2018/19 League One Preview – Part One
With motivational levels at an all time low, I have managed to drag some fingers over my keypad to look at our fellow League One rivals and give them each a mini once over for the new season.
Let’s start at the beginning of the alphabet with Accrington Stanley, who will play at their highest ever level in 50 years after winning League Two last season following a magnificent run of 16 wins in 19 games between January and April culminating in an historic promotion.
Stanley play at the 5,000 capacity Wham Stadium, which is not named after George and Andrew, and the Addicks make their first ever visit in a couple of weeks. Legend in these parts, and rightly so, John Coleman has managed over 800 games in two spells and has overseen very little summer personnel changes. Importantly 26-goal Billy Kee stays as does winger Sean McConville.
Coleman did lose ‘keeper Aaron Chapman to Peterborough after turning down the offer of a new deal. Jonny Maxted has played in goal during pre-season but like us they look short there. Returning is attacking midfielder Piero Mingoia from Cambridge United.
Stanley are the bookies favourites for an instant relegation and will have one of the smallest budgets in the division. Whilst Billy Kee needs to score goals, last season they were also very frugal at the back, with the experience of Mark Hughes vital.
Odds: Promotion 40/1; Relegation 13/10
Player to watch: Billy Kee
CA hunch: Like those promoted teams before them, Stanley have every chance to stay up, especially if Kee can find the net regularly, but it’s going to be a scrap.
Neil Ardley has done wonders at AFC Wimbledon, but this summer has been forced into a rebuilding job at Kingsmeadow. 7 players have been signed including two ex-Addicks in Terrell Thomas and Scott Wagstaff. Ardley has also brought in the experience of Anthony Wordsworth (from Southend) and James Hanson (Sheff Utd). Gone though is last season’s top scorer Lyle Taylor, but a big broom saw old stalwarts Barry Fuller (to Gillingham), Paul Robinson, and George Francomb (to Crawley) each move on as well as Dean Parrett (to Gillingham) and Darius Charles (to Wycombe).
Last season Wimbledon only found safety with a game to go, but they did wave farewell to their rivals MK Dons. The third serving longest manager in the country will have another tough job on his hands but will desperately be wanting the Dons to stay at this level with Plough Lane being rebuilt in readiness for the beginning of the 2019/20 season.
Odds: Promotion 25/1; Relegation 5/2
Player to watch: Deji Oshilaja
Charlton connections: Terrell Thomas, Scott Wagstaff, Joe Pigott
CA hunch: A lot of turnover at Kingsmeadow but I expect Neil Ardley will mostly get it right. Safety secured.
After just two seasons Barnsley are back in League One. After losing Paul Heckington to Leeds, which worked out terribly for him, Barnsley first dabbled with Portuguese Jose Morais, who relegated the Tykes and then to a lot of people’s surprise doubled down and appointed German Daniel Stendel, whose only managerial experience was 34 games as manager of Hannover in the Bundesliga 2 a couple of season’s back.
Previous owner Patrick Coyne, who sadly passed earlier this year, sold the club to billionaire Chien Lee and the Tykes do have funds to put together a promotion push. Stendel supposedly promotes a high pressed counter attacking game, where someone like Jason McCarthy can thrive. Welsh striker Tom Bradshaw should get goals, if they can keep hold off him, and they also have Kieffer Moore, who scored for fun at Rotherham on loan during the first part of last season.
There have been no significant signings although last week Stendel brought in Aussie defender Kenneth Dougall from Sparta Rotterdam. Meanwhile Andy Yiadom (Reading), Matty Pearson (Luton) and Andy Hammill (free agent) will not be joining Barnsley in the third tier. Liam Lindsey will be important at the back and will probably be partnered by ex-Dulwich Hamlet star Ethan Pinnock.
Odds: Promotion 11/4; Relegation 25/1
Player to watch: Tom Bradshaw
CA hunch: Financially well backed, Barnsley really did not help themselves last season and missed a good opportunity to stay at least another season in The Championship. Those thoughts may linger into this season, and I disagree with the bookies and don’t think they will make the play-off’s.
Blackpool are a club that we have a lot of affiliation with, all for the wrong reasons sadly, but it was good to see them bounce back out of League Two, and then comfortably keep their status last season under Gary Bowyer. This summer however has seen a huge turnover of personnel with, thus far, 13 players joining and 15 leaving.
Of the 13 gone Tangerine’s fans will be most upset to see last season’s top scorer Kyle Vassell along with teammate defender Clark Robertson leave for now Championship Rotherham. Midfielder Colin Daniel was bought by Peterborough, another team who have had a huge change around of players. Coming in are a couple of non-league potentials in right back Michael Nottingham from Salford and winger Harry Pritchard from Maidenhead plus the slightly more recognizable names of keeper Mark Howard from Bolton, well regarded full back Ryan McLaughlin from Oldham and ex-Millwall midfielder Chris Taylor.
An odd one was striker Armand Gnanduillet rejoining after leaving for a South African club 8 weeks previous. Bowyer has also dipped into the loan market and has signed season loans for four players including long-time Rochdale, but now Northampton, left back Joe Bunny and a name we are familiar with, Joe Dodoo from Rangers. He scored once for us whilst on loan at The Valley for the first part of last season.
Odds: Promotion 10/1; Relegation 7/2
Player to watch: Curtis Tilt
Charlton connection: Joe Dodoo
CA hunch: That looks a lot of turnover with less quality in the squad left as a result. Sadly I foresee a tough season for the other Bowyer and his team.
Bradford City were a big disappointment last season after a cracking start. The season collapse began with the suprise dismissal of Stuart McCall. He was replaced by Simon Grayson, whose stock was still high, but Grayson himself was kicked out after just 3 months.
Michael Collins has now been appointed head coach after just a single year as the club’s U18 coach. At 32 Collins will be the youngest manager in the division. Owner cum director of football Edin Rahic has perhaps a too closer involvement with the team and fans will be hoping for a proper sense of direction this season.
Collins has definitely freshened the place up with set-piece expert Tony McMahon moving to Oxford, first choice keeper Colin Doyle moved to Hearts, French midfielder Timothée Dieng joined Southend and Crawley snapped up duo Dominic Poleon and the experienced Romain Vincelot.
In has come wide man Sean Scannell from Huddersfield, right-back Joe Riley signed a two-year deal from Manchester United, where he made two appearances and former Sweden U19 centre-half Thomas Isherwood did likewise from Bayern Munich. Central midfielder Hope Akpan and goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell have also arrived on free’s from Burton and Northampton respectively and free agent Josh Wright, who 9 years after leaving the Addicks has played almost 300 league games.
Collins has used to the loan market to bring in speedy winger Sherwin Seedorf, nephew of a certain Clarence, has joined on loan from Wolves. George Miller will be one to watch. The striker joined on loan from Middlesbrough, and scored 8 in 19 goals for Bury last season and Jack Payne from Huddersfield, who played the entire last League One season whilst on loan at Oxford first, then Blackburn.
There has been a lot of changes at Bradford, but maybe a fresh start was needed. Key will be holding on to striker Charlie Wyke, who Sunderland have been chasing all summer.
Odds: Promotion 7/1; Relegation 9/1
Player to watch: George Miller
Charlton connections: Adam Chicksen, Josh Wright
CA hunch: I don’t know. Bradford have been perennial promotion contenders, but I don’t think they are this season.
The 3rd season in League One for Bristol Rovers with Darrell Clarke still at the Pirate’s helm. Clarke has built a solid base and Rovers’ loyal fans will be excited with their club’s summer dealings.
Many of the squad that won promotion from the National League in 2015 remain but young striker Ellis Harrison, who came up through the ranks, was sold to Ipswich for £750,000, defender Lee Brown, who had made 300 appearances, left for Portsmouth and Rory Gaffney was a high profile Salford acquisition.
The one fee that Rovers have paid is for ex-Addicks left back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis. We know that THD has a lot of potential but he hasn’t played much in the last two seasons. Two solid signings are midfielders Alex Rodman (from Shrewsbury) and Ed Upson (from MK Dons). Both are very capable at this level and alongside Liam Sercombe gives Clarke good options in the middle of the pitch. Centre-forward Gordon Reilly also joined on a free after netting 22 goals in 44 games for Scottish Championship winners St. Mirren last season.
Odds: Promotion 17/2; Relegation 7/1
Player to watch: Alex Rodman
Charlton connection: Tareiq Holmes-Dennis
CA hunch: Clarke has built a good base, but how well Reilly does will be key. Top half.
It came as a surprise to me, but Burton Albion will only be in the third tier for their second ever season after floating through the divisions over the past decade or so, including this one, when they finished 2nd in 2015/16. After batting way over their average in The Championship, Burton finally succumbed to relegation, but only after one hell of a battle.
Burton’s relegation shouldn’t hit them as hard as those of Barnsley and Sunderland and Nigel Clough has managed to keep the base of his squad intact. Luke Varney was released and Darren Bent, who was on loan from Derby, are now both without clubs and Stephen Warnock retired.
Three players left for fellow League One clubs on free transfers, and each featured heavily for Burton last season. Centre-back Tom Flanagan moved to Sunderland, midfielder Hope Akpan joined Bradford, and the versatile Tom Naylor departed for Portsmouth. Thus far Clough has brought in just two players.
Scottish midfield duo David Templeton and Scott Fraser joined from Hamilton Academical and Dundee United respectively, the former a winger and the latter an attacking midfielder.
Odds: Promotion 8/1; Relegation 10/1
Player to watch: Stephen Bywater
Charlton connection: Marvin Sordell
CA: Burton’s stability will serve them well and after going toe to toe with The Championship big boys, no one will scare them in this division. I’d expect them challenge for promotion.
Another club and supporters we have a lot in common with is Coventry City. I think we all worried for Cov’s fans after they dropped to the bottom tier but under Mark Robins they bounced back via the play-off’s at the first time of asking.
After a battle City lost last season’s top scorer Marc McNulty to Reading, and attacking full back Ryan Haynes moved to Shrewsbury. Ex-Addick Kyel Reid was released.
City snatched Shrews midfielder Obu Ogogo away from the clutches of Lee Bowyer and they also took left back Junior Brown from the Shropshire play-off losers. Striker Jonson Clarke-Harris signed permanently from Rotherham and Robins took a gamble on raw striker Reise Allassani, who scored for fun at Dulwich Hamlet. Dujon Sterling may or may not be mustard but he is one of many of Chelsea’s young prospects out on loan and he also arrived at the Ricoh.
Jodi Jones returning from injury will be important to Cov and the excellent young midfielder Tony Baylis gets a chance to prove himself at a higher level. The ageless Michael Doyle played in every league game last season and was a vital ingredient in promotion. He turns 37 in two weeks.
Odds: Promotion 7/1; Relegation 7/1
Player to watch: Jodi Jones
CA hunch: McNulty’s goals will be missed and Cov will need Jodi Jones to step up. They look a little underweight at the back as well. I think Cov will ease back into this division around mid table.
Part Two to follow when I get a burst of motivation.