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Three Challenging Saves from the English Football League

The English football league is a notoriously difficult place to manage, both in real life and on Football Manager. The Championship has often been referred to as the most competitive league in the world, and this season, it is living up to its moniker. Millwall, who are currently in sixth place and the final playoff spot, are just eight points clear of Wigan Athletic, who are in the relegation zone.


As we have seen in recent years with the likes of Stoke City, once you’re relegated from the Premier League, there’s no guarantee of being promoted straight back up. In the EFL, the games — 46 of them to be exact, plus another two (three if you’re in leagues One or Two) cup competitions — come thick and fast. You can quite easily find yourself with plenty of momentum and charging up the table, or in freefall and spiraling toward the daunted drop zone.


Another phenomenon, especially in the Championship, is that anyone can beat anyone. For example, Sheffield United recently faced local rivals, Rotherham, at home needing a win to return to the division’s summit, while the visitors hadn’t won at Bramall Lane since the 80s. To make matters worse for The Millers, soccer betting odds have made the South Yorkshire club the favorite for relegation back to League One.


Naturally, Matt Taylor’s side picked up a 1-0 victory over their rivals thanks to a goal from academy product Ben Wiles. And it’s at the New York Stadium where we start. Here are three challenging saves from the English football league.


Rotherham United — Championship

There has never been a better time to be a Rotherham United supporter. Last term, the club secured promotion back to the Championship on the last day of the League One season, with Georgie Kelly scoring a last-minute winner away at Gillingham to seal promotion. To make matters even better, The Millers also picked up the Papa John’s Trophy.


At the start of the 2022/23 campaign, the club made their best ever start to life in the second tier, rising as high as eighth in the opening weeks of the season. Then, however, with the club beginning to dream of the promised land, long-serving manager Paul Warne departed for third-tier Derby County, and the wheels somewhat came off. Owner Tony Stewart acted swiftly, appointing young Exeter City manager Matt Taylor, and he has steadied the ship somewhat.


But can you do even better?


The Millers are an under-heralded club. The town itself is going through a period of regeneration. And the team has often been overshadowed by its local rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, both of whom have spent years in the Premier League throughout their history. The club has been run extremely shrewdly by Stewart however and are one of the few teams in the division without any debt whatsoever.


Rotherham have become a yo-yo club in recent years. In the last six years, they have either been relegated from the Championship or promoted from League One, and their last three seasons in the second tier have all ended in relegation. Are you the one to stave off the drop and build a squad capable of challenging for promotion to the top flight for the first time in the clubs history?


MK Dons — League One

The team that missed out on promotion to the Championship thanks to Rotherham last season was MK Dons. The two clubs went into a final day decider however, the Dons knew they needed the Millers to slip up on their trip to Priestfield in order to seal their own promotion. The South Yorkshire club didn’t though, and the Buckinghamshire outfit then went on to lose in the playoffs.


This season couldn’t have gone much worse, however. MK Dons currently sit in the relegation zone, some six points adrift of safety. And with star man Scott Twine leaving for Burnley, a rebuilding job is required at Stadium:MK.


The Dons are one of, if not the, most hated clubs in all of English football following their name change and relocation from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes back in 2005. That has caused many football fans to refer to the club as Franchise FC.


But with a brand new 30,000 all-seater stadium and transfer money to spend, the Dons may be the ones having the last laugh. Can you steady the ship?


Bradford City — League Two

No team has fallen further than Bradford City in recent years. At the turn of the millennium, the Bantams were facing off with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League. Fast forward two decades and the club finds itself rooted in the English football league’s basement division, where they have been since 2019.


The club is currently managed by former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes, and the Welshman has led the club to fifth place in the League Two table. That’s not a bad effort, but there is still room for improvement.


The Bantams have the biggest stadium in the fourth tier and by some distance. Valley Parade can accommodate up to 25,000 spectators. Even more impressively, the club currently has over 14,000 season ticket holders. The club is ready for success, they just need a manager to take them through the divisions… could that be you?

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