League One Season Preview

After almost half a year, League One football returns this weekend. We’ve covered the Gas and our personal predictions, so here is a brief glance of all of our opponents for the season ahead!

Accrington Stanley

Nickname – Stanley

Manager – John Coleman

Stadium – Crown Ground

Star man – Sean McConville

Last season – 17th

Prediction – 21nd

Accrington Stanley’s miracle continues and they and manager John Coleman continue to defy the odds as they maintained their third consecutive season in League one. Stanley, who operate one a shoestring budget, will largely be hoping for another survival but may have wider eyes for a mid-table finish.

Ins and outs – Stanley have lost a few notable players this summer, including star man Jordan Clark, full-back Callum Johnson and goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov. In terms of fresh faces, Newcastle pair Tom Allen and Mo Sangare arrived on loan and centre back Cameron Burgess was the promising permanent transfer for Stanley thus far.

Stanley fans are always optimistic and they always seem to defy the odds, but I feel this season, especially with the departures, I feel it will be a step too far.

Sean McConville in action

AFC Wimbledon

Nickname – The Dons

Manager – Glyn Hodges

Stadium – Plough Lane

Star man – Will Nightingale

Last season – 20th

Prediction – 22nd

Wimbledon enter their 19th year since the rebirth and everything that happens to them is progress! Their promotion to the Football League seemed special enough, but to be fairly settled in England’s bronze tier has made it a miraculous two decades.

Ins and Outs – Wimbledon retained most of last season’s senior squad but did lose the experience of Scott Wagstaff and defender Rod McDonald. Ollie Palmer looks a shrewd piece of business for the Dons, who did struggle for goals last season. Elsewhere they snapped up Alex Woodyard and Ethan Chislett.

Wimbledon escaped by a whisker and possibly thanks to the premature end last season, I feel this time their luck will expire.

Wimbledon’s new signing Ollie Palmer

Blackpool

Nickname – The Seasiders

Manager – Neil Critchley

Stadium – Bloomfield Road

Star man – Liam Feeney

Last season – 13th

Prediction – 12th

Blackpool have had a turbulent few years since their brief Premier League stint but now look settled at board level with the departure of the Oysten family, and with an exciting young manager, Blackpool will hope to rekindle those glory days in the near future.

Ins and Outs – Blackpool lost a touch of experience over the summer, Sean Scannell, Jay Spearing and others moving on to new challenges. On the plus side, the Seasiders brought in a strong calibre of talent, including playmaker Jerry Yates and midfielder Ethan Robinson.

Blackpool are a tough one to predict this season, a second season post Oysten, a first full season under Critchley and a fairly mixed transfer window. I’m going with a small climb this season but a play off push wouldn’t surprise me.

Neil Critchley entering his first full season

Burton Albion

Nickname – Brewers

Manager – Jake Buxton

Stadium – Pirelli Stadium

Star man – Joe Powell

Last season – 12th

Prediction – 16th

Burton have only been a football league club for 11 years but it has certainly never been dull. They spent 2 years in the Championship only a few years ago but have slowly deteriorated since then. Jake Buxton is entering his first foray into management whilst still being registered as an eligible player.

Ins and Outs – It has been a relatively quiet transfer window in both directions for the Brewers. The release of Scott Fraser the only notable loss. Burton seem to be opting for experience for the new season, bringing in Luke Varney and Michael Botswick.

Burton have slowly sunk further into League One since returning to the third tier and the loss of Nigel Clough could hit them hard this season. I don’t think they’ll be in dramatic trouble but I don’t see a promising season ahead.

Powell is a Brewer

Charlton Athletic

Nickname – The Addicks

Manager – Lee Bowyer

Stadium – The Valley

Star Man – Jonny Williams

Last season – 22nd (Championship)

Prediction – 4th

Charlton will still be reeling after going down despite problems for Sheffield Wednesday and will be hoping to bounce straight back under Lee Bowyer this season.

Ins and Outs – Charlton have largely retained their team from the Championship last season but did lose striker Lyle Taylor and former Gas man Tom Lockyer. The Addicks have only made 2 signings so far but they certainly aren’t low on quality, with creative Alex Gilbey and striker Conor Washington coming to the Valley.

Charlton will need to tighten at the back after Lockyer’s exit and find goals in the absence of Lyle Taylor, but I predict a fairly solid season, even if it’s unlikely to be automatic promotion.

Lee Bowyer will look to bounce straight back

Crewe Alexandra

Nickname – The Railwaymen

Manager – David Artell

Stadium – Gresty Road

Star man – Charlie Kirk

Last season – 2nd (League Two)

Prediction – 19th

Crewe Alex return to League One following a perhaps unlikely promotion last season. Gibraltar national and former Crewe player David Artell has done a remarkable job in just two years in senior management and will hope to further cement his legacy in the third tier this season.

Ins and Outs – Perhaps unsurprisingly, Crewe didn’t find it difficult to keep players following promotion, but may feel the loss of midfielder James Jones. On the positive, they have made several signings with experience at this level, most notably Omar Beckles and Mikael Mandron.

The step up has often proved a steep one but with a promising manager and a good transfer window, Crewe will probably be safe and could even push towards mid-table.

David Artell looks ready for League One

Doncaster Rovers

Nickname – Donny

Stadium – Keepmoat Stadium

Manager – Darren Moore

Star Man – Ben Whiteman

Last season – 9th

Predictions – 12th

Doncaster Rovers are always a team to watch in League One, having play off runs and consecutive top half finishes despite only being promoted in to this league in 2017. Manager Darren Moore has won lots of plaudits in a short spell as a manager and the former Doncaster player will hope for a succesful second season at the Keepmoat.

Ins and Outs – Doncaster’s biggest lost is no doubt that of Kieron Sadlier, the clubs top scorer last season. They also released forward Devante Cole and winger Matty Blair. Donny haven’t made a ton of tranfers but did secure moves for Jason Lokilo and defender Cameron John.

Doncaster are never ones to rule out but I feel the loss of Sadlier will see them drop a few places, but they certainly can’t be ruled out of a play off spot.

Captain Ben Whiteman

Fleetwood Town

Nickname – Cod Army

Stadium – Highbury

Manager – Joey Barton

Star man – Callum Camps

Last second – 6th

Prediction – 8th

Fleetwood enter their 7th season in League One and have been nearly men for a few years now. Mild mannered Joey Barton will still not be happy following last seasons play off mauling at the hands of Wycombe and will want to go one better.

Ins and Outs – Fleetwood have had a very busy summer, starting with the loss of a few key players including Kyle Dempsey, Ashley Hunter and Lewis Coyle. On the plus side their recruitment is promising, snapping up centre mid pairing Jordan Rossiter and Callum Camps as well as the experienced Mark Duffy.

Difficult to predict with the Cod Army. They’ve replaced good lost talent with good new talent and are always contenders. I predict them being edged out of the play offs, but barely.

Bristol Rovers’ best friend, Joey Barton

Gillingham

Nickname – Gills

Stadium – Priestfield

Manager – Steve Evans

Star man – Kyle Dempsey

Last season – 10th

Prediction – 13th

Gillingham are another team who have been a League One club for a long time. They had a strong season last year under Steve Evans and will be hoping for further improvement this.

Ins and Outs – Gillingham have had something of an overhaul this summer, losing two main players to the Gas – Brandan Hanlan and captain Max Ehmer. However the signings has settled fears at Priestfield, not least the signings of midfielder Kyle Dempsey, winger Jordan Graham and striker Vadaine Oliver.

Gillimgham could surprise a few again this season having made some astute signings but I feel the loss of their captain and quaility elsewhere will notch them down the table.

New signing Kyle Dempsey

Hull City

Nickname – The Tigers

Stadium – KCOM Stadium

Manager – Grant McCann

Star man – Greg Docherty

Last season – 24th (Championship)

Prediction – 7th

Hull will need to quickly recover from possibly the biggest half season drop of all time last season, losing 16 of the final 20 games to go from top half to rock bottom. Grant McCann has been given the chance to recover and will hope for a swift return.

Ins and Outs – Hull have perhaps not surprisngly lost a few of their stars, most notably Jackson Irvine, Jon toral and Markus Henriksen. On the flip side, Hull have brought in quality replacements including playmaker Greg Docherty and right back Lewie Coyle.

It can be really difficult to halt declining momentum and the loss of several big names mean it’s hard to make a case for an immediate return, even through the play offs.

Grant McCann given another chance

Ipswich Town

Nickname – The Tractor Boys

Stadium – Portman Road

Manager – Paul Lambert

Star man – James Norwood

Last season – 11th

Prediction – 5th

Ipswich had a disappointed first season back in League One last season after 17 years in the second tier before then. Paul Lambert has remained at the helm and will hope for exponential improvement this year.

Ins and Outs – Ipswich have had arguably the quietest window in the league so far, losing only 4 players and bringing in 5. Striker Will Keane and winger Jordan Roberts departing and forward Oliver Hawkins and left back Stephen Ward arriving.

Ipswich fans may not have too much optimism after last season and a quiet window but is more than enough quality in the side to improve and push towards a return to the Championship.

James Norwood looking for another high scoring season

Lincoln City

Nickname – The Imps

Stadium – Sincil Bank

Manager – Michael Appleton

Star man – Callum Morton

Last season – 16th

Prediction – 15th

Lincoln enter their 2nd season in League One after a relatively quiet first. Michael Appleton still has big shoes to fill following the Cowley brothers departure last year and will want to impress on his first full season at Sincil Bank.

Ins and Outs – Lincoln have overhauled this season, with double figure outgoings and in-comings over a long summer. Notable losses including midfielder Jack Payne and defenders Cian Bolger and Michael Botswick. Lincoln will be delighted with the loan of forward Callum Morton and the signings of Liam Bridcutt and Adam Jackson.

Lincoln do have potential to improve but I feel they’ll be in for another season of safe but not particularly exciting.

Michael Appleton

MK Dons

Nickname – Dons

Stadium – Stadium MK

Manager – Russell Martin

Star man – Richard Keogh

Last season – 19th

Prediction – 21st

Mk Dons enter their 17th year of being a professional club and were perhaps lucky to escape the drop via points per game last season. Russell Martin is entering his first full season of management and will look for a smoother ride this time around.

Ins and Outs – MK dons have lost an awful lot of talent for the upcoming season, including top scorer Rhys Healey, playmaker Ben Reeves and midfielder Alex Gilbey. On the positive MK shocked the market with the signing of Richard Keogh. He alongside fellow new boys Carlton Morris and Louis Thompson could call for optimism.

Mk Dons as stated above were perhaps lucky to survive last season and this time I feel the luck runs out.

Shock new signing, Richard Keogh

Northampton Town

Nickname – The Cobblers

Stadium – Sixfields

Manager – Keith Curle

Star Man – Chris Lines (yes I’m biased)

Last season – 7th (League Two)

Prediction – 23rd

Northampton achieved a terrific and perhaps unforeseen promotion last season via the play offs and they’ll have ambitions for another successful season this year.

Ins and Outs -The Cobblers have had a busy window but will certainly feel the pain of losing player of the year Charlie Goode and striker Vadaine Oliver. Northampton have boosted their attack with loan pair Benny Ashley-Seal and Joe Nuttall and also secured defender Cian Bolger.

The Cobblers will hope to defy the odds again but I feel the step up will be too large this time around.

Former Rovers man, Keith Curle

Oxford United

Nickname – Yellows

Stadium – Kassam Stadium

Manager – Karl Robinson

Star Man – Cameron Brannagan

Last season – 4th

Prediction – 6th

Oxford will need to quickly pick up from the disappointment of a play off final defeat a few months ago and they will 100% be aiming for play offs or better this season.

Ins and Outs – Oxford retained the majority of the squad that came so close last year, but may feel the loss of loanees returning such as Ben Woodburn and Marcus Browne. The Yellows will be boosted by the permanent signing of Matt Taylor as well as midfielder Sean Clare.

Oxford will undoubtedly be up there again this season and will aim for automatic promotion, I think that will be a step too high but certainly anticipate a challenge.

Cameron Brannagan

Peterborough United

Nickname – Posh

Stadium – London Road

Manager – Darren Ferguson

Star man – Mohamed Eisa

Last season – 7th

Prediction – 2nd

Peterborough were reeling last season after their 6th place pre-lockdown was demoted to 7th via points per game and they missed out on the play offs. Manager Darren Fergusen is on his third separate spell at the club and it feels like its now or never.

Ins and Outs – Posh’s main loss was that off influential top scorer Ivan Toney but will also miss Marcus Maddison who permanently completed his move away after a saga last year. Posh raided Bristol this summer with Sam Szmodics from the red side and of course Jonson Clarke-Harris from blue.

Posh have been nearly men for far too long and it would be a disaster if another season passed without promotion. I think this year they finally end the hoodoo and achieve a much needed promotion.

Jonson Clarke-Harris in his second spell at Posh

Plymouth Argyle

Nickname – Pilgrims

Stadium – Home Park

Manager – Ryan Lowe

Star man – Danny Mayor

Last season – 3rd

Prediction – 14th

Plymouth are back in League One after a season in the league below and will hope for stability and progress going forwards. Ryan Lowe has achieved back to back promotions with two separate clubs and is building quite the reputation.

Ins and Outs – Plymouth lost influential midfielder Antoni Sarcevic after four years and also let go of winger Callum McFadzean. It has been a busy summer for Plymouth, resigning keeper Luke McCormick, striker Frank Nouble and winger George Cooper.

Argyle look arguably the stronger of the four newly promoted sides and should look forward to a relatively safe season and a chance to build on recent success.

Ryan Lowe is a manager on the up

Portsmouth

Nickname – Pompey

Stadium – Fratton Park

Manager – Kenny Jackett

Star Man – John Marquis

Last season – 5th

Prediction – 3rd

Pompey lost out in the play offs last season and will be aiming to go one better as their rise continues. Kenny Jackett has missed out a couple of times and he could well see this as now or never.

Ins and Outs – Pompey have a few spots they still need to fill this window having lost players such as Christian Burgess, Oliver Hawkins and Brett Pitman. Portsmouth have only made two senior permanent signings but both have good quality, centre back Sean Raggett and full back Callum Johnson.

Pompey are impossible to write off again this year and whilst I think they’ll miss out on the top 2, play offs seems destined for them.

John Marquis leads the line

Rochdale

Nickname – The Dale

Stadium – Spotland

Manager – Brian Barry-Murphy

Star Man – Matty Lund

Last season – 18th

Prediction – 24th

Rochdale have been in League One for 6 years and manager Brian Barry-Murphy is entering his second full season at the helm. They have struggled for a few seasons and he’ll be hoping to turn things around this time.

Ins and Outs – Rochdale have had a tough summer, losing arguably up to 5 key players including influential striker Ian Henderson and midfielder Callum Camps. Rochdale have had a quiet window but did bring it Man city loan pair Gavin Bazunu and Yeboah Amankwah.

The Dale have skated with relegation for a few seasons now and I think this time, especially with the players who have departed, i think this is the year they crash out.

Another former Rovers man, Matty Lund

Shrewsbury Town

Nickname – Shrews

Stadium – New Meadow

Manager – Sam Ricketts

Star Man – Aaron Pierre

Last season – 15th

Prediction – 17th

Shrewsbury reached an unlikely play off semi-final just a couple of seasons ago but have failed to hit those heights ever since and feel more likely to be in a battle in the basement rather than hitting those heights anytime soon.

Shrews have had a quiet window on the whole, but did say goodbye to midfield pair Romain Vincelot and Josh Laurent. They were able to bring in goalkeeper Matiaja Sarkic and winger Josh Daniels, their only two permanent new faces.

Shrewsbury seem destined for another lower half stint and appear so far to have had a window with more quality out than in. Don’t see them looking over their shoulder but also cant see much cause for optimism.

Last season’s cup hero, Aaron Pierre

Sunderland

Nickname – Black Cats

Stadium – Stadium of Light

Manager – Phil Parkinson

Star man – Lynden Gooch

Last season – 8th

Prediction – 1st

Sunderland are approaching now or never time after a pretty sub par time in the third tier. Phil Parkinson takes charge in his first full season at the club and nothing but promotion will be good enough.

Sunderland lost a few long standing players this summer, experienced forwards Duncan Watmore and Kyle Lafferty and of course centre back Jack Baldwin. The Black Cats spent less than previous windows this summer but certainly have some big new names, including Danny Graham and Aiden O’Brien.

Sunderland have failed to get it right so far but with the previous chunk of change spent alongside more talent arriving this season, it looks their year.

Phil Parkinson’s now or never

Swindon Town

Nickname – The Robins

Stadium – County Ground

Manager – Richie Wellens

Star man – Michael Doughty

Last season – 1st

Prediction – 18th

Swindon eased themselves back into League One with a 1st place finish last season albeit with the aid of an early finish. They and Ritchie Wellens will hope for stability and progress from the off.

The main loss will be that of English football’s leading scorer last season Eoin Doyle as well as Keshi Anderson and Danny Rose. Swindon have replaced the missing firepower with two forwards, former Rovers man Tyler Smith on loan and Brett Pitman on a free.

Swindon look well placed to avoid an immediate return first time around and could well progress on in future seasons, safe but not spectacular is my shout.

Tyler Smith will look to replace the goals of Doyle

Wigan Athletic

Nickname – The Latics

Stadium – DW Stadium

Manager – Leam Richardson (caretaker)

Star Man – Joe Garner

Last Season – 23rd (deduction)

Prediction – 10th

Wigan went down in difficult circumstances last year despite actually finishing 13th. With a lot up in the air it’s difficult to see where they go and if they can be stable again anytime soon.

Wigan’s window story is one of extreme loss. Is hard to even condense to a few but perhaps most notable striker Kieffer Moore, winger Jamal Lowe and full back Antonee Robinson. With limited to no money, Wigan have had to promote from within but have signed attack minded Dan Gardner from Salford.

It is almost impossible to predict Wigan. With a new manager potentially arriving and still the outside chance of replacements coming in, who knows!

Wigan will rely on senior pros such as Joe Garner.
  • Sunderland
  • Peterborough
  • Pompey
  • Charlton
  • Ipswich
  • Oxford
  • Hull
  • Fleetwood
  • Bristol Rovers
  • Wigan
  • Doncaster
  • Blackpool
  • Gillingham
  • Plymouth
  • Lincoln
  • Burton
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swindon
  • Crewe
  • Accrington
  • MK Dons
  • Wimbledon
  • Northampton
  • Rochdale