This forthcoming season is going to be an interesting one. League One appears to be much more of an even playing field this season – with a notable exception of cash-rich Sunderland, who are still oxymoronically benefitting from their successive relegations.
Here, we review the clubs in League One who are likely to be in and around the playoffs and automatic promotion spots come the end of the season.
The Black Cats find themselves in League One after successive relegations from the Premier League and the Championship and have somewhat of an attractive transfer budget given the position they find themselves in.
They’ve brought in several exciting players such as Reece James from Wigan, Jon McLaughlin from Hearts and Glenn Loovens from Sheffield Wednesday and the likes of George Honeyman, Josh Maja and Duncan Watmore should be very impressive in League One.
New gaffer Jack Ross has done a sterling job with St. Mirren and will move to the Stadium of Light full of optimism that he can lead the club straight back into the Championship.
The Bantams have made some exciting signings after peaking early last season with Stuart McCall and finishing with a whimper under the leadership of Simon Grayson.
The signings of Jack Payne, Richard O’Donnell, Sean Scannell and Hope Akpan are strong statements of intent from the Bantams and you can expect them to be there, thereabouts come the end of the season if they can hold on to last seasons top scorer Charlie Wyke.
New boss Michael Collins may be taking up his first job in management but with such a strong squad at his disposal and the backing of the clubs owners, alongside guidance from Greg Abbott, the Bantams will be up there.
Although the Posh have lost Jack Marriott to Derby County and exciting midfielder Marcus Maddison could be set for a move away from London Road, there’s no reason why the Posh won’t be at the right end of the League table this season.
The club have a healthy budget to bring in several new recruits ahead of the start of the season and the arrival of Forest striker Jason Cummings will be a clever replacement for the outgoing Jack Marriott. Leeds United loanee left-back Tyler Denton will help to offer an attacking outlet down the left and if the club do hold onto Maddison, they will certainly be able to challenge at the top of the division.
Steve Evans is no stranger to League One, helping Rotherham to the Championship during his spell with the Millers through the Play-Off final and will demand nothing less than the best from his Peterborough United squad – expect them to challenge mainly due to their budget and knack for bringing in goalscorers, regardless of where and how they find them.
Charlton are another club who look set to get a windfall of money if a takeover in progress goes ahead and also boast talent in their ranks. They were unfortunate to lose out on promotion last season, crashing out in the play-off semi-finals to Shrewsbury, but they should be able to pick themselves up, and dust themselves off ahead of next season.
The arrival of Lyle Taylor up front will guarantee goals and Darren Pratley’s signature will mean they have a strong, experienced midfielder in the middle of the park ahead of this season. With the other talent they have in their squad such as Billy Clarke, Jake Forster-Caskey, Mark Marshall and Ben Reeves, they are one of the stronger sides in the division.
Lee Bowyer is yet to take up the position as Charlton boss on a permanent basis, but he enjoyed a successful season with the Addicks last season when he took on the job as boss after Karl Robinson left his post as manager – expect more from him and another confident, assured season.
Barnsley narrowly missed out on staying up in the second-tier last season and will be keen to work their way back into the Championship this year. The likes of Zeki Fryers, Cameron McGeehan, Lloyd Isgrove, Tom Bradshaw and Kieffer Moore are all strong players at this level, and it’s likely they could help Barnsley make a return into the second-tier of English football.
Their transfer business has been interesting to say the least with several players moving into the club, but no real big names. Aussie midfielder Kenneth Dougall has signed for the Tykes from Sparta Rotterdam but besides that, it’s been quite a quiet window for Barnsley fans. With the club retaining some of their main talent following their relegation into the division, they’ll rely on what they have to do well, and it’s likely they will.
New boss Daniel Stendel previously managed at Bundesliga side Hannover 96 and boasted a healthy 50% win record during his time with the club. This is his first job in English football, but after doing relatively well at the top level in Germany, there’s no reason why he can’t enjoy real success with Barnsley.
Pompey narrowly missed out on a play-off place last season, falling five points short of a play-off place, but make no mistake, they will be out to ensure they don’t miss out this season. Pompey had one of the top scorers in the division last season in Brett Pitman and with exciting winger Jamal Lowe, they have one of the big attacking talents in League One.
Pompey have enjoyed a steady transfer window, bringing in right-back Anton Walkes from Spurs for a cool £200k and midfielder come defender Tom Naylor from Burton Albion on a free transfer. Winger Ronan Curtis from Derry City could be one to watch and goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray will offer Luke McGee some competition between the sticks for next season.
Kenny Jackett has won promotion from League One with both Millwall and Wolves, so he knows what it will take for this Pompey team to return to the Championship. Expect a steady start, but a maintained confidence in his side this season.