Pre-season at last, where fans will be looking for indications for how well their team will do in the coming season. Most teams are well under way with transfers but will aim to continue to strengthen throughout the coming few weeks, before the big kick off.
Bookies have already produced their odds for each team in League One, their figures being predictable, but as always there will be a number of shocks, as things don’t always go to plan.
Last season who would have expected the likes of Exeter, Leyton Orient and Bournemouth pushing for the play offs, whilst Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday finished in the bottom half. Similarly the previous seasons play off final losers Swindon Town finished bottom, and Plymouth who had been in The Championship the previous season, were also relegated (albeit not helped with administration).
Unsurprisingly Huddersfield have been named as the early season favourites, after losing last season’s Play Off Final to Peterborough. The Terriers had gone unbeaten in 2011 until that point, but have lost key players like Anthony Pilkington and Lee Peltier, and they will need to be replaced with genuine quality.
Second favourites are Sheffield Wednesday, after a strong finish to last season they are favoured to continue that form into the new campaign.
Preston are the first relegated side to appear in the list, despite losing defenders Billy Jones and Sean St Ledger over the summer. The club are likely to keep hold of key man Iain Hume and much will rely around him, in a younger North End side.
Sheffield United and Scunthorpe are both tipped to finish in the top 6, the pair were relegated last season with Preston, and United have managed to maintain most of last season’s squad so far. The Iron on the other hand have lost key men, such as goalkeeper Joe Murphy and defender David Mirfin, and are battling to keep hold of midfielder Michael O’Connor, who is being tracked by Peterborough.
Charlton Athletic are again tipped to be in contention despite a disappointing second half to the last campaign, however they’ve meant business in the close season. The club have brought in key players from their League One rivals such as Exeter’s Matt Taylor, Oldham’s Dale Stephens, Preston’s Paul Hayes and Danny Hollands from Bournemouth.
Also backed to challenge are last season’s playoff semi final losers Bournemouth and MK Dons, from then on the likes of Brentford, Leyton Orient, Chesterfield, Colchester, Notts County and Carlisle are all backed to push for promotion.
At the bottom, last season’s strugglers Walsall, Yeovil and Tranmere are predicted to finish below the dotted line this campaign, with Hartlepool backed to join them. Struggling seasons are predicted also for Oldham, and newly promoted Wycombe and Stevenage.
Lastly Bury, Rochdale and Exeter are favourites for mid-table mediocrity, but only time will tell.
Thankfully nobody can predict the future, and we’re bound to have an unpredictable season as ever this year, with ‘big name status’ not guaranteeing promotion in this league, and at the same time anyone can make a push for promotion to the Championship.
Whose year will it this year?
By Mark Ridgway. @marktrfc