LOOKING at the fixture list back in August, few would have predicted Wolves and Blackburn would have been in the thick of the survival battle in April.
After all, both of them, like Bolton, had grand plans of a quick return to the Premier League, and while it was always likely there would be some squad re-shaping, all three had the help of sizeable parachute payments to soften the blow of dropping a division.
All three have been at both ends of the table during the season, and all three have had managerial changes, in Blackburn’s case, several.
Bolton have hauled themselves up the Championship under Dougie Freedman, but for Wolves and Blackburn, the battle to follow suit goes on.
After our great win at Molineux on Saturday, we have another massive game at Ewood Park tomorrow, and of course it will be another reunion with Jordan Rhodes. Goodness knows where Blackburn would be without his goals this time around, and Jordan has certainly answered those who said he would struggle to replicate his League I scoring form in the Championship.
He has also got goals for Scotland, and I firmly believe he will do the same in the Premier League, whether it’s with Blackburn at some stage in the future, or with another club, possibly even next season if Blackburn end up going down.
I’m sure there will be plenty of clubs keeping close tabs on him, but for the time being, his only thoughts will be on Blackburn.
He will be going all out to score tomorrow night, just as he did in the 2-2 draw at our place in November, and keeping him out will be a big challenge for our players.
And let’s not forget Blackburn have plenty of other very good players despite their league position.
In my eyes, that has to have something to do with all the upheaval behind the scenes and the unrest among the supporters, which stretches back to last season and all those protests against Steve Kean.
Those who wanted him out got their wish, but they could never have envisaged two more managers would have come and gone before the end of the season.
It’s a shame to see such a great old club in this kind of situation, but I hope we add to their problems!
PHIL NEVILLE might be leaving Everton, but I’d be surprised if Wayne Rooney’s not at Manchester United next season.
Sir Alex Ferguson is certainly not stupid, and why would anyone want to get rid of a player who has proved so effective ever since making the opposite move to Neville?
I know Fergie has been strongly linked with Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao.
That’s led to claims that Rooney will leave, with his recent absences from the starting XI being used as evidence to support this view.
But I believe Fergie’s team selections have been for tactical reasons, and that Rooney still forms a central part of his plans.
He’s still only 27, and his finishing skills and energy levels are still magnificent.
Okay, he might not pop up all over the pitch quite as much as he used to, but that’s down to experience, not diminishing enthusiasm.
There was a time when Rooney used to do too much, and he has learned to limit his running and so maintain his effectiveness.
I hope and believe he will be at Old Trafford for a while yet, and what a set of options Fergie would have in Falcao, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Rooney.
As for Neville, what an excellent servant he has been for Manchester United, Everton and England.
It’s hard to believe he has been at Goodison for so long (he moved there in 2005) and his attitude and application have always been excellent.
Now 36, he says he wants to carry on playing, and it will be interesting to discover his next club.
In the long term, I think he would make a fine coach or manager.
AS a former Spurs loan player, I was disappointed to see them exit the Europa League, leaving Chelsea as our sole survivors.
Of course we all hoped for another Champions League success, be it Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City or Arsenal.
Those hopes were well and truly quashed, and while the competition continues to intrigue us, it’s not quite the same without one of our clubs being involved.
Spurs and Newcastle gave it a go, but Basel (just) and Benfica had too much for them.
Spurs, having won the UEFA Cup twice, were going for a Euro hat trick, but it’s not to be this year, and it’s fair to say that while they missed the injured Gareth Bale, the damage was done in the first leg at home.
It might not have the kudos of the Champions League, but Rafa Benitez would be more than happy to bring the Europa Cup to Chelsea.