Five talking points from the EFL weekend, including the rise of Blackburn

EFL pundit Gab Sutton has his say on the weekend’s EFL action, including Blackburn's Ben Brereton dilemma.

It was widely assumed that Fulham and Bournemouth were the two standout sides in the Championship, but Blackburn are making their voice heard.

Ok, Rovers lost 7-0 at home to the former last month, but they have since taken 16 points from the 18 available, culminating in a 2-0 victory over the Cherries on Saturday.

Tony Mowbray's side were excellent without the ball in Dorset, highlighted by the display of centre-back Jan Paul van Hecke - who did not feature until October - with the Brighton loanee also getting on the scoresheet.

The big dilemma facing the Lancashire club is whether to sell 17-goal top scorer Ben Brereton, who is linked with a £25million January bid from Leeds.

That kind of money would be helpful, but it would do little to clear the debt to the Venkys - who have thus far been willing to write it off - and only Premier League revenue would come close to fixing the hole.

Most fans are hoping the club keeps Brereton for the best chance of winning promotion, with the presumption that a similar offer would be there in the summer.

Forest boss Cooper gets one over former club

Steve Cooper, Nottingham Forest, Manager, Championship

After his Nottingham Forest side won 4-1 at his old stomping ground, Steve Cooper was dignified in his comments towards his former club Swansea City.

And yet, underneath this classy exterior, Cooper would not be human if there was not part of him that felt an extra tinge of satisfaction about such an emphatic victory over his former employers.

Although Cooper recorded successive play-off finishes with Swansea, he still faced criticism from some quarters for the style of play which, while not exactly horrendous, was more rigid than natives had witnessed under his predecessor, Graham Potter.

Swansea fans now have their wish for extreme possession soccer under Russ Martin with mixed results, while Cooper's efficient methods have transformed Forest from relegation candidates to play-off contenders in the space of three months.

Oxford underrated

Karl Robinson, Oxford United manager

Steve Cooper is not the only EFL manager to enjoy a happy return to a former club.

In Karl Robinson's case, he is an MK Dons legend, having led the club to promotion to the Championship in 2014/15, so there would have been no sense of one upmanship.

Nonetheless, while pundits are rightly waxing lyrical about the likes of Scott Twine and Matt O'Riley for the Buckinghamshire outfit, Oxford are not getting the same attention - despite being four points better off after a 2-1 victory at Stadium:MK last time out.

With livewire Mark Sykes and back-post poacher Matty Taylor finding form, the Yellows have sailed under the radar into fifth spot.

Cotterill under pressure at Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury Town manager, Steve Cotterill

Shrewsbury are in serious relegation trouble after back-to-back defeats.

Losing to high-flyers Wigan was not an enormous problem for Salop, but following that up with a defeat to fellow relegation candidates Doncaster certainly was.

Manager Steve Cotterill admitted his side looked tired in South Yorkshire, having played on Wednesday, and they also had three or four players operating out of position due to a combination of injuries and an imbalanced squad.

If Crewe, Doncaster and Gillingham are the likeliest teams to go down, Shrewsbury are not far behind them.

Thriller at Oldham

Oldham Athletic vs Forest Green Rovers, League Two, Dec2021

Oldham fans have chosen a variety of ways to get across the same message.

All Latics fans are protesting against the Abdallah Lemsagam's regime, and their creativity should be applauded.

To start with, they showed their value by packing the park against Port Vale last month and cheering the team on to two late goals and a 3-2 victory.

For the game against Forest Green, though, they demonstrated what the club is without them, with some walking out on 27 minutes and others staying away altogether.

Sod's law, though, is that those staying away missed the most thrilling game of the League Two season, with Selim Benachour's side coming from three goals down to draw 5-5 with the league leaders.

Defensive issues will need to be addressed, but on the plus side, Oldham are showing they can carry a threat under Benachour with the quality of Davis Keillor-Dunn and Dylan Bahamboula, as well as the talents of Jamie Bowden and Harry Vaughan.

READ MORE: Newcastle odds-on favourites to be most active Premier League side in the January transfer window

Latest news