What exactly does it take for a team to succeed in the Championship?

Cellino wields the axe at Cagilari, could the same happen at Leeds? (©GettyImages)

Managers the world over should be under no doubt that the Championship is unlike any other in football.

If success is not achieved quickly, it can soon suck you into the wilderness. Worst of all, for managers anyway, there is clearly no strict formula for success.

Football's most unpredictable division has chewed up more coaches desperate to reach the top than most over the last decade, but the first third of the current campaign has been more unforgiving than most.

The ‘Damned United’

Leeds United remain firmly in the headlines, after Darko Milanic lasted a mere six games before being axed. His predecessor Dave Hockaday coincidentally only lasted the same number of matches, a worrying trend that Leeds fans may now have to put up with pretty regularly.

After years of struggle Leeds fans must have been hoping for stability under Massimo Cellino. Unfortunately all he has brought is chaos and turmoil akin to the 44 days of Brian Clough. So, Cellino arrived in the Championship with a continental style used of chopping and changing managers but Leeds are currently closer to the bottom of the league than the Play Offs. Clearly this has not brought success.

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Ever-changing Hornets

If the events in South Yorkshire were strange, the managerial merry go round at Watford is seemingly bizarre. Admittedly, the departure of Oscar Garcia on medical grounds could not be foreseen. However, the manner in which his replacement Billy McKinlay was dismissed was harsh even by today’s standards.

The Hornet’s Italian owners were obviously more comfortable with a continental style of management as they chopped and changed. These events seem remarkably similar to those in South Yorkshire, yet Watford are joint top of the Championship with all signs pointing to promotion.

Blues with the Blues

Perhaps slightly early to judge but the departure of Lee Clarke ended Birmingham City’s period of relative stability, the kind of which is unheard of. Admittedly, Clarke’s results at Birmingham were hardly spectacular. Yet, circumstances off the field may have caused the team to be in a constant state of transition.

This did not save the Geordie however, as he was swiftly removed. Malcolm Crosby, a coach with the Blues, oversaw one game and what a disaster it was, an 8-0 home reverse against Bournemouth. Based on this result, promoting from within does not bring success.

Welshmen on the rebound

The case of Cardiff City in particular, due in part to the ownership of Vincent Tan, was viewed by many as a poisoned chalice. The high profile appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed doomed from the start.

Premier League relegation simply confirmed this. A wise older head may have been able to handle matters on the pitch. Tan clearly feels the same way as Russell Slade was chosen to replace the Norwegian.

Slade is a man who had not managed in the Championship before but had earned many plaudits thanks to his sterling work on a low budget at Leyton Orient. They now stand just 3 points off the Play-Offs. So has Cardiff’s strategy of trying an experienced, yet somewhat untested manager worked? The results thus far suggest it has.

Clearly there is no hard and fast rule for success in this league. The sheer desperation to make it to the Premier League is what every club wants. Yet getting out of the Championship, which as a number of managers will tell you, is easier said than done.

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