Who will be relegated from League 1?

Four teams get relegated from League 1 and that makes it just a little bit harder to avoid the drop and drags more teams into it.

This can lead to a lot of nerves towards the end of the season and a good start to the season is essential just to get a lot of points on the board.

Shrewsbury Town are the favourites to get relegated and it is hard to argue against that because they are not the biggest club and their budget will be the best. I was surprised to see a few of their players leave but maybe it was down to financial reasons. Players like Marvin Morgan, Mark Wright and Matt Richards have all been good players during their time at the club but they have gone now and they have to look to the future. Tamika Mkandawire is a decent enough signing and will hopefully make them stronger at the back.

Colchester United seem to be struggling at the moment and I just feel that this could their year to go down, Joe Dunne has done an ok job but he could be fighting a losing battle this year. Signing former Arsenal youngsters Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond is a good start to recruiting players to keep them up butI doubt we will see much more movement from them. Ryan Dickson at left back could also be a good signing but he has not played regularly for a while.

Greg Abbott is in a similar position at Carlisle United and just staying up will be a great achievement for him and his team. I am really not convinced by his signings so far in Lewis Guy who works hard and is versatile but he does seem to lack that final ball. David Amoo is a similar player, someone that just has not been able to really take a chance anywhere he has been but he is only 22 and this could be the club for him. Keeping Lee Miller could be the best bit of business they have done for a long time.

I am a little surprised that Stevenage are one of the favourites to relegated because under Graham Westley they play effective football although it is not pretty it certainly does get the job done. They have lost one of their best defenders in Mark Roberts and midfielders in Anthony Grant so maybe it will not be easy for the returning manager. Jimmy Smith as a youngster had a lot of potential but has not quite lived up to it but maybe under Westley he will be successful. Oumare Tankara is a bit of a wildcard and that could work to Stevenage’s advantage.

I do like that Oldham Athletic have given a young manager an opportunity in Lee Johnson but I do fear for them this season. They were more known for their FA Cup exploits last year than their league form which will be a concern for the new manager because staying in League 1 is very important to this club. The signings he has made do seem to have potential, like Mark Oxley in goal and Charlie MacDonald and Adam Rooney as their new strike force. They could have a lot of goals in their team and with James Drayton also joining they have someone that can try and create chances for the forwards.

Out of these five teams I do think Stevenage have the best chance of staying up.

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August Players and Managers of the month

The first awards of the seasons have been announced and they are the player and manager of the month awards in the Football League.

First, let’s look at League 2 and the winner of the manager of the month award went to Martin Allen who has had a fantastic start to life as manager of Gillingham. The club are sitting top of the table after five games with 13 points and if they can continue this sort of form they will comfortably win promotion back to League 1 although it is early days yet and anything could happen. Allen finished the last season very well keeping Barnet in the Football League so it is no surprise at a club with a bigger budget he is surpassing expectations slightly. Player of the month for League 2 has went to Oxford United captain Jake Wright and the defender has been in impressive form so far this year helping Oxford start the season very well winning their first three games and only conceding one goal. Unfortunately for them their form has dipped slightly but I believe they will be in the promotion shake up come the end of the season.

In League 1 the awards went to a player and the manager of Tranmere Rovers as they also started the season very quickly and have surprised a lot of teams already. Ronnie Moore is in his third spell at the club as manager and are still unbeaten in League 1. They have already scored 11 goals and only conceded 2 so their goal difference is already very healthy (some of these have came in September but it is still worth noting). They were seen as outsiders for the playoffs this year because they don’t have as big a budget as some teams but that hasn’t stopped them so far and they may be a shoe in for the playoffs if not more. Andy Robinson won the player of the month award after scoring a hatrick against Carlisle United. The 32 year old has been named in the team of the year in League 1 twice before so he is no stranger to the division and will need to continue to be as influential in the coming months if they want to get out the league.

The Championship awards followed the same pattern as the league before as both the awards went to player and manager of the same club. Blackpool were the beneficiaries of the awards and Ian Holloway is looking to guide his team back to the Premier League. He is still doing a magnificent job in my opinion as they had no right to get promoted in the first place and after losing so many players has still managed to challenge at the very top of the league. Holloway is an entertaining man on the sidelines and his team are very attacking on the pitch so they are a perfect combination and he seems to get the best out of every player. One of these is Thomas Ince who was linked with moves away in the summer and it is no surprise after his performances in August. In the first three games the young winger scored four goals and got four assists so there doesn’t need to be any explanation why he won it really.

Who will be relegated from League 1?

League 1 may not have the likes of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield Town anymore but there are still some big teams with big budgets in the division and this makes it very hard for the promoted teams and those with lower budgets to have a good season.

But it is definitely one of the relegated teams from the Championship that are the favourites to go down. Portsmouth are in a lot of trouble and are barely still alive as a club never mind one that is in the third tier of English football. Who knows what their starting 11 will be at the start of the season and how many of them have any experience whatsoever. Manager Michael Appleton has the potential to be a good manager and will obviously come out of this with credit but he is fighting a losing battle.

Next are a team that have just been promoted to the league and that is Shrewsbury Town who have had an interesting summer with a few key players departing in particular one of their strikers James Collins who may have scored the goals to keep them up. So they will have to hope that Marvin Morgan, Terry Gornell and Ryan Doble can do the business in League 1. They have possibly their toughest fixture of the season first which is Sheffield United away so at least that will be out of the way early.

Walsall have been in League 1 for a number of years now and seem to be one of the clubs that will always finish towards the bottom half of the table but avoid relegation and it could be the same yet again. Their top two scorers from last years, Jon Macken and Alex Nicholls have left the club and they weren’t exactly prolific themselves so it is easy to see where they need improving and hopefully their 1-0 win over Brentford in the Capital One Cup will give them the confidence to go on and compete for a place higher up in the table.

Yeovil are another club that seemed to be struggling at the moment and may have a long season in front of them especially as they have lost their main man from last year, Andy Williams, who scored 16 goals in 35 league games but decided to join league newcomers Swindon Town. They have brought in James Hayter and Reuben Reid who I think can score goals at this level so if they remain solid at the back it will be another season in League 1 for them.

A surprising team that are tipped for relegation are Carlisle United because at times last year they looked good and were playing some decent stuff under Greg Abbott but they are another team that has lost one of their better players in Francois Zoko. They still look like they have a good enough side though and should be considered an outside tip for promotion through the playoffs because they have Frank Simek, Jon-Paul McGovern, Matty Robson and Lee Miller (if he can stay fit).

Four teams get relegated from League 1 so obviously there are more contenders but I see these with the exception of Carlisle to be the ones that struggle the most and are in a relegation battle come the end of the season.

Exeter City are relegated to League 2

Exeter City have been relegated to League 2 but as their manager Paul Tisdale has said it is time to look towards the future and forget about this season.

They were beaten 4-1 by Carlisle United in their previous game and the manager knows it will be tough to return straight to League 1 next season but in Tisdale they have a very good manager who has done remarkably well for the club as they have a really small budget and have competed as well as they could for a number of years now. He has won 120 of his 312 games in charge and has led the club to one of their highest positions ever when they finished the 2010-11 season in 8th place just missing out on the playoffs. But this season is not done yet for them and they have a big say in who gets promoted automatically with them playing Sheffield United at home on the last day of the season so they will want to cause a bit of an upset and let the fans go home happy.

If they keep together the squad they have now they have a good chance of getting promoted next season and in goalkeeper Artur Krysiak they have someone with a lot of potential and at the age of 22 he has played over 100 games which is a good achievement for a goalkeeper. He has produced some good performances this season and could be in contention for goalkeeper of the year next season if he produces the form fans know he is capable of. In defence they have a young defender in Scott Bennett who has also impressed when given the chance this season and can also be an attacking threat with him scoring two goals in limited appearances so far. The fans will be happy to know that he has signed a new contract and will hopefully continue to develop at the club.

Liam Sercombe is a midfielder that has a lot of talent and has played a lot of games for the club already and is he is given the confidence to just go out and play he can be very effective and it could be quite difficult to keep hold of him in the summer as he has scored seven goals in 32 league appearances this year which isn’t bad for a midfielder especially in a struggling side. Also in the midfield they have David Noble who came through the Arsenal youth team so must have had some ability but now at the age of 30 he hasn’t quite lived up to these expectations but could be vital for Exeter next season if he stays.

In attack is where they have struggled this season as their top scorer only has 11 goals and they have come from Daniel Nardiello who like Noble, was a promising player as a youngster but hasn’t been able to do it in the football league consistently enough. He has shown glimpses of talent with some very good movement and some good goals but he has also been booked nine times and sent off once which shows another side to his game. In fairness to him though his strike partners haven’t really been up to it and he will be hoping for more success next season. Richard Logan only has five goals in 28 games but in his defence he has only started 11 of those games and Guillem Bauza only has two goals in 26 games so that just shows how difficult it has been for the club this season.

But looking on the bright side, they have a lot of talented youngsters and if they keep hold of them they should have enough quality to challenge for the playoffs at least next season. The only thing is that Exeter aren’t the richest club and if they get a decent offer for one of their players they will have to accept but it would be good to see them progress and play first team football and help Exeter City get back to League 1.

Charlton Athletic are promoted to the Championship

Charlton Athletic have won promotion to the Championship after beating Carlisle 1-0 and Sheffield Wednesday could only draw away to Colchester United.

It has been a remarkable season for Chris Powell and his team as they currently have 94 points and with three games still remaining will be hoping to finish the season with over 100 points. Manager Chris Powell was already a legend at the club after playing more than 200 games for them and the man with five England caps will be very pleased with his work as a manger so far but knows that it could be a much tougher test next season but will be hoping to replicate the likes of Norwich City and Southampton. This being his first managerial job, it would have been acceptable if they did not gain promotion this season especially when he had to sign 19 players in the summer but the season started brilliantly and he has now won 50.68% of his 73 games in charge.

Looking to the future, can they survive in the Championship with the current squad? I think they definitely can because they are clearly the best team in League 1 and if it wasn’t for a blip in the last few weeks they would have been celebrating a title win earlier than this. They haven’t quite won the title but it most certainly a question of when rather than if. There team has a lot of potential and it has came together quite nicely, in goal they have Ben Hamer who is arguably one of the best in the division and has been vital to the team all season. The defence has a mix of talent and experience but Powell has showed his managerial expertise by giving a few players another chance at this level. One of them being Michael Morrison who has played in every league game this year contributing five goals in the process. Morrison was a player who had a lot of promise when he was at Leicester City but when he moved to Sheffield Wednesday he did not have the best of times and was prone to mistakes which is why it is quite surprising that he has been exceptional for the team this year.

The midfield has a lot of players that will battle for every ball and show a lot of commitment, add this to their undoubted ability and you can understand why Charlton are comfortable leaders. Dale Stephens, Danny Hollands and Danny Green are all good players at this level and in my opinion would not look out of place in a Championship side. But the pick of the bunch is Johnnie Jackson who not only contributes goals from midfield but also delivers some really good balls into the box for strikers to attack. He has had a strange career as he hasn’t really settled anywhere but maybe now he has matured and has show that on the pitch.

When you have that quality in the midfield your strikers are bound to score goals and Bradley Wright-Phillips has done that all season with 22 goals. His pace and power has been too much for some defences this year and if he can replicate his form from this season then it would not surprise me if he was a front runner for top goal scorer next year in the higher division. Another brilliant piece of business by Powell was the signing of Yann Kermorgant who hasn’t really had the best of times in England but the faith Powell showed in him must have given him confidence as he has scored 10 goals in 34 league games.

With a few additions Charlton could be a real force next season and they are a big club so I am glad they are on their way back up. Chris Powell has been their best manager since Alan Curbishley in my opinion and if he can have the same sort of success then he will have a very good career as a manager.