Who will win League 1?

League 1 ended in spectacular fashion last year and hopefully this year will have an equal amount of excitement.

There are once again some very big teams in the division and it is tough to call as they do not always adjust to the league as quickly as they should. Sometimes it is the littler teams that triumph and end up in the promotion picture, just look at Yeovil Town last year, who would have bet on them at the start of the season.

Wolves are the clear favourites to win the title and they should challenge because they have suffered two consecutive relegations and still actually have some Premier League players in their squad. I like new manager Kenny Jackett he has come in and it seems like he got rid of the negative vibes around the club and will be successful. So far he has not had the opportunity to sign many players but Sam Ricketts at the back could be crucial and the returning Leigh Griffiths will surely score a lot of goals.

Another relegated team are also one of the favourites and this one is not surprising as Peterborough United have been in this situation before and returned to the Championship swiftly. However it has not been as champions so it makes me think that second place or the playoffs may be their best bet. They haven’t signed many players either but they were very unfortunate to get relegated on the final day so why change anything? Dwight Gayle has left for Crystal Palace and they will need to replace his goals.

Brentford were probably the most unlucky team in League 1 last season and in all honesty should already be in the Championship so it is no surprise to see them as one of the favourites. Manager Uwe Rosler really wants promotion this season and the players he has brought in should help them achieve that. Loan signing Ben Nugent should be good enough for League 1 and striker Will Grigg showed that he knows where the back of the net is for Walsall last season. I also think the signing of experienced player Alan McCormack is very good and he may not get the headlines but is always reliable.

The final relegated team Bristol City cannot be discarded either though because Sean O’Driscoll is a great manager and he should never have to drop down to League 1 to have a job in my eyes. He should still be manager of Nottingham Forest really. But he is at City and he has a tough job, he lost two of his best strikers In Jon Stead and Steve Davies and will be hoping that some of his signings can step up like Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Marlon Harewood. I also think that Marlon Pack and Scott Wagstaff are great signings and they will be brilliant under O’Driscoll who likes to play football the right way.

The final pick is Sheffield United but I am a little unsure about them as their new manager David Weir has no experience of being a league manager and they really needed someone that knew the league and how to get out of it in my opinion. But saying that they still do have a great chance of winning the league as they have not lost anyone from last season’s squad that should be in their starting 11 and bringing in players like Febian Brandy and Stephen McGinn are positive moves. Weir will also have a lot of contacts so they may use the loan market very well this year.

It is tough to back against Wolves but I just feel that it could be Bristol City that take the title.

Advertisements

Bristol City in League 1

Bristol City will be playing in League 1 next season after finishing bottom of the Championship and not even coming close to staying up.
Bristol City
Sean O’Driscoll was in charge for 20 games and although he lost 11 of them, he should not get much of the blame because they just simply were not good enough last season and they have been struggling for a number of years at the wrong end of the table so maybe it was time they got relegated. O’Driscoll has got one promotion from League 1 in his career with Doncaster Rovers and is a manager that I feel should be in the Championship so it will not surprise me if they return at the first time of asking. They have lost a few players that would have been good in League 1 and the club will feel they did not get the best out of some of these players like Jon Stead, who only scored five goals in 30 games last season. Cole Skuse is another that has left and he will be missed because he has a lot of experience and played over 300 games for the club. Another loss will be Tom Heaton who conceded a lot of goals but was still impressive.

O’Driscoll has moved quickly to bring in former Derby County and England Under 21 goalkeeper Frank Fielding to the club. This is a good signing and he will certainly be one of the best keepers in League 1 and I am surprised that he was not snapped up by a Championship team. Another new signing that will be vital is Aden Flint. Flint has been an important part of Swindon Town’s team in the last few years and is someone that they did not want to let go. Central defender Louis Carey who is closing in on Bristol City’s all time appearance record will need to be a rock at the back if they are to be successful.

Flint has played 128 career games

Flint has played 128 career games


Albert Adomah will probably leave the club in the near future so they will miss his pace and creativity but that is not to say they don’t still have some good midfielders. Marvin Elliott will be a very good player in League 1 and Paul Anderson is someone that at Nottingham Forest was an exciting player to watch when he got on the pitch and will need to produce a lot more quality next season.
Anderson played four time for England under 19s

Anderson played four times for England under 19s


Upfront they have Sam Baldock who last time he was in League 1 looked fantastic and earned himself a move to West Ham United. That move didn’t quite work out for him but he still managed five goals in 22 games which doesn’t seem great but he did have limited playing time and was never really given a fair chance. His strike partner will most likely be Steven Davies who scored 13 goals last season and will be expecting to get more next season in a lower division. They also have Ryan Taylor and his time at Bristol City has not been the greatest so far and will want to make up for his slow start next season.
Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

Baldock has scored over 50 career league goals

Who will win the Championship playoffs?

The Championship had one of the best ever endings to a season with nobody knowing who will be in the playoffs until the last whistle.

Watford, Brighton, Crystal Palace and Leicester City will be hoping to win the playoffs and gain a place in the Premier League alongside Cardiff City and Hull City. Bolton Wanderers missed out on the playoffs by goal difference and Nottingham Forest only missed out on the last day after losing to Leicester. For me this is one of the most difficult to predict simply because of how close it all was at the end of the season.

Watford finished third and have been one of the most entertaining teams this season but they had such a disappointing end to the final game. They lost 2-1 to Leeds United but in their defence they conceded a late goal from a counter attack. If only they had managed to score a goal they would have actually finished second and gained automatic promotion. Troy Deeney got a red card in that game and so that means there will be more pressure on top goal scorer Matej Vydra. But, he isn’t in the greatest of form himself. Watford have been criticised this season because of all their loan signings but Gianfranco Zola deserves more credit for getting them to perform.

Brighton finished fourth and are going into the playoffs in the best form and with their experience they may be the team to go up. Wayne Bridge and Matthew Upson at the back shows they have a lot of quality and experience and they have been a large part of their rise to towards the top of the league. In midfield they have a lot of young and talented players like Liam Bridcutt , Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua Lua that probably deserve a chance to show their talents in the Premier League. Even though their top scorer only has 11 goals they still have good strikers with the efforts and determination of Craig Mackail-Smith and Jose Ulloa who has had an impressive start to his Brighton career, scoring 9 in 17 league games.

Crystal Palace under Ian Holloway have been very hit and miss and they need to find some form and quickly. Their win over Peterborough on the last day of the season could be crucial as it showed that they can come from behind to win games and still have a lot of quality in their team. Glenn Murray, the top scorer in the Championship scored one of the goals and Kevin Phillips got another so they have players that can score at anytime in a game. Their defence is a little bit of a worry but in midfield they have a lot of talented players like Wilifried Zaha and Jonathan Williams.

Leicester were the last team to qualify for the playoffs and I was really surprised that they got in there because they had to beat Nottingham Forest away and hope Bolton didn’t win. So this could push the team on because they will be very confident and maybe seen as outsiders. They have a lot of talent in their team and this could be Nigel Pearson’s last chance to get promotion with Leicester so there could be extra motivation for the players.

However, I do think Watford will beat Leicester and Brighton will beat Crystal Palace in the semi finals and then it will be a very exciting final. Then I am going to go for Brighton to win the playoffs and compete in the Premier League next season.

Who will be Swindon Town’s next manager?

Swindon Town may be top of League 1 after beating Tranmere Rovers but they are in search of a new manager.
Paolo Di Canio left the club after new owners were not in place before a deadline. It is such a strange time for him to leave as the club are doing well under him and could have secured back to back promotions however Di Canio had not been happy for quite a while and the sale of Matt Ritchie to Bournemouth was hard to take. It was surprising when he decided to join the club as manager as I thought he would have been able to get a job higher up the football pyramid simply because he is well known. I respect the fact that he wanted to make his name down the leagues and be known as a good manager but his decision to leave does still seem to suggest that his ego is quite big and wants everyone to know that he is the boss and is getting things his way. With a record of 54 wins in 94 games you could argue that he has proved himself and I am sure a few Championship clubs will be interested in him. But onto Swindon and who will be the next manager?

The current favourite for the job is Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. I think this would be a strange decision, it may have worked for them last time going for a big name with no experience as a manager but can it work twice in a row? The former Chelsea striker has had a spell as a coach at Nottingham Forest so he will have learned something from manager Sean O’Driscoll but maybe not enough to lead a club battling for promotion. However, there would be slightly less pressure on him and he would get time.

Second favourite and yet again a little surprising is Paul Buckle. He has managed in the Football League before but he has been a little hit and miss. At Torquay United he was very highly rated but when he went to Bristol Rovers, a team that should have been challenging for promotion he wasn’t so successful. He has just recently left Luton Town because of personal reasons that haven’t been disclosed yet and maybe he could become the new Swindon manager and be a success but I don’t think it would be a great appointment.

Finally, Kevin Blackwell has been linked with the job and this at least seems like someone that has experience and could be a good appointment. But yet again, he is currently at Bury and has only won 6 of his 29 games in charge there. Obviously he would have a better squad at Swindon and in the past he has done quite well at both Leeds United and Sheffield United. I am not sure what the fans would make of this because he certainly won’t be as passionate as Paolo Di Canio but maybe he will bring a cooler head to their promotion charge.

Others that have been linked with the job are Mike Newell, Chris Wilder and Dave Hockaday.

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Nottingham Forest are searching for a new manager after sacking Sean O’Driscoll who had just led his team to a 4-2 victory over Leeds UnitedForest

O’Driscoll, joined the club in strange circumstances after earlier in the summer being appointed Crawley Town manager, however he never managed the team in a competitive fixture and left for Forest. He was given just 26 games in charge and only lost seven of those games, so his record was not that bad and there was a very realistic chance of the club getting promoted this season with the former Doncaster Rovers manager in charge. The team are currently 8th in the table and only one point outside the playoffs and with a crucial game against promotion rivals Crystal Palace next it is a very strange time to sack their manager. If they win the game then they will only be four points behind their opponents so it is actually unbelievable that the manager has gone, but the players need to move on and try and get promotion under the new manager, and there certainly will be some high profile names linked with the job and the former champions of Europe will be looking to appoint a well known name.

The clear favourite for the job is Alex McLeish and it will be interesting to see what the fans think of this decision because he has had an indifferent time as a manager in England. Under his guidance, Birmingham City were relegated twice but he also led them to a ninth place finish in the Premier League and a Carling Cup, as well as a promotion from the Championship. But, his time at Aston Villa was a disaster and he was hated by most of their fans for his negative style of football. However, I do not think he was ever given the chance to succeed at Villa Park.

Al McLeish

The next manager linked with the job is the recently sacked Chelsea manager Robert Di Matteo. If they could convince him to join the club then it would be fantastic for them as he lifted the Champions League trophy last season. For him, personally it may not be exactly what he is looking for, but he will surely be given money to do what he wants, rather than getting players bought for him which seemed to happen at his former club. I honestly can’t see this happening but there have been stranger things happen in football.

Roberto di Matteo

Finally, Roy Keane has been linked with the job and he also has experience of winning promotion from the Championship with Sunderland, so he knows the league and what is needed to succeed. However, his time at Ipswich Town was not so successful and he did not achieve his own expectations and they struggled for long periods under his management. He played 123 times for Forest and scored 22 goals so he knows exactly what the fans expect and will want to be the one that gets them back into the Premier League.

PKT5111-369467FOOTBALLER - ROY KEANE1992Roy Keane - Nottingham Forest FC.

 

Who will be relegated from the Championship?

A lot of big teams have been relegated from the Championship over the years including Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Southampton so nobody is safe really and anything could happen. Last year we saw Coventry City, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers were unable to stay up so who will it be this year?

Barnsley struggled in the second half of last season especially after the departure of Ricardo Vaz Te who was their talisman and top scorer so it is easy to see why they are one of the favourites for the drop. Losing Jacob Butterfield will also be a blow and they will need their experienced players to perform well if they are to stay up. One of their main signings of the summer Mido has also been injured and he is unpredictable anyway so they may to rely on the goals from Marlon Harewood and Craig Davies to keep them up.

Peterborough United did ok last year and manager Darren Ferguson will want them to push on however I see this as a season of struggle for them. They did ease past Southend United in the Capital One Cup beating them 4-0 so that will give them confidence but I think they may have took a little risk this year especially in the goalkeeping department as they have signed Robert Olejnik who was one of the best keepers in League 2 last year but he may struggle to step up and with their defence also not being the best it could be their downfall this year.

Another team that struggled for large periods of the season were Bristol City and they were defeated by Gillingham in the Capital One Cup so optimism can’t be high among supporters at the minute. They also lost one of their main strikers when Nicky Maynard decided to leave which leaves them with only three out and out strikers in Jon Stead, Brett Pitman and Ryan Taylor and none of these have ever been considered prolific. They do however have strength on the wings in Paul Anderson and Albert Adomah so if they can get these playing to the best of their ability then they do have a good chance of staying up.

Dougie Freedman in my opinion overachieved at Crystal Palace last year and I think it will be very difficult for them to achieve what they did last season and finish as high up the table and 21st place could be seen as an achievement this year. They have so far kept hold of Wilfried Zaha but I do expect a few teams to be interested in him before the end of the transfer window. He is key to them and I hope he doesn’t feel the weight of the expectation on his young shoulders and have a bad season.

Nigel Clough must be tearing his hair out at the moment after witnessing his team throw away a 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3 lead and still failing to beat Scunthorpe United in the Capital One Cup and eventually going out on penalties. I always thought they would struggle and I know it is only the cup but there is clearly something wrong at the back or at least in the confidence and concentration of their players. I doubt they will score five past many Championship teams but I do think they could ship five past quite a lot of them.

Who will be Crawley Town’s next manager?

Crawley Town are looking for a new manager after recently appointed Sean O’Driscoll decided to leave for Nottingham Forest.

Crawley Town start their league campaign against Scunthorpe United on the 18th August

O’Driscoll was given the job on the 16th May and left on 19th July without managing them in a competitive fixture which must have been frustrating for the board who had put a lot of faith in their new man and now their preseason could be in pieces. The new man that comes in won’t have a lot of time to stamp his authority on the side and maybe he won’t want some of the players that O’Driscoll thought were good enough. There will be a number of candidates that want the job but the newly promoted League 1 club will need to make a good choice to make sure they stay in the division, under O’Driscoll I thought they would challenge for the playoffs but now I am not so sure.

So who will be a good choice? At the minute the clear favourite is current Aldershot Town manager Dean Holdsworth. Holdsworth has been working his way up the leagues and has one very well wherever he has been but he doesn’t have the managerial experience in my opinion to lead Crawley next season because he hasn’t worked higher than League 2 and has only joined the Football League in January 2011. Another thing that will put Crawley off going for him is the fact that he signed a new contract in the summer and they will probably have to pay compensation.

Also in the frame for the job is former Aldershot manager Gary Waddock who unlike Holdsworth has managed in higher divisions, however he hasn’t always been so successful. In June 2006 he was appointed manager of QPR but after a poor start to the season and with the club bottom of the table he was replaced by John Gregory. Waddock, has managed in League 1 for two seasons but unfortunately for him they have both ended in relegation with Wycombe Wanderers. Obviously, this means he has gained a promotion with them and he has been relatively successful over the years with him also gaining promotion to League 2 with Aldershot gaining over 100 points.

Finally, Gareth Southgate is linked with the job and this would be an interesting decision because he had a very good career as a player but as a manager he hasn’t had it easy. His only job so far has been at Middlesbrough where he managed 150 games so he has quite a lot of experience and most of these games were in the Premier League. He won 44 of his games as manager but he, like Waddock also has a relegation on his CV but at a much higher level. It is good timing for Crawley as he has recently left his role in the FA as their Head of Elite Development and you would expect him to want to get back into football as soon as possible. He would be a good choice because he will have a lot of contacts in the game and will be able to bring in some good players either on loan or permanently and the board will surely back him in the transfer market.

Who will be the next Nottingham Forest manager?

Steve Cotterill has been sacked as manager of Nottingham Forest after less than a year in charge of the club.

Forest have won the European Cup twice in their history

New owner, Kuwaiti businessman Fawaz Al-Hasawi obviously felt that Cotterill was not the man to take the club forward and wanted to bring in someone that he believed could challenge for promotion to the Premier League in the coming season. The former Portsmouth manager did a good job for Forest in my opinion winning 12 of his 37 games in charge after a terrible start to the season under Steve McClaren and kept them up comfortably in the end. They finished 19th in the table, 10 points clear of the relegation zone. It wasn’t easy for Cotterill as a lot of Forest fans did not enjoy his style of football and wanted success like they had been getting under previous manager Billy Davies but I believe Cotterill did as well as he could and achieved everything that was needed of him so maybe he could have done the same next season. I can see why he has been sacked though as a bigger name will attract better players and it seems as though Al-Hawasi will be willing to pump a lot of money into the club.

So who are the main candidates? Darren Ferguson has been linked with the job and is the early favourite to get the job, he has done a fantastic job with Peterborough United and this could be his chance to join his dad Sir Alex in the Premier League. He is currently in his second spell at the club and this time he has managed to keep them in the Championship so he may be looking to continue his good work there but Forest may be a difficult job to turn down with the extra benefits. The only thing that may put off the new owners is the fact that he failed at Preston North End so he has never challenged for promotion from the Championship.

Harry Redknapp, surprisingly is also heavily linked with the job and he ticks all the boxes. He is a big enough name in the game to attract players to the club and he has just guided Tottenham Hotspur to fourth in the Premier League so he clearly has a lot of ability. The big question is, would Redknapp drop down to the Championship? You would think not however, Sam Allardyce took the the risk instead of waiting for a new job and is back in the Premier League after one year and if he does manage to get Forest promoted, he will surely have a lot of money to spend to make sure they stay up. There is a lot of potential at the club and he could be the one to take Forest back where they belong.

Possibly a more realistic option and probably less favourable would be another former Premier League manager in Mick McCarthy who has been out of work since leaving Wolves. He may not play an attractive style of football but it is clearly effective as he got Wolves promoted and kept them in the Premier League year after year. The former Republic of Ireland manager will have a lot of contacts in the game so he could make some good high profile signings for the Championship and he is quite reliable so they could definitely do a lot worse.

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.

Doncaster Rovers are relegated from the Championship

Doncaster Rovers have been relegated to League 1 after being beaten by Portsmouth in a must win game.

The game itself couldn’t have started much better with the team racing into a 2-0 lead but even if they did manage to win this game it still would have been very difficult for the team to stay up after what has been a pretty bad season however they were the favourites to go down at the start of the season so maybe it was expected. But looking to the future and if they can keep this squad together who will be good enough to get the team promoted at the first time of asking, which is not an easy thing to do as big teams have found out over the years such as Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

The first question that has to be asked is whether Dean Saunders is the right man to take the club forward? This is only his second job and he has only won seven games out of 37 which would suggest that he hasn’t been great but the club have had a lot of injuries and he has had to rely on loan signings which is never easy. I think he should be given the time to succeed and get his own team together.

Doncaster have a decent squad but for one reason or another it hasn’t quite worked out for them this season. Injuries have been quite cruel on them too. Tommy Spurr is one of the players that I believe has the potential to be a very good Championship defender but he struggled with injuries and he could have had added some much needed stability at left back and will be very important next season if he stays. Looking at the defence that have been playing and it is really surprising to see some of the players in the Championship never mind getting relegated from it. Habib Beye, who actually got sent off against Portsmouth, was a first team regular at Newcastle United in the Premier League only a few years ago and was signed by Aston Villa for quite a large fee. Pascal Chimbonda and Herita Ilunga have also played for the club this season and these yet again are players who are experienced and played at the highest level.

It is remarkable the amount of players Doncaster went through and how well known they actually are. In the midfield, they have Giles Barnes who was once rated as one of the best youngsters in England when he was at Derby County but his career has stalled and he may have to stay at Doncaster to kick start it. James Coppinger is a midfielder that I do like in the squad and I believe that if he stays then he will be vital if they are to bounce straight back to the Championship.

El Hadji Diouf has been at the club too and I cannot imagine him playing in League 1 but if he does decide to stay then he will score goals at that level and would be one of the favourites for top goal scorer at the start of the season. He cannot produce moments of magic. Yet again, they have had Premier League experience upfront with him in Frederic Piquionne but his two goals in seven games wasn’t quite enough to inspire the team to staying up.

A very poor season for Doncaster but maybe it wasn’t so much of a surprise, the fans will be hoping for a consistent look to the side next year and this will hopefully allow them to challenge for promotion next year. If they fail to bring in a few players and get rid of the ones of high wages it could be a real struggle next year.