City boss learning about life outside top flight

PUBLISHED: 10:05 29 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:29 10 September 2010

Chris Lakey

Glenn Roeder is on something of a Championship learning curve, having spent most of his recent managerial career in the top flight, but is fast discovering the world of difference that exists between the top levels of English football.

Glenn Roeder is on something of a Championship learning curve, having spent most of his recent managerial career in the top flight, but is fast discovering the world of difference that exists between the top levels of English football.

“Apart from the occasional FA Cup shock there is a huge difference - anyone who says there is not is just trying to con you, con the supporters,” said the City manager.

Roeder's search for players to help City mount a promotion challenge next season has taken him back to the Premiership as well as, this week, to League One - and the differences in quality are stark.

“We are already looking at players,” said Roeder. “I was up in the north-east on Monday watching a game. I saw a League One game and there is a massive difference as well, the gulf between the divisions is really big now. I saw a very average game - but we are also watching teams at the top of the division and teams like Forest are loads better than the average team in the division. It was a poor game of football - and a wasted journey.”

The only game on in the north-east on Monday was Hartlepool against Yeovil, but at the other end of the scouting journey - and the price range - is the Premiership, where Roeder sees an equally clear difference in quality.

“I think that's why a lot of the players are in the Championship- they have Premiership performances in them during the year but they are not consistent enough and that is what keeps them in the Championship rather than in the Premiership,” he said.

“That would be one factor, consistency, and another factor would the physical aspect of those individual players. Lots of them, although they can play to a Premiership level at times during the year, physically they can't maintain it.”

It leaves the Championship sitting uncomfortably in the middle, and close to the end of a season in which no one has been able to make a clear breakaway in the promotion race.

“I am not a great expert on the Championship but I have a picture in my mind that there are normally two teams who have burst away with 80 points already, and what is the top team on, 68 or something? That is why it is so squeezed at the bottom as well; the teams at the top have been beaten by the teams at the bottom - Preston beat Stoke and QPR then beat them and they were top of the league going into that week.

“I know we lost to Stoke 1-0, but we were the better team on the night, there is no doubt about that, and we more than matched them in the away game when we lost in the last minute - and they could well be in the Premiership next year.

“The swing on ability between all the teams in the Championship is very narrow this year.”

West Brom - who are fifth - are the team fancied by most, including Roeder, who still believes that if they refuse to get sidetracked by the FA Cup, will be playing Premiership football next season.

“I think they pay good football and they have a stronger squad, in terms of having decent footballers and players in every position doubled up,” he said. “As long as the semi-final doesn't get in their way, or even the final if they go to the final, I think West Brom will be one of the automatically promoted teams. I think they would deserve it anyway.”

It's the average look of the Championship which puts Roeder in a positive frame of mind for a promotion challenge next season.

“If we get the right people in yes, definitely,” he said.

And, given the gulf between the two divisions, how about staying up this time?

“Money doesn't keep you up - money well spent keeps you up,” he said.

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