Football league previews

by Mystical Mike

Thursday, August 7th, 2008
 

And so the time is finally here. Months of waiting are over for the 72 clubs of the Football League as the brand new season begins this weekend. Everyone starts again, we’re back down to 0 points each and everyone is on a level playing field (except for Luton of course!). So who will come out on top? Who will be relegated? And who will once again have another season of mid table security? Here’s my tips for the Championship, League One and League Two…

 

The Championship

The Contenders

You have to look for two of the relegated sides for title contention. The most important thing when being relegated is to keep your side together and both Reading and Birmingham have done just that. Both have good managers and will surely be challenging for the title. Elsewhere, QPR have spent a lot of money and are many people’s tips for the top two. Getting all the new faces gelling together could be an early problem but expect Rangers to be there or there abouts. If Ipswich can sort out their away form they could push hard for the top two as well.

The Playoff Battle

As always, the Championship playoff race will be extremely close with so many sides stepping up to the plate and improving each year. Derby should be involved somewhere, as should Wolves who seem to be up there every year. This is surely the year that Mick McCarthy has to deliver for the Wolves fans who will be expecting at least a top six finish.

Adrian Boothroyd will bring Watford close again and they should be better prepared for the long run this time.Elsewhere, Bristol City will want another crack at the big time but I fear that they will suffer a hangover from the playoff defeat last time out and could struggle to maintain their top sic status.

Sheffield United will be expected to push on towards the playoffs this time out while Neil Warnock and Crystal Palace will surely be up there with Warnock now given a full season at the helm.

In trouble

I really fear for Southampton this season…with a new set up led by unknown Dutchman Jan Poortviliet, it stinks of a desperate gamble. The new boss must get off to a good start or face an impatient St Mary’s crowd who are already unsure of his position. Also in trouble could be Preston who had a poor season last time out and could well struggle again.

Of the promoted side, I expect Swansea and Nottingham Forest to be well safe but Doncaster will find it tough. Sheffield Wednesday will do well to avoid the relegation battle once more and it’s hard to see them competing with the stronger sides in the league.

Danny’s Predictions:

Champions: Reading
Runners Up: Birmingham
Playoffs: QPR, Ipswich, Watford, Crystal Palace
Relegated: Doncaster, Preston, Sheffield Wednesday

 

League One

The Contenders

After a fifteen point deduction last time out, Leeds will be back zero to start off with this season and are red hot favourites for the title. Gary McAllister has no excuses but to get Leeds back into the Championship at the second time of asking.

Relegated Leicester should form their greatest challenge with experienced heads and a lot of good players for this level. Southend had a storming finish to the season but just ran out of steam in the playoffs. Expect the Shrimpers to be challenging the top two.

Fellow Essex boys Colchester have a new stadium and if they can adapt to their new surroundings early on they could well mount a challenge.

The Playoff Battle

Newly promoted Peterborough and MK Dons both have money behind them and this will keep them well up the table. The playoffs could loom for one, if not both, of them come May if they can continue where they left off. The only problem for the Dons is their new, untested, manager in Roberto Di Matteo.

My beloved Northampton have strengthened well so I’ll put the kiss of death on them by saying we could sneak into the playoffs while Carlisle will surely be there as well. Brighton and Oldham challenged well and have improved their squads so they could be pushing hard for the top six this time around.

In trouble

Playoff winners are usually mentioned as sides that will struggle and Stockport should be no exception.

Fellow promoted side Hereford United will struggle to compete with the big guns of the league and must keep a good home record at the uninviting Edgar Street if they are to stand any chance at all.

With the other two promoted sides looking strong, Cheltenham could be in big trouble this time around and Bristol Rovers, Swindon and Walsall could find it hard to sustain their good first season back in League One last time.

Danny’s Predictions:

Champions: Leeds United
Runners Up: Leicester City
Playoffs: Southend, Colchester, Carlisle, Northampton
Relegated: Hereford, Stockport, Cheltenham, Bristol Rovers

 

League Two

The Contenders

With a good summer in the transfer market, it’s hard to argue against Darlington being in and around the top two this season. They just missed out last time and should be in a good position to challenge again.

Sleeping giants Bradford should also have a much better season and will challenge for the automatic promotion places. Gillingham and Bournemouth, relegated from League One will be there or there abouts as well.

The Playoff Battle

If promoted Aldershot can continue their superb form of last season, there’s no reason why they can’t break into the playoffs in League Two. The gap between league and non league is getting smaller and the Shots could be in with a good shout if they keep the momentum going.

Wycombe have a strong squad and narrowly missed the top six last season but expect them to be challenging again after years of trying. Rochdale are still in League Two having blown their best chance in years to be promoted via the playoffs last time out but they will be strong again. Watch out for Shrewsbury who have made a couple of very good signings including Nottingham Forest’s Grant Holt. The Shrews will be a real threat this season.

In trouble

Luton are as good as relegated after the 30 point deduction. This means they must now have championship winning form and get 70 points if they’re even to stand a chance of creating what would be a miracle escape.

With two sides going down I can see Dagenham and Redbridge being in the mix again while Lincoln have slumped badly in recent seasons.

Danny’s Predictions:

Champions: Darlington
Runners Up: Bradford
Playoffs: Gillingham, Bournemouth, Wycombe, Shrewsbury
Relegated: Luton, Dagenham and Redbridge

 

 

 

 

 

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  • dee

    I’m not really a lower league fan but I do find the whole QPR thing fascinating, a few years ago they were nearly playing League 2 football, now people are talking about them playing in the Premiership. They’ve even manage to sign Real Madrid players on loan!

  • http://aloadofcobblers.blogspot.com Danny Brothers

    Yeah it was the same with Wigan and Fulham in recent times…both of them were bottom of the entire football league in the 1990’s but with that bit of investment rocketed through the leagues and are now established Premier League clubs.

    QPR have been cited as the “Chelsea of the Championship” and there’s certainly expectation that this is their season to return to the top flight.

  • dee

    I actually really like QPR, loftus road is a great little ground, the atmosphere is always superb, I’ve had some great away days there! A club like QPR should be in the Premier League as it gives all the London clubs a chance to take over the stadium!

  • Stevie

    bring it on! it’s been to long without any footy!! My weekends are now taken, sorry Soph, but I can now get out of shopping!! Woooopie!!

  • dexylongshot

    Totally agree on pretty much everything you say Danny. I fancy Birmingham this year, especiaaly with Phillips, he did the buisness earlier today although was sub and left it to the 92 minute. Mcfadden was class, he’s a cut above in this league as will be Hunt & Doyle if Coppell can keep hold of them at Reading. Leeds will walk it this year and like i predicted last year, Darlington and Aldershot are both excellent sides who will do well this year. It would be a fairytale if The Shots went straight up at their 1st try. I fancy Stevenage in the Blue Sq along with the Chelski of the League Ebbsfleet.

  • http://aloadofcobblers.blogspot.com Danny Brothers

    McFaddon was so much better than a lot of the players on show today…and that was against one of the better sides in the league!

    The mighty Cobblers are joint top of League One…I’m taking a photo of that table when it comes out 😀

  • Stevie

    great start for Luton, 1-3 defeat at home. See you later!!

    Still no league win for Paul Jewel losing at home to the mighty Doncaster!!

  • dexylongshot

    PS:
    I’ve set up a free fantasy league if anyone fancies a bash. Pass onto whoever.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/fantasyfootball

    Set a team up, register it, get all your login details and then join this one.

    League – ukfootballfinder league
    Pw – ukfootballfinder

    I’ll do a proper blog on it later in week along with our wicked new premiership predictor game that goes live this week, you can get to meet the UKFF girls on a photoshoot if you win!!!!!!!!

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