Sky Sports presenter and Sky Bet EFL expert David Prutton discusses the big talking points in the English Football League this weekend.
On Saturday, Sheffield Wednesday host Bolton Wanderers this weekend sitting seven points clear of the relegation zone. Despite making the play-offs in the last two seasons, and changing manager in December, it's been a miserable season at Hillsborough.
On Sheffield Wednesday
It’s a strange one at Sheffield Wednesday at the moment. Jos Luhukay is still very much there to be judged and not necessarily shot at given the limited time he’s been at the club. However, they would have wanted an immediate reaction with his appointment as that’s not been the case.
The defeat against Ipswich on Tuesday night with the heavy defeat against Bristol City before that doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the season. They’ve probably done enough under previous boss Carlos Carvalhal to stay up in the division but it’s been a disappointing season.
They’ve set the bar pretty high given what they did under Carvalhal in previous seasons and during his time at the club. The Owls are now four games without a win and would have felt that they should have got better results against Ipswich and Millwall, not so much Aston Villa and Bristol City given their positions in the table.
I’m just really surprised by their season as a whole. I’m not sure if it’s the players have hit a peak as a group as they finished so highly over the past two campaigns. You look at some of the names they have, the likes of George Boyd, Jacob Butterfield, Adam Reach and Jordan Rhodes, they are recognisable names in the division who have performed well in recent years.
It might need freshening up in the summer with some new faces to shake things up. Either way, it’s been a disappointing campaign on the whole for the South Yorkshire side.
Birmingham City made a managerial change this week as Steve Cotterill was axed in favour of former Leeds and Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk. Monk's reign started in defeat though, as they lost to his last club Boro. For Birmingham, they sit two points away from safety and face a relegation battle as the season draws to a close.
On Garry Monk at Birmingham
It’s going to be an intriguing one to see if Garry Monk can keep Birmingham City in the Sky Bet Championship this season. They have some good players within the squad but it’s a real mix in that side.
It’s a variety in the sets of players, you have Gary Rowett’s set, Gianfranco Zola’s set, Harry Redknapp’s set and there’s a mix of each within the squad which makes it difficult for a manager. Monk will have to look to bring the best out of these players if they are to stay in the division.
For me, I think Garry deserves another chance at this level. It’s an important step after varying spells at different clubs. He did superbly well at Swansea and many thought that it was the wrong decision to sack him when they did. At Leeds, they had a great season, hitting a bit of a purple patch and ultimately finishing outside of the play-offs.
With Middlesbrough, it was an odd time to get rid of him because they’d just won away at Sheffield Wednesday and weren’t in a horrendous position, despite early season expectations. Birmingham is going to be a different test for him, but he has to be there for a while in a real long-term project if they are to make it work.
One side who will be hoping for promotion to the Premier League is Derby County. They face local rivals Nottingham Forest on Sunday as they look to move further into the Sky Bet Championship's top six
On Derby County
This Derby have got the whip hand in the East Midlands in the EFL as they have done for a couple of years now. They looked very strong a few weeks back but have hit a rough patch of form in recent weeks. It could be to do with the pressure creeping in, especially with how the have been at earlier points in the season.
They went to Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday and got a point, there’s no disgrace in that result, and it’s how they would probably want to consolidate given results in recent weeks. For me, they have to be in the play-offs this season, especially with them being in the top two at one point as well.
They’re now on a run of no win in six, which are being unbeaten for some time is a bit of a concern. Derby have a good manager, with a good group of players to work with as well which means they should be at least play-off contenders when it comes to the end of the season.
In Sky Bet League Two, Luton Town face Accrington Stanley on Saturday as first meet second at Kenilworth Road. Both sides will be hoping to achieve automatic promotion at the end of the season
On Luton Town and Accrington Stanley
These two sides will be more than happy with automatic promotion to Sky Bet League One at the end of the season. The biggest turnaround of the two is of course with Accrington, we saw Luton Town flirt with promotion last season but ultimately would miss out.
The job that has been done at Accrington is superb. When you look at the budget, it’s not the biggest but shouldn’t be sniffed at. The teams that they are competing against are those that are the classic strong teams within this division, the likes of Wycombe, Luton and Mansfield who have also done well even with Steve Evans’ departure. You add in Swindon who are on the coat tails of everyone else and it makes it an interesting promotion race.
Luton have enjoyed a free-scoring season that has seen them hammer teams at times. You’d imagine that Nathan Jones would have seen what happened last season and will have that added determination to do improve this season and go one better, and this moment in time they are well on course to do so.
For Accrington, making at least the play-offs would be a fantastic achievement for them but an automatic promotion spot is well within their grasp given the nice gap that they currently have between them and the play-offs. It’d be great for them if they could great promoted this season and it’d highlight the great job that John Coleman has done with them throughout the entire campaign.
Odds correct at 1600 GMT (07/03/18)