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

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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 the next Reading manager?

Reading are looking for a new manager to try and keep them in the Premier League after Brian McDermott left the club.

Four successive defeats have left the club bottom of the table and four points away from safety and it would seem that they need to go in a different direction to make sure they do stay in the Premier League but personally I feel McDermott should have stayed in charge for the rest of the season. After leading the club to promotion last season they were expected to struggle and the signings they made did not give me any confidence that they were going to survive this season but they are still in there battling away and a lot of credit does have to go to the manager for that. Recent losses to Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa both at home must have been hard to take and obviously the board felt that these results were simply not good enough. In his 169 matches in charge of Reading he won 76 games, giving him a 44.97% win rate. But they need to bring someone in that can have an immediate impact, so who will be given the chance to succeed?

The current favourite is Paolo Di Canio and I would love to see him managing in the Premier League but maybe not because of his managerial ability, more to do with the entertainment factor and unpredictability he will bring. But to be fair to him he did have a good record at Swindon Town and his crazy methods seemed to be working and he probably should not be unemployed right now. If they do go down then I think the Italian can do a good job in the Championship and at least give them the opportunity to bounce straight back.
Paolo Di Canio
Maybe a more realistic target and a more sensible one would be Nigel Adkins. He is another manager that should not be unemployed and it looked as though he was going to keep Southampton in the Premier League before being replaced. He does not have a lot of experience in the top division but yet again looking more long term he would do a very good job in the Championship. Would he take the job? I think he would be tempted to have another go at the Premier League even if it is only for a few more games.
Nigel Adkins
Another early favourite is Roberto Di Matteo and if they could convince him to join the club then it would be a fantastic appointment. He is a Champions League winner and he, yet again, maybe should not have been sacked by his former club Chelsea. He does have experience in the Premier League and should get the respect of the Reading players straight away and if he can lift their spirits a little he may just do enough to keep them up. He also got promoted with West Brom so he may even stay if they go down. I think they need to look long term and not just try and bring someone in to keep them up and change again in the summer if they fail.
Roberto Di Matter
Others that are linked with the job are Dick Advocaat, Steve McClaren and Alan Curbishley

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 Huddersfield Town’s next manager?

Huddersfield are looking for a new manager after Simon Grayson was sacked and the board are hoping that the new man will secure Championship football again.

Huddersfield Town
Grayson may feel this decision was a little harsh but they have been struggling lately and a 4-0 defeat against Watford was the last straw. It may be a good time to look for a new manager as it is FA Cup weekend and they have no realistic chance of winning the competition so the result against Leicester City does not really matter and I am sure any Huddersfield fan would rather go out at this stage and stay in the Championship than go through and end up getting relegated. Huddersfield are seven points out of relegation but with those teams at the bottom picking up points now and themselves not winning for 12 games they definitely need a change somewhere, maybe the board should have kept faith with the man that got them promoted but 12 games without a win is a very long time, especially in the Championship. Grayson was in charge for 49 games, winning 17 of those and losing 17 so it is fair to say that he did a decent enough job and personally I think he would have turned it around and kept the club up.

But looking at the candidates for the job and the board clearly feel that another manager can do a better job and give them more of a chance of staying up. The current favourite is recently sacked Nigel Adkins who was harshly replaced at Southampton and may want to get back into football as soon as possible. His record speaks for itself and he has been a success everywhere he has been. He got promoted with Southampton last season and was doing an ok job in the Premier League and this would be a great appointment for Huddersfield, if he doesn’t want to take a break from football.

Nigel Adkins

Maybe a more realistic appointment would be Owen Coyle, who has also been sacked this season by Bolton Wanderers. He largely underachieved at the Reebok after such a promising start where he took them to an FA Cup semi final. Would he be a good choice for Huddersfield though? In my opinion, yes he would be a good choice because there would be less pressure and maybe the problem at Bolton in the Championship was the fact that they were favourites for practically every game. He tries to play football in the right way and I would like to see him get another chance in the Championship to prove some of his doubters wrong.

Owen Coyle

Finally, a little bit more of a wildcard option would be Paolo Di Canio who has done a good job in charge of Swindon Town and won promotion from League 2 last season with them. With a 58.24% win record he is proving that he can get results on the pitch, however he has been criticised a few times and some of his antics on the touchline has been controversial to say the least. But, he does have a lot of passion and maybe this is exactly what Huddersfield need.

Paolo Di Canio

Others in the frame are Aidy Boothroyd, Billy Davies and Gareth Southgate.

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.

How will Swindon Town do in League 1 after promotion?

Swindon Town have been promoted and will be wanting to win the league in their next fixture at home to Port Vale.

Strangely though there have been rumours that Paolo Di Canio wants to leave at the end of the season however this doesn’t seem very likely and I would be very shocked if he did go unless he got offered a Championship job. Di Canio has won 35 of his 56 games and also guided his team to the final of the JP Trophy which they unfortunately lost. Some fans may have thought that this was a terrible decision at the start of the year especially as the team did not start of fantastically but the gamble has paid off. But the big question is will he and his players be able to perform at a higher level? Personally, yes I think Di Canio will be able to cope with the promotion simply because he is a big personality and he may even be able to attract even better players to the club which will only be a good thing.

So looking at the players, are they good enough? Goalkeeper Wes Foderingham at 21 has a lot of potential and playing 39 league games this season has proved he is a worthy number one and can progress further in the game. At the back they also have some good young players with a lot of potential which suggests that this is the way forward for Di Canio. Aden Flint is one of these and at the age of 22 playing 40 games can be tough but he has coped with it fantastically well and contributed three goals. Joe Devera has also had a good season and has progressed brilliantly throughout his career after starting out at Barnet, playing 177 league games which is a lot for a 25 year old which shows that he deserves his chance at a higher level.

The midfield also possess a lot of quality including the League 2 player of the year Matt Ritchie. The 22 year old has played 50 games and scored 10 goals, and contributed many more assists. He is a lot better than League 2 and he will be looking forward to showing Portsmouth next season that they should never have let him go. Even though he may not grab the headlines as much as Ritchie, Alan McCormack has been equally important, he does the job that not a lot of players do. He can either play as a holding midfielder or a centre back which he has done a lot somewhat surprisingly at Swindon Town.

Up front they do not really have a goal scorer that will get a lot of goals but they work hard and do a very good job for the team. Alan Connell and Paul Benson both have 12 goals this season and this does not seem high enough for a team that are going to be champions. Connell has got 10 of those goals in the league in 30 games. The undisclosed figure which is believed to be a six figure sum may not have quite been paid back yet but if he scores enough goals to keep the team in League 1 next year then the fans will be grateful. Paul Benson on the other hand has been a very good signing and 9 goals in 21 league games is impressive. I think he is a very good player and if given the opportunity I believe he will do well in League 1.

I hope Swindon do well in League 1 as I like a lot of their players and Di Canio. They have a lot of potential and if they progress in the right way they could be in the Championship within a few years. The relegation to League 2 must have hurt the fans and I’m sure they are proud of their team and will be hoping for more success.