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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Gillingham are promoted to League 1

Gillingham are the first team in England to gain promotion this season and they will now have eyes on the League 2 title.
Gillingham
I expected Gillingham to do well this season, especially with Martin Allen in charge because he is a very good manager in League 2 and has produced many times in the division, particularly in relegation battles with Barnet but he has made the step up. In all competitions he has been in charge of 48 games, winning 25 of them and only losing 10 which is a fantastic record and I believe he should be managing at a higher level anyway.

But onto the team and what has been successful this year is the strike force because even though they haven’t exactly put much pressure on the top scorers in the division they have been very consistent. Danny Kedwell has got 13 league goals in 36 games and Deon Burton has 11 in 38 therefore they have caused defences problems and have each popped up with important goals and whenever the score has been 0-0 you would always expect either of them to produce something. The only problem with Burton is the fact that he is 36 and the big question is whether he will be good enough to compete in League 1, however his experience could be vital.
Deon Burton
Winger Myles Weston is another that has contributed goals to the team and sometimes these goals from wide players are actually more important for the strikers because you expect the wingers to cause problems and if they can add goals then they are worth their weight in gold. 7 goals in 35 games is quite an impressive return. Another player that has got 7 goals from midfield is Chris Whelpdale and since he has joined the club permanently, he is another player that has consistently found the net with 19 goals in 78 league games. Both of these players will be very important in League 1 and if they are to succeed they certainly need to keep up their goal scoring form.

In goal they have Stuart Nelson who I actually rate quite highly and have liked him since his days at Brentford. Unfortunately his career has quite blossomed as well as some hoped but now it seems like he is getting it back on track under Martin Allen. But a defender that has impressed a lot this season is Matt Fish, the 24 year old right back has been very consistent defensively and has also grabbed two goals this season. Defensively I think they are a little light and will need to bring in some more experience but they have only conceded 33 goals in their 43 games so they all know what each other are doing and have been solid all year.
Matt Fish
Do I think they will succeed in League 1? I think they will but only if they improve their home form because even though it does look quite good if they had a similar record to their away form they would have ran away with the league more than they have. They have only lost one game away from home and concede just 14 which is impressive in any division.

Who will be the Championship’s top scorer?

Kevin Doyle may not have scored enough goals to keep Wolves in the Premier League but he will be hoping to fire them back there. The last time he played in the Championship he scored 18 goals in 42 games which is a very good record and if he can replicate that sort of form then he will surely come close to being top goal scorer. In my opinion he owes Wolves as he has only scored 21 goals in 102 games and that has not been good enough and only scoring 4 of them in the league last season is one of the reasons they got relegated.

New Cardiff City signing Heidar Helguson will also be hoping to score a lot of goals in the coming season and at least get them into the playoffs. Helguson is probably slightly frustrated that he is not still in the Premier League as he scored nine times in just 16 games for QPR last season. However, he is 34 now and his best years may be past him and the last time he was in the Championship he only scored 13 goals in 34 games. I think he will be vital to Cardiff this year but will only be an outsider for the Golden Boot trophy.

Jermaine Beckford may have only got nine league goals last year but I think he could get a lot more this season with Leicester possibly pushing for an automatic promotion place. Last season was his first full one in the Championship but he has had a full season in the Premier League so maybe he should have performed slightly better but now he has a good understanding with strike partner David Nugent he could score the same amount of goals he did in League 1.

Huddersfield Town star man Jordan Rhodes has to be a consideration because in my opinion with the way that he plays the game he will score goals at all levels. He has fantastic movement and scores all types of goals which will mean he will be a marked man but if he is given the service he will put away his chances. There are rumours that he could be leaving for Blackburn Rovers and this would only help him to score more goals but even if he stays at Huddersfield I expect him to get over 15 goals.

Finally, Craig Bellamy has to be considered an outsider because he has proved he can score goals in this division in his previous spell on loan at Cardiff City. He will be doing all he can to get his hometown club promoted and what better way to do it than score the most goals in the division. The 33 year old has never reached 20 goals but this could be the year that he does it and he will no doubt prove to be a fantastic signing but if he can add the goals to his game then he will be the signing of the season.

Who will be League 1’s top scorer?

League 1’s race for top scorer could be a very contest as there are some very good strikers in the league this year who can score a lot of different types of goals.

The first player that could do the business this season is a striker that has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders this year and will be vital if the team want to achieve their targets. Chris Porter of Sheffield United has a really big season in front of him. He agreed a new two year deal in the summer so he now knows he has a bit of security and can go out and not worry about his future. He only scored 5 goals last season but one of those was in the playoff semi final against Stevenage so when the pressure is on he can score.

Andy Williams had a fantastic year last year and will be hoping he can perform to the same level for his new club Swindon Town and will be hoping that playing under Paolo Di Canio he can learn a thing or two in the process. He scored a lot of goals for former club Yeovil Town and now playing for a team that has realistic promotion ambitions he will surely get more.

Matt Tubbs had a good start to his career at Bournemouth by scoring on his debut but that was his only goal for the club last year as he struggled with injuries for the remainder of the campaign but there is no doubting his abilities and I am sure he will put away the chances in the coming season. He has proved his worth at every level he has played at so he will be hoping that League 1 is not a step too far and he can carry on his phenomenal goal scoring record.

New MK Dons signing Ryan Lowe will be hoping that he can get a good start to his time at the club and score the goals that finally get them promoted to the Championship. Lowe has been one of the best finishers in the lower leagues for a number of years now and even though he didn’t play as much as he would have liked for Sheffield Wednesday he still managed to get eight league goals. He will get more chances to start at MK Dons so I expect him to at least double that tally.

Dean Bowditch, yet another MK Dons player could also be a contender and that is down to the way they play football. They will create chances and it is down to the strikers to put them away and Bowditch has shown that he can score goals by getting into double figures for the last three consecutive seasons. He got 10 goals last season and you have to believe now he is 26 and more experienced he will be starting to hit his peak and will start getting more and more goals. However, he has played on the wing for them at times and this will lower his chances of scoring on a regular basis.

Why Grant Holt handed in a transfer request?

Grant Holt has had a transfer reject request at Norwich City rejected and it is unclear why he wants to move on.

Grant Holt has scored 70 goals for Norwich

Holt has had a terrific first season in the Premier League and finished with 15 league goals from his 36 games and was linked with a call up to the England squad for Euro 2012. So, I am going to look at the reasons why he potentially wants to leave the club.

The first thing that sprang into my mind when I heard the news was, is he doing this because manager Paul Lambert is leaving? Lambert has been linked with numerous clubs since the end of the season including Aston Villa and Liverpool. If Lambert leaves maybe the new manager will want to play a different style of football and won’t need Holt anymore. This may have been his way of thinking and after all of his hard work to get to the Premier League he will not want it taken away from him by a new manager and by handing in a transfer request teams will look at how well he has done this season and take a chance on him. So, basically this argument is that he wants his Premier League career secure and as he has found out in the past, new managers don’t always like a strong physical striker. Obviously, this may be completely wrong because Lambert hasn’t left and doesn’t look like leaving at the minute, although in football things can change quickly.

The second reason he may want to leave is because he didn’t get called up to the England squad and maybe he feels it’s because he plays for Norwich however some people will point to the fact that John Ruddy was called up. I believe goalkeepers are a lot different to outfield players and there isn’t a lot of options especially when you consider Paul Robinson and Ben Foster do not want to be called up. He may feel that if he had scored 15 goals for a team like Everton or Fulham he may have had more of a chance. But then again this argument is flawed because Darren Bent has continually scored goals for a number of clubs including Tottenham Hotspur and has still been overlooked by England managers when he has been the top English goal scorer. It is obvious looking at the England squad they do look at the best teams but if Holt did move to a team like Everton, he still wouldn’t get a call up even though I personally think he should have went to the Euros.

Finally it may simply just be because he wants a new contract and a lot of players do this sort of thing to make the chairmen and the board hurry up to get round to their contract situation rather than focusing on other things. Now I don’t think Grant Holt has a big ego and is doing it because he thinks he is bigger than the club, irreplaceable and will give into his demands, I think he is simply doing it to get his future sorted as he does have young children and would like to know where he will be in a few years. Every time he has spoke about Norwich it has always been positively so I cannot see him getting annoyed by the fact they rejected his request unless they don’t get round to sorting out his contract in time.

Who will Andrew Johnson play for next season?

Andrew Johnson’s contract is up at the end of the season and it is looking increasingly likely that he will be not be a Fulham player next season.

Johnson has scored 147 goals in his career

Fulham rejected a bid for him in January from QPR which suggested that they wanted him to stay or maybe they just felt that QPR would come in with a better offer if they rejected it. He has played over 100 games for Fulham in all competitions in his four seasons at the club but has only scored 27 goals with a lot of them coming in the Europa League against opponents who Fulham should have beaten anyway especially in the earlier rounds of the competition. His 13 league goals have not been enough although he did suffer a serious injury in his second season at the club which may have hampered his progress. The transfer fee they bought him for was rumoured to be over £10 million and he certainly hasn’t lived up to that price tag.

But could he still do a good job in the Premier League for Fulham or should he be looking elsewhere? In my opinion he has to leave as Fulham have started to play a different way under Martin Jol and I can’t see where he would fit in. Also the form of Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey has made it difficult for him to force his way into the team when he is fit.

So the next question is whether he is still good enough for the Premier League? This is a little harder to answer because he is getting towards the end of his career and he may not quite have the same attributes as he used to but it does also mean he has a lot more experience. He will have to adapt his game slightly as he does not have the pace he used to have, although he should still have his clever movement and will cause teams problems. At Everton, he wasn’t a consistent goal scorer but I thought that he showed enough quality to be a very good Premier League player. However, yet again the goals weren’t exactly flowing and 17 in two seasons in the league was possibly not good enough for the money they paid.

At Crystal Palace he got 21 league goals for a team that eventually got relegated which shows that he must have been a good player seen as though he almost kept them up on his own. This is why I believe one of the promoted teams should take a chance on him as he can score goals from few chances like at Palace and he might just give one of the teams a little bit more experience. Reading would be a good fit in my opinion and would be a slightly different option to Noel Hunt and Jason Roberts. Although he is quite similar to Adam Le Fondre.

I also think he could do well at Wigan as he would fit into their hardworking ethic and Johnson never stops running and works hard for the full 90 minutes and the one thing that is missing from the Wigan side is a clinical and proven goal scorer. Johnson could just be the man to take them from a battling relegation side to a mid table team.