Who will win the League 2 playoffs?

The League 2 playoffs will be very exciting this year and it is one of the toughest to call.

Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Northampton Town and Bradford City are all hoping to get through the semi finals and win the playoff final so they can be competing in League 1 next season. They will be hoping to join Gillingham, Rotherham United and Port Vale in getting promotion this year and now I will look at each team and give my verdict on who I think will go up. Each team could easily win it so it is quite difficult to choose.

Fourth place Burton Albion should be confident going into the playoffs as they were the closest to getting automatic promotion and have just beaten Gillingham 3-2. However, in recent weeks they did also lose 7-1 to Port Vale. I am surprised that they are actually in the playoffs because I expected them to struggle this season but they have proved me and many others wrong. One thing that has been impressive is the amount of goals they have scored, particularly at home. Jacques Maghoma has scored 15 league goals this year with Billy Kee and Calvin Zola also scoring double figures this year.

Next are another team that have a fantastic home record but for a completely different reason. Cheltenham may not score as many goals as their rivals but they certainly have a very good defensive record. They also have some good midfielders and I believe they have the ability to play at a much higher level. Marlon Pack is the standout player for me and has already played over 150 games in his club career even though he is only 22. Darren Carter and Jermaine McGlashan will also be key in these playoffs. The club are hoping to go one better than last year when they were beaten in the final.

Northampton Town are probably the most out of form team in the playoffs but that does not mean you can count them out. With a striker like Adebayo Akinfenwa they will also cause problems to any defence even though he is not in the greatest form himself. Getting a victory over Barnet on the final game of the season will also give the team confidence. They have a good manager in Aidy Boothroyd and I would like to see him managing higher up in the English leagues once again.

Bradford City will be hoping they can visit Wembley for the second time this season after getting to the League Cup Final earlier this year. Phil Parkinson has done a fantastic job and to get a promotion would be just a cap off an amazing season for the fans and the players. I do like their attacking players, especially Nahki Wells who has scored 18 goals in 39 league games. But they also have James Hanson who adds more than just goals to the side and he will be vital. I would like to see Bradford go up and get back to where they once were.

I think Bradford will beat Burton Albion and Cheltenham will beat Northampton in the semi finals. So the final will be against two teams that have lost at Wembley in the last year. But, I think this time Cheltenham will come out on top.

Chesterfield are relegated to League 2

Chesterfield finished 22nd in League 1 this season and got relegated and will therefore be playing in League 2 next year but they have still given their fans some joy this season.

Chesterfield only picked up 42 points from their 46 games

The fans at least got to make the trip to Wembley and see their team lift a trophy which is a fantastic experience for all the fans and players even if the season didn’t go quite as well as hoped. During the season they beat Sheffield Wednesday at home 1-0 which must have given the fans a lot of pride as their rivals from Sheffield went on to win automatic promotion and in recent weeks they beat relegation rivals Wycombe Wanderers 4-0.

The question is can they bounce back from this relegation and return to League 1 at the first time of asking? Well if they stick by their manager John Sheridan which seems very likely, they will have a fantastic chance because he has proven he is a good manager and has more ability than League 2 level. The problem could be if a manager in League 1 gets sacked early on, they may want to give Sheridan the job.

So they have the manager but what about the team? In goal they have Tommy Lee who I rate quite highly because he has produced some stunning saves and will be vital to the squad next season if he stays because there is no doubt he will have teams looking at them as he is better than a lot of League 1 goalkeepers. The defence may need improving though because it wasn’t the greatest and conceded 81 goals throughout their league campaign. But Neal Trotman who was signed permanently in January after an initial loan spell should perform better in League 2 and could even become captain next season.

From the midfield they should get goals as Danny Whitaker has very good instincts and knows when to arrive late in the box. In his Chesterfield career he has scored 23 goals for the club including eight this season which is a good record for a midfielder. Alongside him in the midfield they have Mark Allott who does a lot of the work that goes unnoticed and he does a good job in front of the back four.

In the striking department they do have a good mix of youth and experience. They have Jordan Bowery who at just the age of just 20 has played over 100 games for the club but this has been his real breakthrough season. He has played 48 games this year and has scored 12 goals so if they can hold onto him, I believe he could finish as top scorer in League 2 next season and could interest a lot of clubs in the future and may even have the ability to play in the Premier League one day. Craig Westcarr alongside him up top also added 11 goals this season with eight of them coming in the league. His pace will cause a lot of teams problems and will be a massive threat next season.

The Chesterfield fans have a lot to look forward to next season if they can keep the squad together and this relegation experience may actually do them some good. The fans need to make sure they are right behind the manager and the players because they are a good team but underperformed this year and I personally think it was just a bad year and they will come back stronger.

Everton produce a fantastic performance to beat Sunderland

Everton are through to the semi final of the FA cup after a fantastic victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Moyes will be desperate to win a trophy as manager of Everton

It looked as though Everton may have missed their chance after only drawing at Goodison Park but their performance against Sunderland was one of the best I have ever seen from an away side especially in the second half. Sunderland must have been very optimistic that they could get through and maybe froze under the pressure of being the favourites and this will infuriate Martin O’Neill. Although, in my opinion they shouldn’t have been favourites as Everton have some fantastic players and give every team they come up against a very good game which Manchester City learned earlier in the season.

But onto the game itself and they deserved the win and I don’t think anyone in the stadium could have denied them of that. Nikica Jelavic opened the scoring and his movement and hold up play was a joy to watch at times as the Sunderland players could not cope with him and even though he did miss a few chances, he is exactly what Everton have been missing for a number of years, and that is a proven goal scorer. Maybe this is a slightly harsh assessment as they have had Yakubu, Louis Saha and Andy Johnson but I believe that Jelavic will do better than all of these and may even push the club onto the next level.

What makes it even more surprising that they could perform to such a high standard is that the team were late arriving at the stadium because of heavy traffic and this must have left them feeling slightly unprepared. When the game started though you could see that David Moyes had got his tactics spot on yet again. Their midfield was particularly impressive, and all five of them deserve a lot of praise because they worked very hard for each other and had that little bit of quality which Sunderland lacked. I am going to say that Magaye Gueye impressed me the most, this could be because I haven’t seen a lot of him and wasn’t expecting too much, but every time he had the ball he caused the defence problems and he looked very direct and quick which makes me wonder why he hasn’t had more of a chance since he signed for the club. Leon Osman on the right wing did his usual consistent job and I think it is remarkable how he hasn’t even got an England cap. Is he the best player to have never been capped in recent times? He has a lot more ability than he is given credit for and can play anywhere across the midfield which is a bonus for Moyes.

Tim Cahill’s performance was also pleasing as he is now getting back to the form we all know he is capable of. It looks as though he has got a spring in his step now and it wouldn’t surprise me if he scored a few more times before the season is out.

Liverpool in the semi final now and that could be the biggest game in Moyes’ 10 years in charge as it is not only local pride at stake but it is also beating your local rivals at Wembley for a place in the final.