Sunderland and Swansea City swung the axe on their managers. Harry Winks continued to prove himself a class apart at Leicester City. And Watford are suddenly playoff contenders. All this and more from the latest round of the Championship...
TEAM OF THE ROUND
I know he just scored from the halfway line but I feel a bit sorry for Watford's Wesley Hoedt. Despite that ridiculous wonder goal, social media was full of quips about it not even being 'the best goal by somebody named Wesley' in the Championship this weekend, after Wes Burns' absurd outside of the foot trivela goal.
It looks as though available play-off places might be thin on the ground this season with the top four made up of either teams with year one parachute budgets or gigantic points totals, while West Brom are being guided beautifully by Carlos Corberan. I'd probably have made Hull, Middlesbrough or Sunderland the favourites to take that remaining spot, but Watford have put themselves in the conversation this past round.
Hoedt's goal was clearly something of a short term bonus, but in terms of a longer term trend only Leeds and Southampton have scored more points than Watford across the last eight games. Yes, there's the constant stigma of managers being fired left and right over recent years and the extra egg on the face from one of them winning promotion with fierce rivals Luton during the same season, but Watford are exhibiting good form and dare I say stability at this moment in time!
PLAYER OF THE ROUND
Eyebrows were raised when Harry Winks chose to drop down to the Championship with Leicester City in the summer. Ok, Leicester have been in closer proximity to the Champions League than the Championship in recent times, but Winks entire career prior to this season had been played out in the Premier League, Serie A and in an England shirt.
To be completely honest, Harry Winks has had the proverbial cigar and slippers on during his second tier run so far as he's sat in front of the Leicester defence helping to control games during their record breaking start to the campaign.
It was a different look for Winks at the weekend though as his was the unorthodox name on the scoresheet, scoring in unorthodox fashion to hand the Foxes a vital late win at West Brom. The in-form Baggies had got a late equaliser of their own to make it 1-1 and in pretty gung-ho fashion had sent plenty of their team forward for a 93rd minute throw in.
As the ball was cleared and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall streaked towards goal there was another blue shirt sprinting with him, it wasn't a Foxes forward but their holding midfielder Winks and he slotted home the dramatic late winner. Vital signing Winks turned out to have scored a vital goal, as with all their challengers winning and Leicester having dropped points in three of their four previous outings, Winks eye for a goal couldn't have been better timed.
TALKING POINT OF THE ROUND
Double Managerial Departure
To borrow a line from the iconic Jaws movie franchise, it was a case of 'just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water' for Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray and Swansea manager Michael Duff. Why the false sense of security for the two managers? Well, they'd both navigated the traditional managerial graveyard and treacherous waters of the October and November international breaks, but they still ended up getting chewed up by the brutal shark that is the Championship managerial merry-go-round.
Mowbray had been at Sunderland since the start of last season and guided them to the play-off semi-finals in their first season back in the Championship. It was fairly amicable when reading the statement on Sunderland's website and 'ambition' and 'strategy' were the watch words around the decision to sack the experienced former Championship promotion winning manager.
As for Duff and Swansea, that felt a little less amicable with the equivalent post-firing statement saying in no uncertain terms that the Swans progress and results had not been good enough. Duff never did quite seem to fit in at Swansea but, given what's happened at Birmingham since they sacked a manager with the team performing more than adequately, I can see why the mood is a little more suspicious around the decision to sack Mowbray.
That's nine out of the 24 Championship clubs who have now changed managers, let's watch the merry-go-round spin once more and see who ends up at Swansea, Sunderland and the still available Rotherham job.
LOANEE OF THE ROUND
It's fairly easy to get drawn into the same old talking points when it comes to Plymouth. Let's rattle through the Argyle bingo card then, 'Well run club on the up', 'Excellent young manager', 'Great home record', 'Whittaker, Mumba, Cooper etc'.
In an attempt to steer the conversation in a different direction, let's talk instead about another excellent Plymouth loan signing in Luke Cundle. The midfielder on loan from Wolves has now started the last six EFL games in a row, picking up four assists in the process and moving his goal contributions total to an excellent nine in just over a thousand minutes on the pitch during this loan spell.
Cundle was key in Plymouth's latest victory, but we're going to have to play a bit of Argyle bingo when we say they extended their 'great home record' with a last gasp winner against Stoke. That late goal was scored by Adam Randell but Cundle was excellent in midfield, contributing more key passes, tackles and accurate through balls than any of his Plymouth teammates.
Our normal game of 'what happens next?' during this column has us reaching the conclusion that with Cundle now 21 and having been sent out on loan the past two seasons, Plymouth might be able to make the deal permanent at some point. The try before you buy approach worked a treat tempting Whittaker and Mumba to Home Park, perhaps Cundle will follow suit.
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