The title race

Sheffield United and Bristol City are the two favorites to win the league.

Money goes far in the lower leagues which most people know and these two clubs have it in abundance.imgres

Instead of us talking about these two clubs, we will leave it to the fans.

Sheffield United – A fans view by Josh Chapman

JV: Talk about last season then Josh. Thoughts on the season as a whole?

JC: Last season was a bit of a roller-coaster to be honest. We had a dreadful start but really picked it up under the new manager, Clough. We have come so far with Clough since he took over at the latter end of 2013 and he worked wonders with the team for the remainder of last season. For example, he stopped us leaking goals. Under David Weir, it was like somebody turned on the defensive tap and opposition goals just came flooding through. Team morale was low and the team desperately needed a confidence boost. Clough came in and just seemed to steady the ship. We were barely conceding any goals and our defence seemed like they were a close knit bunch of players instead of the ‘strangers’ act that the fans had seen from the start of the season. We weren’t just solid at the back, we suddenly seemed to have the ability to score goals; something we didn’t seem to be able to do up until the managerial change. The players were playing with a spring in their step, and they looked interested for once. As a fan, all you want is for your players to look interested and to put themselves on the line for the cause. Up until Clough’s appointment, we didn’t seem to have any fight about us. All of a sudden the season turned on its head. We were slowly becoming a better team. A team that we had been only a couple of seasons ago when we were in the big time. Results started to pick up, and although we were still in the bottom four, confidence seemed to be growing. Of course there was still the odd game where the whole team had an off day. The worst of these was probably the 3-0 defeat away to Crewe, in the pouring rain. But we seemed to be taking big steps rather than going backwards!

Then came the FA Cup run. A 3-2 away win at Colchester kicked that campaign off. A 2-0 2nd Round victory away at Cambridge United followed. But then we hit the big teams. An away trip to Aston Villa was our 3rd Round reward. But the revitalised Blades jumped the Villa hurdle, winning 2-1 in Birmingham. Fulham at home was our 4th Round draw. The game finished 1-1 after a late Fulham equaliser. However, Craven Cottage was a different story. The delight that came over fans everywhere when Shaun Miller nodded home extremely late on was unbelievable. Nottingham Forest at home in the 5th Round was unreal. We came from behind to win 3-1! A game I will never forget. But then the Charlton Quarter Final was pretty special. A packed Bramall Lane and a 2-0 home win to send us Blades to Wembley. Hull City ended our amazing run when they beat us 5-3 at Wembley, but I couldn’t care less. Those players had done every United fan everywhere proud. No matter of the result. Even though we narrowly missed out on a play-off place, we did extremely well to end up where we did after such a rollercoaster season. Onwards and upwards I say…

JV: So then, if you are to sustain a title push, what are your thoughts on your clubs transfers this summer? Has Clough done his business well?

JC: As a fan, I’m happy with Nigel Clough’s signings so far this summer. I believe that they will all impact positively on the club in different ways. The signing of Chris Basham has particularly struck a chord with me. After seeing him play a couple of pre-season games, it’s clear to me why Clough has brought him in. He’s a very classy player in my opinion. Always looking to pick a classy pass. He always looks for the space either to pass into, or run into to receive the ball. Just generally seems like a really nice player. I think he could have a vital role this season. I also think the addition of striker Marc McNulty is a positive one. I believe he can bring flair, pace and also goals; a crucial League One ingredient.

JV: Every club has a star player, who caught the eye for you last season then?

JC: I personally believe our star man is Jamie Murphy. After not seeing our new signings to their full potential, I believe that Murphy is our star player. In my opinion, he always has a lot of drive about him. He’s always looking to get forward and create a goal-scoring opportunity. He has a nice bit of pace about him, but he also has class. He can pick a quality pass or cross whenever, it just sometimes needs someone to get on the end of it. Overall I think he’s our star man.

JV: Your manager then Clough, happy with him for this season?

JC: I, along with other Blades fans, have a lot of faith in Nigel Clough’s philosophy and tactics. I believe he’s implemented a good, fast-flowing, attacking system that scores us goals and wins us games. However, he hasn’t skimped on defending. After bringing in centre-halves Andy Butler and Harrison McGahey, as well as full-back Craig Alcock, it’s clear that defending is very much on Clough’s mind. I believe that Clough is the right man for the job and could be in the role a very long time. A period of time that has the potential to be very successful.

So with optimistic fans behind the club, a brilliant squad, a great set of signing’s and plenty of money.. Sheffield United look the real deal.

You can back them for a great price outright to win the league for a generous 5/1 at William Hill.

Odds:

Outright 5/1

Promotion 13/8.

Our Verdict? 1st

Bristol City – A Fans view by Josh Abrahams

imgresJV: Last season was an unexpected one for Bristol fans, your thoughts on it?

JA: Last season was a season to forget, we didn’t start off to well and we were one of the favourites to go up, and at Christmas time we found ourselves bottom of the table and things were looking bad. Then we appointed Steve Cotterill who turned us around and got us up to 12th with great performances and good form.

JV: You’ve brought people in, People have left. Sum up your transfers then?

JA: This pre-season has had many new faces brought in and a couple going out. Coming in has been Aaron Wilbraham, Mark Little, Wade Elliott (previously on loan), Korey Smith, Luke Freeman and Luke Ayling and going out has been Liam Kelly and Brendan Moloney.

JV: You have many top class players. If you were to pick out one as your stand out player, who would it be?

JA: The Star Man: We have many players with the same ability but the stand-out player is Sam Baldock, he was last seasons top scorer and many clubs are after the quick striker.

JV: Your manager Steve Cotterill, appointed mid-season. Thoughts on him for what will be his first full season since joining back up with you?

JA: The Gaffer: Steve Cotterill, he’s a great manager with excellent ambitions and is very hard-working, he has good form with us and has brought in some quality signings. He will always be remembered by City fans for saving them from going down to League 2!

The Odds: (Via WilliamHill)

Outright 8/1

Promotion 9/4

Our Verdict? 2nd

The Automatics

Preston – A fans view by Morgan Russell

imgresLast season was bitterly disappointing we conceded a lot of last minute goals due to inviting pressure and sitting back when leading. We would have had automatics if we didn’t concede all the last minute goals. Also there seemed to be that lack of the final pass but that seems to be fixed with Brownhill now.

The transfers seem okay, we’ve poached players from clubs who rejected other offers to come to us. Andy Little seems to have the best to offer and shows promise going forward along with Garner, on the other handHugill looks the worst so far in pre season.
Gaffer – Our gaffer continues to impress, experienced in this division and with this squad at his disposal he should be able to do well. Now he has his squad instead of Westley’s, he should do well.
The Odds (Via WilliamHill)
Outright 8/1
Promotion 5/2
Our Verdict? 4th

Peterborough-  A fans view by James Bloodworth

imgresIn years gone by, a place in the play-offs and silverware in London Road’s trophy cabinet would have been considered a wonderful season by any Posh fan. However, since Darragh MacAnthony’s takeover in 2007, the Cambridgeshire side have enjoyed 3 terrific promotions and some of the most entertaining football ever seen at the club. With that in mind, last year can best be described as ‘underwhelming’: their scintillating start to the campaign was quickly forgotten when the team went on a torrid mid-season run, which saw only 8 points collected between October 22nd and New Year’s day. A varied second half of the season saw victory at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, as well as some disappointing results in the league, in a campaign that was ultimately ended at the hands of Leyton Orient in the play-offs. Despite this disappointment, very few fans felt that Posh’s performances justified the promotion they craved.

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This season, an improvement is definitely expected. Chairman MacAnthony made the decision to hand Darren Ferguson a new 3 year contract in June-a move that divided fans, despite the Scot’s excellent record in his two spells at Posh. Ferguson emphasised his desire to play entertaining, fast flowing football, and despite his caginess when asked about goals for the season, he is almost certainly targeting a fourth promotion in 7 years.

Ferguson’s decision to refurbish the squad has endeared the 42 year old to his doubters. Nat Knight-Percival and Danny Kearns left on free transfers, and despite the club’s failure to retain skipper Tommy Rowe, Craig Alcock, Mark Little and Danny Swanson, fans were not too disappointed with the outgoing business.

However, excitement mounted when Shrewsbury winger joined the club to add some much needed width, pace and flair, along with Dulwich Hamlet’s diminutive star Erhun Öztümer, who scored a staggering 33 goals from midfield last season. Posh’s next signing was probably the most surprising; DR Congo international and club legend Gaby Zakuani returned after a 6 month excursion in the Greek Super League having been deemed surplus to requirements by Ferguson at the turn of the year. Posh fans know what Zakuani is about: he wears his heart on his sleeve and is an excellent defender. Although he has no problems getting the ball off opposing players, what he subsequently does with it can prove to be problematic, and his limited ball playing abilities don’t fit the character of the fast flowing side Ferguson is assembling. Bristol Rovers’ right back Michael Smith signed to fill the void left by Craig Alcock and Mark Little, and he promises to offer a blend of the aforementioned two’s attacking and defensive qualities. Goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was snatched away from the jaws of Blackpool, and his signing should offer the former Spurs man a real chance to get regular first team football for the 1st time in his career, just as he is arguably reaching his peak as a shot stopper. The final addition was ‘Mini Bale’ Kenneth McEvoy, a pacey winger who has joined on loan from Tottenham, a spitting image of the most expensive player on earth. This is arguably one of the most exciting transfer windows ever seen at the club, and it will be interesting to see how the signings gel together. The business is not over yet though, larger-than-life Barry Fry is working around the clock to offload £1m man Tyrone Barnett and last season’s custodian Bobby Olejnik, among others, all of whom are out of favour with rapidly expiring contracts.

The star man for this season is undoubtedly Britt Assombalonga. The ex-Watford man netted 33 times in his debut season at London Road, and the club are desperate to keep hold of him. He has the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and manages to score when he isn’t playing particularly well. A natural goalscorer is invaluable to any team, and Posh certainly have one in Assombalonga. However, others to watch include classy defender Jack Baldwin and young midfielder Jermaine Anderson, who shows a lot of promise and has been dubbed ‘the new Viera’ by several.

This season looks set to be an exciting one, and one that many Posh fans are quietly confident about.

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Outright 9/1

Promotion 5/2

Our Verdict? 3rd

Leyton Orientimgres

Leyton Orient are the final stand-out automatic promotion hope and undoubtedly not one to write off. The surprise package last season missed out ever so narrowly to Rotherham in play-off final and it could well be the fuel to propel their quest for the automatics. Bringing in experienced signings Jobi McAnuff and Darius Henderson will help them in their quest as well with those two players offering fantastic quality for an already brilliant side from last season.

With Orient not just keen to prove doubters wrong but to excel many people’s expectations, Russell Slade’s men really could be in with a shout of claiming that seemingly elusive automatic spot that slipped through their fingers last term.

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Outright 9/1

Promotion 3/1

Our Verdict? 5th

The play-off chase

Bradford, Doncaster, Swindon, MK Dons, Yeovil and Chesterfield could all easily occupy these spots.

Bradford will be looking to move into this season with a lot more strength after last season’s year of consolidation. url

The arrivals of Matty Dolan, Billy Knott and Gary Liddle make for a fresh new looking midfield and add real strength to the Bantams’ line up. Striker Aaron McLean may be pivotal in their success alongside big targetman James Hanson and new addition Billy Clarke who recently signed from Crawley Town. If goals are a regular occurrence from the strikers at Valley Parade, an assured back four of Alan Sheehan,Rory McArdle,Andrew Davies and new captain Stephen Darby will certainly lead for a healthy looking line up. A strong defence combined with a lethal attack could well result in play-off glory for the Bantams, however if the key players do not live up to what is expected, a mid-table crisis could well be on the cards for the promotion hopefuls.

Our Verdict? 8th

Yeovil are a team who since coming down are keen to go straight back up. imgres

Yeovil certainly have the quality to succeed in this division, some would say undoubtedly with the talent that they possess. With James Hayter up front and former Liverpool youngster Adam Morgan lurking around they are not short of attacking options and have the ability to shock teams this season. Joe Edwards will be keen to make an impression this season and start the campaign well after an enjoyable campaign last year alongside several other squad members who impressed in the Championship. The Glovers pulled off some surprises last year and now this year they will be keen to do the same. With no pressure on them to impress anyone but the fans they hold the chance and the capabilities to surprise many.

Fans View- Sheridan Robins

Having been relegated from the SkyBet Championship last season, Yeovil Town fans will be hoping for a strong season in League 1. There is still an element of the unknown about the Glovers’ squad with nine new faces and a whole new back five. Having signed two goalkeepers, three centre halves, a right back, a left back , a midfielder and a striker, Town have been through a rebuilding process. The squad was put together early on and have spent much of pre-season gelling as a team. The hope is that Jakub Sokolik will replace Byron Webster as the commanding centre back and AJ Leitch-Smith will be the striker to watch in the division alongside the youthful Kieffer Moore and veteran James Hayter. The mood around Huish Park is a good one, hopeful of a realistic play-off push. With Gary Johnson still at the helm Glovers’ fans feel anything is possible, but adjusting to not being the underdogs in the division will be a different experience for the whole club. With Joe Edwards set to become captain and experienced midfielder Simon Gillett seemingly joining the Glovers imminently, there may be a small squad in South Somerset, but the quality in the side means that a top 10 finish will be the absolute bare minimum that Yeovil fans will expect. A push for the top 6 will be at the back of their minds, after their brief visit to the Championship last season where they will want to return and check in for a much longer stay!

Our Verdict? 10th

Doncaster hold a squad full of talent as well and could well be in contention for the play-off spots. imgres

With striking options of Curtis Main, Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson, Rovers have plenty of pace in their frontline as well as a strong midfield. The midfield consists currently of pacey Kyle Bennett, South African Dean Furman, club legend James Coppinger and several others. Goalkeeper Jed Steer joins up from Aston Villa as well.

Our Verdict? 7th

Swindon, MK Dons and Chesterfield all hold outside chances.

imgresMK Dons probably hold the best of rest. With players such as Ben Reeeves, Tom Hitchcock and Will Grigg in their squad, the quality that the Dons will bring to the table still remains. Although Chesterfield are newly promoted, they hold a strong squad which is very capable of coping in the division. The likes of Tendayi Darikwa, Gary Roberts and Sam Morsy are all key players in the Spireites squad, not forgetting cenimgrestrel defender Liam Cooper; providing he doesn’t move away from the ProAct that is. In terms of Swindon, they were the club who were so close yet so far away where an 8th place finish just outside the play-off’s honestly complimented the solid performances in which they gave consistently but showed their ability to be undone and lack of ruthlessness to prevent them from occupying that final play-off spot. In the end they were only undone by a few points, however this season they will be keen to do the business quickly,efficiently and not make any mistakes in doing so.

imgresSwindon’s Verdict? 9th

MK Dons’ Verdict? 6th

Chesterfield’s Verdict? 11th


 

 

 

 

The Relegation Battle

Gillingham, Crewe, Crawley and Colchester the predictions to occupy these spots.

Crawley have seen a huge change over the summer and with loss of players comes new recruits into the club. imgres

With many ageing signings, the freshness of the squad may not be as prominent and may see Crawley stumble throughout the season with little freshness in the camp. On the other hand though, the experience of their recruits such as Brian Jensen may prove helpful for them in League 1 this season.

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Relegation- 7/2

Our Verdict? 21st

Gillingham were a reformed team under Peter Taylor who seemingly led some sort of mass exodus to save the Gills.imgres

With one season in the division since promotion as League 2 champions, the second does not seem to be the most promising in the world. The losses of Myles Weston and Adebayo Akinfenwa who were big characters for the Gills throughout last season are not ideal and to lose them is not the best situation for the club from Kent. Although many new recruits have joined them, will they live up to the clubs recent departures’ standard?

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Relegation- 6/4

Our Verdict? 22nd

Crewe flirted with relegation for sustained periods of the season and this campaign is unlikely to be much different. imgres

Losing some key players goes usually without saying into a relegation battle unless those voids are filled such as the loss of key man Byron Moore. Crewe have seemingly not filled the gaps back up perfectly, however, and seem to have only recruited a few with Marcus Haber and Scott Shearer recently joining the Alex.

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Relegation- 6/5

Our Verdict? 24th

Colchester United finished in 16th place last season in League 1 and could be set for more of a struggle this season.imgres

With the standard of the league ever increasing, Colchester may fall behind with them failing to secure that one elusive big signing in this window and a prominent proven goalscorer is yet to enter their side. Jabo Ibehre will have to step up his game this season to ensure the U’s have a strong season and quickly abolish any relegation fears with his goals which will be key in helping them to float above the drop zone.

The Odds (Via WilliamHill)

Relegation- 6/4

Our Verdict? 24th

The best of the rest

Notts County,Oldham, Walsall, Fleetwood, Port Vale, Rochdale, Scunthorpe, Barnsley and Coventry all remain from our coverage.

Personally, I would expect these teams to have a large spread across the mid-table ranging from a strong Barnsley and Coventry side up at the top of the mid-table right down to Notts County and Oldham just above the bottom four.

Oldham have brought in Jonathan Forte which holds positive signs for them in the attacking line alongside Daniel Philliskirk and Jonson Clarke-Harris however the departures of Jonathan Grounds, Korey Smith and James Wesolowski are key ones and could prove to be detrimental to their success this season.

oldham-banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Verdict? 20th

Notts County have used the loan market positively and have managed to secure a double deal from Wolves. This saw the signings of Zeli Ismail and Jake Cassidy come to the club, two exciting young prospects keen to make a reputation for themselves. Garry Thompson also signs from Bradford City to help the right-wing position have options for the Magpies. In the other direction leaving County went key players Gary Liddle and Alan Sheehan both to Valley Parade. Without Jack Grealish or Callum McGregor in the side this season, County could struggle but with two loan signings from Wolves who are strong it may compensate for the loss of the young talents. Derry will be excited to get this season underway with it being his first permanent season with the club.

Our Verdict? 19th

Walsall have lost Craig Westcarr who was a key player last season for the club and contributed with some key goals finishing their top scorer with 14 for the season in the league. With a strong side last season, the Saddlers finished 13th, however this season their side looks slightly weaker especially with the departure of the big leader Andy Butler to Sheffield United, a presence to be sorely missed at the back. Ashley Grimes however offers options up front as well as Tom Bradshaw who signed from Shrewsbury Town during this summer.

www.saddlers.co.uk

www.saddlers.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Verdict? 18th

With Fleetwood, Rochdale and Scunthorpe all coming up, they hold fresh hopes for the season in a division which they hold minimal pressure upon their shoulders. All the promoted teams will be able to enjoy playing free flowing football throughout the upcoming season and will look to flourish in League 1. With all clubs recruiting new faces each and releasing other players as well, they will all obviously have different upcoming campaigns ahead of them. Expect the unexpected from the Promoted clubs. Promotion,Relegation,Consolidation or Play-Offs. Not to forget transfers, managerial exits and appointments. These three clubs could finish anywhere. With Rochdale losing Scott Hogan as well, a key player in last campaign’s success, a high finish is unlikely.

Our Verdicts?

Fleetwood 12th

Rochdale 16th.

Scunthorpe 17th.

This leaves Vale, Barnsley and Coventry who will be expected to maintain strong positions towards the higher end of the division. With each team possessing some fantastic players in their line-ups it isn’t hard to expect that they will have a strong season. Coventry will go into this season with plenty of money to spend from the Wilson sale but two brilliant signings from Bounemouth on loan helps to further justify their claims for a strong season. Barnsley although relegated last season have held onto players who have mainly a Championship pedigree and that will be vital in the upcoming season for them. If Vale’s Tom Pope has a season of rich goalscoring form then Vale may potentially aim for the Play-Offs and with a fantastic campaign last season behind them straight after promotion, it certainly is not beyond their capabilities.

The Verdicts?

Port Vale- 13th.

Barnsley- 15th.

Coventry- 14th.

The Players- Interviews.

Player: Joe Edwards

Club: Yeovil

JV: Thoughts on last season?

JE: “Thought we competed well last season and gave everything we had but lacked that bit of quality/luck at times.”

JV: Personal hopes for this season%3