Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger may have their minds firmly fixed on Premier League and Champions League glory but don't underestimate the influence this pair have on the Championship title race too.

You just need to take a look at the Football League's Team of the Week to realise just how important some of the on-loan Manchester United and Arsenal players are to their foster clubs. This week alone Tom Cleverley, Danny Simpson and Jay Simpson earned the plaudits for Watford, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers respectively - but other teenagers such as Henri Lansbury, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Craig Cathcart have played starring roles in recent games too.

Money isn't always in abundance at Championship level so it's vital, and I mean vital, that managers utilise the loan system as cleverly (excuse the pun!) as possible. At the likes of United and Arsenal there are some high quality young players under the surface who are crying out for Football League experience, and because they have so much talent they are often hugely influential when given the chance to shine.

Reserve team football can be soul destroying at times with just a few hundred fans in attendance and nothing but fitness riding on the games, so for the players themselves it's brilliant to be called out on loan. Sometimes for the first time in their careers these lads look at the league table realising the need to get three points, they experience the buzz of playing in front of a huge crowd and they see what it's really like to play football for a living.

It's useful for their characters too. At the big Premier League clubs these kids want for nothing, and get everything done for them by a huge backroom staff. It's all made very easy. Not so, when they head out on loan! It's an eye opener and they get to see the realities of life as a professional footballer outside the top flight.

Harry Redknapp when he was my boss at Bournemouth always used to send his youngsters out on loan (I went to Farnborough) for the simple reason of making us realise what we had to look forward to if we didn't perform at his club. It's not as if Championship football is bad at all but some negative aspects of life at that level will make these talented kids aware that this will be their future if they don't make it at Arsenal or Man United - and that's an incentive of sorts.

Every single Championship club would benefit from some of United and Arsenal's Carling Cup stars, so it's crucial that they keep tabs on them at all times. Then it's down to Messrs Ferguson and Wenger of course to find the right club for their precious young stars to gain experience with.

Sir Alex will be feeling disappointed for his son Darren though, who lost his job with Peterborough United this week. It's a shock exit as far as I'm concerned because he's unquestionably one of the brightest young managers in the country. The Posh chairman was even quoted as saying that himself when handing Darren a four year contract in the summer but now, 16 games later he's gone. I have to ask myself what's changed?

Peterborough United have been taken from League 2 to the Championship by Darren in consecutive seasons, so this year was always going to be tough. It's a time where stability is needed. It's a real pity for him but one thing is for sure, Darren Ferguson won't be out of work for long. There will be no shortage of offers for his services.

Finally, I'd just like to sing the praises of one of my former team-mates Darren Ambrose who is in sensational form for Crystal Palace at the moment. He's scored four goals in as many games and stands on ten for the season so far which is a tremendous effort.

During the last two seasons injuries have held him back and his confidence was dented but Neil Warnock seems to be bringing the very best out of Darren now. He's so talented and is a Premier League player for sure, so it's lovely to see him enjoying life so much at the moment with the Eagles.

Bizarrely having only signed earlier this summer Darren Ambrose has already scored more goals for Crystal Palace than any other player on their books. That's my Stat of the Week!

Send in your comments on Matt's blog by clicking here


1. Ian - another Bluebird fan:

Matt - In your blog you talk about footballers having short working days. Typically how many hours do professional footballers train a day and how many times a week. I frequently read about professional footballers having plenty of spare time so what would be a typical working week for them? Does it vary greatly from Premiership to League 2? Thanks.