clubs boast squads capable of making other managers at that level envious but a place in the top two is far from guaranteed with Derby County, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley all looking every bit as capable of maintaining a challenge.
Sheffield Wednesday head into Christmas sitting seventh, their highest placing at this time of year since the turn of the Millennium. Dejphon Chansiri has invested millions to improve the Owls and is set to spend heavily again in January. If a goalscorer in the ilk of Jordan Rhodes, as the Sheffield rumour mill has been suggesting despite denials from Carlos Carvalhal, can be added then a play-off place is very much within reach.
Leeds United, meanwhile, have been moving in the right direction lately but need some stability off the field, while Huddersfield Town and Rotherham continue to feel their way with a new man at the helm and need a good run in the New Year.
Interviews: Richard Sutcliffe & Leon Wobschall.