David Wagner books Championship play-off spot but which three managers will join him?by Jack Kitson / 26 April 2017, 14:35Tweet
Chris Hughton and Rafa Benitez will be Premier League managers next season, and now David Wagner has a real chance of joining the top-flight promotion party as he became the first gaffer to secure his place in the 2016/17 Championship play-offs after he led Huddersfield Town to a 1-0 victory over Wolves on Tuesday night.
The triumph, which was the club’s 25th win of the season, propelled the Terriers up to 3rd on 81 points meaning with two games to go they are an insurmountable eight points clear of 7th placed Leeds.
It’s a simply stunning achievement for both Huddersfield and Wagner, especially considering that when “Jurgen Klopp’s best man”, as he was known back then, first took over in November 2015 the Yorkshire club were struggling down in 18th.
Wagner subsequently saved them from the drop, and now a year on the club have booked their place in the Championship play-offs for the first time in their history.
Now, it’s over to the quartet of Jaap Stam (Reading), Carlos Carvalhal (Sheffield Wednesday), Slavisa Jokanovic (Fulham), and Garry Monk (Leeds) who will slug it out for the final three spots - below we take a look at the chances of each gaffer securing one of those three spot.
Jaap Stam (Reading)
- Current Position: 4th
- Remaining Games: Wigan (h), Burton (a)
Reading (4th) are in pole position to become the next team to secure a play-off place. The Royals require only a single point from their final two games in order to confirm their place on the top-6, or better still, if Leeds fail to pick up six points from their final two games then they are in regardless.
Next up for Stam’s men is 23rd placed Wigan at home. Reading may have been wobbly on the road, but under Stam they have transformed the Madejski Stadium into a fortress, accumulating 50 points from 22 matches so far this season (second only to leaders Brighton), while they’ve they’ve won 12 of their last 15 matches on their own patch, losing only once during this run.
Prediction: Bar an unlikely sequence of results, Stam and Reading will take their place alongside Huddersfield in the play-offs.
Carlos Carvalhal (Sheffield Wednesday)
- Current Position: 5th
- Remaining Games: Ipswich (a), Fulham (h)
Next up in the table are Sheffield Wednesday (5th) who are currently playing their 17th consecutive season outside of the Premier League. The Owls are the league’s form side after bagging five wins from their last five games, meaning a sixth successive win on Saturday will secure their spot in May’s play-offs.
But, like Reading, Wednesday will be in the play-offs if Leeds fail to win both of their final two games. However, should they lose to Ipswich, and Leeds win at home to Norwich this weekend, then their final game is against top-6 rivals Fulham…what a nerve-shredding match that would be…
Prediction: It’s extremely difficult to envisage anything other than Carlos Carvalhal having another another dig at promotion via the play-offs.
Slavisa Jokanovic (Fulham)
- Current Position: 6th
- Remaining Games: Brentford (h), Sheffield Wednesday (a)
Fulham have also been flying of late, claiming four wins on the spin, which has lifted the club three points above Leeds into 6th spot. Due to the club’s vastly superior goal difference (+27), a victory at home to West London rivals Brentford at Craven Cottage would all but cement their top-6 place, even if Leeds win themselves.
But, in contrast a defeat would make for an incredibly nervy clash away to Sheffield Wednesday on the final day...
Prediction: Fulham have the form, the goals (82), and an excellent manager, and they a cracking chance of making the play-offs, although nothing is guaranteed in football...
Garry Monk (Leeds)
- Current Position: 7th
- Remaining Games: Norwich (h), Wigan (a)
Oh dear Leeds are in a right pickle. Last month the Whites were 11 points clear of Fulham, however a shocking run of form - four defeats in six - at the worst possible time means that Monk's men now find themselves three points adrift of the Cottagers, and now the 11/2 outsiders to bag a place in the play-offs.
Monk will be fuming at his side’s collapse, which has seen the club lose back-to-back games against Wolves and Burton, with the latter a particularly hard defeat to take.
Their rotten slump means that Leeds simply have to beat Norwich on Saturday, and hope that Fulham fluff their lines against Sheffield Wednesday.
Prediction: It’s not looking good for Monk who is probably going to be the manager that misses out, however should results go his way this weekend then it will set up an engrossing final day.