2018/19 League One Preview – Part Three
Onto the final Part Three then, and we begin at Rochdale, who only stayed up after beating Charlton on the last game of the last season. Keith Hill has added some experience to his squad, and released a few players, most notably Niall Canavan (Plymouth) and Steve Davies.
Coming in from Wigan, David Perkins looks an astute signing. The midfielder is 36 but can still do a job. Aaron Wilbraham is two years older at 38, which astounds me. The striker was at Bolton last season in The Championship but played 23 times for them. Brad Inman spent last season on loan at Spotland and he signs on a permanent from Peterborough, likewise Jordan Williams from Liverpool.
After a couple of seasons flirting with the play-off’s, Rochdale just never got going last season, and suffered with pitch problems but Keith Hill used their games in hand well to scrape to safety and their excellent finish will give them encouragement for the new season. In Ian Henderson they have a 15-goal a season man and Josh Lillis in goal is one of the best in the division.
Odds: Promotion 10/1; Relegation 9/2
Player to watch: Ian Henderson
CA hunch: Keith Hill is a wily old fox and whilst I think a play-off challenge is beyond them they should comfortably be mid table or just below.
Scunthorpe United have reached the play-off’s in each of the past two seasons crashing out to the eventual winners. Nicky Daws was made permanent manager in May but on the face of it looks to have lost a couple of key players over the summer and like someone else I know will operate with a small squad.
Centre-back Murray Wallace signed for Millwall, with winger Hakeeb Adelakun also making the step up to join Bristol City. Striker Tom Hopper (Southend), Andrew Crofts (Newport) and veteran midfielder Neal Bishop (Mansfield) were released but don’t look to have been replaced. Ivan Toney returned to Newcastle and midfielder Sam Mantom made his Southend move permanent, but the biggest hole will be left by the departure of Conor Townsend, who was bought by West Brom.
Forwards Stephen Humphrys joins on loan from Fulham and Olufela Olomola signed from Southampton. Full back James Horsfield, once a Man City academy graduate signed from NAC Breda. Lee Novak remains, scorer of 6 goals last season, but good attacking threat comes from Duane Holmes.
Odds: Promotion 6/1; Relegation 12/1
Player to watch: Duane Holmes
Charlton connection: Lee Novak
CA hunch: There is still time but I think Scunny need some more faces, as that squad looks mid table to me.
Last season’s dark horses Shrewsbury Town lost manager Paul Hurst just days after their play-off final defeat and not surprisingly many of the players that were responsible for their fantastic season then upped and left as well.
Defensive midfielder and captain Abu Ogogo moved to Coventry, along with left-back Junior Brown. Winger Alex Rodman jumped ship to Bristol Rovers and Joe Riley went to Plymouth on a free. The Shrews also lost ‘keeper Dean Henderson, who was at times unbeatable last season. He returned to Manchester United after his loan (he’s now at Sheff Utd), whilst both Carlton Morris and Ben Godfrey went back to Norwich.
The appointment of John Askey, who led unfancied Macclesfield to the National League title might give Shrewsbury hope that they can punch above their weight once again and he went back to his old club for defender Kieran Kennedy and Ryan Haynes joined from Coventry. To replace Rodman winger Josh Laurent, who was on loan at Bury last season, was signed from Wigan.
Steve Arnold is perhaps a left field choice to be Salop’s new number one. He signed from Barrow, but Askey also picked up Joel Coleman from Huddersfield on loan. Aaron Amadi-Holloway (from Oldham) and the unpronounceable Fejiri Okenabirhie adds firepower from Dagenham and Redbridge, and of course Askey will know these players from the National League and he still has Jon Nolan to call on, who made a significant contribution last season as us Addicks know.
Odds: Promotion 12/1; Relegation 7/1
Player to watch: Jon Nolan
CA hunch: Think it will be exceptionally hard for Shrews to repeat performance. Maybe Askey can step back and rebuild, but I see lower half for them next season.
Southend United and Sir Chris Powell. Jealous.
Powell has had time to bed down and importantly build a team spirit. 10 players were released including Anthony Wordsworth (Wimbledon), Josh Wright (Bradford), Freddie Ladapo (Plymouth) and Michael Timlin (Stevenage).
Powell has an excellent record of picking players with the right mental attitude that can foment team spirit. Powell strengthened the midfield with the signings of Luke Hyam, signed on a free from Ipswich and Sam Mantom from Scunthorpe and Frenchman Timothée Dieng from Bradford. Harry Lennon we know, and Powell will be expecting striker Tom Hopper, one of three young Leicester players a few years back sacked for making a sex tape in Thailand, will come with a burning hunger to succeed.
Under Powell the Shrimpers showed promotion form after he took over with Mark Oxley in goal excellent. Others including Michael Turner and Stephen McLaughlin also hit some terrific form under Sir Chris.
Odds: Promotion 17/2; Relegation 13/2
Player to watch: Mark Oxley
Charlton connections: Chris Powell, Harry Lennon, Michael Turner,
CA hunch: Powell has Simon Cox to rely on but probably stills needs more firepower but I’d expect Southend to trouble a lot of teams and be competing for a play-off place.
The name Sunderland brings a smile to all of our faces, but we haven’t actually played the Wearsiders for 13 seasons. Sunderland are the latest in a string of big clubs who find themselves in the third tier and after selling 22,000 season tickets we will be the first of the League One clubs to play there this season in front of an expected regular crowd of 30,000.
Sunderland’s demise has been shocking, winning just 18 of 122 matches in three seasons. Jack Ross is the man charged by new owners with the rebuilding job and although John O’Shea and Darron Gibson have departed offloading the high-earners Papy Djilobodji, Lamine Koné, Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong has so far proved troublesome. At least £70,000 a week Jack Rodwell has gone.
Ross has been busy these past couple of weeks signing 14 players. Charlie Wyke, scorer of 15 goals for Bradford last season, signed yesterday for £1,000,000 and defender Jack Baldwin signed from Peterborough for £200,000. Wycombe’s midfield battler Luke O’Nien’s fee was undisclosed but other than that all of Ross’ other additions have been on free’s with defender’s Reece James (Wigan), Alim Öztürk (Boluspor) and the experienced Glenn Loovens (Sheff Wed) all eye-catching. Jon McLaughlin (Hearts) will take the number one jersey.
Ross I am sure will also introduce exciting youngsters Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, Ethan Robson and Bali Mumba into the first team squad during the season.
Odds: Promotion 5/4; Relegation 40/1
Player to watch: Luke O’Nien
CA hunch: Every bookies favourites but not every club has bounced back from the abyss like Blackburn did. I have to think they will be the team to beat, and Jack Ross looks a good man to have at the wheel, but I don’t think by any means Sunderland will stroll to promotion.
Walsall Legend Dean Keates has the fans onside but his biggest job will be replacing Erhun Oztumer, who the Saddlers over relied on for goals. He moved to Bolton and ‘keeper Mark Gillespie went to Motherwell.
Keates has brought in big target man Andy Cook, who scored an impressive 50 goals in 89 appearances for Tranmere. Also new at the Bescot is Josh Ginnelly from Burnley, but has spent the last couple of seasons out on loan, latterly at Tranmere. Wrexham’s Chris Dunn, signed on a free, will expect to start in goal.
Zeli Ismail has signed on a permanent and was impressive last season on loan, taking a bit of pressure of Oztumer. Keates will also hope that Kory Roberts and George Dobson can step up too. Liam Kinsella also remains.
Odds: Promotion 28/1; Relegation 2/1
Player to watch: Zeli Ismail
CA hunch: I think Walsall will struggle. Many teams in this division have become stronger over the summer and Walsall don’t appear to.
And finally in my League One preview I give you Wycombe Wanderers promoted from League Two last season. The Chairboys will have one of the older squads in the division and include the likes of captain Adam El-Abd, Craig Mackail-Smith, Nathan Tyson, Matt Bloomfield and Sam Saunders among their ranks, but everything surrounds the man mountain 36-year old Adebayo Akinfenwa, scorer of 20 league and cup goals last season.
Gareth Ainsworth lost Luke O’Nien to Sunderland, but has signed defender Darius Charles from Wimbledon, ‘keeper Ryan Allsop from Bournemouth and made permanent Curtis Thompson’s move from Notts County.
Odds: Promotion 33/1; Relegation 9/5
Player to watch: Adebayo Akinfenwa
Charlton connection: Sam Saunders
CA hunch: Wycombe have gone straight back down in each of their last three seasons in League One and Gareth Ainsworth will do very well to keep the Chairboys up. A lot will depend on Akinfenwa.
And that ladies and gentlemen is it. Thanks for sticking with this to the end. Let the battle commence,.