Who will be the top goalscorer in League 2?

Finishing top scorer in any division would be a very good achievement and for the players in League 2 their goals could get their team promoted.

It is always difficult to predict who is going to finish top scorer because it is impossible to predict what injuries will occur and whether players will be able to maintain their form for a whole season but it can always be fun to try and choose.

The first player that caught my eye is the Portsmouth striker David Connolly because he has a lot of experience and knows where the back of the net is. I think Portsmouth will be the team to beat in League 2 and he will get a lot of chances to score so as long as he manages to be first choice then he will definitely be a contender. Seven goals in 17 games was not a bad return for the 36 year old in the league above so he should be confident this season.
David Connolly
Fellow Portsmouth striker Tom Craddock may also be in the running for exactly the same reasons. Portsmouth are expected to challenge and this is because they have a talented strike force and will cause everyone in the division problems. At Oxford United he had a pretty good record although not as prolific as he would have liked he still showed his potential and 10 in 32 league games last year is not a bad return but I am expecting a lot better this season.
Tom Craddock
Deon Burton is another experienced striker that knows where the back of the net is and he will probably feel a little disappointed that he is not playing in League 1 next season because he helped Gillingham to promotion by scoring 11 times in 37 games. Burton has nearly 150 career goals and I am certain he will surpass that mark comfortably next season as he has had success before under manager Brian Laws.
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Chesterfield’s new signing Eoin Doyle will be hoping to make a positive impression in England after signing from Hibernian in the summer. I haven’t actually seen Doyle play that much but he did reach double figures in the SPL last season in a team that struggled for long periods so he obviously can be a threat to League 2 defences. His time at Sligo Rovers was successful and if he can get close to his tally of 25 in his last season at the club then he will be near the top of the scoring charts.
Eoin Doyle
My final choice is yet another older professional but I just think experience could be more vital than ever in the Football League this season. Jamie Cureton is a goal scorer and has proved it time and time again throughout his career and had another phenomenal season last year with Exeter City and I think he will do even better at Cheltenham Town with them being one of the most consistent teams in the division. They will be a good shout for the playoffs and if Cureton is on form then they could even finish in the top three this year.
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I think Jamie Cureton will finish as top scorer this year with Tom Craddock not too far behind.

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Who will win League 2?

League 2 is getting underway soon and it is a good time to look at who is going to win the league as it should be a very competitive division.

It is always a strange league because sometimes teams that have come straight from the Blue Square Premier League can carry on their form and go straight up again and quite often teams that get relegated into struggle initially.

The favourites to win the league are Portsmouth and it is obvious why. They are building a good squad and for the first time in a long while they have sorted themselves out off the field and the fans are very happy resulting in more season tickets being sold. They are bringing in the right sort of players that will get them out of the division at the first time of asking and I believe Simon Ferry could be the best player in the league next season. It is the striking department that really impresses me with Patrick Agyemang and Tom Craddock able to score goals at this level.
Portsmouth
Fleetwood Town are another team that I think will challenge and I think will get at least the playoffs this season and they have invested wisely in their squad this summer. Defenders like Ryan Cresswell and Mark Roberts will certainly make them stronger at the back and I really like the signing of Steven Schumacher as he proved last season that he can score goals at a higher level and will be a threat running from deeper positions. The only worry I do have about them is that manager Graham Alexander does have limited experience as a manager but he more than makes up for it when looking at his playing career.
Fleetwood
Another team that I think could have a great season is Chesterfield because they do have a lot of potential in their squad and although they have lost their regular scorer over the years Jack Lester they should still have enough quality upfront to compete. Once again they have made some good signings, particularly in midfield with Jimmy Ryan coming in as well as the experienced Ritchie Humphreys and the winger Gary Roberts. They will have to hope that new striker Eoin Doyle recaptures his form from his Sligo Rovers days when he was managed by current Chesterfield manager Paul Cook.
Chesterfield
Bristol Rovers should not be overlooked this season as they finished last year very well under John Ward and will hoping to continue that kind of form in the early part of the new season. They haven’t changed the squad too much this summer and that could work in their advantage as the players will all be familiar with each other and with the addition of John-Joe O’Toole they have a player that should be at least in a League 1 midfield. Ward is a decent manager and it would not surprise me at all if they lifted the League 2 title at the end of the season.
Bristol rovers
The final pick is Scunthorpe United. They got relegated from League 1 last season and that would have hurt manager Brian Laws and he will be hoping to get the club promoted at the first time of asking. Laws has turned to players that he trusts and thinks will do well in this league. Deon Burton, Sean McCallister and Etienne Esajas all played for him at Sheffield Wednesday. Other players that he has signed have experience at a higher level and Chris Iwelumo could turn out to be a good goal scorer in this league. Andy Dawson also has Premier League experience and has a number of promotions under his belt so that will be vital.
Scunthorpe
I can’t look past Portsmouth but I think Scunthorpe will run them close.

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.

Rochdale are relegated to League 2

Rochdale have been relegated to League 2 after being beaten by relegation rivals Chesterfield despite both managers admitting that Rochdale were the better side.

Rochdale are 24th in League 1 with only 38 points

Already club chairman Chris Dunphy is counting the costs of being unable to survive in League 1 and this could show in the sort of team they have next season and whether they will be able to compete to win promotion at the first time of asking. John Coleman will have a tough job on his hands and will need to use all of his experience if he wants to succeed at Spotland now. He replaced former manager Steve Eyre who didn’t have the greatest of times and was sacked in December when the club were 22nd in the table so it was always going to be tough for the former Accrington Stanley manager to keep them up. Even though Coleman has won only four of his 17 games in charge I hope he is given the chance to do well because he had a good record at Accrington and won 40.20% of his games so if he is able to get a decent squad together it wouldn’t surprise me if they were one of the best teams in the league.

Looking at their current squad and who could possibly stay, are they good enough? I think there midfield is where they are at their best as they have club captain Gary Jones who they hope will stay not only because of his experience but also because of his all round ability. He can score goals from midfield with him hitting over 50 for the club but maybe this is why they have struggled slightly this year because he only has six and his goals were a big reason why they performed so well last season. Nicky Adams is another that I think they need to keep because he is a very hard worker and never lets the team down although he has been criticised at times this year from some fans and maybe this has been slightly harsh.

Ashley Grimes is another very good player who started the season very well and looked like a natural finisher who would score a lot of goals this year. He has scored eight goals in 36 league games which isn’t terrible especially for a team that are struggling but maybe he would have been expecting a few more. However, I believe if he is played up front next year he will finish as the League 2 top scorer. Another striker they have is Jean Louis Akpa Akpro who must delight and infuriate fans so much because he can produce some moments of real quality and then make a wrong decision or play a poor final ball. However, he is another that I think will score goals in League 2.

Rochdale in my opinion should be able to bounce straight back as long as they don’t suffer too much financially and keep faith with their manager and their squad. They certainly have goals in the team so maybe they just need to improve their defence slightly as they have conceded 77 goals this season.

Sheffield Wednesday’s new manager Dave Jones

Dave Jones has been given the Sheffield Wednesday job after the club decided to sack their manager Gary Megson.

It was an interesting decision it itself to sack Megson who had just led his team to victory against Sheffield United, however club chairman Milan Mandaric had already decided to sack the manager after his team got beat away to Chesterfield. He said he did not want to ruin the Sheffield United game for the supporters and this is why he kept Megson in charge for it. So, at least he allowed Megson, the Wednesday fan himself, enjoy a victory over their biggest rivals which must be a moment he will never forget especially as more than 36,000 were at the game.

But, football moves on quickly so let’s have a look at Dave Jones, he has always been a respected manager and has always got his teams to play good football. He was most recently at Cardiff City where he was sacked because he failed to get them promoted. This might seem a bit harsh as they finished in the playoffs the year he got sacked but they failed to get promoted and it probably hurt that little bit more that Swansea did. He was very well received by the Cardiff fans and he had a good win percentage of nearly 42% at the club and did get them to an FA Cup final which is a very good achievement for a Championship side.

He did achieve promotion to the Premier League with Wolves and the Wednesday fans will be happy with this as they beat Sheffield United 3-0 in the playoff final. Jones, was however also sacked from this job after having an appalling season in the Premier League followed by just four wins from 15 games on their return to the Championship. He knows what it is liked to get sacked and with Mandaric in charge, who likes to sack managers, this will probably only end in one way. The Owls will only hope that this happens when the club are at least in the Championship and he has taken them as far as they can go.

The new man at Hillsborough needs to hit the ground running and get some victories under his belt as the fans may not take to him as quickly as they had done to Megson. Yes, Megson did play a long ball game but this was expected as all his teams have played that way and now it might be difficult for the players to get out of this mindset. But, Jones encourages passing football and it won’t happen overnight but when it does click all of his teams have played fluent attacking football and have been one of the most entertaining teams in the league. However, looking over his track record it hasn’t always brought success and this may be a bit worrying. Wednesday should finish in the playoffs but when a new manager comes in, the players step it up to impress and if they string a very good set of results together they could still end up in the top two.

Do Sheffield Wednesday have the bottle to get promoted from League 1

Sheffield Wednesday are in danger of throwing away all of their good work throughout the season after suffering three defeats in a row against Exeter, Stevenage and now Chesterfield.

The game against Chesterfield was supposed to be a warm up to the big derby game against Sheffield United next week but with their recent results this could possibly be the worst upcoming fixture which is surprising as a few weeks ago the fans were all hoping the game would come quicker, this just shows how quickly football changes.

So, it’s down to the players and Gary Megson to prove they have the bottle in one of the biggest ever games to be played in the third tier of English football. This will not be easy but it could galvanise the team and a win could catapult them up the table and on a long unbeaten run so the fans need to get behind the team even though I can imagine a few of them are wishing they never purchased tickets for the game now. Another worry for Wednesday is that Jermaine Johnson had to go off in the first half against Chesterfield and he looks to be the only player that can produce a moment of magic.

Why have the Owls struggled recently, is it because of the manager and the way he wants to play? Or is it because Megson doesn’t know his strongest team?  Is it because of the players?

It’s obvious Megson doesn’t know his strongest team with him changing his line up regularly in recent weeks, most notably at centre back with him being unsure whether to partner Danny Baath next to Rob Jones or Miguel Llera and with this uncertainty in a very key area of the pitch it is no surprise that the team have started looking more shaky than usual at the back. Another position he is unsure of is equally important and that is upfront. Gary Madine looks out of sorts since coming back from injury, Ryan Lowe has not hit the heights expected and looks like he is lacking a bit of confidence. Then you have Chris O’Grady who will work hard but the goals have never flowed for him and Clinton Morrison who still on his day can produce some magic but this has been far too infrequent for the fans.

He has problems in all departments, even goalkeeper where he has to choose between Stephen Bywater and Nicky Weaver and I know competition is good but sometimes you just need to have a number one so the keeper knows the manager has 100% confidence in him. The midfield is a real worry, David Prutton has been put on the right wing and will not influence the game from that position and will not add any threat from the wing. Mike Jones signed from Bury in January but he has hardly had a kick and it seems that if Megson wanted him then he would have been well down the list he gave to the chairman to replace Ben Marshall.

So do Wednesday have the bottle to get out of this division this season. We will certainly find out against United in front of a packed stadium.

Praise for Sheffield Wednesday fans

The support of Sheffield Wednesday has never been in doubt but the Owls have probably even surpassed their own expectations by selling out a game in League 1. Yes it is the Steel City Derby but this is still an astonishing achievement as teams in the Championship and Premier League will be looking at Hillsborough in envy when the two sides take to the field, only wishing they had the same passionate support as the blue and white half of Sheffield.

What makes it even more remarkable is that the game has been sold out a whole month before the fixture is going to be played. League1 will never have seen a fixture like this and will probably never see it again. 12,500 seats were sold within three days of going on general sale which means that the fans know the importance of this game because it is not only a local derby but the two teams are currently level on points in the league and pushing for an automatic promotion place.

This is most certainly the most anticipated derby for a long time as both sides know that it could determine which division they are playing in next season. However, Wednesday need to make sure they keep up their good run at home as lately they have been beaten by Charlton and let a lead slip against Hartlepool, but other than these results their home form has been close to impeccable. Gary Megson though needs to keep his players minds focused because they have some crucial games coming up including games against promotion rivals MK Dons and Stevenage. Also they have a game against Chesterfield scheduled for the week before the big derby which will be their opponents biggest game of the season and therefore they will be up for it.

The January transfer window will be closed by the time the game comes around and the players that are brought in and sold could be vital in which team wins the game. With plenty of Blades players linked away from the club, such as Ched Evans and Stephen Quinn, the team could be substantially weakened for the rest of the season not just for the game against Wednesday.

Wednesday also seem to be linked with a few players and could be in need of a more creative midfielder with the latest being Ferrie Bodde. Who was very influential in getting Swansea promoted from this division but has suffered horribly with injuries in the last couple of years. The long running transfer saga of Ben Marshall needs to be sorted too as they either need to sign him or bring in someone to replace him as they look short on the wings. However, fortunately for the Owls it seems that Jermaine Johnson is beginning to find the kind of form which will frighten the life out of the Sheffield United defenders. With two wonder goals against Hartlepool and Scunthorpe he could be seen by many as the important player in the match. As all Wednesday fans know he can be infuriating with his sometimes poor final ball but they also know that he is one of the few players at the club to get them off their seat and when he gets the ball against United there is always an expectancy from the fans. Which could be crucial when the stadium is full and if Johnsons is flying the crowd will be too.

So back to the fans, this is a tremendous effort for a team that has struggled over recent years but the fans have stuck by the club and continue to support in huge numbers which makes Sheffield Wednesday still one of the biggest clubs in England. The players need to realise how lucky they are to play in front of this magnificent crowd and it is time for them to deliver.