Last season’s League One campaign proved to be one not to be forgotten. The year saw many shocks along the way, with Burton Albion being the surprise package out of the 24 teams.
It’s been three months since Wigan Athletic stormed the league and gained promotion back to the second-tier, but after a summer of international football, the domestic campaign is back upon us and it proves to be another exciting nine months.
We welcome League Two champions Northampton Town to this division, along with Oxford United and Bristol Rovers who both made-up the other automatic promotion places. Whilst AFC Wimbledon are finally where they belong after beating Plymouth Argyle in the Play-Off Final.
Charlton Athletic, MK Dons and Bolton Wanderers are all in League One after having lacklustre campaigns last year – especially the Trotters who have endured and suffered financial difficulties since relegation from the top-flight.
This preview I shall be predicting where I think each team will finish and give an in-depth analysis as to why I think they will finish in that position. As well as looking at all the ins and outs* from each club and how that could effect their season. Let me know what you think of my predictions and it would be fascinating to hear your own.
*Will be edited throughout the season
Last season: 7th (won League 2 Play-Offs)
Manager: Neil Ardley
Ins: Dominic Poleon (Oldham Athletic), Dean Parrett (Stevenage), Chris Whelpdale (Stevenage), Ryan Clarke (Northampton), Tyrone Barnett (Shrewsbury).
Outs: Sean Rigg (Newport County), Adebayo Azeez (Partick Thistle), Callum Kennedy (Leyton Orient), Connor Smith (Plymouth Argyle), Adebayo Akinfenwa (Wycombe Wanderers)
Last season AFC Wimbledon looked to be spending yet another year in the fourth-tier of English football, but a very consistent second-half to the season saw them slowly sneak into the last spot in the Play-Off places. Neil Ardley hasn’t managed in this division yet, although he has played above League One, so it’s going to be a new experience for the Dons.
They have recruited fairly well I would say, bringing in striker Poleon – who has experience and dealt with this level before but has not really hit the heights expected of him. A like for like replacement for the departing Azeez who has gone to Scotland. Ardley should be happy at keeping star man Lyle Taylor, he’s been attracting a lot of interest over the summer after hitting 20+ goals last season. Another asset in Chris Whelpdale has featured in League One with Peterborough United and Gillingham.
A lot of people on social media have been putting Wimbledon in the bottom half in their predictions, and I can see why. The club have never been in this division before so they have no idea what it’s like, but I don’t see them going down. A comfortable 15th position for AFC Wimbledon in my eyes.
Last season: 24th (Relegation from the Championship)
Manager: Phil Parkinson
Ins: Mark Howard (Sheffield United), Jamie Proctor (Bradford City), Mark Beevers (Millwall), Chris Taylor (Blackburn Rovers)
Outs: Rob Holding (Arsenal), Hayden White (Peterborough United), Emile Heskey, Niall Maher (Bury), Oscar Threlkeld (Plymouth Argyle), Neil Danns (Bury), Tom Eaves (Yeovil Town), Rob Hall (Oxford United), Liam Feeney (Blackburn Rovers), Quade Taylor (Braintree), Stephen Dobbie
I honestly believe Bolton have done relatively decent in this summer transfer window and the club will is in unfamiliar land after suffering relegation to League One, with a very disappointing season last year – picking up just 30 points.
The former Premier League side have lost their most-prized asset in young centre-half Rob Holding, who has moved to Arsenal for £1.5 million. However, they have replaced last term’s starlet with a very experienced defender in Mark Beevers – who has experience of this league having spent last season with Millwall.
Obviously Bolton Wanderers are in financial difficulties at the moment but that hasn’t stopped them bringing in a well-known name in the managerial seat, Phil Parkinson joining to become the new gaffer following Neil Lennon’s departure. Parkinson has done fairly well with an average Bradford City side in the past, so I reckon he’ll be able to get the best out of his side. I reckon they will finish in the top-half but not enough for a chance of promotion, a solid 10th for me.
Last season: 5th (Play-Off semi-finalists)
Manager: Stuart McCall
In: Rouven Sattelmaier (Stuttgarter Kickers), Thimothée Diéng (Oldham Athletic), Matthew Kilgallon (Blackburn Rovers), Nicky Law (Rangers), Nathaniel Knight-Percival (Shrewsbury), Colin Doyle (Blackpool), Romain Vincelot (Coventry City), Jordi Hiwula (Huddersfield)
Outs: Jamie Proctor (Bolton Wanderers), Christopher Routis (Ross County), Greg Leigh (Bury), Billy Knott (Gillingham), Ben Williams (Bury), Josh Morris (Scunthorpe United), Alan Sheehan (Luton Town)
After last year’s Play-Off failure, falling defeat to Millwall in the semi-finals, Bradford City will reckon their chances in a league, on paper, looks a lot more open and competitive this season. One of their star strikers, Jamie Proctor, had decided against extending his deal at Valley Parade and instead moved to the Macron Stadium.
The exit of Phil Parkinson will be a massive loss for the Bantams but they have got Stuart McCall returning to the Yorkshire club, spending the last six years in his native Scotland managing Motherwell and Rangers. In his previous spell at Bradford McCall had a very different side than the one he’s adopted this summer, back in 2007 the side faced relegation to League Two, whereas now the Scotsman is expected to lead them to at least a top-half finish.
None of their summer signings jump out at me, other than midfielder Romain Vincelot who transferred to Valley Parade for an undisclosed fee from Coventry City. A very experienced defensive man but perhaps isn’t the sort of player you need if you’re looking to push for a Play-Off spot. Just like Bolton, they will finish in the top twelve but that is about it. A comfortable 9th for the Bantams is my prediction.
Last season: 3rd (Automatic promotion)
Manager: Darrell Clarke
Ins: Byron Moore (Port Vale), Peter Hartley (Plymouth Argyle), Luke James (Peterborough United)
Outs: Rory Fallon (Truro City), Tom Parkes (Leyton Orient)
Bristol Rovers enjoyed promotion back to League One after a torrid three years, which even saw them go into non-league. They came up though automatically via a late, late goal against Dagenham & Redbridge on the final day.
The Gasheads haven’t been too busy in the transfer market this summer but there’s been plenty of contract renewals coming out of the Memorial Stadium – which included striker Matty Taylor, who scored 25 goals last year, and would have become a free agent. Manager Darrell Clarke also committed his future to Rovers after being linked with the Leeds United job.
Like I said, their transfer business hasn’t been too spectacular and neither do I think their season will be in the 2016/17 campaign. I can’t see them going down with Taylor in the side but I also don’t see them surprising many. An 18th position for Bristol Rovers in my opinion and most supporters would probably be happy if they survived, to be honest.
Last season: 15th
Manager: David Flitcroft
Ins: Zeli Ismail (Wolves), Chris Kirkland (Preston North End), Nicky Clark (Rangers), Niall Maher (Bolton), Neil Danns (Bolton), Ben Williams (Bradford City), Greg Leigh (Bradford City), Antony Kay (MK Dons), Leon Barnett (Wigan Athletic), Scott Burgess (Bergsöy IL)
Outs: Ryan Lowe (Crewe Alexandra), Danny Pugh (Blackpool), Reece Brown, Daniel Nardiello, Rob Lainton, Peter Clarke (Oldham Athletic), Chris Eagles, Danny Rose (Mansfield), Joe Riley (Shrewsbury), Leon Clarke (Sheffield United), Chris Hussey (Sheffield United)
After a promising opening three months last season for Bury, November onwards saw the Shakers slowly fall down the table before eventually finishing 15th.
They have acquired a lot of Championship experience during the summer; with the arrivals of ageing goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, former Bolton and Crystal Palace midfielder Neil Danns, and centre-back Leon Barnett. Although Flitcroft has also let go of one of his side’s better players as striker Leon Clarke has moved for an undisclosed fee to Bramall Lane and Tom Pope is available for transfer.
Bury don’t usually do much, often a mid-table club, but I think they might improve on last year’s position. They just need a proven goalscorer and the Shakers will be a side to reckon with – but not too much. I don’t think supporters are expecting much and I don’t even from Bury, a spot in 13th for them.
Last season: 22nd (Relegation from Championship)
Manager: Russell Slade
Ins: Nicky Ajose (Swindon Town), Lee Novak (Birmingham City), Andrew Crofts (Brighton & Hove Albion), Louis Yamfam (Stevenage), Ricky Holmes (Northampton Town)
Outs: Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Jordan Cousins (Queens Park Rangers), Nick Pope (Burnley), Reza Ghoochanejhad (SC Heerenveen), Josh Staunton (Dagenham & Redbridge), Stephen Henderson (Nottingham Forest), Ayo Obileye (Eastleigh), Tony Watt (Hearts), Zak Ansah, Joe Pigott (Cambridge United), Marko Dmitrovic (AD Alcorcon), George Tucudean (Pandurii Targu Jiu), Igor Vetokele (SV Zulte Waregem), Naby Sarr (Red Star 93), Cristian Ceballos (Sint-Truiden), Simon Makienok (US Palermo), Rod Fanni (Al-Arabi)
Charlton Athletic didn’t do too well last season after finishing nine points adrift of safety and I think that was down to the ongoing lack of leadership from the owner Roland Duchâtelet. They had the players but managerial changes and poor decision-making led the Addicks back to League One.
Although they’ve lost some key players in Jordan Cousins, Icelandic Johann Berg Gudmundsson and both goalkeepers, they have also recruited well. Nicky Ajose is probably the stand-out arrival at The Valley, scoring 25 goals in a lacklustre season for Swindon Town last season. Along with Lee Novak, who proved he can do it at in this division and Andrew Crofts, formerly of Brighton and Norwich City.
If the owner actually cares about the club then I think Charlton will do fairly well this year. Ajose is going to have better service around him, and a better defence than he had at Swindon. He’ll score another 20+ goals in the 2016/17 campaign and for me the London club will finish 2nd in the table, achieving promotion back to the second-tier at the very first time of asking.
Last season: 18th
Manager: Danny Wilson
Ins: Kristian Dennis (Stockport), Paul McGinn (Dundee), Jon Nolan (Grimsby Town), Reece Mitchell (Chelsea), Ryan Fulton (Liverpool), Ched Evans
Outs: Emmanuel Dieseruvwe (Kidderminster Harriers), Jordan Slew (Plymouth Argyle), Jake Orrell (Hartlepool United), Byron Harrison (Barrow), Drew Talbot (Portsmouth), Michael Onovwigun, Ollie Banks (Oldham Athletic), Chris Herd (Perth Glory), Aaron Chapman (Accrington Stanley)
The Spireites had a very underwhelming season last time out, spending much of it looking down below rather than upwards. Danny Wilson came in to steady the ship after the sacking of Dean Saunders.
Chesterfield haven’t brought in many experienced names into the squad ahead of the new campaign, with controversially Ched Evans the big name from their summer arrivals. Even he I feel would have lost his fitness and it may take a while for him to get back to where he use to be prior to the prison sentence.
This is why I feel Wilson’s team may really struggle, and I think they only survived with the goals from loanee Lee Novak – who of course is now at Charlton. A lot of supporters may feel a mid-table finish is over the horizon this year but in my opinion they will finish 22nd in the relegation zone.
Last season: 8th
Manager: Tony Mowbray
Ins: Kyel Reid (Preston North End), Marvin Sordell (Colchester United), Kwame Thomas (Derby County), Jodi Jones (Dagenham & Redbridge), Chris McCann (Atlanta United)
Outs: Conor Thomas (Swindon Town), Aaron Phillips (Northampton Town), Darius Henderson), Martin Lorentzson (Orebro SK), Reda Johnson, Jim O’Brien (Shrewsbury), Stephen Hunt, Aaron Martin (Oxford United), John Fleck (Sheffield United), Romain Vincelot (Bradford City), Peter Ramage
After a brilliant start to League One in the first-half of last year, the Sky Blues seemed to collapse after Christmas and ended up finishing 8th, five points off the Play-Offs. That seemed to fall in line with the poor form of Adam Armstrong, who was on-loan at Coventry from Newcastle United last season.
Mowbray has made a few decent signings over the off-season, the stand-out capture being winger Kyel Reid in my opinion. Although Coventry City have also let go of a few experienced faces. The likes of Vincelot, Fleck, Johnson and Henderson all heading out of the Ricoh Arena. I feel their transfer business has been like for like, and there hasn’t really been any improvement in the squad on paper.
Fans demand that this division is not where the club belong, and to some extent I agree. Coventry have suffered financial difficulties and controversy surrounding the owners. I think this is finally their year of something to be happy about as they will finish comfortably inside the top six by finishing 3rd.
Last season: 19th
Manager: Uwe Rösler
Ins: Chris Neal (Port Vale), Dion Charles (AFC Flyde), Ashley Eastham (Rochdale), Matt Urwin (AFC Flyde), Cian Bolger (Southend United), Michael Duckworth (Hartlepool United), Ricardo Kip (Almere City), Alex Cairns (Rotherham United), Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Wycombe Wanderers), Ashley Nadesan (Horley)
Outs: Stephen Jordan (Chorley), Antoni Sarcevic (Shrewsbury), Max Cartwright, Brendan Moore (Torquay), Aleksander Gogic, Danny Andrew (Grimsby Town), Jamille Matt (Blackpool), Chris Maxwell (Preston North End), Shola Ameobi, Tyler Hornby-Forbes, Marcus Nilsson (Stabaek IF)
Fleetwood suffered a disappointing campaign but some of the supporters may feel it is a fair finish just above the drop zone, and perhaps may have gone down if they didn’t sack Gary Alexander. In came Steven Pressley to avoid relegation and keep the Cod Army in League One.
Numerous recognisable names have arrived on the north-west coast in the last few months. Neal, Eastham and Bolger from fellow League One sides whilst youngsters from non-league are perhaps going to give the club a stable future – especially with the fantastic training facilities recently unveiled.
The former Coventry City manager resigned though in late July and Uwe Rösler has taken over the helm at Highbury. In an interview with the BBC, the new boss stated he would target a top-six finish with Fleetwood Town. I can’t see this happening and he’ll be lucky to finish in the top-half. I honestly think the Cod Army will survive with ease but won’t do anything too impressive, a 14th spot.
Last season: 9th
Manager: Justin Edinburgh
Ins: Lee Martin (Millwall), Mark Byrne (Newport County), Scott Wagstaff (Bristol City), Billy Knott (Bradford City), Paul Konchesky (Leicester City), Joe Quigley (AFC Bournemouth), Adedeji Oshilaja (Cardiff City)
Outs: Glenn Morris (Crawley Town), Brennan Dickenson (Colchester United), Doug Loft (Colchester United), Jermain McGlashan (Southend United), John Egan (Brentford)
Up until late January the Gills were looking like strong promotion candidates but somehow ended up finishing 9th, five points of the Play-Offs. Although I’m sure, including myself, that most supporters would have taken a top-half finish at the beginning of last season.
Gillingham have recruited familiar names over the last month or so. Scott Wagstaff has been in League One before with Bristol City, gaining promotion to the Championship in 2015. Left-back Paul Konchesky has signed a one-year deal with the Gills, despite being 35, has experiencer with over 500 career appearances. Meanwhile, former captain Doug Loft was released and joined Colchester United in League Two.
Being a supporter I am going to be a little biased but a very poor pre-season and two or three more signings needed, I don’t hold out much hope for the upcoming campaign. We have good players but with three long-term injuries to key players I just feel we’re in for a very underwhelming season. I think a disappointing 16th for Gillingham.
Last season: 23rd (Relegation from Championship)
Manager: Karl Robinson
Ins: Paul Downing (Walsall), Ed Upson (Millwall), George Williams (Barnsley), George Williams (Fulham), Chuks Aneke, Kabongo Tshimanga
Outs: Jordan Spence, Alex Revell (Northampton Town), Matthew Upson, Cody Cropper, Harry Hickford (Forest Green Rovers), Antony Kay (Bury), Carl Baker (Portsmouth), Kyle McFadzean (Burton Albion), Lee Hodson (Rangers)
MK Dons enjoyed the first ever season in the Championship last year after finishing 2nd in League One the year before. However, they were unable to survive and finished ten points off safety. Although now the club will know what it takes if they return to the second-tier.
After reading several forums the majority of supporters are not happy with the summer signings so far and I’ve even read somewhere that Karl Robinson said new arrivals are a long-way off yet. Those who have signed for MK Dons are not the sort of pedigree to get you promotion, Downing nearly did with Walsall – even then I saw a lot of Saddlers’ giving him hate. Looking at the squad on paper MK aren’t going to be impressing many over the next nine months.
In my opinion Karl Robinson a very average manager and it has surprised me he’s still in the job at Stadium MK, but could be gone by Christmas if they are in the bottom-half. My prediction for them is 12th.
Last season: 4th
Manager: Neil Harris
Ins: Gregg Wylde (Plymouth Argyle), David Worrall (Southend United), Shaun Hutchinson (Fulham)
Outs: Carlos Edwards, Jack Powell (Ebbsfleet), David Forde (Portsmouth), Ed Upson (MK Dons), Lee Martin (Gillingham), Mark Beevers (Bolton Wanderers), John Marquis (Doncaster Rovers)
Millwall were very unlucky to lose in the Play-Off Final against Barnsley after a fairly good season in League One. After beating Bradford in the semi-finals impressively but losing 3-1 to the Yorkshire club at Wembley.
It hasn’t been a busy summer for Neil Harris at The Den but I feel they have done their transfer business wisely, gathering experience and ability over numbers. Gregg Wylde was one of Plymouth’s star players last campaign, who might have stayed with the Pilgrims if they gained promotion, but I feel the Lions have gained a very good winger and will help the London club in the new season.
As much as I hate Millwall I think they may do extremely well in the upcoming year and may learn from their mistakes last time out. If Harris can keep hold of Lee Gregory, who’s interested a host of clubs, then they may very well finish 1st.
Last season: 1st (League 2 Champions)
Manager: Rob Page
Ins: Aaron Phillips (Coventry City), Alex Revell (MK Dons), Raheem Hanley (Swansea City), Jak McCourt (Barnsley), Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough United), Paddy Kenny (Rotherham United), David Cornell (Oldham Athletic), Matthew Taylor (Burnley), Kenji Gorre (Swansea City), Harry Beautyman (Peterborough United)
Outs: Josh Lelan, Danny Rose (Portsmouth), Chris Hackett, Nicky Adams (Carlisle United), Ryan Clarke (AFC Wimbledon), Evan Horwood (Chester), Paul Corry, Ricky Holmes (Charlton Athletic), Ryan Cresswell (Eastleigh)
Northampton enjoyed one of the best season’s in their history last campaign, after comfortably topping League Two. Chris Wilder taking them to the third-tier after a couple of difficult years for the Cobblers which nearly saw the relegated to the National League.
Wilder has left Sixfields, presumably for a better wage, to join fellow League One side Sheffield United. Former Port Vale boss Rob Page has come in to what I assume keep them in this division as the target. Key players have however left, such as midfielder Danny Rose to Portsmouth and Ricky Holmes has joined Charlton. Although Northampton have brought in a few decent players as well; experienced goalkeeper Paddy Kenny is now in the ranks along with Matthew Taylor and Gabriel Zakuani – a centre-back from Peterborough United who knows this league like the back of his own hand.
I feel the Sixfields outfit aren’t going to set the world alight but they will be comfortable come end of the season and will probably be satisfied if they finish in my predicted 11th position. Northampton, in my opinion, have the right balance between old players who are about to retire and young prospects for years to come.
Last season: 17th
Manager: Steve Robinson
Ins: Ousmane Fane (Kidderminster Harriers), Marc Klok (Cherno More), Billy McKay (Wigan Athletic), Peter Clarke (Bury), Chris Kettings (Crystal Palace), Luke Woodland (Bradford Park Avenue), Ollie Banks (Chesterfield), Ryan Flynn (Sheffield United), Josh Law (Motherwell), Connor Ripley (Middlesbrough), Lee Erwin (Leeds United), Cameron Burgess (Fulham), Darius Osei (Stalybridge Celtic), Jamie Reckford
Outs: Thimothee Dieng (Bradford City), Richard Eckersley, Jonathan Forte (Notts County), James Wilson (Sheffield United), Rhys Turner (Morecambe), Jordan Bove, Joseph Mills (Perth Glory), Lee Croft, Mike Jones, Theo Vassell, Jack Trulove, Jack Tuohy, David Cornell (Northampton), Dominic Poleon (AFC Wimbledon), Joel Coleman (Huddersfield), Liam Kelly (Leyton Orient), Rhys Murphy (Forest Green Rovers)
Oldham Athletic only just survived relegation in the 2015/16 campaign under the guidance of John Sheridan, who was appointed in January to save the Latics. He successfully did but has now joined League Two outfit Notts County. Steve Robinson was named the new manager at Boundary Park in early July.
The Manchester-based club have gone for numbers rather than quality this summer in their signings, and that’s understandable. Prior to Robinson’s appointment last month, Oldham had just 13 senior players and hadn’t signed anyone until they got a new manager. Since then he’s welcomed just the fourteen players to the club.
I think they will struggle again in this upcoming season and honestly would be surprised if they escaped relegation. It’s important to have a squad of depth but in my opinion there’s no proper quality to lift them up the table. So I think Oldham Athletic will finish at the foot of League One in 24th.
Last season: 2nd (Automatic promotion)
Manager: Michael Appleton
Ins: Wes Thomas (Birmingham City), Rob Hall (Bolton Wanderers), Aaron Martin (Coventry City), Christian Ribeiro (Exeter City), Joe Rothwell (Manchester United), Tyler Roberts (West Bromwich Albion), Simon Eastwood (Blackburn Rovers), Curtis Nelson (Plymouth Argyle), Kane Hemmings (Dundee), Dan Crowley (Arsenal)
Outs: Kemar Roofe (Leeds United), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Sam Slocombe (Blackpool), Freddie Grant (Oxford City), Danny Hylton (Luton Town), Patrick Hoban (Mansfield Town), Johnny Mullins (Luton Town), Jake Wright (Sheffield United), AJ George, Jordan Bowery (Leyton Orient)
Oxford United have returned to their highest point after spending years Non-league and the fourth division. After achieving promotion to League One last season with 86 points, The U’s will be hoping to survive and challenge the big boys in this division.
I’m sure the Yellows were prepared for the loss of Kemar Roofe, who has joined Championship side Leeds United for a fee in the region of £3 million, after almost single-handedly guiding Oxford back to the third-tier for the first time since 2006. Saying that I think they’ve brought in plenty of experienced players. Striker Wes Thomas will surely bang in a few this season but I think their best business has been bringing in young defender Curtis Nelson. The 23-year old impressed with Plymouth Argyle last year and has signed at the Kassam Stadium on a free transfer, although compensation will have to be paid to the Pilgrims as he’s under the age of 24.
Talking to a number of Oxford United supporters and I get this feeling they would be satisfied with a mid-table finish. I understand that and honestly I don’t think they have the players to challenge the top six, especially with the departure of Roofe. You think they solidify a strong position in League One this year, the U’s could perhaps challenge in the 2017/18 campaign – so that is why I feel 8th would be about right for Oxford.
Last season: 13th
Manager: Grant McCann
Ins: Ryan Tafazolli (Mansfield Town), Andrew Hughes (Newport County), Bradden Inman (Crewe Alexandra), Hayden White (Bolton Wanderers), Gwion Edwards (Crawley Town), Matty Stevens (Barnet), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Crystal Palace), Luke James (Bristol Rovers)
Outs: Jon Taylor (Rotherham United), Andrew Fox (Stevenage), Jack Friend, Aaron Williams (Nuneaton), Shaun Brisley (Carlisle United), Kyle Vassell (Blackpool), Erhun Oztumer (Walsall), Gabriel Zakuani (Northampton Town), Souleymane Coulibaly (Kilmarnock), Jonathan Edwards (Hull City), Jordan Nicholson (Nuneaton), Harry Beautyman (Northampton Town)
After a promising start to last campaign in League One for Peterborough United, which saw them floating around the Play-Off spots, they slowly fell down the table before finishing 13th. Graham Westley was sacked towards the end with just one more game to go and earlier this summer the club appointed Grant McCann – who served the club for five years between 2010-2015.
The Posh have been one of the busier clubs in League One throughout the last two months. With experienced centre-half Gabriel Zakuani leaving for the Cobblers, a promising 24 year-old Ryan Tafazolli joined from Mansfield in the division below. However, one of their star players last season was Jon Taylor and he has departed London Road/ABAX Stadium for a fee to be believed of £500,000 to join Championship outfit Rotherham, I think he will be missed but the chairman will probably invest that money wisely back into the squad. Midfielder Inman who joined from Crewe will be missed in my opinion, as I believe the former Newcastle man has suffered a long-term injury.
Being the nosey person I am, I’ve done a bit of research into Peterborough’s early pre-season preparations and think they have a very good opportunity to get out of League One. The only downside they may have is the inexperience Grant McCann has in the managerial job and that may show if they get into the top-six, which I think they will with a 4th position by end of the season.
Last season: 12th
Manager: Bruno Ribeiro
Ins: Miguel Santos (Benfica B), Rigino Cicilia (Roda JC), Paulo Tavares (Vitoria Setubal), Quentin Pereira (RC Epernay), Kjell Knops (MVV), Carlos Saleiro (Oriental), Sebastien Amoros (Monaco B), Jerome Thomas (Rotherham United), Kiko (Vitoria Setubal), Calvin Mac-Intosch (SC Cambuur), Anton Forrester (Blackburn Rovers), Christopher Mbamba (HamKam), Nathan Ferguson (Burton Albion), Anthony de Freitas (Monaco B), Sam Johnson (Gateshead)
Outs: Theo Robinson, Achille Campion, Byron Moore (Bristol Rovers), Michael O’Connor (Notts County), Louis Dodds (Shrewsbury Town), Ryan McGivern (Shrewsbury Town), AJ Leitch-Smith (Shrewsbury Town), Carl Dickinson (Notts County), Ebo Andoh, Chris Neal (Fleetwood Town), Richard Duffy (Notts County), Colin Daniel (Blackpool), Chris Birchall
Port Vale did very little to impress anyone last season, nor did they do anything to suggest they’d be playing League Two football. Finishing 12th is a safe position and with limited resources, a good finish from previous manager Rob Page. Portuguese Bruno Ribeiro was appointed in mid-June to succeed Page, who is now at Northampton Town.
I will be 100% here and say I have never heard of the majority of Vale’s arrivals this summer, pretty sure supporter partly agree. The new manager has brought in his own philosophy which has led to a load of foreigners signing as well. The loss of key players such as AJ Leitch-Smith and Louis Dodds may be a large blow for Port Vale but only time will tell.
Brining these players in from abroad may be beneficial if Bruno decides to play a foreign-style of play, which may work against a lot of English clubs. Although the experience I think will overwhelm them and that will override the style of play, making me think Vale will finish in the relegation zone, 21st.
Last season: 10th
Manager: Keith Hill
Ins: Oliver Rathbone (Manchester United), Harrison McGahey (Sheffield United), Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe United), Sanmi Odelusi (Wigan Athletic)
Outs: Olly Lancashire (Shrewsbury Town), Rhys Bennett (Mansfield Town), Joel Logan, Ashley Eastham (Fleetwood Town), Nyal Bell (Gateshead), Grant Holt (Hibernian), Dave Syers, Lewis Alessandra (Hartlepool United), Billy Hasler-Cregg (Altrincham), Michael Rose
After a rather dull two thirds of the season last time out, Rochdale were unlikely candidates pushing for a place in the Play-Offs towards the end of last campaign but falling at the last hurdle.
Not too many faces have arrived at Spotland this summer, just the four. Niall Canavan is the only player to have experienced League One on a consistent basis and is a like-for-like replacement for defender Eastham, who is now at Fleetwood Town. Another centre-back who was a starter, Rhys Bennett, has also left for fellow third-tier side Shrewsbury Town. Dale’s transfer business doesn’t really excite me and I wouldn’t be surprised if fans feel the same.
Rochdale will struggle this season, not purely for their lack of excitement in the transfer window but the fact that many teams around them have improved marginally and that could push them further down the table, so I think a 17th finish is on the horizon for them.
Last season: 7th
Manager: Graham Alexander
Ins: Josh Morris (Bradford City), Duane Holmes (Huddersfield), Sam Mantom (Walsall), Dominic Vose (Grimsby Town)
Outs: Andrew Boyce (Grimsby), Sean McAllister (Grimsby Town)
The Iron finished the last campaign just one spot outside the top-six after a very late push for the Play-Offs, which coincided with the arrival of manager Graham Alexander in March – if only they had appointed him a bit earlier Scunthorpe could have been playing Championship football, but they’re not.
Glanford Park has almost been a ghost town this summer with only a number of signings to talk about. Josh Morris and Sam Mantom have arrived after being released by Bradford and Walsall respectively. Both will had that little bit of experience they gained in the Play-Offs to offer Scunthorpe United in their bid for promotion, as well as young American midfielder Duane Holmes who has signed for The Iron on a free transfer from Huddersfield in the league above.
I honestly think Scunthorpe were unlucky last season to finish outside the promotion places and had the rhythm to go all the day if they did in fact finish higher than their 7th. They will go all the day in the 2016/17 campaign and I think Graham Alexander’s side may sneak in 6th.
Last season: 11th
Manager: Chris Wilder
Ins: Mark Duffy (Birmingham City), James Wilson (Oldham Athletic), Jake Wright (Oxford United), John Fleck (Coventry City), Jack O’Connell (Brentford), Leon Clarke (Bury), Chris Hussey (Bury)
Outs: Jose Baxter, Jay McEveley (Ross County), Harrison McGahey (Rochdale), Ryan Flynn (Oldham Athletic), Callum McFadzean (Kilmarnock), Terry Kennedy (Alfreton), Ioan Evans (Gainsborough Trinity), Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Barnet), Florent Cuvelier (Walsall), Mark Howard (Bolton Wanderers), CJ Hamilton (Mansfield Town), Diego De Girolamo (Bristol City)
It was another rather disappointing year for Sheffield United supporters between August last year and May. They started the season in the worse possible way by losing to Gillingham (my team) 4-0 on the opening day. Many Blades supporters think their club don’t deserve to be in this division but year after year the players seem forget that. With the sacking of Nigel Adkins at the end of last season, Sheffield United appointed Chris Wilder – who had led Northampton to becoming League Two champions.
Two of their marquee signings for me has to be Mark Duffy and Leon Clarke. The latter being well-known for the number of times he hits the back of the net, especially with Bury and Wolves recently but Clarke isn’t getting any younger having turned 31 earlier this year. Meanwhile Duffy is no stranger to League One as the winger was on-loan at Burton Albion for the 2015/16 campaign and impressed many as the Brewers shocked us all in their promotion. Wilder has been trying to get rid of the deadwood at Bramall Lane and has somewhat succeeded with a number of departures who I don’t remember seeing in the starting XI last season.
You’d like to think Sheffield United would get promoted at some point so us other fans don’t have to listen to their constant moaning, but perhaps that’s a little too harsh….? They will definitely finish in the top-half but it shall be another season to forget as I think a 7th position will be where the Yorkshire club finish.
Last season: 20th
Manager: Micky Mellon
Ins: Jim O’Brien (Coventry City), Ryan McGivern (Port Vale), Adam El-Abd (Bristol City), Olly Lancashire (Rochdale), Louis Dodds (Port Vale), Gary Deegan (Southend United), Antoni Sarcevic (Fleetwood Town), AJ Leitch-Smith (Port Vale), Joe Riley (Bury)
Outs: Jordan Clark (Accrington Stanley), Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro (Barnet), Jermaine Grandison, Matt Tootle (Notts County), James Caton (Southport), Micky Demetriou, James Collins (Crawley Town), Tyrone Barnett (AFC Wimbledon), Elliot Grandin, Scott Vernon (Grimsby Town), Nathaniel Knight-Percival (Bradford City), Zak Whitbread
Shrewsbury didn’t do too well last time out and it would be a season to forget as the Shropshire club finished 20th, just one place above the drop and only four points separated them.
The Shrews have brought in several names who know about League One, bringing in three experienced players from fellow division side Port Vale. In fact all their arrivals are from teams in this league, other than defender Adam El-Abd who was released by Bristol City in the Championship. I feel Micky Mellon is just trying to steady the ship ay Shrewsbury, rather than push for an unlikely promotion. A number of players have also left the Greenhous Meadow, with what appears to be Mellon get rid of those who were lacklustre to requirements for the new season.
I honesty don’t have anything against Shrewsbury Town, saying that I don’t really have any sort of opinion on the club – they’re just there and don’t tend to really bother anyone else. The Shrews will struggle once again as a result of too many names coming in, 20th again for me.
Last season: 15th
Manager: Phil Brown
Ins: Simon Cox (Reading), Jason Demetriou (Walsall), Jermaine McGlashan (Gillingham), Mark Oxley (Hibernian), Nile Ranger
Out: Kevin Hurst (Mansfield Town), Jack Payne (Huddersfield), Franck Moussa (Walsall), Myles Weston (Wycombe Wanderers), Cian Bolger (Fleetwood Town), Daniel Bentley (Brentford), Noel Hunt (Portsmouth), David Worrall (Millwall), Gary Deegan (Shrewsbury Town), Luke Prosser (Colchester United), Paul Smith
After achieving promotion to League One in 2015 via the Play-Offs against Wycombe Wanderers, Southend United were expected to do a lot better than they did last season. Lying around mid-table for the majority of it before ending 15th and closer to relegation than the top-six in points.
Phil Brown has done his business wisely throughout the summer, only bringing in a handful of new players. Simon Cox needs no introduction, an established striker in the Championship a few years ago before falling down the ranks at Reading. Whilst signing right-back Demetriou from Walsall who nearly gained promotion. The only arrival I question is the controversial one of Nile Ranger, but I’m sure Phil Brown knows what he’s doing. Southend have lost a couple of key players though with Jack Payne and Daniel Bentley both running down their contracts and moving to the second-tier.
A couple of years at Roots Hall and I think Brown finally has the squad he wants and can do things he wants. They won’t impress many this season but they will do fairly well and a spot in 5th will do Southend United just fine.
Last season: 16th
Manager: Luke Williams
Ins: Lawrence Vigouroux (Liverpool), Conor Thomas (Coventry City), John Goddard (Woking)
Outs: Nicky Ajose (Charlton Athletic), Fabien Robert, Lee Marshall (Bath City), Josh Cooke, Miles Storey (Aberdeen), Tyrell Belford (Southport), Jeremy Balmy, Drissa Traore (Forest Green Rovers), Jamie Calvin, Michael Smith (Portsmouth)
There was nothing to be excited about for Swindon fans last season, spending most of it in the bottom-half before finally finishing thirteen points above relegation. Manager Martin Ling resigned in December due to health and the club appointed Luke Williams, who was previously assistant.
Swindon have finally found their goalkeeper to replace Wes Foderingham, signing Vigouroux on a permanent deal from Premier League giants Liverpool after spending last season at the County Ground on-loan. The Robins will be optimistic about the new season as striker Nicky Ajose left to join Charlton Athletic, the player who practically kept Swindon up in League One with his 25 goals or so – which also led him to being nominated for League One Player of the Year.
They will definitely miss Ajose and have not found a prolific replacement as of writing this which makes me think Luke Williams’ side are going to struggle in the 2016/17 campaign. Swindon Town are not going to enjoy my prediction, as I think they may finish 23rd – second bottom.
Last season: 3rd (Play-Off semi-finalists)
Manager: Jon Whitney
Ins: Andreas Makris (Anorthosis Famagusta), Erhun Oztumer (Peterborough United), Theo Vassell (Oldham Athletic), Franck Moussa (Southend United), Florent Cuvelier (Sheffield United), Simeon Jackson (Blackburn Rovers), Joe Edwards (Colchester United), Josh Ginnelly (Burnley), Kacy Butterfield (Robin Hood), George Dobson (West Ham United), Jason McCarthy (Southampton)
Outs: Tom Bradshaw (Barnsley), Romaine Sawyers (Brentford), Andy Taylor (Blackpool), Theo Vassell (Chester), Levi Rowley, Paul Downing (MK Dons), Sam Mantom (Scunthorpe United), Jordan Cook (Luton Town), Jason Demetriou (Southend United), Isaiah Osbourne, Milan Lalkovic (Portsmouth), Anthony Forde (Rotherham United), Liam Roberts (Chester)
The Saddlers enjoyed one of their best seasons in recent history last season. They finished 3rd, being automatic promotion candidates for most of the season, and losing to Barnsley 6-1 on aggregate on the Play-Off semi-finals.
The focus of Walsall’s transfer dealing this summer is primarily on the outgoings rather than the incomings. Arguably their two best players have departed the Banks’s Stadium as striker Tom Bradshaw and attacking midfielder Romaine Sawyers have both joined Barnsley and Brentford respectively. As well as a number of other first teamers who have left the Saddlers this summer are defenders Demetriou and Downing, along with promising winger Lalkovic who is now at Portsmouth. Jon Whitney has struggled to replace the main core of his team, their stand out arrival being Cyprus international Andreas Makris, which broke their transfer fee record.
Whitney’s squad are going to struggle this season in my opinion. A failure to replace key players with any real quality is going to show and honestly think they will finish no where near the top-six, which the manager has expressed as the target in the media. I am predicting Walsall to finish 19th, just above safety.
- Charlton Athletic
- Coventry City
- Peterborough United
- Southend United
- Scunthorpe United
- Sheffield United
- Oxford United
- Bradford City
- Bolton Wanderers
- Northampton Town
- MK Dons
- Fleetwood Town
- AFC Wimbledon
- Bristol Rovers
- Shrewsbury Town
- Port Vale
- Swindon Town
- Oldham Athletic
Thank you very much for reading (especially if you read the whole thing). It would be nice to hear your League One 2016/17 predictions as well.
Twitter – @RyanJ_GFC