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.

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Who will be relegated from League 2?

Being relegated from League 2 could possibly be the worst relegation in England as it means you are no longer a Football League club and teams often struggle to return at the first time of asking.

In recent years, Luton Town, Darlington (this could have been more because of financial problems that affected them for years) and Stockport County have been some of the bigger names to be unable to win promotion from the Blue Square Premier. I am going to look at the five teams that could be likely to battle against relegation even though I could be way off with the league being very unpredictable.

Barnet are the first team I believe will struggle simply because they have been unable to improve for years now and keep on avoiding relegation on the last day, eventually this is going to catch up on them and they will fail and this could be the year. With the loss of 22 goal Izale McLeod they need a replacement and have brought in Jon Nurse but he only got eight goals last season so he will need to improve if they are to stay up.

Burton Albion fresh off their penalty victory over Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup will need to start off their season just as quickly if they are to comfortably mid table. They definitely have goals in their team with Calvin Zola, Billy Kee and Justin Richards so they shouldn’t struggle in this department if they manage to keep them for the whole season but the defence looks a little light and a few injuries may completely derail their season.

Morecambe, another team that caused a shock in the cup will be hoping this is what is to come from their season however I don’t think this will be the case and they could be dragged towards the bottom of the table. The key person for me could be manager Jim Bentley as he clearly loves the club but his managerial inexperience could work against him but at least the fans know that he will be putting his all in.

Accrington Stanley lack a goal scorer in their squad and last season their star striker was Padraig Amond who only got eight goals and they will certainly need to improve here which is why they have brought in Karl Sheppard who does have a good record so far in his career and looks like he could be a vital addition.

Dagenham and Redbridge struggled last season but a good run of form towards the end of the season saw them safely avoid the drop but they may need a little more in the coming season. The loss of Jon Nurse to rivals Barnet could be key as his goals may just make the difference between the two sides. Brian Woodall had a decent year and will be hoping to build on that and manager John Still knows what it takes to be successful in this division so even though I am tipping them for a struggle this year, they could also be the surprise package.

Out of the five I think it could be Barnet and Accrington Stanley to go down.

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.