Call it a wash
A few words on the play-off’s and the make-up of L1 in 2021/22.
Congratulations to Blackpool, worthy winners and a club that has had more than their fair share of peril and strife in recent times. Many neutrals thought Lincoln’s season would extinguish, but the Imps made it all the way to the final but despite an early own goal (that brought back some memories) they couldn’t climb the final flight.
For Lincoln I look at previous play-off losing finalists like Shrewsbury, Bradford, Swindon and even Leyton Orient to see what can happen if smaller clubs don’t take their chance. Mind you Millwall bucked that trend.
We have passed Rotherham like ships in the night these past couple of seasons and but did the double over them when they won the play-off’s the year we finished 6th. I expect they budgeted clever but will still need to reduce their wage bill with ex-Addick Michael Smith one likely to leave.
Whilst we lose Peterborough we do gain Wycombe who we did the double over in our promotion year. And I suppose champions’ Hull’s most obvious replacement are the massive Sheffield Wednesday, currently embroiled in an unpaid wages dispute where players are considering handing in notices. The PFA are involved and Wednesday too are left with a threadbare squad after a load of departures.
Leaving L1 through the trap door were Rochdale and Bristol Rovers, each of whom had become features of the third tier. Both Swindon Town and Northampton drop back to L2 after just a season. Replacing them are L2 champions Cheltenham, who similarly to Lincoln were in the National League just a few years back. The Robins were last in the third tier in 2009. The same year Leicester won the L1 title.
Something for Southend fans to cling onto is that runners up Cambridge United were also not that long ago in the National League, spending nine seasons there until promotion in 2009. The U’s almost became founders of the Premier League in 1992, but were relegated the next season and haven’t played in the third tier since 2002.
Play-off winners Morecambe we have never played and they will kick off next season at their highest level since being formed in 1920. It wasn’t until 2007 that they made it into the league their rise under Derek Adams last season was quite remarkable.
Finally we know a little bit more about Bolton Wanderers who will be looking to start their revival after a long fall from the top table. Both the Addicks and Bolton played many years side by side in the Premier League at the start of this century.
Form a travel perspective it is a bit of a wash from last season to next. More than half of the sides play north of the midlands. In fact the middle of the country is sparse of L1 sides. Plenty of days trips around the capital’s perimeter with again only Wimbledon a true London derby.
I always rated Smith as a better all round footballer than Pigott so if he is available I would sign him if Stockley is a non runner. He scores a reasonable number of goals but he brings other players into the game and is a genuine No.9.
Derek Adams now quite Morecambe 3 days after winning play-off’s. Going back to L2 with sleepy giant Bradford City.