Who will be the top scorer in League 1?

League could have an interesting race for top goal scorer because there are some good players in the division that should be able to hit the back of the net often.

Going straight into it the clear favourite to win the golden boot in the division is Leigh Griffiths. He has come back to Wolves and not only will he have a point to prove he will also be very confident after getting 28 goals in 40 games for Hibernian last season. If he can get that many in the SPL you would think he could at least replicate it in League 1. But he does need the service and hopefully his teammates can support his efforts.

Clayton Donaldson has always been a good goal scorer throughout his career and although he has never quite got enough to be the top man this year could be different. He hit 24 goals in all competitions last year and with Brentford looking like they are going to be contenders again it would not be surprising if he surpassed that mark.

Bristol City striker Sam Baldock may have made some mistakes in choosing who he is going to sign for but he will be a very important player for the Robins. After a fairly poor spell at West Ham United where he suffered from too much competition and injuries he is hoping to find the form he had at MK Dons. In the Championship last season he got 9 in 24 games so he is definitely back in the groove and has remembered where the goal is once more.

Leon Clarke is another player that has made a few mistakes in his career and has not really lived up to his potential but he seems to have found somewhere that he is happy and confident. There may be problems currently at Coventry City but if he can do the business on the pitch then that will make the fans a little happier. At Scunthorpe he got 11 goals in 15 games and then followed that up with 10 goals in 14 games so if he has that goal scoring record over a full season then nobody will be able to stop him.

Another Brentford striker makes the list and it is their new signing Will Grigg. To me he is more of an outsider because looking at his career he has only had one prolific season and in his other years his record is not too great. But he is only 22 and maybe now he has developed and is starting to fulfil his potential. If him and Donaldson can get a good partnership going then it will be a profitable season for both players.

I think that Leigh Griffiths will finish top scorer but I think if Leon Clarke was at a club with a little more security then he would have got very close to him.

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Who will be Wycombe Wanderers next manager?

After losing three games in a row Wycombe Wanderers and only four points from seven games the club have sacked manager Gary Waddock.

Waddock, had been in charge since 2009 and won promotion to League 1in the 2010-11 season, however they only lasted one season at the higher level and were relegated. They were expected to challenge at least for the playoffs this season even though they lost a few key players and Waddock will be disappointed he wasn’t given more time to turn it round. But, the board have decided that a change is needed and there is still an air of negativity around the ground and will hope that a new man will get them back where they believe they belong.

This job will surely interest quite a few out of work managers and this is the route that the club will most likely take because they will not want to pay compensation to another team for a manager. So, let’s look at the options, the favourite for the job is currently Brian Laws, and this may come as a surprise to some people because he has managed in the Premier League recently with Burnley and it will be quite a big drop to League 2. However, he hasn’t had a managerial job since his sacking at the Championship club in 2010 so he does need to find a way back into English football. Another reason why he may be a good choice is because he has won promotion from this division twice before, both times with Scunthorpe United, so he knows exactly what it takes and which players he will need to achieve promotion again.

Another manager linked with the job is former Sheffield Wednesday manager, Gary Megson. Many people believe he was harshly sacked as their manager as the team were performing pretty well and were comfortably in the playoff places, although in the end it did turn out to be a good decision as the team got promoted, he still deserves a lot of credit as he signed a lot of the players. His style of football is usually criticised too as it is very long ball and feeding off the scraps which could be a good thing in League 2 and may work to the teams advantage, however, if Wycombe don’t have the players then the fans will have to accept a transitional period while they get in the right players to play his tactics.

Finally, Paul Ince could be in the running for the job, and it just shows that Wycombe can attract good managers because all three of these have managed in the Premier League at one point. Ince didn’t have the best of times at Blackburn Rovers but he has proved in the lower leagues he can be a success with both Macclesfield Town and MK Dons. His win record of 43.37% is not bad either and if he can replicate this at Wycombe then he would surely get them challenging for the playoffs at least.

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.

Who will win League 1?

Sheffield United unfortunately lost the playoff final last year on penalties against Huddersfield Town and are now facing a second season in League 1. But the team from Yorkshire are the favourites to win promotion and this is a very real possibility as they should really have gone up automatically last year but were just beaten to second place by neighbours Sheffield Wednesday. However, they were beaten yet again on penalties by Burton Albion in the Capital One Cup which will have surely damaged a bit of confidence in the camp. So far they have largely kept the same team as last year so will be very competitive and are rightly the favourites.

 

The nearly men of the division MK Dons will be hoping that this is their year and definitely won’t want to go through playoff heartache again. The play the best football in the league and love to pass the ball and Karl Robinson has to be given a lot of credit for that but at times they do seem to lack another option which cost them at times. The signing of Ryan Lowe could be crucial as he is a very good finisher and even though things didn’t quite go right for him at Sheffield Wednesday, I think he will suit his new clubs style of play.

Newly promoted Swindon Town are also considered one of the leading clubs in the division this year and with Paolo Di Canio in charge anything can happen there as he always demands the best from his players and his methods even though they can be slightly unorthodox seem to be doing the trick. The signing of James Collins and Andy Williams could prove to be a stroke of genius as they were brilliant defensively last year but didn’t have that striker to get 20 goals which they will need to get promoted from this league.

Bournemouth under Paul Groves could be considered contenders because they have a decent squad but I am still slightly surprised that so many teams are backing them because they don’t have a striker that has really scored a lot of goals in League 1 and their top scorer last year was Marc Pugh who got 12 goals. The team maybe didn’t quite live up to their chairman’s expectations last year so he will be wanting to see an improvement this time around.

Relegated Coventry City seem to have the best chance of all the teams that came down from the Championship last year to return at the first time of asking and this is definitely a make or break season for manager Andy Thorn who had to work with a lot of young players last year. Maybe they were always doomed because of this but Thorn definitely needs to put up a challenge if he wants to keep his job. They have signed a few decent players this summer, some with experience in Kevin Kilbane and others that had been tipped for big things like John Fleck so if they can get the right blend then the good times could return.

Who will be the next Birmingham City manager?

Birmingham City are looking for a new manager after Chris Hughton decided to leave for Norwich City and will be hoping the new man can guide them back to the Premier League.

Birmingham City finished fourth under Chris Hughton

First of all Hughton did a fantastic job at Birmingham and should be remembered fondly by their fans as he got them into the group stages of the Europa League and into the playoffs. This is remarkable seen as though they lost a lot of players last summer and he had to rebuild basically a whole new squad. He only lost 15 of his 62 games in charge but unfortunately they could not overcome Blackpool in the playoff semi finals losing 3-2 on aggregate. It was a difficult job when he took over and he has made it a lot easier for the new man so who will it be?

The favourite for the job at the minute is Lee Clark and he is quite similar to Hughton in a way because he would rather see his team pick up a point than try and get all three. This may seem a little bit of a negative tactic and it may be the reason why Clark couldn’t get Huddersfield Town promoted from League 1 but Birmingham do have enough quality in their side to produce some magic at any given time, so it could work out well for them. The only reason why they should be reluctant in giving him the job would be the fact he hasn’t managed in the Championship before.

Paul Ince is also in the running for the job and this does surprise me slightly as he hasn’t had a job since leaving Notts County in April 2011. The managers they are linked with suggests they don’t want to spend much money and are looking to give someone another chance at a good club. Ince, had a terrible time at Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League, winning only six games out of 21 but this experience could have served him well and he may be able to get his career back on track at St Andrews. Personally, I don’t think hiring Paul Ince would be a good choice but he has achieved the board’s ambitions both at Macclesfield Town and MK Dons the first round so maybe he would be a success.

Finally, Alan Curbishley is linked with yet another job and he has been out of football for even longer than Ince so it won’t be easy for him to jump straight back in and challenge for promotion. But if the board are going to give him a few seasons to sort it out, I can see the former Charlton Athletic manager leading them back to the Premier League. After leaving West Ham United in 2008 he wanted to take a break from the game but nobody expected it to be this long and now it could be a huge risk giving him the job because football has changed a lot in the last few years. He did a fantastic job at Charlton for a very long time and a very underrated job in my opinion at West Ham United so why not give him another chance.

I do want to see Curbishley get another job and Birmingham could be a good fit for him as the fans are always very realistic and over the last few years have been very patient so he could be given the time to succeed and do well. I’m not sure what the target is for the coming season but I think it would be a little silly for the board to be expecting as much success next year.

Who will be Gillingham’s next manager?

Andy Hessenthaler has agreed to join the board of directors after stepping down from his post as manager of Gillingham.

Gillingham picked up 70 points from their 46 games

One of his first tasks will be to find a manager to lead the club back into League 1 which he unfortunately failed to do. They only finished one place and two points off the playoffs but this was deemed a failure because the club were expecting to get promoted this season. But if they can keep hold of most of their players they do have a squad good enough to achieve their ambitions in particular I think if Danny Kedwell stays then he can score a lot of goals and win them a lot of games.

So choosing a new manager with similar ambitions is vital and the favourite for the job is Martin Allen who will get the respect of the players and is arguably too good to be a manager in League 2 anyway but that is where he finds himself as he is currently the manager of Barnet where he is in is third spell. He kept them up this season with an impressive two wins out of three and as his past shows he doesn’t mind leaving clubs, especially Barnet, after only a few games. In his second spell as manager he was only in charge for three games. In my opinion he would be a good choice as all through his career he has won a lot of games and makes his teams difficult to beat. However, a word of caution would be that if a better opportunity comes up he will leave, no matter what position his club are in.

The man who Allen replaced at Barnet is also linked with the role. Lawrie Sanchez, the former Northern Ireland manager has had an interesting managerial career and I think he believes he is a lot better than what he actually is. Yes he did well with Northern Ireland and achieved a lot when there were such low expectations on the team but looking at the rest of his career, he has been average at best. At Fulham, he only won four of his 24 games in charge. At Barnet he probably was going to keep them up anyway and was harshly sacked by the board but they struggled all season and you can defend him and maybe say he didn’t have the players or the funds but only winning 15 of his games out of 53 is not good enough. So why should he get given the job of a team that is going for promotion?

Finally, Paul Ince should be in with a shout for the job because even though his career got damaged slightly by his time at Blackburn Rovers, he has achieved some good things in the lower leagues and maybe tried to go to the Premier League too quickly. He saved Macclesfield Town from relegation after they looked dead and buried winning 14 of his 35 games in charge. It was a remarkable effort and shows that he can do a good job in League 2. Add this to the fact that he won League 2 with MK Dons and I think Ince deserves another shot at League 2 and could bring glory to Gillingham. After Blackburn, his second spell at MK Dons and Notts County were solid but not very spectacular and he was doing a good job for both in my opinion.

I would like to see Paul Ince get the job and hopefully get Gillingham promoted because the club deserve to be in a higher division and he deserves to manage at a higher division so it could be a match made in heaven.

Who will be Hull City’s next manager?

Hull City are looking for a new manager after controversially sacking Nick Barmby after comments he allegedly made about the club’s finances.

The Tigers only finished seven points off the playoffs

This came as a real shock to me and probably a lot of Hull City fans after they were challenging for a place in the playoffs towards the end of last season and finished in 8th place. It looked as though Barmby would be the man to lead them back to the Premier League and wanted to strengthen his squad in the summer but obviously what he said annoyed the board and they must have thought that he was trying to bully them into giving him more funds to bring in transfer targets. Barmby had won 13 of his 33 games in charge and if he had been allowed to continue, I think he would have improved this record even more and they would have been in with a shout of the playoffs next season but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.

So now it is time to look to the future and who they will replace him with. The favourite at the moment is Lee Clark who would be a good choice in my opinion because of his good work at Huddersfield Town. However, he couldn’t get them promoted from League 1 and was sacked. It was a strange decision to sack him but if they can get promoted this year, it will show it was the right thing to do. Back to Clark, and I think he will make Hull into a good passing side and also make them difficult to beat as his record shows, only losing 40 of his 178 matches in his managerial career so far.

Another name that I think should be linked with the job is Billy Davies, who has proved time and time again that on a small budget he can get teams challenging at the top of the playoffs. He can do the job in the Championship and because he doesn’t have a club and has been out of football for a little while now, he may be tempted by Hull. A stumbling block could be the finances as he had a lot of disputes with the board at Nottingham Forest about transfers and other things and if the board at Hull couldn’t please Nick Barmby, they will struggle to please someone like Davies.

Finally, the last name that has been mentioned is Karl Robinson of MK Dons who looks like a very impressive young manager and deserves a chance at a higher level but unfortunately for him he hasn’t managed to win promotion with his current side. One reason for this is the fact that he doesn’t seem to have a plan B, if his passing game isn’t working then he doesn’t know what to do at all. He works on a small budget and gets a lot out of those players and can be quite clever in the loan market so these things make him a good candidate for the job. With him only being 31 he has a lot of potential to become a great manager in years to come and could use Hull as a stepping stone to the Premier League either by taking them there or doing a good enough job to get offered a job by a Premier League side.

I think Billy Davies should get the job, he has had a very good career so far in management and will want to get back into football sooner rather than later. I think he would be very successful and would continue the job Barmby had started and improve the club. It is a tough choice to make for the board but it is a job that will take a lot of people’s interests because of how high up the league they finished.

Who will win the League 1 playoffs?

League 1 playoffs could be the most exciting they have been in a number of years as I cannot see an outsider out of Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, MK Dons and Stevenage.

Sheffield United will play away to Stevenage in the first leg while Huddersfield travel to MK Dons. So will the club from Sheffield be able to get their season back on track after losing out to Sheffield rivals Wednesday in the race for the automatic spots. Or will Stevenage continue their good form under Gary Smith? Can Huddersfield go one better than last year and win in the playoff final? Or will MK Dons passing style be good enough to get them into the Championship.

Sheffield United finished in third place an therefore you would think that they would be favourites but with everything that has gone in recent weeks will get their fans worried and they may not be as confident as they should be. With them running out of strikers with James Beattie the latest to get sent off they may struggle to get the goals needed to win the semi final and then the final. But they do have experience in their squad and should be able to deal with the pressure, the fans will also play an important part as Bramall Lane can be a difficult place to go when the fans are fully behind the team. A key player to watch is Lee Williamson who can get goals from the midfield and will cause problems for the Stevenage defence, he has scored 13 goals this season which is a good return for a midfielder and is the top scorer in the squad currently.

Huddersfield Town now with Simon Grayson in charge have been slightly inconsistent since he took over from Lee Clark but he has managed to guide them to the playoffs. He does have history of being in the League 1 playoffs and has won it on one occasion with Blackpool in the 2006-07 season but unfortunately has lost a playoff when in charge of Leeds United.  So the key player for Huddersfield in my opinion will no doubt be Jordan Rhodes who has got 38 goals this season and if they can keep him fit for the playoffs they will score goals but one worry is that there will be too much pressure on him and he may not be able to perform as well as we all know he can.

MK Dons go into the playoffs on the back of a 1-0 home defeat but this shouldn’t make them feel any less confident as they were already comfortably in the playoffs. Karl Robinson deserves a lot of praise for what he has done at the club and has made his team play good football. He likes his side to keep possession and no matter what happens he wants his team to keep the ball on the floor which is very rare in League 1. A key player could be Dean Lewington and although this may strange because he is a left back, he can be very influential and has played 53 games and added four goals this season. He has a good left foot and is a very solid defender for the club.

Stevenage secured their place in the playoffs on the last day of the season with a 3-0 win over Bury. The club may have been criticised by some fans because of their direct tactics but they are only getting criticised because it is working for them and it is very difficult to stop. The recent 2-2 draw away to Sheffield United will give them confidence to go there and take the game to the Blades and they have a very good home record so they have a really good chance. Also beating off the competition to secure their place in the playoffs will give their players a massive lift. Scott Laird will be vital for the team during the playoffs and he is actually the second top scorer for the club with nine goals this season. He has very good delivery and sets up a lot of goals for his teammates.

I think Stevenage will beat Sheffield United over the two legs because they will be very confident and it will be hard for Danny Wilson to pick up his players for the two games and Stevenage will put a lot of pressure on their defence. If United ‘s defence can stay strong they may have a chance but I don’t think they will. In the other semi final, I think MK Dons passing game will be good enough to beat Huddersfield as they are too over reliant on Jordan Rhodes at times and if he struggles they will most likely lose. The final will be a game of two differing styles of football and I think because of that Stevenage will come out on top and achieve their third promotion in three seasons.

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.