League One Season Preview…my views.

The SkyBet League One football season gets underway on the 8th of August and all 24 teams will be looking to get off to a positive start. With fans of every club looking forward to kick-off after a summer of twiddling their thumbs, you can see my predictions for how each club will fare this season here…

Barnsley 

After suffering relegation from the Championship in the 2013/14 season, Barnsley would have been hoping for a better campaign last term as they finished 11th on their return to the third tier. With the Tykes in a fairly poor league position come February, Danny Wilson was relieved of his duties as manager and former Oldham boss, Lee Johnson was brought in as his replacement.

Following the new manager coming in form began to pick up, and at one point the playoffs looked a real possibility. Form soon dipped again however and the Yorkshire side slipped to 11th position where they finished the season. Johnson managed to pick up 5 wins, 6 draws and 3 losses at the tail-end of the campaign but he’ll be hoping for a better showing this time around – as will the Barnsley supporters.

Ins and outs…

It’s been a summer of change at Oakwell as Johnson wielded the axe in terms of cutting his playing squad and 12 players were subsequently released. Luke Berry, Nana Boakye-Yiadom, Martin Cranie, Kane Hemmings, Dale Jennings, Leroy Lita, Darren McKnight, Jean-Yves M’Voto, Rhys Oates, Ross Turnbull, Milan Lalkovic and James Bailey all saw their time at the club come to an end.

The manager has acted swiftly in bringing in replacements however and the club have acquired 4 players on permanent deals and 4 on-loan. Alfie Mawson has joined the club from Brentford, Marc Roberts has came in from Halifax Town and Marley Watkins was signed from Inverness (all free transfers). The latest new face is Ryan Williams and he swapped Craven Cottage for Oakwell as he was purchased for an undisclosed fee from Championship side, Fulham.

In regards to the loan deals, they have delved in the upper reaches of the game to acquire a few youngsters on six-month deals. The club’s relationship with Manchester United seems to be on sound footing as Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell joined, whilst Conor Wilkinson and former Coventry starlet Daniel Crowley linked up with the club from Bolton and Arsenal respectively.

One to watch… Conor Hourihane

After being ever present in a competitive Plymouth Argyle side, the Irish midfielder moved up north to Barnsley for £200,000 in June 2014 and he’s never looked back. In his debut season for the Tykes last term he played in all 46 League One fixtures, scoring 13 goals in the process.

Supporters will be hoping that the playmaker can replicate his form this season as he and the team look to build on a mid-table finish. He has become arguably one of the standout midfielders in League One and opposition teams will have to do well to keep him quiet.

My verdict…

Barnsley have a relatively strong squad for the upcoming campaign and their target will undoubtedly be a top-six finish. At the moment they are short in the striking department, but with the rumoured incoming of Izale McLeod I think they will have enough up there to get goals.

With a good, young manager at the helm in Johnson I can see the Tykes improving on last season’s mediocrity. Looking at the other sides in the division however, I think they will miss out on a playoff berth.

Predicted league position – 9th


Blackpool 

 

Last season was one of turmoil for Blackpool Football Club, whereby their off-field situation came to the forefront. With Karl Oyston investing next to nothing in to the team, results on the field proved to be demoralising and the dwindling numbers of supporters inside Bloomfield Road were treated to some awful football.

With the side being a Premier League team just a few seasons ago, it’s horrible to see their rapid plight and fall down the leagues. On the opening day of the 2014/15 campaign they were only able to name a squad of 15 players after real issues, including a couple of 17 year old scholars, against Nottingham Forest.

The side went on to lose their opening five league fixtures and it didn’t get much better, the Seasiders finished bottom of the Championship with only 26 points to their name. Being knocked out of both the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup at the first hurdle also added to their woes – fans were increasingly upset and during a protest in the club’s last league fixture away to Huddersfield, the game was abandoned as Blackpool supporters campaigned on the pitch.

Ins and outs…

As Neil McDonald took the reigns as manager of Blackpool after their relegation, 20 players left the club and he was faced with an almighty task of rebuilding a squad. Nathan Delfouneso and Tomasz Cywka were the more well known of the departing cast and replacements were desperately needed.

 

 

With their recruitment still ongoing, McDonald has managed to lure 11 players to the club thus far, 9 of whom join on permanent deals. Relatively small fees were paid for Jack Redshaw, Jarrett Rivers, Brad Potts and Mark Cullen. The other players inbound would be free agents though as Colin Doyle, John Herron, Kyle Letheren, Clark Robertson and Jim McAllister all hooked up with the club.

In terms of loan signings, Lloyd James arrived from Liverpool on a youth loan and Kwame Thomas joined from Derby County. At the time of writing Blackpool have 20 players to their name which proves to be much healthier than the squad at this time last season, whereby only 9 players were signed.

One to watch… Mark Cullen

 

Mark Cullen joined the Seasiders this summer for a sum of £180,000 as he left Luton Town. After coming through Hull City’s youth system he made a handful of apperances in the Premier League before being loaned out to lower league clubs.

After failing to impress during these loan moves he was subsequently released by Hull and Luton Town took a punt on him as they offered him a contract. Whilst at Kenilworth road, the striker enjoyed a fairly productive spell as he scored 21 goals over the course of two seasons. During the 2014/15 campaign he finished as Luton’s top scorer with 14 goals and he will be looking to have a similar impact in League One.

My verdict…

With uncertainty still surrounding the club it is hard to see them being too successful on the pitch this season. They may have a larger squad than last term but it is devoid of any real quality as the mass overhaul has left them with many inexperienced players.

I’m sure the supporters will just be hoping that the club don’t sink any lower, and as protests have been ongoing throughout pre-season I hope that the supporters win their battle. I think they will really struggle again though and they won’t be too far off another relegation, although I believe they have just enough to beat the drop.

Predicted league position – 19th


Bradford City

 

The Bantams enjoyed a very positive 2014/15 season as the supporters saw their side pick up some superb results. Most will have memories of their FA Cup run whereby they reached the Quarter-Finals, defeating Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge and Sunderland 2-0 at Valley Parade in the process.

Moving away from that ever-impressive run, the Bantams performed admirably in the league too and narrowly missed out on a playoff place as they finished 7th in the division. Manager, Phil Parkinson and supporters alike will be hoping to achieve a top-six finish this time around and with over 18,000 season tickets sold, they’ll certainly have the support.

Ins and outs…

Phil Parkinson overlooked the departure of 7 players from his squad as Andrew Davies, Matt Dolan, Andy Halliday, Jason Kennedy, Aaron McLean, Matt Urwin and Oliver McBurnie all left the club – the latter joining Premier League Swansea for an undisclosed fee.

The same amount of players have came in on permanent contracts however to replace them, along with a loan deal. Steve Davies, Josh Morris, Tony McMahon, Jonathan Lewis, Mark Marshall, Nathan Clarke and Paul Anderson all arrived on free transfers whilst Luke James joins the squad on loan from Peterborough United.

 

 

One to watch… James Hanson

 

Hanson is soon becoming a hero at Valley parade and he now stands seventh in the club’s all-time scoring records. After winning player of the year in his debut season in the 2009/10 campaign he was rewarded with a four year contract extension.

In his time at the club the powerful centre-forward has bagged 62 goals in 225 appearances. His presence in the final third and his ability to find the net has attracted interest from other clubs, but Hanson expressed his desire to stay at the Yorkshire side in June 2015 and he will be looking for a successful 2015/16 season. There’s no doubts that fellow League One competitors will fear him.

My verdict…

After going so close to the playoffs last term I’m backing Bradford to burst in to the top-six this time around. They’ve adopted a style of play that seems to gain results in the division and Phil Parkinson seems determined to get the club promoted.

Valley Parade will be close to capacity most games next season and this will assist their team in getting over the line. They have a very good squad and I can see them enjoying a successful season, it might just be their season to go up.

Predicted league position – 4th


Burton Albion

 

 

Burton Albion supporters are in no doubt, still in dreamland following their title-winning 2014/15 campaign. After failing to gain promotion via the playoffs the season previous, the Brewers built on that and achieved the that feat last term, also as champions.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s side will be looking forward to the club’s first ever season in League One and they’ll be searching for stability. Whilst supporters will thrive for survival or more, I’m sure there will be a party atmosphere at the Pirelli Stadium regardless as they have the pleasure of watching their side compete in the third tier.

Ins and outs…

Mickael Antoine-Curier. Lee Bell, Joe Doyle, Stefan Maletic, Adam McGurk, Jimmy Phillips, Ian Sharps and Dominic Knowles all left the club following the promotion to League One – George Taft was also loaned out to League Two side, Cambridge United.

Hasselbaink has bolstered his squad for the upcoming campaign as Liam Slade, Mark Shelton, Sam Hornby and Sam Austin all signed professional contracts after impressing for the youth side. Joining them would be Calum Butcher, Darius Charles, Tom Naylor, Callum Reilly and Anthony O’Connor who were acquired on free transfers.
The loan system has also been used to add some more quality to the side as Mark Duffy, Remi Matthews, Zeli Ismail and Jerome Binnom-Williams all joined from higher opposition.

One to watch… Zeli Ismail


The young midfielder joined the Brewers on loan for a second time as he returned to the club this summer. In his last spell he was seen as an exciting player and he will be looking to have a positive impact this time around as he looks to progress his career.

He has represented England at U16 and U17 level and he is clearly a lad with a lot of potential. As a midfielder who likes to chip in with goals, he could be pivotal this season for Hasselbaink’s side. The 21 year old will be looking to better his record of 3 goals in 15 appearances in his last stint at Burton and he’ll be looking forward to a tough campaign in League One.

My verdict…

There’s no doubting that it will be an extremely tough season for the newly promoted side, but the manager seems very organised and this could steer his side to safety. A few good signings have been made and I am backing them to hold on to their League One status.

Many people would see them as real relegation candidates and I think they will have to battle, but the squad and the fans will get them through it…just.

Predicted league position… 20th


Bury
The Shakers are another of the newly promoted sides and they’ll be looking to push on in League One this time around. After being relegated from the third tier back in 2012/13 they found life in League Two relatively hard as they finished mid-table in 2013/14. Last season however, the Gigg Lane outfit managed to push on and they clinched 3rd spot, resulting in automatic promotion.

Manager, David Flitcroft worked wonders for the side based in Greater Manchester and supporters were delighted to achieve promotion back to the third tier. A club record points haul of 85 was achieved last term but I’m sure the main aim this season will be staying up and ensuring safety – although I believe they’re capable of more.

Ins and outs…

Bury have managed to retain most of their players for the upcoming season and only 5 players have departed. Nicky Adams, James McNulty, Pablo Mills and Joe Thompson were released by the club whilst Chris Sedgwick retired at the age of 35 – although he remains as a coach.

In terms of acquisitions, Flitcroft has acted swiftly in the transfer market and brought in a host of players to strengthen his squad. A number of players were handed professional deals after progressing through the academy but another 6 players have been brought in.
Christian Walton has joined the club on loan from Brighton whilst Leon Clarke, Tom Pope, Peter Clarke, Jacob Mellis and Danny Pugh have all arrived on free transfers. 

One to watch… Tom Pope

Tom Pope moved to Gigg Lane in the summer after leaving Port Vale due to the expiration of his contract. The 6’3″ striker is a great acquisition for the League One new boys and he has been a consistent performer at this level for a number of seasons.

Well known for his productive four season spell at Vale Park, the front man provides the Shaker’s with a physical presence up top who also knows where the goal is. He scored a very impressive 56 goals in 163 games for his former side and with Leon Clarke also, Bury could have a potent attack this season.

My verdict…

You would again expect Bury to find it difficult after coming up a league, but I think they will be the better equipped of the newly promoted sides. Keeping the large part of their squad will help with consistency within the club and the additions they’ve brought in are very strong.

I’m not expecting them to come in and take the league by storm but I’m confident they have enough to steer clear of relegation. In David Flitcroft they have a good manager also, I think they’ll have a successful season.

Predicted league position… 12th

Chesterfield

After winning promotion to League One in 2013/14 I can’t imagine many supporters would have predicted the Spireites to do so well last season. With most teams having to acclimatise after progressing up a division, Chesterfield hit the ground running and they never looked back.

Paul Cook had his side playing some very attractive football and it was picking up results too. Come the final day of the season, his side finished in the final playoff position which was seen as a huge achievement. They would fall at the first hurdle in the playoff fixtures however as Preston defeated them over two legs, Paul Cook later left the club to take charge at Portsmouth.

Ins and outs…

With Dean Saunders coming in to take over as manager, he was left to decide who would be in his plans for his first season at the club. In terms of released players, only 3 were let go for free as Jack Broadhead, Charlie Dawes and Jimmy Ryan parted company.

A further 3 players also left the club as Gary Roberts joined Portsmouth for an undisclosed fee, Tendayi Darikwa was sold to Burnley for £600,000 and highly-rated Sam Clucas joined Hull City for £1.3million.
As for the incomings, Saunders has made 4 permanent transfers to add some more depth to his squad. Alex Cairns and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake have joined from Leeds United and Preston North End respectively, the non-league market has also been tapped in to as Jake Orrell has arrived from Gateshead whilst Kai Simmons made the move from Ilkeston Town.

One to watch… Sam Morsy

The 23 year old midfielder joined from Port Vale in July 2013 and during his first season with the Spireites he slotted in to the ‘midfield enforcer’ role perfectly. He played 39 times in the 2013/14 season and he was a pivotal player in a side that won the League Two title as well as reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final – he was subsequently voted as player of the year for his club.

Last season, the midfielder continued to progress at Chesterfield and he earned himself the captaincy. He put in some fine displays during the campaign and he led his side to the League One playoffs. His ability to break up the play and win the ball back will again prove vital this term.

My verdict…

I think after last season’s magnificent display it may be a case of mediocrity for Chesterfield this time around. Supporters would have been delighted with last season’s achievement for sure, but I don’t think they can expect the same this season.

When you look at their playing squad it doesn’t look too bad, however I’m not sure if it’s up there with the best in the division. They are a few players short from being too competitive at the minute and I’m not sure if Saunders will be able to replace the quality he’s lost.

Predicted league position… 11th

Colchester United

The U’s didn’t have a very enjoyable campaign last time around as they were flirting with relegation all the way to the last day of the season. With top-scorer Freddie Sears being sold to Ipswich Town during the January transfer window, the Essex side found the second half of their fixtures increasingly tough.

In the end, they managed to beat the drop on the final day which was dubbed as Survival Sunday. Tony Humes’ side put in a very gutsy display against a Preston North End team that were hoping for automatic promotion and the U’s gained a precious victory to ensure their League One status for the 2015/16 campaign.

Ins and outs…

With their 8th consecutive season in the third tier fast approaching, there has been some changes in the playing staff over the last few months. Humes decided to release 8 players as Sean Clohessy, Dominic Smith, Magnus Okuonghae, Jabo Ibehre, Kevin Lokko, Sanchez Watt, David Fox and Ben Gordon were all allowed to leave the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

In replacement for the outgoing players, a number of personnel have been brought in thus far to improve the squad. Richard Brindley, Kieran Bailey, Matthew Briggs, George Elekobi, Joe Edwards and Elliott Parish have all arrived on free transfers whilst Cameron James and Tariq Issa have stepped up from the youth team.


One to watch… George Moncur

The midfield is deemed a ‘hero’ at the club at the moment as he is the man who popped up with the winner against Preston to ensure his side’s survival. After a successful loan spell with the club at the beginning of the 2014/15 season the midfielder joined on a permanent deal from his boyhood side, West Ham United.

After making his switch concrete he continued to impress for United and he has become a key figure within their side. In terms of his goal scoring ability, he poses a respectable record of 5 goals in 24 appearances at the club so far and he’ll be looking to build on that in the upcoming League One campaign.

My verdict…

After staring relegation in the face last season I think it could be their time to drop down a division this time around. Despite possessing a couple of quality players I can’t see enough ability within their squad to ensure safety this season.

I’m sure the manager will be looking to instil a battling mentality in to his side and he would want to build on last term’s roller coaster journey, but I think they’ll just be sucked down the trapdoor.

Predicted league position… 21st

Coventry City

After another season of uncertainty off the field the Sky Blues really struggled to make waves in League One. With a poor run of results leaving the side in the relegation zone, Steven Pressley was relieved of his duties after ten-man Sheffield United fought back from 2-0 down to salvage a point to show Coventry’s frailties.

Tony Mowbray was soon brought in and many saw it as a surprise and astute move, which it turned out to be, as the former Celtic and Middlesbrough boss guided City to safety. With a 2-1 win over Crawley Town on the final day the Sky Blues managed to finish 17th in League One and avoid relegation by 5 points after the ineptitude in front of goal was rectified.

Ins and outs…

With the new manager wanted to change the style of play at the club it was a case of building his own squad as he axed eight of the playing squad. Al Bangura, Adam Barton, Simeon Jackson, Shaun Miller, Frank Nouble, Danny Pugh, Blair Turgott and Andy Webster all saw their time at the Ricoh Arena come to an end.

Coventry handed 5 professional contracts to youth players that had impressed for the academy, these were; Cian Harries, Ben Stevenson, Devon Kelly-Evans, Dion Kelly-Evans and George Thomas. Furthermore, Mowbray has drafted in Chris Stokes, Sam Ricketts, Romain Vincelot and Ruben Lameiras on free transfers as well as landing Newcastle United striker, Adam Armstrong on a six-month loan deal.

One to watch… Romain Vincelot


With the Sky Blues crying out for a combative midfielder, the ‘warrior’ was brought in for an undisclosed fee from Leyton Orient in the summer. With the O’s fans disappointed to see one of their fan favourites leave, it seemed to be a very positive signing from Coventry.

After being an integral part of the Orient side that reached the League One playoff final in 2014, the French midfielder will be hoping to cement his place in Mowbray’s side. He’s enjoyed a solid pre-season personally so far and his partnership with John Fleck in the centre could provide Coventry with more stability and protection. His work rate, tackling ability and passing range have certainly caught the eye.

My verdict…

With a top manager in charge, the Sky Blues will be hoping for a much better campaign during the 2015/16 season. However, with the current lack of forward options and no sign of real investment, supporters may have to settle for a season of stability.

Defensively the Sky Blues do look relatively solid and they also possess some real technical players in the attacking-midfield department. If a couple of strikers were brought in it could well prove to be a competitive season, however a lack of depth in the squad could see City fall out of contention for the top-six.

Predicted league finish… 10th


Crewe Alexandra

 

After a dismal start to last campaign where the Railwaymen only accumulated 4 points from their opening 11 games, relegation looked an almost certainty. Supporters of the club were no doubt very worried but Steve Davis and his side had other ideas.

A sustained run of results eventually lifted the club out of the relegation places but they were still involved in a last day survival race. Facing Bradford at Gresty Road on the final day requiring a draw to ensure safety, Crewe lost the game 1-0. However, other results throughout the league managed to save the side and they finished 20th and only 2 points above the bottom-four.

Ins and outs…

Upon being agonisingly close to relegation last term, Steve Davis saw 7 players leave his squad. Anthony Grant, Liam Nolan, Vadaine Oliver, Scott Shearer, Anthony Stewart, Matt Tootle and Billy Waters were all allowed to find pastures new.

The Railwaymen have struggled to lure too many players to the club and they’ve only made 3 permanent acquisitions so far. Billy Bingham, David Fox and Dave Richards joined from Dagenham & Redbridge, Colchester and Bristol City respectively. One player has also joined on loan as Adam King will be playing his football at Gresty Road following Swansea’s decision to let him gain some league experience.

Further depth has been added to the squad however as a stream of youngsters have been handed professional deals. Andre Brown, Joe Howell, Joe Kearns, Liam O’Niell and Toby Mullarkey are the latest crop to progress through Crewe’s coveted academy setup.

One to watch… George Cooper 

The 18 year old lad may not be too recognisable yet but he is a player with huge potential in my eyes. After signing a professional deal in the summer of 2014 he made his breakthrough during last season and he totted up 22 senior appearances.

He’s a player with a lot of technical ability and judging from his free-kick against Coventry in his side’s 2-1 victory back in October, he seems like a set-piece specialist. With a lot of guile and class he could well bey a key figure in Crewe’s season.

My verdict…

With the Gresty Road outfit’s squad not looking too promising I can see them having a very tough time in League One again. Manager, Steve Davis will have a real challenge on his hands and if they avoid relegation it will be seen as an achievement.

Supporters are probably wishing for a season without worrying about dropping down a division, but I think it will be a case of their worst nightmare this season and the club will finally be relegated after narrowly avoiding it for the last couple of seasons.

Predicted league position… 23rd

Doncaster Rovers 

Paul Dickov’s side would have been hoping for a more productive campaign last time out but it proved to be one of disappointment as they finished 13th in League One.

After falling from the Championship in 2014, Rovers will be looking to see if they can bounce back in to the division above at the second time of asking. With a relatively strong squad last term, I’m sure their supporters would agree with me when I say they under-performed.

Ins and outs…

The manager decided to shift any dead wood at the end of last season and Kyle Bennett, Stephen Bywater, Lewis Ferguson, Dean Furman, Jamie McCombe, Alex Peterson, Abdul Razak, Theo Robinson and Reece Wabara were all subsequently released.

Some pretty strong acquisitions have been made during the summer however and Doncaster look competitive. Six players have joined the club so far and in Gary MacKenzie, Thorsten Stuckmann, Andy Williams, Richard Chaplow, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Danny N’Guessen fans can be excited when looking at their squad.

One to watch… Harry Forrester 

The attacking player joined Doncaster in 2013 after his contract expired at Brentford but his first season at the club was plagued by injuries. After only making 9 appearances during the 2013/14 campaign he had to force his way back in to the side.

Within the 2014/15 season he started to feature more in Dickov’s side after overcoming his injury problems and he clocked up 48 appearances for the Yorkshire side. He could prove to be a focal point in his side’s attack this season and he’ll be looking to better last season’s tally of 9 goals.

My verdict…

I think Doncaster fans will be in for another season without too much success, but I expect the side to build on their 13th place finish from last season. Paul Dickov is a good manager and he knows League One well but I don’t think he’ll be able to propel them in to the playoffs.

The signings they have made look high quality but I’m unsure whether they have the depth to be able to compete at the higher reaches of the table. I can’t see the Rovers causing too many problems this season but I expect them to fight for a top-half finish.

Predicted league position… 8th


Fleetwood Town 

After the Cod Army’s promotion to League One at the end of the 2013/14 season, their target would have surely been to ensure their status in the third tier in the following campaign. It was their first season ever in the division and it proved to be their best season ever.

After investment which was smartly directed, Graham Alexander assembled a competitive squad and results soon started to take shape in 2014/15. They sat top of the league after 3 games and they remained in the top half for the rest of the campaign before eventually finishing in a very respectable 10th position.

Ins and outs…

It has been a busy summer for the seaside club as players have left and came in in mass. An extensive list of players saw their stay at the club come to an end, with the most notable departure being Mark Roberts who had been at the club for a number of seasons.

Eight signings have came in the other way to replace the outgoings to give the squad some more depth. Amari’i Bell, Eddie Dsane, Declan McManus, Jimmy Ryan, Vamara Sanogo, Eggert Jonsson, Lyle Della-Verde and Bobby Grant have all joined Alexander’s squad for the upcoming season.

One to watch… Nick Haughton

Haughton hooked up with Fleetwood Town in February 2014 after impressing whilst on trial with the club, he was then loaned immediately to Nantwich Town until the end of the 2013/14 season.

In September 2014 the midfielder signed a three year contract extension at the seaside club and he later made his debut. Since making his first appearance, he has put in some magnificent displays and he’s caught the eye of the Cod Army – expect him to establish himself fully this time around.

My verdict…

Last season was one of overachievement in my opinion and I can’t see Graham Alexander’s men finishing so highly in their second season in the third flight. I’m sure supporters will be happy to see the club stabilise in League One and that will be the target.

With the squad at Highbury Stadium being relatively strong I still expect them to be hovering around mid-table. Relegation won’t be a worry for the growing side and I expect them to finish in the lower half of mid-table.

Predicted league position… 16th

Gillingham  

The Gills enjoyed a satisfactory season last term as they finished exactly mid-table in League One. Upon Peter Taylor’s sacking on New Year’s Eve, Justin Edinburgh took over at the Kent based side and following some impressive results they ended the season in 12th.

Reaching the area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy was the highlight of their campaign and only defeat against Bristol City got in the way of them and a Wembley final. 

Ins and outs…

Five players have moved away from Priestfield Stadium so far this summer as Danny Galbraith, Gavin Hoyte, Leon Legge, Joe Martin and Mahlon Romeo were all released.

In strengthening his squad, Edinburgh opted to bring in six players on permanent deals as he acquired them on free transfers. Rory Donnelly, Bradley Garmston, Ryan Jackson, Elliott List, Ben Williamson and Max Ehmer all arrived. Further to this, Jordan Houghton was drafted in from Chelsea and Adedeji Oshilaja joined from Cardiff City – both on six-month loan deals.

One to watch… Cody McDonald 

Following to successful loan spells at the club whereby the striker scored an impressive 29 goals in 48 appearances, McDonald joined the club on a permanent basis in the summer 2013 as Coventry City elected to terminate the player’s contract.

Since making his move permanent he has continued his fine goal scoring form and he’s now firmly a part of the Gills’ folklore. Last season he managed to finish as the club’s top-scorer with 16 league strikes, along with another 2 in cup competition. The forward’s eye for goal certainly puts him down as one of the ‘danger men’ in League One.

My verdict… 

With the group of players Gillingham possess I think they will finish in a similar position to that of last season. A few of the additions are of good quality but the others are relatively proven and I think they are a few players away from competing.

Managing to keep hold of their key-players will of course help their cause, especially Cody McDonald who will provide their focal point in attack – I still think they are a way off however.

Predicted league finish… 13th


Millwall

After five straight seasons in the Championship, Millwall were relegated to the third division following a miserable set of results during the 2014/15 season. With Ian Holloway being sacked in March, the club didn’t find an immediate replacement and Neil Harris was eventually appointed manager towards the end of April after serving a spell as caretaker boss.

The inexperienced coach and former Milwall player couldn’t stop the Lions from relegation and his side finished 22nd in the division. With League One football being served this year, he and the club will be looking at a return to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Ins and outs…

Following the woeful season that saw them drop down a division, Harris has overseen 18 players leave the Den. With too many to list, the most recognisable faces to leave the Lions would have to be Danny Shittu, Carlos Edwards, Ricardo Fuller and Justin Hoyte – all of whom become free agents.
With the squad size being dramatically cut, the manager has only brought in four players. Jordan Archer, Joe Martin, Mahlon Romeo and Tony Craig have all moved to the London club and they’ll be looking to force their way in to the aide.

One to watch… John Marquis


Following a productive loan spell at Gillingham last season whereby the striker scored 8 goals in 21 games, he may well have forced himself in to Harris’ plans for this season. Standing at 6’1″ he is a physical forward who also has a fair bit of speed to add to his armoury.

Despite some Millwall fans not being overly keen on the striker, I think this could be his season. He likes to put himself about and he is an intelligent player, I’m confident if he gets chances he will score goals. It’s make or break for him I feel, he needs to prove himself.

My verdict…

With the Lions thriving for promotion this season I think they’ll be up there with the squad they’ve got. With Neil Harris in charge they have a passionate character who has affiliation to the club and he’ll be extra motivated to bring success to the supporters.

The squad he has at his disposal is full of quality and I can see them having a real go this season. I don’t quite think they have enough to gain automatic promotion but i can see them claiming a playoff spot.

Predicted league position… 3rd


Oldham Athletic 

Oldham had a season of mixed fortunes last time around as they underwent a managerial change mid season. The Latics were in the top ten when Lee Johnson was lured away from the hot seat and he switched clubs as he moved to Barnsley.

Following the move, the club acted swiftly to appoint Dean Holden as the new boss but form wasn’t as impressive under his wings and the side dropped to 15th. With Darren Kelly now in charge of the reigns, Oldham will be looking for an improved campaign.

Ins and outs…

Five of the playing squad have left Boundary Park so far during the summer months with James Dayton, George Elekobi, Adam Lockwood, David Mellor and Amari Morgan-Smith all on their way.

On the signings front, Kelly has acquired Jonathan Burns on loan from Middlesbrough as well as signing Jake Cassidy, Lee Croft, George Green, David Cornell and David Dunn on free transfers.
Another couple of talents have also been added after progressing through the youth system; Jack Tuohy, George Edmundson and Danny Byrnes have all penned professional deals.

One to watch… Jonathan Forte 

Upon his arrival at Boundary Park, the striker has put on a show for the club’s fans and he has an impressive record in front of goal. After joining in the summer of 2014 he has played 34 times for the Latics, scoring on 15 occasions.

With strength and speed in abundance, he can be a handful for any League One defence on his day and he’ll be looking to add to his tally this campaign. He will undoubtedly be Oldham’s main source of goals and their fate could rest on him.

My verdict…

With a couple of good signings so far in David Dunn and Lee Croft I can imagine supporters will be hoping for a better time this season. It’s a question of whether these players can be consistent enough however.

Despite having a number of quality players within their squad I can see them having a season of struggle. Depth looks to be an issue and with the relentless nature of League One, they could be battling relegation this year.

Predicted league position… 18th

Peterborough United 

Peterborough United didn’t quite have the season that was expected last term. After falling to 15th in the table, Darren Ferguson left the club on the 21st of February. Dave Roberstson took the job soon after and he catapulted the side up to a 9th placed finish.

With playoffs and promotion back to the Championship the club’s aim, it proved to be a dissapointing campaign. However, after finishing only a few points off sixth spot they’ll be hoping to bridge the gap this season.

Ins and outs…

Robertson has allowed a few players to leave over the summer as Christian Burgess, Liam Marshall, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Davud Norris, Bobby Olejnik and Kane Ferdinand have all parted company. Luke James and Jack Friend have also been let out on loan deals.

Six players have came the other way and joined Posh on permanent deals. Jack Collison, Joe Gormley, Lee Angol, Souleymane Coulibaly, Andrew Fox and Kierian Sadlir have all bolstered the squad at London Road.

One to watch… Marcus Maddison 

After progressing through the youth ranks at Newcastle United he failed to make his mark as ‘naivety’ cost him his career up north. He then found himself playing non-league football for Gateshead where he was a standout performer, causing clubs to take notice.

Posh were then the side who managed to lure the midfielder to the club and he has been a key figure since. After resurrecting his career at London Road he made 29 appearances and scored 7 goals, and in sure he’ll be looking for more success this season.

My verdict…

With the sole aim surely being to win promotion back to the second tier, I can see Peterborough making a real fist of it this season. After narrowly missing out on a playoff berth last season I am backing them to make the top-six this time around.

A squad of real quality is possessed by Robertson and the loyal band of supporters will be expecting big things. I don’t think they’ll make light work if it but I can envision then just sneaking in to contention.

Predicted league position… 6th


Port Vale 

With Micky Adams leaving the club early in to the 2014/15 season after six successive defeats, Robert Page was initially given the role of caretaker boss but results meant he was handed the full-time job. It was a case of playing catch up after a poor start and he started to turn the club’s fortunes round.

A surge up the league table saw Vale on the verge of the playoff positions at the end of February, however a late season capitulation saw the side hurdle down the table again and finish in an unconvincing 18th position, only 4 points away from relegation.

Ins and outs…

Seven players have left so far to leave Robert Page with a weaker squad at his disposal than that of the season previous. Most arguably Vale’s best player, Tom Pope, left the club as his contract expired. He was also followed by Chris Lines, Kaid Mohamed, Alex Nimely, Chris Robertson, Ben Williamson and Mark Marshall.

A few astute signings have been brought in on loan as Uche Ikpeazu and Ryan Innis joined from Watford and Crystal Palace. AJ Leitch-Smith, Remie Streete, Ben Purkiss, Sam Kelly, Anthony Grant and Sam Foley have also joined the club on free transfers. A number of youth team graduates have also been handed contracts to boost the depth of the squad.
One to watch… Michael O’Connor 

After switching from Rotherham United in the summer of 2014, O’Connor has found his feet at Vale Park and he was a consistent performer throughout his debut season. A total of 44 appearances were made and he notched 6 goals in the process.

The passionate player poses a lot of qualities that any midfielder would wish to have including a superb range of passing, tenacity in the tackle and set-piece specialities. He is likely to be a key figure for the Staffordshire side in League One this upcoming season.

My verdict… 

I can envision Page’s side having another tough season in the third tier as very little quality has been brought in to replace the likes of Tom Pope. They do have a few talented lads up for selection but again it doesn’t look as if they’ll be very strong contenders.

With a lot of teams improving their squads over the summer I think Vale will be left way off the mark. I’m not saying they’ll go down – I think they have enough to stay up – but I can see them finding life very difficult.

Predicted league position… 17th


Rochdale  

After gaining automatic promotion in to League One at the end of the 2013/14 campaign, Rochdale put on a good show for their supporters on their return to the third division of English football. Manager Keith Hill, who also turned out for the club during his playing career, managed to put together a strong side.

With most people doubting the side’s chances in League One, a consistent set of results throughout the campaign saw them finish 8th – just a couple of places shy of the playoff spots. They also reached the Fourth Round of the FA Cup to add further success on Spotland.

Ins and outs…

Following a positive campaign, Hill decided to let 6 players seek pastures new as he looked to add quality to his squad. Febian Brandy, Stephen Dawson, Bastian Hery, Sean McGinty, Jack Muldoon and Rhys Lovett all moved away from Spotland.

 

In seeking reinforcements, the club have brought in Lewis Alessandra, Nyal Bell, Donal McDermott and James McNulty on free transfers as well as handing Billy Haster-Cregg and James Hooper professional deals after impressing for the academy.

One to watch… Peter Vincenti 

A versatile player, Vincenti can play anywhere across the midfield as well as up front if needed. Operating predominantly in the centre of the park last season, he was instrumental in Keith Hill’s side.

After joining the club in 2013 he has made 79 appearances and scored 22 goals, establishing himself as a fan favourite in the process. As one of the more highly-rated players in the division, teams will undoubtedly be tracking the 29 year old’s progress.

My verdict…

After surprising many last season, supporters will be hoping that their can side can have another competitive season and maybe even push for the top-six. Personally, I can’t see that happening and they’ll find themselves being hit by ‘second season syndrome’.

In Hill they do have a great manager at this level and he will be determined to guide his side forward. With the way other team’s squads are shaping up however, I can see them finishing in the lower mid-table.

Predicted league position… 15th


Scunthorpe United 

The club’s return to League One didn’t start too brightly as Russ Wilcox was sacked in early October as the team lay in 23rd place. At this point Scunny looked in real danger and many were banking on them being plunged in to relegation. It wasn’t to be however as in stepped Mark Robins.

The former Coventry boss came in and after a change in style, his side began picking up some impressive results. It still wasn’t an easy ride for the supporters but a change in fortune saw the club finish 16th and comfortably above the bottom-four.

Ins and outs… 

Following a summer post-mortem of the squad, Robins watched 11 players leave the club. The two most upsetting departures for the fans would have been those of Sam Slocombe and Migul Llera, the first joining Oxford United whilst the latter is still searching for a club.

 

A large number of acquisitions have also been made to add to an already talented squad. Isaac Assenso, Stephen Dawson, Charlie Goode, Tom Hopper, Jack King, Scott Laird, Scott Wiseman, Luke Williams, Jamie Ness and Darius Henderson have all joined the club to give fans high hopes.

One to watch… Paddy Madden 

After signing for Scunthorpe from Yeovil in January 2014 the striker has proved to be an astute acquisition. With a fairly prolific scoring record, Madden provides a real threat up top and he could fire The Iron to a successful season.

With the 25 year old having pace in abundance accompanied by superb technical ability and clinical finishing, he could be the side’s key man as they look to push back in to the Championship following a four-season absence.

My verdict…

I can really see Glanford Park being a fortress this season and I expect the side to really stamp their authority on the division. With a knowledgable manager and a strong squad I think they can aim for a much better season.

After looking like relegation candidates at one point last season you’d say a mid-table finish this time around would be sufficient progress. I believe they’re better than that however, I’m backing them to make the playoffs.

Predicted league position… 5th


Sheffield United  

As one of the ‘big boys’ in the division, Sheffield United will always have a solitary aim – promotion. It proved to be a season of relative success last term but there was a feel of disappointment as supporters saw the Blades defeated in the playoffs at the semi-final stage following a breathtaking two-legged affair versus Swindon Town.

Gaining a reputation as ‘giant killers’ due to their recent FA Cup exploits the side have showed they can mix with the best. It’s league success they want however and Championship football is the aim.

Ins and outs…

Nigel Adkins has got stuck in over the summer and he has allowed 6 players to leave the club. Sam Berry, Ben Davies, Michael Doyle, Jason Paling, Kyle Scarisbrick and Iain Turner have all left the Yorkshire side.

In terms of acquisition, only 2 permanent t transfers have came in as Adkins looks trim the numbers. Martyn Woolford and Billy Sharp have both linked up with the club after leaving Milwall and Leeds United respectively. One more deal has been made however which sees Connor Sammon join on a season-long loan from Derby County.

One to watch… Matt Done 

After impressing a host of clubs due to his form for Rochdale, Done was signed by Sheffield United in February 2015 and he went on to score an irresistible total of 7 goals in 14 matches at the tail-end of last season.

With the player now playing further forward, he has seen chances fall his way in abundance and I’m backing him to finish as the League One’s top scorer this season. With the player possessing unerring ability, he is sure to light up the division in what looks to be another competitive campaign.

My verdict…

The most positive piece of activity to occur at Bramall Lane this summer is unquestionably the appointment of Nigel Adkins as manager. With what is an already made squad at his disposal that’s brimming with quality, supporters will feel that promotion is a necessity.

Depth within the squad will stand them in good stead and with players such as Che Adams breaking through, I can see them being too strong this season. If they fail to win promotion then it will be a real missed opportunity, although I expect them to achieve it in style.

Predicted league position… 1st


Shrewsbury Town 

Last season was one of success again for Shrewsbury who bounced back in to League One immediately. Micky Mellon’s side put in some superb displays home and away and they finished 2nd in League Two, resulting in automatic promotion.

Supporters were probably targeting that feat and when it occurred it would have been hugely welcome. Greenhous Meadow can now look forward to hosting third division football again.

Ins and outs…

Only 4 players have left Shrewsbury so far this summer as Ashley Vincent, Cameron Gayle, Aaron Wildig and Andrew Mangan all saw their time in Shropshire come to an end.

Mellon has attempted to strengthen the squad at his disposal as Junior Brown, Darren McKnight, Abu Ogogo, Mat Sadler, Matt Tootle, Shaun Walley and Martin Woods all arrived at the club. A few academy players have signed contracts also along with Liam McAlinden who joins on loan from Wolves.

One to watch… James Collins 

After a previous spell at the Shrews in which he scored 22 goals in 68 appearances, Collins rejoined the club in 2014 after leaving Hibernian. Finishing as the club’s top scorer last term, he will be hoping for a productive season this time around too.

With his physical presence and determination suiting the league, I can see him notching a few goals as he will provide a focal point in attack as Shrewsbury aim to secure their safety.

My verdict…

No team can expect an easy time of it after moving up a division and I think Mellon’s side will really struggle. They may end up surprising a few but it doesn’t look likely.

With a fairly weak squad in comparison to most teams in League One, I can see them being engaged in a relegation dogfight. Will they have enough to survive? I don’t think so.

Predicted league position… 24th


Southend United 

Southend are another of the newcomers to League One following their promotion from the fourth tier last seaon. With Phil Brown at the helm, the Shrimpers enjoyed some fine form and they finished 4th in the league table, ensuring playoff football.

After defeating Plymouth Argyle 4-2 on aggregate over a two-legged semi-final, Southend met Wycombe Wanderers in the showpiece final at Wembley. With the scores level at 1-1 after extra time, the fate of tie was settled via a penalty shootouts and Brown’s side kept their nerve to win 7-6.

Ins and outs…

Following the promotion, a number of players were released from the club as personnel were reduced. Josh Banton, Lee Barnard, Ellis Brown, Connor Clifford, Barry Corr, Kane Farrell, Mads Ibenfeldt, Pail Smith and Cameron John all departed – the latter being sold to Wolves for an undisclosed fee.

On the recruitment front, only a small number of players have joined the club so far. Noel Hunt, Anthony Wordsworth and David Mooney have all been captured and on paper, they look to be astute acquisitions.

 

One to watch… Gary Deegan 

In terms of midfield players go, Gary Deegan isn’t perhaps the most naturally gifted footballer but what he does possess is a gritty nature. With high work rate, the Ireland-born ‘battler’ is admired by the Southend fans but hated by the supporters of other clubs.

After recently agreeing a new contract, he will be hoping to have a big part to play this season as his side look to battle the drop. In League One, players of his mould can be very effective in thwarting opponents.

My verdict…

Despite having a manger I admire in Phil Brown, the Shrimpers will find life difficult in the third level of the footballing pyramid. The squad does consist of some experienced grafters but a lack of quality is evudent.

Again, with a lot of other sides reinforcing thier squads quite competently I can’t see Brown’s boys causing too many problems. Safety will be the target but I think they’ll fall a little short.

Predicted league position… 22nd


Swindon Town  

With a side jam-packed full of quality, Swindon had a successful season last time around. Mark Cooper managed to pick up results whilst installing an entertaining brand of football at the County Ground.

Supporters were delighted with the side’s 4th placed finish and then playoff semi-final win over Sheffield United. It wasn’t to be in the final though as they fell at the final hurdle, being on the end of a 4-0 thumping courtesy of Preston Notth End who won promotion.

Ins and outs…

The Robins have lost a lot of quality over the summer months as some of their high performers have departed. Ben Gladwin, Massimo Luongo, Andy Williams and Wes Foderingham will all be sorely missed.
Another 8 players have also left the club as Darren Ward, Connor Waldon, Matty Jones, Cameron Belford, George Barker, Josue Antonio and Harry Agombar were all released.

Cooper has used the loan market to good effect as he’s brought in 3 players from Liverpool; Jordan Williams, Kevin Steward and Lawrence Vigouroux – along with Jordan Turnbull from Southampton. A further 4 players have joined permanently in the form of Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Drissa Traore, Fabien Robert and Ellis Landolo.

One to watch… Jonathan Obika 

After progressing through the youth ranks at Tottenham Hotspur the striker has enjoyed various loan spells throughout the last six seasons. At the age of 24 he needs to be playing first-team football and he opted to join Swindon after the club payed around £200,000 for his services in September 2014.

He managed to have a positive impact last season and supporters will be excited to see him flourish again this season. He’s another pacey but strong forward who is capable of reaping havoc, which Swindon will very much be hoping for. His ability to hold the ball up with provide Cooper’s men with an outlet.

My verdict…

I’m sure Swindon will play some good football again this season but I think results will be harder to come by. Losing a number of standout players will be hugely disappointing for supporters but I’m sure they’ll still be hopeful of success.

After last term’s narrow miss in terms of promotion I could imagine their target will be to go one step further this time. I think they’ve lost too much quality though, I can see them being way off the mark.

Predicted league position… 14th

Walsall 

Last season proved to be a fairly average one for the supporters of the side as they enjoyed a disappointing season in League One. A trip to Wembley did boost supporters morale however, Dean Smith is doing a great job at the Saddlers and he’ll be hoping for better in the upcoming season.

They’ll be hoping to build on their 14th placed finish and also transform their cup form in to the league in a bid to push up the table. Supporters will be feeling very optimistic about the new campaign which will be their 9th consecutive season in the third tier.

Ins and outs… 

With James Chambers retiring, the club have lost a top player but he was losing his touch. Another 5 players have also left the club but on free transfers as Ben Purkiss, Richard O’Donnell, Jake Heath, Ashley Grimes and Malvind Benning were left with the task of finding new clubs.
Dean Smith hasn’t added too many new faces to his squad but 3 players have joined the club other sides. Jason Demetriou, Neil Etheridge and Milan Lalkovic have came in from Anorthosis Famagusta, Charlton Athletic and Barnsley respectively. A couple of academy graduates have made the step up to the first-team too as Levi Rowley and Kyle Rowley both signed professional deals.

One to watch… Tom Bradshaw 

After joining Walsall from Shrewsbury Town in the summer of 2014, the striker would be looking to have a positive impact at the Bescott Stadium. In his debut season for the club he scored a healthy total of 17 goals in only 29 appearances – a superb record.

He will be hoping for an even better season this time around as his side look for an improvement on last year’s mediocrity. With the staff at the club confident of a push towards the top-six, Bradshaw could be the man to fire them there.

My verdict…

In my opinion Walsall have got a very strong squad and they should look at last term as a case of underachievement. They possess a manager who has an extensive knowledge of the league they compete in and he’ll be looking to push on this season.

With the side playing quite an attractive brand of football, supporters could be in for a treat if the players click in to place. With the likes of Bradshaw up front the side is guaranteed goals if the service is there, and I believe they have quality in all areas. I can see them being a surprise contender for playoffs but will they force their way in to the top-six? I can see them just missing out.

Predicted league position… 7th


Wigan Athletic  

It was a long, hard slog for the Wigan supporters last season as they saw three managers grace the technical area at the DW following poor results. Gary Caldwell was the final man appointed with less than a month remaining of the season and he was faced with the mammoth task of ensuring survival.

It wasn’t to be however as the damage was already done, the former player subsequently saw his side finish 23rd in the Championship and relegation to League One was hard to take. He’ll be looking for an immediate response this season though, as will supporters.

Ins and outs…

A huge reshaping of the playing squad has been occurring during pre-season and Gary Caldwell hasn’t held back as 16 players have left the club. Of some of the players released, Jermaine Pennant, Ali Al-Habsi and Emmerson Boyce would be the more well-known. A couple of players were also reluctantly sold as James Perch and James McClean moved away from the club.

Clearly with so many players leaving the club, a few faces would have to come in. Francisco Junior and Jonjoe Kenny have linked up with the club on loan as Caldwell looks to build a squad. A further 12 players have also been acquired with Max Power, Craig Davies, Will Grigg and Michael Jacobs looking like the more astute signings.

One to watch… Grant Holt 

Providing that the experienced striker stays with the League One club, he could be an integral part of their squad as he has undoubted quality. With fitness a bit of a worry he may not start every week, but I can see him chipping in with some vital goals to assist Wigan’s push for promotion.

After plying his trade in the Premier League just a few seasons ago, the striker has fallen down the leagues and at the age of 34 he is coming to the end of his career. With a very good group of players around him though, I envision him doing well – his physicality certainly suits the division.

My verdict… 

After two successive parachute payments, Wigan are financially punching above everyone else in the division. After losing a host of solid players, I think Caldwell has recruited well and he has a more than capable group at his disposal.

The target for the season will undoubtedly be automatic promotion and I can see them being too strong for a lot of teams. When you look through their squad it houses a lot of well-known names, but can they perform?

Predicted league position… 2nd

My full league table prediction 2015/16

  1. Sheffield United
  2. Wigan Athletic
  3. Milwall
  4. Bradford City
  5. Scunthorpe United
  6. Peterborough United
  7. Walsall
  8. Doncaster Rovers
  9. Barnsley 
  10. Coventry City 
  11. Chesterfield
  12. Bury
  13. Gillingham
  14. Swindon Town 
  15. Rochdale
  16. Fleetwood Town
  17. Port vale
  18. Oldham Athletic
  19. Blackpool
  20. Burton Albion
  21. Colchester United
  22. Southend United
  23. Crewe Alexandra
  24. Shrewsbury Town

*all stats and data were correct at the time of writing.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. hinckley skyblue says:

    well done matty another great article, hope part two is as good

  2. hinckley skyblue says:

    yet again another great piece of writing keep up the good work

    1. M_Roper says:

      Cheers mate! Do you have twitter or Facebook? Message me

  3. hinckley skyblue says:

    another great edition well done matty roll on saturday pusb

  4. hinckley skyblue says:

    Its the final count down and well done matty that was truly a good read, a good insight into all our opposition for the oncoming season and hopefully we will finish higher than your prediction,
    pusb

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