Who will be the top scorer in League 1?

League could have an interesting race for top goal scorer because there are some good players in the division that should be able to hit the back of the net often.

Going straight into it the clear favourite to win the golden boot in the division is Leigh Griffiths. He has come back to Wolves and not only will he have a point to prove he will also be very confident after getting 28 goals in 40 games for Hibernian last season. If he can get that many in the SPL you would think he could at least replicate it in League 1. But he does need the service and hopefully his teammates can support his efforts.

Clayton Donaldson has always been a good goal scorer throughout his career and although he has never quite got enough to be the top man this year could be different. He hit 24 goals in all competitions last year and with Brentford looking like they are going to be contenders again it would not be surprising if he surpassed that mark.

Bristol City striker Sam Baldock may have made some mistakes in choosing who he is going to sign for but he will be a very important player for the Robins. After a fairly poor spell at West Ham United where he suffered from too much competition and injuries he is hoping to find the form he had at MK Dons. In the Championship last season he got 9 in 24 games so he is definitely back in the groove and has remembered where the goal is once more.

Leon Clarke is another player that has made a few mistakes in his career and has not really lived up to his potential but he seems to have found somewhere that he is happy and confident. There may be problems currently at Coventry City but if he can do the business on the pitch then that will make the fans a little happier. At Scunthorpe he got 11 goals in 15 games and then followed that up with 10 goals in 14 games so if he has that goal scoring record over a full season then nobody will be able to stop him.

Another Brentford striker makes the list and it is their new signing Will Grigg. To me he is more of an outsider because looking at his career he has only had one prolific season and in his other years his record is not too great. But he is only 22 and maybe now he has developed and is starting to fulfil his potential. If him and Donaldson can get a good partnership going then it will be a profitable season for both players.

I think that Leigh Griffiths will finish top scorer but I think if Leon Clarke was at a club with a little more security then he would have got very close to him.

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Who will win League 1?

League 1 ended in spectacular fashion last year and hopefully this year will have an equal amount of excitement.

There are once again some very big teams in the division and it is tough to call as they do not always adjust to the league as quickly as they should. Sometimes it is the littler teams that triumph and end up in the promotion picture, just look at Yeovil Town last year, who would have bet on them at the start of the season.

Wolves are the clear favourites to win the title and they should challenge because they have suffered two consecutive relegations and still actually have some Premier League players in their squad. I like new manager Kenny Jackett he has come in and it seems like he got rid of the negative vibes around the club and will be successful. So far he has not had the opportunity to sign many players but Sam Ricketts at the back could be crucial and the returning Leigh Griffiths will surely score a lot of goals.

Another relegated team are also one of the favourites and this one is not surprising as Peterborough United have been in this situation before and returned to the Championship swiftly. However it has not been as champions so it makes me think that second place or the playoffs may be their best bet. They haven’t signed many players either but they were very unfortunate to get relegated on the final day so why change anything? Dwight Gayle has left for Crystal Palace and they will need to replace his goals.

Brentford were probably the most unlucky team in League 1 last season and in all honesty should already be in the Championship so it is no surprise to see them as one of the favourites. Manager Uwe Rosler really wants promotion this season and the players he has brought in should help them achieve that. Loan signing Ben Nugent should be good enough for League 1 and striker Will Grigg showed that he knows where the back of the net is for Walsall last season. I also think the signing of experienced player Alan McCormack is very good and he may not get the headlines but is always reliable.

The final relegated team Bristol City cannot be discarded either though because Sean O’Driscoll is a great manager and he should never have to drop down to League 1 to have a job in my eyes. He should still be manager of Nottingham Forest really. But he is at City and he has a tough job, he lost two of his best strikers In Jon Stead and Steve Davies and will be hoping that some of his signings can step up like Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Marlon Harewood. I also think that Marlon Pack and Scott Wagstaff are great signings and they will be brilliant under O’Driscoll who likes to play football the right way.

The final pick is Sheffield United but I am a little unsure about them as their new manager David Weir has no experience of being a league manager and they really needed someone that knew the league and how to get out of it in my opinion. But saying that they still do have a great chance of winning the league as they have not lost anyone from last season’s squad that should be in their starting 11 and bringing in players like Febian Brandy and Stephen McGinn are positive moves. Weir will also have a lot of contacts so they may use the loan market very well this year.

It is tough to back against Wolves but I just feel that it could be Bristol City that take the title.

Bristol City in League 1

Bristol City will be playing in League 1 next season after finishing bottom of the Championship and not even coming close to staying up.
Bristol City
Sean O’Driscoll was in charge for 20 games and although he lost 11 of them, he should not get much of the blame because they just simply were not good enough last season and they have been struggling for a number of years at the wrong end of the table so maybe it was time they got relegated. O’Driscoll has got one promotion from League 1 in his career with Doncaster Rovers and is a manager that I feel should be in the Championship so it will not surprise me if they return at the first time of asking. They have lost a few players that would have been good in League 1 and the club will feel they did not get the best out of some of these players like Jon Stead, who only scored five goals in 30 games last season. Cole Skuse is another that has left and he will be missed because he has a lot of experience and played over 300 games for the club. Another loss will be Tom Heaton who conceded a lot of goals but was still impressive.

O’Driscoll has moved quickly to bring in former Derby County and England Under 21 goalkeeper Frank Fielding to the club. This is a good signing and he will certainly be one of the best keepers in League 1 and I am surprised that he was not snapped up by a Championship team. Another new signing that will be vital is Aden Flint. Flint has been an important part of Swindon Town’s team in the last few years and is someone that they did not want to let go. Central defender Louis Carey who is closing in on Bristol City’s all time appearance record will need to be a rock at the back if they are to be successful.

Flint has played 128 career games

Flint has played 128 career games


Albert Adomah will probably leave the club in the near future so they will miss his pace and creativity but that is not to say they don’t still have some good midfielders. Marvin Elliott will be a very good player in League 1 and Paul Anderson is someone that at Nottingham Forest was an exciting player to watch when he got on the pitch and will need to produce a lot more quality next season.
Anderson played four time for England under 19s

Anderson played four times for England under 19s


Upfront they have Sam Baldock who last time he was in League 1 looked fantastic and earned himself a move to West Ham United. That move didn’t quite work out for him but he still managed five goals in 22 games which doesn’t seem great but he did have limited playing time and was never really given a fair chance. His strike partner will most likely be Steven Davies who scored 13 goals last season and will be expecting to get more next season in a lower division. They also have Ryan Taylor and his time at Bristol City has not been the greatest so far and will want to make up for his slow start next season.
Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

Who will be Crystal Palace’s next manager?

Crystal Palace are looking for a new manager after Dougie Freedman decided his future is away from the club and at Bolton Wanderers.

Freedman, has left the club in a lot better position than the one he took charge of and along with his playing career, he will always be seen as a legend by the fans and I’m sure a lot will want to wish him the best of luck at his new club. They, along with Freedman will have good memories over the last couple of years, including beating Manchester United in the quarter final of the Carling Cup and escaping relegation quite comfortably in the end. So, who will they get to replace him? Should they be looking for more experience this time to continue the good job the Scotsman had done or bring in someone that is young and exciting? However, one thing to take into consideration is still the financial side of the game, will they have to look at the unemployed list or can they tempt someone to leave their club? Obviously, they should get a compensation package from Bolton so they may just use this to get a new manager.

The favourite for the job currently is Steve Coppell. This is a very interesting one in my opinion because he left Bristol City after just two games and actually announced his retirement. However, a lot of fans will be in favour of this because he obviously has a lot of affection for the club and including caretaker spells has been in charge four times. His experience is not in question but he has been out of the managerial game for a number of years now so maybe he wouldn’t be the best choice right now. Also, he is currently the Director of Football at Crawley Town so they may have to pay compensation for him.

The next name is actually one that if they could get, would be a fantastic coup for the club as he will be linked with every job in the Championship until he decides to take a job. This man is Mick McCarthy and he would bring a lot to the club and could actually push them onto the next level and get Premier League football back to Selhurst Park. Gaining promotion with Wolves and Sunderland has made his CV even more impressive. Could Crystal Palace realistically get him though?

The final name that caught my attention is a former player, that actually has managerial experience, not only in the Championship but the Premier League and that is Gareth Southgate. Obviously, he started his career at the club and played over 150 league games so he knows exactly what the fans are about and even though things will have changed since he left, there is still the same passion about the club that was there back then. The only worry is that, he has also been out of the managerial game for a while and it might take him some time to adapt to the role again.

Other names that have been linked with the job are Andy Thorn, Lennie Lawrence and Karl Robinson. Would the Palace fans prefer one of these to get the job?

Who will be relegated from the Championship?

A lot of big teams have been relegated from the Championship over the years including Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Southampton so nobody is safe really and anything could happen. Last year we saw Coventry City, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers were unable to stay up so who will it be this year?

Barnsley struggled in the second half of last season especially after the departure of Ricardo Vaz Te who was their talisman and top scorer so it is easy to see why they are one of the favourites for the drop. Losing Jacob Butterfield will also be a blow and they will need their experienced players to perform well if they are to stay up. One of their main signings of the summer Mido has also been injured and he is unpredictable anyway so they may to rely on the goals from Marlon Harewood and Craig Davies to keep them up.

Peterborough United did ok last year and manager Darren Ferguson will want them to push on however I see this as a season of struggle for them. They did ease past Southend United in the Capital One Cup beating them 4-0 so that will give them confidence but I think they may have took a little risk this year especially in the goalkeeping department as they have signed Robert Olejnik who was one of the best keepers in League 2 last year but he may struggle to step up and with their defence also not being the best it could be their downfall this year.

Another team that struggled for large periods of the season were Bristol City and they were defeated by Gillingham in the Capital One Cup so optimism can’t be high among supporters at the minute. They also lost one of their main strikers when Nicky Maynard decided to leave which leaves them with only three out and out strikers in Jon Stead, Brett Pitman and Ryan Taylor and none of these have ever been considered prolific. They do however have strength on the wings in Paul Anderson and Albert Adomah so if they can get these playing to the best of their ability then they do have a good chance of staying up.

Dougie Freedman in my opinion overachieved at Crystal Palace last year and I think it will be very difficult for them to achieve what they did last season and finish as high up the table and 21st place could be seen as an achievement this year. They have so far kept hold of Wilfried Zaha but I do expect a few teams to be interested in him before the end of the transfer window. He is key to them and I hope he doesn’t feel the weight of the expectation on his young shoulders and have a bad season.

Nigel Clough must be tearing his hair out at the moment after witnessing his team throw away a 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3 lead and still failing to beat Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup and eventually going out on penalties. I always thought they would struggle and I know it is only the cup but there is clearly something wrong at the back or at least in the confidence and concentration of their players. I doubt they will score five past many Championship teams but I do think they could ship five past quite a lot of them.

Coventry City are relegated to League 1

Coventry City have been relegated to League 1 after being beaten by already relegated Doncaster Rovers and Bristol City’s 2-0 win over Barnsley.

Coventry have only picked up 40 points this season

So what went wrong at Coventry this season was it the fact that they have an inexperienced manager in charge or was it simply that they have struggled with financial problems and relegation was inevitable this year? It is obvious that they were going to struggle especially when they haven’t got a player that has got into double figures this season, their current top scorer being Gary McSheffrey only getting nine goals. However if Lukas Jutkiewicz had stayed then they may have had a better chance to stay up but it was obvious that the club couldn’t afford to keep him for the rest of the season and in fairness did accept a good offer from Middlesbrough for the player. The 23 year old had scored nine goals in 25 games this season and this is quite an impressive record for a team that have been at the bottom of the table all season.

Looking to the future though, if they keep most of the squad together do they have enough quality to return to the Championship at the first time of asking? First of all should they keep Andy Thorn in charge next season? His win record at Coventry is awful and he has only won 12 of his 55 games in charge, so in my opinion Coventry should probably get in someone else with a bit more experience if they are really wanting to challenge for promotion. Maybe he has been unfairly criticised as off field problems have forced his hand into playing youngsters and he has had to sell experienced players.

Now is the team good enough? In goal they have Joe Murphy who is very experienced and has got two international caps to his name so he must have some ability. At Scunthorpe United he was very good and helped them to promotions which will obviously help the younger players in the team next year. In defence they do have some talented players, Richard Wood is one that has suffered with injuries throughout the season and he has been a big miss because he was very highly rated at Sheffield Wednesday and looked like he was going to play at the highest level. Jordan Clarke is only 20 but has nearly played 50 games for Coventry already and will now be needed more than ever and he will have to deal with this kind of pressure next year. Nathan Cameron is very similar but the one they have to hold onto is most certainly is Cyrus Christie who has played nearly every game this season and has not looked too fazed, although he has made mistakes which are expected he has dealt with most things pretty well.

The midfield does have some quality in there but maybe they haven’t shown it enough this year. Sammy Clingan is another player with international experience and does have a very good passing range to his game. The problem has been that they have some good passers in their midfield but not enough goals from there, David Bell is another intelligent footballer and is good enough for the Championship but hasn’t scored, Gary Deegan is again another decent footballer but only has three goals.

Gary McSheffrey can play left wing or upfront and he is easily the most talented player in the squad and you can tell that he wanted to get the club out of the position that they are in. Even upfront they do not have a lot of firepower, Clive Platt can be effective but he will not really get the goals needed, a return of four goals just isn’t sufficient enough and he will be hoping for more success next season. Cody McDonald signed for the club after hitting 25 league goals for Gillingham but that was in League 2 and he hasn’t quite stepped up to Championship level with only four goals but he is only 25 so his time at that level may come again.

It is disappointing to see a club like Coventry City in League 1 especially when they were in the top division for a long time but times have changed and the team hasn’t really looked like returning there anyway. The fans need to stick with the club as they need as much help as they can get and they have a fantastic stadium so I hope they do make a return to the Championship as soon as possible.

Is this the end for Matthew Bates?

Matthew Bates may be the unluckiest player in football at the minute as he has suffered a cruciate ligament injury for the fifth time in his career.

Bates has struggled with injuries his whole career

The injury will keep the promising centre back on the sidelines for yet another six months and it will be very difficult for the player to keep up his own moral and spirits as he may not come back the player he has been this season.

The 25 year old has been at Middlesbrough his whole career so far but was linked with moves away last summer and Swansea in particular were very keen on giving him a chance in the Premier League. He had hoped that his form would propel Boro up the league table and challenge for promotion this season and play for his boyhood club again in the Premier League against the big teams like Manchester United and Arsenal.

He actually made his debut in the 2004-05 season and has only played 120 games for the club which is remarkable and shows just how much his injuries have slowed down his career. This season, it looked as though he had got over all of his problems as he had played more than ever before in a single season and was named new captain by manager Tony Mowbray who must have seen similarities in the way Bates plays and the way he was when he was a player for Boro. Even more worrying for the player is that his contract is up at the end of the season and his latest setback will keep him out until October so no other team will want to take a chance on him. He will have to hope that Boro will give him another opportunity to get fit or there is a chance that he may never get a chance in the professional game again.

Personally I hope he does because he has proven this season that he is at least good enough for the Championship and was looking very consistent as Boro pushed for a place in the playoff spots. Not only is it a bad thing for the player personally but for the club as well because they don’t have the biggest of squads anyway and would have needed all their players to be fit from now until the end of the season. They have recalled Stephen McManus from his loan spell at Bristol City but this will not fill the fans with confidence because he came with quite a good reputation from his time in Scotland but has not really delivered. However, if he does step up and has a good end to the season he could easily become a fans favourite and may be first choice at the start of next season which will then lead to the question, do we need Matthew Bates? Injuries are a cruel part of the game and it has ruined many players’ careers but to have the same sort of major injury five times has got to be hard for anyone but at least he knows he can come back, let’s just hope it is to a good standard.