The Good, The Bad & The Ugly EFL

This week has been as eventful as ever in the EFL. The EFL Cup gave some clubs the chance to mix it with the big boys (to varied results). Despite years of stupidity, a certain North East based club have finally turned a page and started making sensible decisions. Finally, there were a couple of near impossible comebacks – one proved unsuccessful. Here are some of the biggest stories from the EFL that stood out to me this week.

Sensible Sunderland

Main news this week was Sunderland sacking another player. After Papy Djilobodji received his P45 two weeks ago after failing his fitness test, Didier Ndong is the latest to walk. He has been AWOL since the summer, so it’s not really a surprise. Despite being the Black Cat’s record signing, he has done nothing to impress both new boss Jack Ross and the new owners. Sunderland have included rights in Ndong’s release which allow the club to claim back some of the £13 million laid out in summer 2016. It’s nice to see the club being sensible for once; after all, this is a club who previously were reported to have spent over £1000 on plastic plants.

Zero to Hero to Zero

Saido Berahino has had a tough time at the BET365 Stadium. After signing for £12 million in January 2017, the Burundian had to wait until this month to get on the scoresheet for the Potters. His first league goal came on Saturday; Stoke were on their way to a dismal 3-0 home defeat to Blackburn before he intervened with 10 minutes left. It sparked something in Stoke; Tom Ince followed it with a second, before Berahino won a last minute penalty. Saido stepped up…and smashed his effort against the bar. Manager Gary Rowett was not too impressed, telling the media, “If you pick the ball up and you take that responsibility of course your responsibility is to score it”. I can’t see Berahino being allowed to take another one this season. 

Oldham-stambul

In League Two, result of the day came at Boundary Park as Oldham clawed back a two goal deficit in the last ten minutes. Where Stoke had failed, Oldham had succeeded; goals from Sam Surridge and Peter Clarke ensured it wasn’t a costly home loss. The draw kept them in the play off positions, which is fantastic considering the off-field money issues. Boss Frankie Bunn has managed to hit the ground running, despite his only previous managerial experience being two games in caretaker charge of Coventry City over 10 years ago. Very impressive stuff.

EFL Cup heroics (and not so much)

It was a vintage week for new Derby boss Frank Lampard. After running out 3-1 winners at promotion rivals Brentford, the former Chelsea man led his side to a famous EFL Cup victory (on penalties) at Manchester United. What made the win sweeter was that his opponents were managed by Lampard’s former boss Jose Mourinho. Harry Wilson scored the pick of the goals a pearl of a free kick to level the scores. Here it is below, complete with some excellent commentary from Alan Partridge, because why not.

It was a brilliant result for Lamps, who has got Derby playing some very good football. It’s a shame that Derby are seemingly allergic to promotion, and will inevitably fall off around March. Saying that, after their last visit to the Premier League, who can blame them?

Derby’s local rivals Burton also progressed to the next round, beating Premier League side Burnley 2-1. Liam Boyce scored what seems like his 739th goal of the season before Jamie Allen bagged a late winner. After a shaky start to the season, Burton may have turned a corner. 

Sadly, the strong EFL showing in this round was brought to a resounding halt on Wednesday night. We had predicted a comfortable home win in one of the fixtures. New boys Macclesfield, who haven’t had the best start to life in League Two, travelled to Premier League West Ham to try and reach the 4th Round. Unfortunately, West Ham had other ideas…

The much-used ‘Stop…Stop, he’s already dead’ Simpsons GIF springs to mind. The West Ham team was strong, but it will be interesting to see how Macclesfield pick themselves up from this. Still, at least they went viral.

The Milton Keynes Spurs

Finally, MK Dons managed to cement themselves as England’s most hated club this week. Tottenham, who are basically doing a headline tour of South East football stadiums now, made an appearance at Stadium. MK are to play their home EFL Cup fixture against Watford. Obviously, the most sensible option would have been to play at Watford, but this is the FA we are dealing with – what’s sense? Anyway, MK Dons offered their stadium as a temporary home. Not the worst thing in the world. Oh wait, MK Dons set out their own part of the stadium for their fans. A neutral section to complete this weird Dele All love-in. The sight of MK Dons fans celebrating a Spurs goal is something none of us want to see. This isn’t what football is about.