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

Doncaster Rovers in the Championship

Doncaster Rovers are back in the Championship but will have to try and stay in the division with a new manager.
Doncaster Rovers
Paul Dickov was appointed over the summer and this was a very strange decision in my mind because he is not a very experienced manager and I felt that they needed someone that knew the league and exactly what was needed to avoid relegation. Dickov did have a good playing career where he played in the Premier League for a number of years and also got 10 international caps for Scotland so he will have a lot of knowledge but his time at Oldham Athletic as a manager was certainly nothing special and the FA Cup last season is the only reason why he may have even been given this opportunity. His team beat Liverpool but then he resigned shortly afterwards because of how poor they were doing in the league and this was in the division below the Championship so there has obviously been some negativity about his appointment. It will be very interesting to see if he can perform better at a higher level but I do not have high hopes for them next season and I would be very surprised if they did not finish towards the very bottom of the table.

That is not to say they have a terrible team because I do like quite a few of their players. Tommy Spurr is someone that I believe should never have been playing below the Championship in the first place and was linked with moves to the Premier League earlier in his career. James Husband is another player that I think is good enough for the Championship and with him only being 19 he will get even better and may even get a move to the Premier League in the future.

Spurr previously played for Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship

Spurr previously played for Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship


The standout midfielder from last season, particularly at the beginning of the campaign was David Cotterill. He will have to prove he can make the step up this time because he has had opportunities at Sheffield United and Swansea City in the past and hasn’t quite lived up to his potential. I am surprised that he is still only 25 because he seems to have been around for a very long time. James Coppinger is another that hasn’t quite lived up to his potential in the Championship but with him getting the goal on a remarkable last day of the season his confidence should be sky high and will be looking to make a very positive impression.
Cotterill has played over 250 times in his career

Cotterill has played over 250 times in his career


Scoring goals may be a problem for Doncaster next season because I do not think that Billy Paynter, Chris Brown and Iain Hume have enough goals between them to keep them in the league. I think they will need to buy a new striker to compliment one of these players because I do think any of these would be good enough to partner a prolific striker. Paynter and Brown both got into double figures last season but neither have scored many goals in the Championship throughout their careers.
Paynter has scored 109 goals in his career

Paynter has scored 109 goals in his career

Who will win the League 1 playoffs?

League 1 had a very exciting finish to it with Doncaster Rovers winning the league and Bournemouth also going up automatically.

Now it is time to turn to the playoffs and with Brentford, Yeovil Town, Sheffield United and Swindon Town looking to secure a place in the Championship it will certainly be nail biting for all the fans involved. All of the teams were guaranteed a place in the playoffs before the final game so they didn’t have to worry about that too much and could concentrate on trying to get promotion.

Brentford may be coming into the playoffs in the worse position because they were a penalty kick away from gaining automatic promotion and that might have damaged the confidence of all the players, particularly Marcello Trotta who missed the chance to be a hero. However, this may drive the team on and with them finishing third they should be favourites to go up. A worry I do have about them in the playoffs is simply the fact that manager Uwe Rosler has criticised the whole team for missing the penalty. I don’t think he should have blamed anyone, especially when there is still possibly another three huge games before the end of the season.

Yeovil Town are the surprise team in the playoffs in my opinion because they cannot have a big budget and there are some big teams in the division this year. But under Gary Johnson, who I do think is a good manager, they have been brilliant and even if they don’t manage to go up this year, the fans and the club should be proud of what they have accomplished. Striker Paddy Madden has probably been the signing of the season not only in League 1 but possibly the whole of the Football League and he will be crucial in these playoffs.

Sheffield United will probably be most people’s picks to win promotion through the playoffs this season but they are out of form and certainly need a lift, they haven’t scored for three games and lost two of those. Chris Morgan has recently took over from Danny Wilson as manager and that to me was a very poor decision, Wilson was really unlucky to have missed out on promotion last season and I felt that he would have got them up this year. The problem for them is they are missing a regular goal scorer so will be relying on good defensive displays to win the playoffs.

Swindon Town are also another team that have had to appoint a new manager recently and this could prove to be a problem because they haven’t quite been as good under Kevin MacDonald. Swindon have an amazing goal difference with plus 33 and this is better than both Doncaster and Bournemouth. They lost their last league game to relegated Scunthorpe United 3-1 and this will not have put the team in the best of moods. It was very different under departed Paolo Di Canio and maybe the players just haven’t responded to MacDonald’s training methods.

I think Brentford will beat Swindon and Sheffield United will beat Yeovil in the semi finals and then the final is very difficult to call but I will go for Brentford as they have had a very good season and hopefully they can pick themselves up.

Who will be Stevenage’s next manager?

Stevenage are looking for a new manager after Gary Smith was sacked after failing to challenge for promotion this season.

After a run of 14 losses in 18 games the board obviously felt the club were going backwards and did not want to fall any further down the table. The latest defeat a 2-0 loss to Bury must have been tough to take because Bury are struggling and will probably get relegated this season. But, Smith may feel hard done by as they had just beaten Sheffield United 4-0 at home at the weekend, so at least he will be happy with that performance and gave the fans one last thing to cheer while he was in charge. They are currently 15th in the table and personally I do not think that is bad for a team like Stevenage who have only been back in the Football League for a few years and maybe the board’s ambitions are set too high at the moment. They obviously feel that promotion was a realistic target again this season and they need someone in that can get them back up there next season, however it is a tough league and it will not be easy as the teams dropping from the Championship this season will have a lot of quality.

The favourite for the job is Graham Westley and if he did get the job then it would be a third spell in charge for him. He may not be the most likeable manager and the way his team play may not be the most eye catching but he does have a fantastic record at Stevenage and if he can work his magic again then they will always be in with a chance next season. His time at Preston was very poor but sometimes it just doesn’t work for you at a club and that could be the case here.
Graham Westley
Since leaving Luton Town, Paul Buckle has been linked with quite a few jobs and I still find it strange because he was doing ok with them but it still seemed like they were going to fall short and not get promoted so why should he get a job in a higher division? But, he has had some good times as a manager and maybe somewhere like Stevenage would be good for him and he could do a decent job. However, I don’t think this will be likely but I wouldn’t be surprised if he accepted it, if it was on offer.
Paul Buckle
Finally, and possibly even stranger than Buckle, Gary Waddock has been linked with the job and it is a surprise because he has been out of management since leaving Wycombe Wanderers in 2012. It wasn’t a good end for him there either, with the club in 21st place in League 2 they may have suffered another relegation under him. The one positive is that he does have a promotion on his CV and that could certainly work in his favour.
Gary waddock
Others linked with the role are Iain Dowie, Peter Taylor and Paul Dickov.

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 win the Championship?

Bolton Wanderers are one of the favourites to be promoted straight back to the Premier League and it is clear to see why. They have kept the majority of the squad from last year and in my opinion it should have been good enough to survive in the Premier League. At the back they have Zat Knight who is a capable defender and David Wheater and new signing Matt Mills so they are covered there. In midfield they have the returning pair of Lee Chung Yong and Stuart Holden combined with the quality of Mark Davies and Chris Eagles they should be able to control most games with these players. The only position they are struggling with slightly is in attack as they seem to lack a consistent goal scorer but I have high hopes for both Marvin Sordell and Benik Afobe this season.

Last year many people believed that Leicester City would walk the title and would be preparing for a season in the Premier League right now but unfortunately for them it didn’t quite work out and a lot of their bigger names didn’t perform their best. Now, with Nigel Pearson back in charge they look set to be contenders once again. Both David Nugent and Jermaine Beckford can score goals in this division and Wes Morgan marshalling the defence I expect a much better showing from them this year.

Neil Warnock has got QPR and Sheffield United promoted to the Premier League in the past and will now be hoping to work his magic at Leeds United. The only problem I see with backing Leeds is the fact that they keep losing their best players and the ones that can produce a bit of magic like Robert Snodgrass but nevertheless they do still have payers like Ross McCormack (who is actually linked with a move away) and Luciano Becchio who can score all types of goals so they will be challengers.

Wolves were just awful towards the end of last season and that will have hurt their players and they will be hoping to bounce back to their best this season and give the fans something to cheer about. They could be losing three of their better players though before the transfer window with Michael Kightly already leaving and both Steven Fetcher and Matt Jarvis being linked with Premier League clubs it may not be so easy. Also the team will have to get to grips with what Stale Solbakken or it will be another season of disappointment and they may get stuck in the Championship for a number of years.

Finally, the third team that were relegated from the Premier League, Blackburn Rovers also make my shortlist and it was a difficult decision on whether to include them because they have someone in charge that seems to be a very poor manager but in his defence he has brought in some good signings and that’s what is making me think they could win the title. Danny Murphy could prove to be the signing of the season in the Championship and lead them back to the Premier League.

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 relegated from League 1?

League 1 may not have the likes of Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday or Huddersfield Town anymore but there are still some big teams with big budgets in the division and this makes it very hard for the promoted teams and those with lower budgets to have a good season.

But it is definitely one of the relegated teams from the Championship that are the favourites to go down. Portsmouth are in a lot of trouble and are barely still alive as a club never mind one that is in the third tier of English football. Who knows what their starting 11 will be at the start of the season and how many of them have any experience whatsoever. Manager Michael Appleton has the potential to be a good manager and will obviously come out of this with credit but he is fighting a losing battle.

Next are a team that have just been promoted to the league and that is Shrewsbury Town who have had an interesting summer with a few key players departing in particular one of their strikers James Collins who may have scored the goals to keep them up. So they will have to hope that Marvin Morgan, Terry Gornell and Ryan Doble can do the business in League 1. They have possibly their toughest fixture of the season first which is Sheffield United away so at least that will be out of the way early.

Walsall have been in League 1 for a number of years now and seem to be one of the clubs that will always finish towards the bottom half of the table but avoid relegation and it could be the same yet again. Their top two scorers from last years, Jon Macken and Alex Nicholls have left the club and they weren’t exactly prolific themselves so it is easy to see where they need improving and hopefully their 1-0 win over Brentford in the Capital One Cup will give them the confidence to go on and compete for a place higher up in the table.

Yeovil are another club that seemed to be struggling at the moment and may have a long season in front of them especially as they have lost their main man from last year, Andy Williams, who scored 16 goals in 35 league games but decided to join league newcomers Swindon Town. They have brought in James Hayter and Reuben Reid who I think can score goals at this level so if they remain solid at the back it will be another season in League 1 for them.

A surprising team that are tipped for relegation are Carlisle United because at times last year they looked good and were playing some decent stuff under Greg Abbott but they are another team that has lost one of their better players in Francois Zoko. They still look like they have a good enough side though and should be considered an outside tip for promotion through the playoffs because they have Frank Simek, Jon-Paul McGovern, Matty Robson and Lee Miller (if he can stay fit).

Four teams get relegated from League 1 so obviously there are more contenders but I see these with the exception of Carlisle to be the ones that struggle the most and are in a relegation battle come the end of the season.

Who will be relegated from League 2?

Being relegated from League 2 could possibly be the worst relegation in England as it means you are no longer a Football League club and teams often struggle to return at the first time of asking.

In recent years, Luton Town, Darlington (this could have been more because of financial problems that affected them for years) and Stockport County have been some of the bigger names to be unable to win promotion from the Blue Square Premier. I am going to look at the five teams that could be likely to battle against relegation even though I could be way off with the league being very unpredictable.

Barnet are the first team I believe will struggle simply because they have been unable to improve for years now and keep on avoiding relegation on the last day, eventually this is going to catch up on them and they will fail and this could be the year. With the loss of 22 goal Izale McLeod they need a replacement and have brought in Jon Nurse but he only got eight goals last season so he will need to improve if they are to stay up.

Burton Albion fresh off their penalty victory over Sheffield United in the Capital One Cup will need to start off their season just as quickly if they are to comfortably mid table. They definitely have goals in their team with Calvin Zola, Billy Kee and Justin Richards so they shouldn’t struggle in this department if they manage to keep them for the whole season but the defence looks a little light and a few injuries may completely derail their season.

Morecambe, another team that caused a shock in the cup will be hoping this is what is to come from their season however I don’t think this will be the case and they could be dragged towards the bottom of the table. The key person for me could be manager Jim Bentley as he clearly loves the club but his managerial inexperience could work against him but at least the fans know that he will be putting his all in.

Accrington Stanley lack a goal scorer in their squad and last season their star striker was Padraig Amond who only got eight goals and they will certainly need to improve here which is why they have brought in Karl Sheppard who does have a good record so far in his career and looks like he could be a vital addition.

Dagenham and Redbridge struggled last season but a good run of form towards the end of the season saw them safely avoid the drop but they may need a little more in the coming season. The loss of Jon Nurse to rivals Barnet could be key as his goals may just make the difference between the two sides. Brian Woodall had a decent year and will be hoping to build on that and manager John Still knows what it takes to be successful in this division so even though I am tipping them for a struggle this year, they could also be the surprise package.

Out of the five I think it could be Barnet and Accrington Stanley to go down.