2014-15 League One Preview

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It’s been incredibly hectic in League One in the transfer market this summer, with most clubs seemingly buying and selling as many players as they like, with some of the most notable arrivals being Sam Winnall and Jobi McAnuff. At the top, the relegated Championship teams might not be the teams competing for the title, with teams such as Preston, Peterborough and Leyton Orient looking to build on play-off disappointment last season, whilst Sheffield United and Bristol City are also in the mix. With four teams having to be relegated from League One, the battle to beat the drop is incredibly competitive, which the likes of Rochdale, Crewe and Colchester may not benefit from. Despite players going in and out of every club, unusually, there are no new League One managers this season.

My Prediction

1. Sheffield United

2. Preston North End

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3. Bristol City

4. Leyton Orient

5. MK Dons

6. Barnsley

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7. Peterborough

8. Yeovil Town

9. Notts County

10. Swindon Town

11. Bradford City

12. Chesterfield

13. Doncaster Rovers

14. Coventry City

15. Fleetwood Town

16. Port Vale

17. Gillingham

18. Crawley Town

19. Oldham Athletic

20. Scunthorpe United

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21. Walsall

22. Colchester United

23. Crewe Alexandra

24. Rochdale


Betting Odds (courtesy of Paddy Power as of 2nd August 2014)

To win division

  • Sheffield United – 5/1
  • Bristol City – 8/1
  • Preston – 8/1
  • Leyton Orient – 10/1
  • Petreborough – 11/1

To gain promotion

  • Sheffield United – 6/4
  • Bristol City – 12/5
  • Preston – 5/2
  • Peterborough – 10/3
  • Doncaster – 10/3

To get relegated

  • Crewe – 7/5
  • Colchester – 6/4
  • Gillingham – 13/8
  • Port Vale – 15/8
  • Oldham – 21/10

Top scorer

  • Sam Baldock (Bristol City) – 7/1
  • Britt Assombalonga (Peterborough) – 7/1
  • Joe Garner (Preston) – 10/1
  • David Mooney (Leyton Orient) – 12/1
  • Will Grigg (MK Dons) -14/1

Club-by-Club Guide

Barnsley

barnsley

  • Last Season: 23rd in the Championship
  • Nickname: The Tykes
  • Stadium: Oakwell (23,009)
  • Manager: Danny Wilson
  • Star Man: Conor Hourihane
  • One to Watch: Danny Rose
  • My Prediction: 6th

A lot of players have gone out of Oakwell, and a lot of players have come in. It’s a very different squad that suffered relegation last season, which could prove to be an advantage, as they don’t need picking up and will be ready to get back at the first attempt. For this reason, expect the Tykes to mount a play-off push.


Bradford City

bradford

  • Last Season: 11th
  • Nickname: The Bantams
  • Stadium: Coral Windows Stadium (25, 136)
  • Manager: Phil Parkinson
  • Star Man: Aaron McLean
  • One to Watch: Oli McBurnie
  • My Prediction: 11th

Phil Parkinson has added some experience to his squad that held their own in League One last season following their promotion in 2012-13. He has also waved goodbye to some players though, meaning fighting for the play-offs is beyond them but relegation shouldn’t be a worry.


Bristol City

bristol city

  • Last Season: 12th
  • Nickname: The Robins
  • Stadium: Ashton Gate (21,501)
  • Manager: Steve Cotterill
  • Star Man: Sam Baldock
  • One to Watch: Wes Burns
  • My Prediction: 3rd

Just one defeat in the final three months of last season has sparked promotion talk at Ashton Gate. This should definately be the target for Steve Cotterill and his team, especially as numerous summer signings have come in to further enhance the squad. Expect The Robins to be up their at the end of the season.


Chesterfield

chesterfield

  • Last Season: 1st in League Two
  • Nickname: The Spireites
  • Stadium: Proact Stadium (10,600)
  • Manager: Paul Cook
  • Star Man: Ian Evatt
  • One to Watch: Ollie Banks
  • My Prediction: 12th

Following their title winning campaign last season, Chesterfield will be happy to survive relegation, which they should do quite comfortably with their well-equipped squad. Whether new signings can be brought in to add experience will decide whether they finish mid-table or push for the play-offs.


Colchester United

colchester

  • Last Season: 16th
  • Nickname: The U’s
  • Stadium: Weston Homes Community Stadium (10,084)
  • Manager: Joe Dunne
  • Star Man: Freddie Sears
  • One to Watch: Macauley Bonne
  • My Prediction: 22nd

Colchester steered clear of another nerve-jangling final day last season, finishing six points above the drop zone, but they were constantly looking over their shoulders and manager Joe Dunne will be expecting another tough challenge. Improving their home form will be crucial if the U’s are to retain their League One status.


Coventry City

coventry

  • Last Season: 18th
  • Nickname: Sky Blues
  • Stadium: Currently ground-sharing at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium (7,653)
  • Manager: Steven Pressley
  • Star Man: Réda Johnson
  • One to Watch: Blair Adams
  • My Prediction: 14th

Coventry’s hopes all rely on whether they can keep it together on the pitch as fans continue to protest around them. The loss of striker Callum Wilson could hit them hard if they don’t bring in a replacement. A play-off push is a possibility, but finishing in mid-table is the more likely case for Steven Pressley’s side.


Crawley Town

crawley

  • Last Season: 14th
  • Nickname: The Red Devils
  • Stadium: Broadfield Stadium (5,996)
  • Manager: John Gregory
  • Star Man: Joe Walsh
  • One to Watch: Gwion Edwards
  • My Prediction: 18th

Another club who have seen players in and players out all through the summer, Crawley’s business in the transfer market may not benefit them as much as others who have been busy during the window, with key players being replaced by average ones. A relegation scrap is on the cards but they should just survive it.


Crewe Alexandra

crewe

  • Last Season: 19th
  • Nickname: Alex
  • Stadium: Gresty Road (10,153)
  • Manager: Steve Davis
  • Star Man: Liam Nolan
  • One to Watch: Liam Nolan
  • My Prediction: 23rd

Saved on the final day of last season, Crewe’s young charges will be better for the experience of their long relegation fight. Top scorer Chuks Aneke, who was on loan from Arsenal, will not be back, though, so the onus will once again fall to the next generation to keep them in the third tier, which is a lot of pressure on a lot of young shoulders.


Doncaster Rovers

doncaster

  • Last Season: 22nd in the Championship
  • Nickname: Rovers
  • Stadium: Keepmoat Stadium (15,231)
  • Manager: Paul Dickov
  • Star Man: Harry Forrester
  • One to Watch: Luke McCullough
  • My Prediction: 13th

The collapse of the takeover by former chairman John Ryan alongside One Direction star Louis Tomlinson has clouded the summer in South Yorkshire and, with several big names having left following relegation, manager Paul Dickov has some rebuilding to do if Rovers are to make an immediate return to the Championship.


Fleetwood Town

fleetwood

  • Last Season: 4th in League Two
  • Nickname: The Cod Army
  • Stadium: Highbury Stadium (5,094)
  • Manager: Graham Alexander
  • Star Man: David Ball
  • One to Watch: Josh Morris
  • My Prediction: 15th

Another promotion is probably beyond the Cod Army following their rise from the North West Counties League to League One in 10 seasons. Too much confidence could prove to be their downfall, but on the whole, a comfortable mid-table finish may be the best that they can hope for to curb their ambition.


Gillingham

gillingham

  • Last Season: 17th
  • Nickname: The Gills
  • Stadium: Priestfield Stadium (11,582)
  • Manager: Peter Taylor
  • Star Man: Cody McDonald
  • One to Watch: Jake Hessenthaler
  • My Prediction: 17th

There have been some big changes at Priestfield with arrivals and departures, but the main objective will stay the same – to try to stay clear of relegation trouble. They may well flirt with the possibility of going down, but it should never be a worry even if where they finish suggests otherwise.


Leyton Orient

leyton orient

  • Last Season: 3rd
  • Nickname: The O’s
  • Stadium: Brisbane Road (9,271)
  • Manager: Russell Slade
  • Star Man: Jobi McAnuff
  • One to Watch: Charlie Grainger
  • My Prediction: 4th

A host of new signings have arrived at Brisbane Road over the summer following their play-off final defeat in 2013-14 in order that they don’t suffer the same fate this time around. It is a squad that will be up there right from the start, but other teams have strengthened too, so Orient may have to settle for the lottery of the play-offs once again.


Milton Keynes Dons

mk dons

  • Last Season: 10th
  • Nickname: The Dons
  • Stadium: stadium:mk (22,000)
  • Manager: Karl Robinson
  • Star Man: Ben Reeves
  • One to Watch: Dele Alli
  • My Prediction: 5th

It has been a summer of regrouping at stadium:mk after the 2013-14 campaign saw the club fail to mount a serious promotion challenge for the first time in four years. But Karl Robinson knows how to pick his team up, and this season could final be the year where The Dons get to the Championship. One negative however, is the loss of Steven Gleeson in midfield.


Notts County

notts county

  • Last Season: 20th
  • Nickname: The Magpies
  • Stadium: Meadow Lane (20,229)
  • Manager: Shaun Derry
  • Star Man: Hayden Mullins
  • One to Watch: Haydn Hollis
  • My Prediction: 9th

It was a fantastic finish to last season for The Magpies as they won six of their last nine matches to complete a great escape from relegation. Now that Shaun Derry has properly got to grips with his squad, the club should have no drop zone fears, instead they could mount a surprise push for the play-offs.


Oldham Athletic

oldham

  • Last Season: 15th
  • Nickname: The Latics
  • Stadium: SportsDirect.com Park (10,638)
  • Manager: Lee Johnson
  • Star Man: Liam Kelly
  • One to Watch: Jonson Clarke-Harris
  • My Prediction: 19th

Oldham know this division inside out having spent their last 17 seasons in it, but still can’t work out how to get out of it, at the top of the bottom. This season beckons much of the same for The Latics – a tough campaign where they flirt with relegation but avoid it with a few games to spare.


Peterborough United

peterborough

  • Last Season: 6th
  • Nickname: The Posh
  • Stadium: London Road (14,640)
  • Manager: Darren Ferguson
  • Star Man: Michael Bostwick
  • One to Watch: Jermaine Anderson
  • My Prediction: 7th

An immediate return to the Championship was the target last season but Peterborough fell short in the play-off semi-finals, but they will be targeting promotion again and could well get it this time. The top two may be beyond them though, and selling Britt Assombalonga could prove to be their downfall if they don’t find a replacement and fast.


Port Vale

port vale

  • Last Season: 9th
  • Nickname: The Valiants
  • Stadium: Vale Park (19,052)
  • Manager: Micky Adams
  • Star Man: Tom Pope
  • One to Watch: Ryan McGivern
  • My Prediction: 16th

Port Vale made a surprise challenge for the top six in their first campaign back in League One in 2013-14, but it will be hard to replicate this season. Micky Adams will be working with a dramatically reduced budget and the departures of the likes of Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams and Jordan Hugill leave big boots to fill.


Preston North End

preston

  • Last Season: 5th
  • Nickname: The Lilywhites
  • Stadium: Deepdale (23,408)
  • Manager: Simon Grayson
  • Star Man: Joe Garner
  • One to Watch: Bailey Wright
  • My Prediction: 2nd

After another season ended in play-off heartache in 2013-14 (The Lilywhites have never been promoted via that route in nine attempts) the focus has to be on securing a top-two finish. This is a highly likely possibility with Simon Grayson’s managerial ability, whilst Joe Garner could have his best season yet to send Preston up.


Rochdale

rochdale

  • Last Season: 3rd in League Two
  • Nickname: Dale
  • Stadium: Spotland (10,249)
  • Manager: Keith Hill
  • Star Man: Peter Vincenti
  • One to Watch: Jamie Allen
  • My Prediction: 24th

Life in League One was always going to be hard for Rochdale following their promotion, but the sale of star man Scott Hogan has made surviving the drop even tougher for Keith Hill’s side, but the boss does remain optimistic that this group of players will serve him well. The reality may well be disappointingly different.


Scunthorpe United

scunthorpe

  • Last Season: 2nd in League Two
  • Nickname: The Iron
  • Stadium: Glanford Park (9,088)
  • Manager: Russ Wilcox
  • Star Man: Paddy Madden
  • One to Watch: Hakeeb Adelakum
  • My Prediction: 20th

Another promoted team who have lost their star player, Scunthorpe letting Sam Winnall go mean The Iron will also be in for a season of struggle. However, both they, and Paddy Madden, who scored 13 goals in this divison with Yeovil in 2012-13, know League One well, and they might just survive by the skin of their teeth.


Sheffield United

sheffield united

  • Last Season: 7th
  • Nickname: The Blades
  • Stadium: Bramall Lane (32,702)
  • Manager: Nigel Clough
  • Star Man: Jamie Murphy
  • One to Watch: Stefan Scougall
  • My Prediction: 1st

Nigel Clough made an immediate impact at the club when he replaced David Weir as manager last October following a disastrous start to the season that put paid to promotion aspirations. The Blades’ FA Cup semi-final appearance and strong finish last season suggest they will be among the front-runners for promotion this time around.


Swindon Town

swindon

  • Last Season: 8th
  • Nickname: The Robins
  • Stadium: The County Ground (15,720)
  • Manager: Mark Cooper
  • Star Man: Nathan Thompson
  • One to Watch: Louis Thompson
  • My Prediction: 10th

Swindon play free flowing, easy on the eye football which is perhaps not best suited to League One, where grit and determination often get you out of it. That said, The Robins will be in and around the play-offs all season, but consistency will decide whether they finish in the top six or not.


Walsall

walsall

  • Last Season: 13th
  • Nickname: The Saddlers
  • Stadium: Banks’s Stadium (11,300
  • Manager: Dean Smith
  • Star Man: Sam Mantom
  • One to Watch: Reece Flanagan
  • My Prediction: 21st

Walsall could not wait for last season to finish as just two wins from of their final 18 games saw them slip from play-off contention to mid-table. It will be hard to avoid that form as they enter the new campaign, despite the additions of players like James O’Connor and Tom Bradshaw. The Saddlers could be surprise strugglers, which they won’t know how to handle.


Yeovil Town

yeovil

  • Last Season: 24th in the Championship
  • Nickname: The Glovers
  • Stadium: Huish Park (9,665)
  • Manager: Gary Johnson
  • Star Man: Joe Edwards
  • One to Watch: Kieffer Moore
  • My Prediction: 8th

Gary Johnson’s men may be back in League One without the spine of the side that won the 2012/13 play-off final of this division, but there is plenty to be positive about after their Championship adventure. If they can shake off the hangover of relegation, expect a top 10 finish and possibly the play-offs.

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