We are getting ever closer to the end of this season, with all of the EFL leagues having less than 10 games to go of the season.
The EFL is known for hosting some of the most historic derbies in world football, this season alone we have seen games between Aston Villa and Birmingham in The Second City Derby and Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City derby for example
Everyone will be looking to see what big derby games could crop up around all three divisions next season?
Here is a look at some of the derbies that we COULD be seeing next season…
The South Coast Derby – Portsmouth v Southampton
The South Coast derby is a fierce derby that is fought out between clubs from two of England’s main maritime cities, that also share the county of Hampshire. The derby has been played 70 times since their first League encounter in 1900, the Saints have beaten Pompey 34 times, 13 more than their rivals.
Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth are on the rise in League One whereas their fellow neighbours Southampton, now managed by former player Mark Hughes, have been struggling as they find themselves in the Premier League relegation zone.
The last meeting of South Coast derby resulted in a 2-2 draw in April 2012, the clubs went in completely different directions after that afternoon at St Mary’s.
Southampton were found themselves back to the Premier League in 2012, their second promotion in consecutive seasons. They had gone from strength to strength in the six following seasons in the top flight, the Saints played in the group stages of Europa League and a League Cup final, before finishing the league in 8th place last season.
Claude Puel was sacked at the end of that season, after fans vocal discontent over the team’s “boring” playing style. Saints turned to Mauricio Pellegrino but after a string of bad results and performances, which left them at the wrong end of the table just a place above the drop, the Argentinean was replaced by Mark Hughes last month.
Pompey are hoping to reach the Championship for the first time since 2012 after financial difficulties caused the club to go into administration that led to successive relegations which left Pompey in League Two, the Pompey Supporters’ Trust helped turn around the fortunes of the historic club and managed to finally secure promotion to League One last season and now find themselves just outside the play-off places.
Could we be seeing the 71st and 72nd editions of the fierce South Coast derby next season as both teams might find themselves in the Championship next season?
The Devon Derby – Plymouth Argyle v Exeter City
After several years in different ends of the English football pyramid, Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City found themselves in the same league in recent seasons, predominantly League Two.
Devon’s two cities are only separated by 36 miles, passionately reignited their rivalry in recent seasons. In November 2017, six men, fans of both sides, were arrested after a mass brawl outside a pub in Exeter.
Plymouth were promoted automatically to League One last season, after six years in fourth tier. Exeter almost joined their neighbours in going up but lost to Blackpool in the League Two Playoff Final at Wembley.
Derek Adams’ Argyle didn’t start their first season back in League One all that well with the club only getting up five points in their first 11 games coupled with a poor disciplinary record, left Argyle four points off of safety, many fans called for the Scots dismissal. They managed to turn it around and have gone on a remarkable run since October, which included six consecutive wins at the turn of the year, have left them around the play-off places.
Exeter City’s Paul Tisdale, is the longest serving manager in the EFL having spent 12 years with the Grecians, had to pick his young squad up after a disappointing end to the last campaign at Wembley. The form of summer signing Jayden Stockley, currently the club’s top scorer with 18 goals, has propelled Exeter into this season’s play-off picture, and has even left them dreaming of automatic promotion to League One.
Could we see another clash of Devon’s biggest clubs next season in League One?
The Thames Valley Derby – Reading v Oxford United
One of the smaller lesser known derbies in English football, because of how little time both of the clubs have spent in the same division.
The Thames Valley derby is played between Reading and Oxford United, the two clubs from adjacent counties, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, are only separated by 27 miles. The last meeting came 14 years ago in the League Cup as Reading won 2-0 away at Oxford.
After a successful run to the play-off final in 2017, Reading haven’t managed repeat the success that led them to Wembley last season. The Royals, recently sacked Jaap Stam and appointed former Swansea coach Paul Clement as boss, are just above the relegation zone and are in real danger of going from heroes to zeroes, and plummeting down to League One in the space of 12 months.
It’s been a turbulent season for Oxford as they’ve had to deal with a new owner and two managerial changes. The U’s were hoping to ride the wave of an impressive 2016/17 season, which left them with an 8th place finish and a day out at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy.
A summer exodus in Oxfordshire, with manager Michael Appleton and key players like John Lundstram leaving for pastures new, left the club having to rebuild under new manager Pep Clotet. The Spaniard won his first two games in charge but he lost his job in January after only winning a further two games in the league in 2017.
It took several months and a takeover, by Thai businessman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth, before the club appointed Clotet’s permanent successor, Karl Robinson. The Yellows are currently in 17th position and are unlikely to rise or fall this season.
So, could we see a resurrection of this derby in League One next season?