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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Ask Steve Claridge

Steve Claridge
Claridge is the BBC's Football League expert

It's been another eventful week in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday parting company with their boss Brian Laws and QPR suspending manager Jim Magilton.

I look at the reasons why Laws finds himself out of a job and why Magilton finds himself in the situation he is in.

I also tackle the return to form by two strikers - Carlisle's Vincent Pericard and Leicester's Steve Howard, as well as considering a suggestion of how to reward attacking play.

If you have a question for Steve, you can submit it through Twitter at http://twitter.com/AskClaridge or use the form on the top right of the page.


Steve, what is going on at Sheffield Wednesday? After a good pre-season and keeping the likes of Marcus Tudgay and Lee Grant, why do you think we are slipping into League One?
Stefan Broadhead, England

Things have changed at Wednesday this year, and that is why Brian Laws finds himself out of a job.

There was a little bit more pressure on him this year because there was a little bit more expected of his side.

New owners have come in and put some money into the club which, as Stefan says, meant they were able to keep hold of players who otherwise would have been sold. People's expectations went up, and rightly so.

Laws downcast after defeat by Leicester

In the past, Laws didn't have much money to spend but Wednesday finished 12th in the Championship last season and expected to do better this year. Instead they find themselves in the bottom three.

Do I have any sympathy for Laws? No. These things happen in football. If you don't get the results, you get sacked. He hasn't got the results and he knows that - he won't expect sympathy off people.

In the end, it looked like he was worn down by it all. He was probably expecting to be sacked when they lost to Doncaster last week.

As far as Wednesday go, they are a huge club. If whoever comes in there gets it right, the sky is the limit. They are a great club with knowledgeable and passionate fans so whoever takes the job is going to be extremely lucky.

What do you make of the suspension of manager Jim Magilton by QPR? Since the club's takeover in 2007, they have had five permanent bosses and three caretakers - is the post becoming a poisoned chalice?
Mark Hill, England

The numbers speak for themselves at QPR - they are meant to have a five-year plan but, as Mark points out, the speed at which they get through managers shows how badly the board are getting things wrong.

But let's look at the Jim Magilton scenario. Last week, Stoke boss Tony Pulis had the same allegations of clashing with a player [James Beattie] levelled at him. But Tony has got Stoke into the Premier League and they are doing very well so the incident is kept in hand and dealt with by his club without any danger of him losing his job.

The same sort of thing has happened at QPR a couple of days later but with a completely different outcome. And Jim will be out, in my opinion. I cannot see him going back there.

But if QPR had won their last two games and were near the top of the Championship, instead of losing them to leave them in mid-table, then Magilton would have got the same treatment as Pulis.

We don't know exactly what has happened between Magilton and Akos Buzaky but in my time as a player I've seen plenty of confrontations between players and managers - I had one myself with John Beck when I was with Cambridge.

There's nothing wrong with it. If you are passionate and you care about the game and you think somebody has let you down, you tell them. We're all big boys... or maybe we're not! That might be the problem.

But we seem to be seeing a dangerous trend appearing where clubs are finding different reasons to get rid of managers and their contracts, often without paying them. It's something I feel strongly about - these things should be written in stone, as they are with players.

It works both ways of course - why should a manager be able to walk out of his contract to go to another club when a player cannot - but the whole problem is that the contracts that managers sign are not worth the paper they are written on.

Hi Steve. I'm just wondering what you think about one of League One's bargains of the season. He's big and strong with six goals this season and he must surely be looked at by teams in a higher division... Yes, I'm talking about Vincent Pericard. The man whose career has been on a downward spiral since he left Juventus has discovered his goalscoring touch - seeing as his contract expires in January, do you think Carlisle will be able to hold on to him?
Daniel Howard, England

Pericard has been looked at by teams in a higher division... which is a reason why Carlisle will be able to hold on to him - he has not been able to produce the goods at a higher level.

He has had short spells of success since coming to England but nothing consistent and, for his own good, I think he is better off staying at Carlisle and playing regularly.

Carlisle v Wycombe

Pericard continues scoring form

He is playing well and it will not do him any harm to have a good few months somewhere - he doesn't usually last that long, looking at how many clubs he has played for - and he, more than anyone will know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

I'm not sure anyone from a higher division would take him in January anyway, just on the strength of a decent dozen games or so. He would have to play like he has been for a season, or longer, for that to happen now.

But having Pericard is great for Carlisle, and it's clearly good management by Greg Abbott to sign him and get the best out of him. It was always going to be a risk to take him on with his recent record but he's clearly a big threat in League One.

Hi Steve, I'm a Leicester fan and it was very pleasing to see Steve Howard score his first goal since April which is over 20 hours of football. As a former striker is it frustrating not to score for so long and does it affect your game and the way you play?
Matthew Smith, England

I went through a few periods where I didn't score, but nothing as long as that! That would have affected even someone with my sort of self-belief... so I'm sure that, with Steve, there would have been an element of self-doubt creeping in.

Howard has scored plenty of goals in the Championship before for Luton and Derby, so it is not as though he will think he can't play at that level, but that is still an awfully long time.

Highlights - Leicester 3-0 Sheffield Weds

Howard ends wait for goal

But Leicester are doing OK, which takes the pressure off him. If they had been in the bottom three, then it would have been amplified 100 times but instead he is seen as something of a Bobby Zamora-type player, who may not score a lot but who always plays his part for the team.

As a striker, lack of goals only count when you are losing games - it doesn't matter when your team are winning.

Do you think it'd make the game more exciting if there was a reward for more goals? Let's say that teams got an extra point as a bonus for scoring five goals or more in a match.
Howard, UK

I'm not totally against that. I'm always for incentives - the way players get paid should have more to do with how well they play for a start.

Howard's idea probably wouldn't make much difference because teams don't score five goals that often but it is probably a just reward for doing so - and there is a similar system in rugby union and cricket.

It won't happen but I see nothing wrong with it - maybe there should be some way of rewarding attacking play.


Steve Claridge is a BBC Football League pundit who played more than 800 matches for 15 clubs over the course of a 24-year playing career. He was talking to Chris Bevan.



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