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.

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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 win League 2?

Promotion from League 2 can be difficult as it is one of the more unpredictable leagues and the fact that a lot of teams that are promoted from the Blue Square Premier do really well makes it even more difficult but there are three spots automatically.

The teams that are relegated into League 2 are sometimes inconsistent too and can sometimes become a mid table team and not really make an impact. Experience is vital in this division and the way to win it is by signing players that know what it takes to win matches the hard way.

Rotherham United under former Crawley manager Steve Evans will be the favourites because of the persona of the manager who will do everything for his team to secure the title and obviously knows how to build a squad with his former club getting promoted. They have made some good signings in Ian Sharps who has returned to club and Daniel Nardiello who has at times in his career looked like the player that was good enough to play for Manchester United’s youth team.

Fleetwood Town will be looking to follow in Crawley Town’s footprints by getting two promotions in a row and even though they may be one of the favourites their team may be happy with just challenging for a place in the playoffs seen as though it is their first year in League 2. They have also lots Jamie Vardy who was prolific so they definitely need to find goals from elsewhere.

Chesterfield Town have been relegated back to League 2 and they will be hoping to return to League 1 at the first time of asking but they know this won’t be easy and they will be hoping that young striker Jordan Bowery continues his development and adds to his impressive 12 goals last season. Also they have two very good goalkeepers in Tommy Lee and Richard O’Donnell so if their defence remains tight I think they will get the most clean sheets.

Bristol Rovers didn’t quite perform as well as they would have hoped last season but this year they will be looking to push on and win the league. The loss of Carayol could be massive as he provided a lot to their team and was a constant threat to the opposition but manager Mark McGhee probably made the right decision to let him leave. Matt Harrold, Eliot Richards and Joe Anyinsah will need to play to at least the same level as last year especially Harrold who got 18 goals.

Oxford United should also be considered to be in the mix as they have a very hardworking team and they all seem to want to play for each other which is a very big thing in this division. They may not have that many standout players but they are a good team that have ability and with James Constable and Tom Craddock upfront I expect them to take a lot of their chances this season.

I think it is hard to look past Rotherham United but who knows maybe they won’t quite gel under Steve Evans and not agree with his methods, I can’t see this being the case but if it is then Chesterfield are the team to watch for me.

 

Will Joey Barton leave QPR on loan this summer?

Joey Barton looks set to leave QPR at least on loan this summer after he was given a lengthy ban at the end of last season.

Barton played 26 times last season scoring 3 goals for QPR

There is no doubting Barton’s footballing ability as he can on his day be one of the best box to box midfielders in the country and can be very influential on the pitch so it is not surprising that a lot of clubs would like to have him. The advantage of him going out on loan to a Championship or possibly even lower club is that his ban will run out quicker and will be available to Mark Hughes a lot sooner than if he stayed at the club. But surely teams interested in him would surely want him at least till January and could he make a difference to their team and if QPR were willing to pay his wages for the duration of the loan spell then it could be a win-win situation for everyone involved. Some people will be against him joining their club because of his reputation and the fact that he has been given more than one chance but if he joined your club and played excellently for a long run of games and helped you get promoted would you be complaining then? Opinions in football change very quickly and this could definitely happen with Joey Barton.

So first off, the club that surprisingly looks the most likely to sign him is newly promoted to the Football League Fleetwood Town. He is currently training there and would obviously be a fantastic addition to their squad and would probably help financially as a lot people may buy tickets to watch Barton play. Or possibly watch him implode on the pitch? As much as I would love to see this happening, it is unlikely as I can’t see him dropping down to League 2 but there is always a chance especially if he enjoys the training sessions and gets on with the players and staff.

More realistically though I could see him signing for Blackburn Rovers who have just been relegated to the Championship so they do still have some quality players and will be looking to bounce back on their first attempt. This transfer as alluded to earlier may not sit well with the fans, and Steve Kean doesn’t have the greatest of rapport with them anyway so I would personally advice him not to add fuel to the fire and sign Barton but if he does perform for them, he will win them points and they could be crucial come the end of the season.

Finally, Blackpool are also linked with him and this could be fantastic for both club and player because manager Ian Holloway is known for giving players a new start. Holloway is a brilliant man manager and gets the best out of his players and they seem to overachieve every single season and it just seems like a fun laidback place to play so maybe that would help keep Barton calm. Blackpool play football the right way and the one time England international would certainly fit into their team.