By Tony Alvarez & Laurie Fitzgerald
It’s been a summer of restlessness for many football fans, with no World Cup or European Championships to fill the void, and many of us having to spend more time with our loved ones!
But fear not, because on Saturday the football season is officially back underway as the three divisions of the Football League kick-off.
You may of seen yesterdays article previewing the Npower Championship, today is the turn of League One. League Two will follow tomorrow.
Which signings have impressed you this summer?
Laurie: It may only be a loan deal, but Clarke Carlisle could prove to be an excellent addition at this level, and will be a big boost forPreston after a string of departures following their relegation. Jonathan Douglas is another shrewd purchase, he could help push Brentford up another level despite a disappointing campaign last year forSwindon. Special mention also for the hugely-talented Danny Green, who joined Charlton from Dagenham & Redbridge this summer.
Tony: ClarkeCarlisle whilst not being the greatest player has a huge amount of experience in tougher leagues, this could provide vital throughout the season. Similarly the loan signing of Graham Alexander legs may not be all there but when he is out on the pitch he provides experience that many players in the division cant.
I also have to agree with Laurie Danny Green could prove to be a big signing for Charlton although he could struggle to have the same impact he did at Dagenham and Redbridge as he is now in a “bigger pond”
Who will be the favourites for automatic promotion?
Laurie: I think it all depends on howHuddersfield bounce back from their play-off disappointment at Old Trafford in May. They have the strongest squad in the division despite the loss of Anthony Pilkington, and if they avoid a hangover from their defeat toPeterborough then they’re the team to beat. The twoSheffield sides should also be in contention, especially with experienced managers at the helm in Gary Megson and Danny Wilson.
Tony: I can’t see passedHuddersfield, they have been unlucky for a few years in a now and I think this is there year to shine. I feel as a whole League One is weaker this year, ifHuddersfield can re produce last seasons form they will be promoted.
I wrote an article last week stating that I fancy Sheffield United to bounce straight back, this was met with disbelief from their fans who cant see them performing at all, I put this down to the fans still being disappointed from last terms performances however I still see them being there or there abouts.
Who could be this season’s dark horses?
Laurie: Charlton could prove to be a force, but it’s a case of wait and see as they’ve had a major overhaul to their squad this summer. Don’t underestimate the power of confidence; althoughStevenage probably won’t be in the shake-up for promotion, they could ruffle a few feathers if they build on their back-to-back promotions.
Tony: Laurie hit the nail on the head with Charlton its hard to predict anything for them as they will be a bit of an unknown quantity.
I personally think Wycombe could hurt a few sides they have a nice blend of ability and experience and have a side capable of goals; they also have a good manager in Gary Waddock. They won’t win the title I predict a mid table finish but they could hurt some teams.
SimilarlyColchesterwont win anything but they could cause teams trouble because everyone hates to play them they play an awkward style of Football which will catch sides out.
Who could struggle?
Laurie: Walsall pulled off a minor miracle in staying up after seemingly being cut adrift last season. But their limited resources means it could be another difficult campaign for Dean Smith’s men.Hartlepool and Yeovil could also find themselves at the wrong end of the table.
Tony: I don’t want to be boring and predictable but I’m going to have to agree with Laurie, the bookmakers agree with us too, I think the 4th relegation spot will be taken by Tranmere they seem to have a wobble every year and this time round it could cost them dearly.
Who could be the player of the season?
Laurie: When you look at the best players in the division, then one player that can really stand out isPreston’s Iain Hume. He’s a very good striker, and can open up teams with his vision. If he gets back to his best form then he could be a real inspiration for the Lilywhites.
Tony: Despite there relegation I was very impressed withPreston’s Adam Barton last term and I think he could set the division alight and earn himself a big move.
There talk of him leaving but should he hang around Ched Evans will have a huge impact on the whole division, in stages he can do everything, given the slightly lower level of ability of the players he will be facing this term he could be on the perfect stage to display his talents.
Which young player should we look out for?
Laurie: It’s a shame that there have been a few bright prospects depart League One either one way or the other this summer in the likes of Dale Jennings, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson. ButHuddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes has shown a real eye for goal despite only being 21. He could play a major part in their promotion push.
Tony: Rochdale have recently signed goalkeeper Jake Kean on loan from Blackburn, many have commented that he has anEngland future, this could be the year for him to display his talents.
Of course Jordan Rhodes is a prospect and could impress but he isn’t an unknown quantity and that could count against him.
At the start of last season I had a bet with a friend, before a ball was kicked we both wrote down how we thought the League table would finish we put £1 a place on, despite priding myself on my Football knowledge I only got one correct, lets see if I fare better this term.
Laurie’s Predicted final League One table
4. Charlton Athletic
6. MK Dons
10. Leyton Orient
Tony’s predicted final League One table:
- MK Dons
- Leyton Orient