Who will win the League 2 playoffs?

The League 2 playoffs will be very exciting this year and it is one of the toughest to call.

Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Northampton Town and Bradford City are all hoping to get through the semi finals and win the playoff final so they can be competing in League 1 next season. They will be hoping to join Gillingham, Rotherham United and Port Vale in getting promotion this year and now I will look at each team and give my verdict on who I think will go up. Each team could easily win it so it is quite difficult to choose.

Fourth place Burton Albion should be confident going into the playoffs as they were the closest to getting automatic promotion and have just beaten Gillingham 3-2. However, in recent weeks they did also lose 7-1 to Port Vale. I am surprised that they are actually in the playoffs because I expected them to struggle this season but they have proved me and many others wrong. One thing that has been impressive is the amount of goals they have scored, particularly at home. Jacques Maghoma has scored 15 league goals this year with Billy Kee and Calvin Zola also scoring double figures this year.

Next are another team that have a fantastic home record but for a completely different reason. Cheltenham may not score as many goals as their rivals but they certainly have a very good defensive record. They also have some good midfielders and I believe they have the ability to play at a much higher level. Marlon Pack is the standout player for me and has already played over 150 games in his club career even though he is only 22. Darren Carter and Jermaine McGlashan will also be key in these playoffs. The club are hoping to go one better than last year when they were beaten in the final.

Northampton Town are probably the most out of form team in the playoffs but that does not mean you can count them out. With a striker like Adebayo Akinfenwa they will also cause problems to any defence even though he is not in the greatest form himself. Getting a victory over Barnet on the final game of the season will also give the team confidence. They have a good manager in Aidy Boothroyd and I would like to see him managing higher up in the English leagues once again.

Bradford City will be hoping they can visit Wembley for the second time this season after getting to the League Cup Final earlier this year. Phil Parkinson has done a fantastic job and to get a promotion would be just a cap off an amazing season for the fans and the players. I do like their attacking players, especially Nahki Wells who has scored 18 goals in 39 league games. But they also have James Hanson who adds more than just goals to the side and he will be vital. I would like to see Bradford go up and get back to where they once were.

I think Bradford will beat Burton Albion and Cheltenham will beat Northampton in the semi finals. So the final will be against two teams that have lost at Wembley in the last year. But, I think this time Cheltenham will come out on top.

Who will be AFC Wimbledon’s next manager?

AFC Wimbledon are looking for a new manager after sacking Terry Brown seven league games into the new season.

The club has failed to win since the opening game of the season and the board believe that if they want to avoid a relegation battle this year and push up the table a new man is needed in charge. Brown, was always liked by the fans as he has achieved so much in his five years as manager, including getting them into the Football League. He was manager for 266 games and won 126 of them so he had a very good record and under him they always achieved their goals so there is no doubt in my mind that he would have kept them up but I am not sure if he could have took them to the next level so maybe the board were just waiting for a bad run like this to get rid of him.

There will be plenty of contenders for the job, but the favourite at the moment is recently sacked Coventry City manager Andy Thorn. Thorn, began his playing career at Wimbledon and was part of their team when they won the FA Cup in 1988 so he obviously has a lot of good memories of the club and would love to bring the good times back. He left the club shortly afterwards but returned a few seasons later, so if he does become the manager it will be his third spell there. Looking at his time as a manager though he hasn’t had much success and only has a win percentage of  21.67% but this was at Coventry and there was very little chance of success there and even a more experienced manager couldn’t have done much better in my opinion.

Next up for contention is Andy Scott who has had mixed fortunes as a manager so far, winning the League 2 title with Brentford in the 2008-09 season but being sacked as manager of Rotherham United after less than a year in charge in 2012. He started off well at the club though and actually won the manager of the month award in August but they couldn’t continue their form for the remainder of the campaign and Scott took the blame for it. He would be an interesting choice because he does have a bit of experience of success and could take the club onto the next level or it could backfire horribly.

Finally, another name linked with the job is also a former player that won the FA Cup with the club and that is Dennis Wise. I don’t know if the fans would be in favour of him getting the job because he hasn’t been involved in football since leaving Newcastle United and his time there was, to put it simply, a disaster. He has claimed that it has ruined his image and had damaged his chances for further work and rightfully so in my opinion. But, if there was a club that he could start again at, surely it would be a team that gave him his first chance in football. He hasn’t done badly as a manager so it may be a good move for all the parties concerned.

Who will be the next Chesterfield manager?

Chesterfield have sacked their manager John Sheridan after not winning any of their first three games in League 2.

To sack a manager this early in my opinion is a little crazy but now there have been two sacked already, (Andy Thorn at Coventry City) so maybe now you need a quick start to the season to keep your job especially if you are expected to be one of the favourites for promotion. But, I think they need to take a step back and it may be clichéd but the Football League is a marathon and not a sprint, you cannot get promoted in the first three games and certainly can’t get relegated. John Sheridan must have split opinion because he did very well at times by winning them the League 2 title in the 2010-11 season and then followed that up with the Football League Trophy the season after, but in League 1 they struggled and were rightfully relegated because they just weren’t good enough. Now, was that because of Sheridan’s tactics or something else? He had a decent record as manager winning 63 of his 163 games in charge which gives him a 39.38% win record so I fully expected them to be up there come the end of the season. Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley have been placed in temporary charge.

First name to put forward for the job permanently is Brian Laws who has been quite successful in Yorkshire before when he was manager of Sheffield Wednesday so at least he knows the area and it won’t take him long to settle down and can focus on the job straight from the off. He has also gained two promotions from League 2 in his career, both at Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what is needed in the division. Plus, he has Premier League experience and there may not be a lot of them linked with the job so he could have a few contacts to call upon to bring in decent players.

Next, is a manager that I feel was harshly sacked at his last club and that is Sean Dyche. He led unfancied Watford to 11th in the Championship last season and they looked very good under him, playing good football and on the whole looking very solid. Dyche, had to work on a small budget an use a lot of the youth players so this would also be beneficial to Chesterfield. Also, the icing on the cake and what makes him favourite for the job in my mind is the fact he started his career at the club and played 231 league games for them scoring eight goals. I’m sure he would be a fans favourite and popular choice.

Finally, another manager that has links to Yorkshire, Mark Robins, who has managed both Rotherham United and Barnsley. This would be an interesting choice because of the rivalry between Rotherham and Chesterfield but he has been successful in this division before and performed admirably at Rotherham when they were going through quite a turbulent time, starting one season with a 17 point deduction. His time at Barnsley didn’t go as well but he still achieved their targets and kept them in the Championship and only left because of differences with the board so he may even still be there now if they could have worked it out.

Who will be League 2’s top scorer?

A difficult thing to predict is always who will top scorer be at the end of the season because so much can happen in a season including injuries and loss of form.

Sacking of managers can also be influential because even if someone is in goof dorm they may get dropped simply because the new man doesn’t fancy them or wants to bring in his own players. So, League 2 is obviously 46 games long and this could be a very tough choice as top scorer could be from a team that is challenging for promotion or it could easily be for a team that are struggling and this one player has become their star and is doing everything he can to save them as we saw last season with Izale McLeod at Barnet.

New Fleetwood Town signing Steven Gillespie could be considered the favourite as he does have a very good scoring record over the years but has unfortunately struggled with injuries. But just looking at his record he should be one of the most feared strikers in the division, he scored 25 goals 98 league games for Colchester United in League 1 and a lot of his appearances were from the bench so that makes his record look even worse. It was his 21 goals in 67 games for Cheltenham Town that convinced Colchester to sign him but he was struck down by injuries regularly and couldn’t get a good run of games going.

His main competition could come from Stuart Beavon of Wycombe Wanderers who were relegated to League 2 last season. The only problem with backing him is if he starts the season well then he could be sold if an offer comes in for him because he did score 20 goals last season while the club were playing in a higher division. But, if he does stay he should score goals for fun because he must be confident and will cause a lot of problems.

Billy Kee could be an outsider for the award as the 21 year old plays for Burton Albion who I think could struggle this season but obviously that will not stop this man from scoring as they weren’t exactly great last year and he still managed to score 12 goals in just 20 games. I would expect him to get to double figures but maybe it is a little too early for him to be considered top goal scorer.

Daniel Nardiello signed for Rotherham United this summer and will be hoping that he can score the goals to get them into League 1. Nardiello, who was once capped by Wales, has had an up and down career and never seems to settle at a club for very long will be hoping that manager Steve Evans gets the best out of him. The longest he has stayed at a club is two years but this may be where he shines so he may stay for longer and what better way to start than win the Golden Boot in League 2.

Finally, yet another Fleetwood Town signing David Ball could be an outsider especially if him and Gillespie form a good partnership. Ball, came through the Manchester City academy and will be hoping to show his quality in League 2 this year and he did do quite well for such a young lad at Peterborough United in the last few years where he scored nine goals in 41 games. He is an outsider but definitely in with a chance.

Who will be Crawley Town’s next manager?

Crawley Town have had an interesting few days with their manager leaving and appointing Steve Coppell as their director of football.

This is Crawley Town's first season in League 2

Steve Evans has left for Rotherham which seems a strange decision seen as though Crawley are in 4th and pushing for an automatic promotion spot and Rotherham United are 10th and still have an outside chance of making the playoffs but will need results to go their way if they are to get there. So what are the chances that Rotherham and Crawley will meet each other in the playoffs?

Craig Brewster is the current caretaker manager and he guided the team to a 2-1 victory over Barnet which lets the board know that if he wants the job then he would be a very good candidate. Maybe they will just give him the job until the end of the season and if he gets them promoted, he will get the job permanently. But is Steve Coppell poised to takeover? He is a very experienced manager and throughout his career he has been successful but he had retired from management but he may be tempted into one last go at managing.

So who could Crawley appoint as their new manager if they decide to go in another direction? The current Dover Athletic manager Nicky Forster could be a good choice as he is performing quite well at his current club and did a decent job as caretaker manager of Brentford in 2011 losing only five of his 21 games and maybe should have been given the job permanently. He played most of his football in the lower leagues and therefore will have many contacts and will know a lot about it which will always give a young manager a slight advantage over someone who has been out of the game for a while.

Richard Money is also linked with the job and he has a lot of experience which maybe Forster lacks therefore he could be given the job. In his last job he was sacked by Luton Town which to me was very harsh seen as though his team were third in the league and he actually had the highest win ratio of any manager in Luton’s history. In his 83 games in charge, he won 45 but his downfall was that he couldn’t get the club promoted back to the Football League. However, he has got teams promoted from League 2 before when he was the manager of Walsall. Money, always gets his teams playing good attacking football and this would please the fans.

Finally, I would like to throw Mark Robins name in the mix as he has been out of work for a little while now but always had the potential to be a good manager and with a little guidance he could succeed at a much higher level. With Steve Coppell at the club already it could be a perfect partnership and he has a good record in League 2.

The board have a big decision to make, do they leave it until the end of the season and hope that Brewster is good enough to get them promoted or do they give the job to someone else and hope that they come in and give the squad a little boost. However, it is a very good position to come into a club, the team are near the top of the league and the players should be very confident

Will Reading succeed in the Premier League if they get promoted?

Reading are timing their run perfectly to gain promotion to the Premier League after beating Leeds United and moving to the top of the Championship.

 

Adam Le Fondre may have the strikers instinct to score goals in the Premier League

After beating West Ham 4-2 last weekend the whole team must have been very confident going into the game especially when Leeds were reduced to 10 men after 13 minutes. But they were made to work hard for their win as Leeds stuck at it and defended very well and also attacked on the counter to good effect which made the home fans very nervous towards the end of the game and maybe 2-0 flatters the Royals slightly. Adam Le Fondre stepped off the bench to score twice and prove that he can be the man to fire the team into the Premier League. The signing from Rotherham United hasn’t quite settled in as quickly as the fans would have hoped but these two crucial goals will give him the belief that he deserves to be playing Championship football at least next season. He was expected to score the goals this year but that hasn’t quite worked out, however in his defence, nobody has hit double figures for Reading this season so they have had to rely on goals from all over the pitch with even centre back Alex Pearce chipping in with five goals this season.

If Reading do get promoted, do they have a good enough squad to compete in the Premier League or are they just very good Championship players? In goal they have Adam Federici who in my opinion is very underrated outside of the Championship but he is one of the best in the league and has made some heroic saves this season. Including an important one against Leeds when Robert Snodgrass had the opportunity to score but Federici stood up for as long as he could and palmed it away.

The defence is a mixture of potential and experience. Ian Harte is one of the best footballing left backs and has been his whole career, as it is worth remembering he once played in a Champions League semi final. How many players can say that in the country never mind the Championship? As mentioned previously they also have Alex Pearce who not only defends very well especially in the air, he also adds an attacking threat from set pieces which are usually precisely delivered by Harte.

The midfield is where I think they are at their best, especially out wide where they have many options with Hal Robson-Kanu and even Michail Antonio good enough to make most teams which is remarkable seen as though Antonio is out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. But their first choice wingers are fantastic in Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff, they are both very direct and force full back onto the back foot as soon as they get the ball. In the middle they also have quality in Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood who at every opportunity look to feed the wingers and provide a good screen for the back four as well as get into the box to grab goals.

The strikers is where I think they may fall down as they have good players but maybe not Premier League standard. Jason Roberts has came in and done magnificently but there is a reason why Blackburn didn’t feel he was good enough when they were in desperate need. However there were contractual issues there so maybe he would have played more of a part if that was sorted out. Noel Hunt works hard and has a great leap on him but he was easily marked out of the game by a second choice Leeds defence so they would need to invest in a striker if they do go up.

I really like the way Reading play as they look to cross the ball a lot and force defenders into mistakes. Brian McDermott deserves a lot of credit and seeing his celebration after the first goal showed how much it meant to the whole club. I would like to see them go up and them to achieve some success as the fans have been fantastic over the years and the stadium deserves Premier League football once again.

Who will be the next Rotherham United manager?

Rotherham United sacked their manager Andy Scott after less than a year in charge and placed Darren Patterson in temporary control.

Rotherham United are currently 10th in League 2

Patterson got off to a great start with a 4-2 victory over Macclesfield Town leaving the club in 10th place, eight points outside of the playoffs and in the process has done himself no harm in getting the job permanently. He has managed before at Oxford United but looking back on his career he seems to want to be an assistant more than the main man at a club but he could be tempted to take the job as Rotherham are very ambitious and want to be playing in a higher division. He currently has a 38.8% win record which isn’t terrible and he could possibly do a good job for the club.

However, there are many other candidates and one they should surely be looking at is Mark Robins, as he is currently available and has worked at the club before and therefore knows a bit about the place. In his first spell in charge he was quite successful and he almost got the club promoted from League 2 even though they started the season with a 17 point deduction. He may be a good choice but some people believe you should never go back to your old club no matter what as it could ruin your reputation there so maybe the board should be looking at a different person to take them forward rather than looking back into the past.

Brian Laws is also in the running for the job and he already has links to Yorkshire with him being the manager of Sheffield Wednesday for three years. This could be a good thing or a bad thing as he will know the area and it won’t take him long to settle in the area and people always perform better when they are settled. However, it could go the other way and because of his time with Wednesday the Millers fans may not take to him very well and if results aren’t going his way they may turn on him very quickly. He has secured promotion twice from this division with Scunthorpe United and this is exactly what the club wants so he has a good chance of getting the job.

If they don’t mind paying compensation for their next manager then maybe they could look at Steve Evans at Crawley Town because he has done very well there and they are currently 5th in the table and are hoping to be at least in the playoff positions come the end of the season. Evans is an ambitious manager and will be hoping for automatic promotion but if he thinks that Rotherham have a better chance of getting promoted it wouldn’t surprise me if he left Crawley. He isn’t the most liked person in football and can annoy people at times.

Rotherham have a lot of potential and have been knocking on the door of promotion for a number of years and eventually they will achieve what they want but they have to give the new manager some time to get his own ideas across to the players and also the opportunity to bring in his own players.

Who will be the next Burton Albion manager?

After suffering six consecutive league defeats Burton Albion have decided to sack their manager Paul Peschisolido with Gary Rowett and Kevin Poole taking temporary charge.

Burton are currently 17th in League 2

Both of these are in the running for the full time managerial position and they have the chance to stake a claim for the job when Burton face Northampton in what could be crucial game come the end of the season with both teams struggling at the wrong end of the table. Although relegation from this position was unlikely the team had been on an alarming slide and will have been dragged into a relegation dogfight if things had continued the way they were. The Brewers haven’t won for 14 games and whoever takes over needs to get results and rebuild the teams’ confidence. They clearly have goals in their side with their top three scorers all level in the goal scoring charts. With Justin Richards, Calvin Zola and Billy Kee all hitting 12 goals so far this season in all competitions which is quite impressive, however it does also show where there problems lie. They need someone to come in and get the defence organised then the team have a very good chance of challenging for the playoffs at least next season.

Let’s look at the options, Mark Robins is currently the favourite for the job and he in my opinion would be a very good candidate as he has managed at this level before with Rotherham and at a higher level with Barnsley. He also already knows about the club and what it means to the fans as he finished his playing career with a spell at the club and although he only played nine games, he will surely have some inside knowledge of the club. He has done a good job wherever he has been and has a decent win percentage of 38.18% which you have to remember is quite high for a manager that was basically only expected to avoid relegation when he was at Barnsley. If he would come, then I think they should take him, however, he did leave his last job because of differences with the board and it shows that if things aren’t quite going his way he will walk away from a job.

Paul Buckle is another manager who has done well at this level before and he may be able to take the club to the next level and get them challenging for promotion rather than being stuck in the lower half of the table. He guided former club Torquay United to the Football League and then just missed out on promotion again when his side were beaten in the final of the playoffs by Stevenage. After this he decided to join Bristol Rovers who were expecting to get promoted straight back to League 1 however after the team only win six of their opening 23 games, the fans started to turn on him and the club sacked him leaving him unemployed. He could be a good fit for Burton as they would be underdogs and he performs better when his team are the underdogs, so it could work out well.

The last name I am going to put out there is, Martin Allen, because he has recently become available and he does a pretty decent job everywhere he goes and was possibly a little harshly sacked at Notts County (although they have pushed on further without him). He is a very good manager and if he was willing to drop into League 2 again then he will do a good job however he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and this may make the fans not take to him that quickly. But he will win football matches and that will make him very popular.

The board have a difficult decision to make but there are currently quite a few good managers available, it will all just depend on how ambitious they want to be and whether they can attract them to the club. It didn’t quite work out well for Peschisolido but he had good words to say about the club and this is always a positive as other managers will look at that and think it must be a good place to work.