After posting League Two predictions yesterday, here is how I think League One will shape up next season by picking out the teams that will be in contention of going up and going down.
Sheffield United. Despite a horendous start to last season which saw the side flirt with relegation, after Christmas The Blades’ form took a turn for the better and the sailed up the league as well as reach the semi-final’s of the FA cup. The squad remains largely intact with the only notable departure being the young and highly rated Harry Maguire moving to the Premier League. Some good additions have been made, although nothing spectacular, but the likes of James Wallace, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Andy Butler add quality to the team. I think a strong squad will see them promoted as Champions under the guidance of a very good manager Nigel Clough who has transformed the side since his arrival.
Bristol City. It’s been all smiles in the red side of Bristol over the past three months. First of all their arch rivals Bristol Rovers were relegated from the football league and now The Robins are going into the season with a lot of optimism. The arrivals of Aaron Wilbraham and Luke Freeman added to the current forwards of Sam Baldock and Jay Emmanual-Thomas means that Bristol City have arguably the best strike force in the division. Wade Elliott, Luke Ayling, Mark Little and Korey Smith also add that little bit extra to the defense and midfield. Manager Steve Cotterill is heading into his first full season in charge of the club and with the potential for goals in the side he has built it is looking like he will achieve promotion at the first attempt.
Preston. After just missing out last time out, Preston will determined to come back stronger this season but it looks like they may have to settle for the playoffs once again. Key player Joe Garner has stayed at the club despite interest from elsewhere and with a few tidy additions Preston should have every confidence of going one better this time round. Manager Simon Grayson has the determination, and also the talent, to make sure the season ends in promotion this campaign, albeit if it is via the luck of the playoffs.
Leyton Orient. Another team who had just missed out last season, Leyton Orient should find themselves in contention again. The only worry is whether or not they can put their playoff final heartache behind them. Last season’s star man Moses Odubajo has moved across London to join Brentford but new signings Darius Henderson, Jay Simpson and Jobi McAnuff are all big names and increase the quality of the squad. Playoffs should be the minimum aim, which is achievable, but automatic promotion could be a step too far due to the strength of the other teams in the division.
Doncaster. The yo-yo club of the lower leagues, Doncaster strike me as one of those teams that are good enough to get out of League One but never quite good enough to stay in the Championship. I think they will be in contention for promotion once again and the new recruits are a mix of experienced names like Nathan Tyson, but also some younger up and coming players such as ex Manchester City youngster Reece Wabara and Middlesbrough’s young striker Curtis Main. Whether or not these players are good enough to make an immediate impact remains to be seen but the squad still has enough quality to make the playoffs.
Peterborough. What would have been one of my tips for automatic promotion at the start of the summer, I now think Peterborough will only just about be able to make the playoffs.After the sales of Lee Tomlin and last season’s star man Britt Assombalonga it is going to be a tough ask to bring replacements of that calibre. That being said, Ben Nugent has joined on loan from Cardiff and will strengthen the defence, as well as promising Southampton winger Lloyd Isgrove. The Posh do have money in the bank to spend and because they now seem to be used to losing key men such as Aaron McClean and Craig Mackail-Smith I believe they can but that behind them and push for the playoffs.
Crewe. The Southampton of League One in the fact that they are excellent at producing their own players but have since sold them all making their squad look fragile. Last season’s key men Mathias Pogba and Ajay Leitch-Smith have left and Max Clayton is on his way out making the Crewe squad lack any real quality. The money from the Pogba transfer has to be spent and spent wisely but I can only see their stay in League One coming to an end.
Colchester. Most seasons Colchester lurk near the bottom of the league but manage to survive by the skin of their teeth but this season I think they will finally fall through the trap door. Like with Wigan in the Premier League, surely the law of averages states that the fact a poor squad has survived on so many occasion then this is the season they will go. From the transfers they have made not one of them gives me any hope they can stay up, they are that dull.
Notts County. Last season they needed a last day result to keep them in the league and this season looks like they will struggle again. Star players Bartosz Bialkowski, Alan Sheehan, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Gary Liddle have left and their replacement don’t exactly set the world on fire. Jimmy Spencer who showed promise last season has been lost to a long term injury which will prove a big blow. Two loanees from Wolves in Jake Cassidy and Zeli Ismael look the best business the club has done over the summer but unfortunately it won’t be enough to keep them in the league.
Oldham. One of those clubs that always slip under the radar, simply because they don’t seem to have done anything for the past god knows how many years. It looks like Oldham are in for a season of struggle. There time in League One looks like it is up as other clubs around them have strengthened, their summer signings look uninspiring.
Chesterfield. A team that on paper was way too strong for League Two has pretty much stayed the same over the summer. After so many new arrivals last season the squad has had a year together and even though they achieved an expected promotion last campaign, it looks like this season they can slip under the radar and cause a few shocks. The squad contains a mix of youth and experience with the big names of Gary Roberts, Sam Hird, Jay O’shea and Tommy Lee complimented by the younger but equally exciting Tendayi Darikwa, Eoin Doyle and Ollie Roberts. It was a big risk by manager Paul Cook to keep the squad the same but one I can see paying off.