League One 2021/22 Review – Part I
The first part of my League One rate the competition review guide….guide is a massive overstatement by the way, but hopefully you will stick with it.
League One is wide open this coming season, possibly only a handful of teams will have their ambitions fixed solely on survival, everyone else will either have a longing for a play-off place, expect a concerted challenge towards it or will have a vision of top two.
I will start with the bookies favourites and that is Sunderland. Do the bookies ever learn, but you have to say that despite The Black Cats being pretty abject for their last three L1 seasons, they have twice made the play-off’s. Now under new ownership and a 24-year old chairman they have offloaded loads of players that previous managers had stockpiled, and have a lot more balance to their squad, although more incomings are needed.
Random memories: Being twice hugged outside Wembley (old and new) by huge tearful Sunderland fans.
Any decent transfer business yet: 17-year old centre-half Callum Doyle on a two-year loan from Man City.
Promotion Odds: 9/4
Chances the manager will make the season: Lee Johnson always looks to me that he could pick a fight with himself, so I can see some drama between him and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus 5/10
Next are Ipswich Town, and there is absolutely no doubt of their new owner’s ambitions. The American owners have given Paul Cook carte blanche for a total rebuild at Portman Road. So far they have signed a whole new team, on the back of a big clear out. After struggling for goals they have gone big on strikers and on paper have assembled a very good L1 squad.
Random memories: One of my first ever away days, when we were sat top of Div 3 and Ipswich were top of Div 1 in the FA Cup 5th Round.
Any decent transfer business yet: Well loads, but Joe Pigott scored 20 L1 goals last season and his all round game is more than that of a tapper-in.
Promotion odds: 9/4
Chances the manager will make the season: Paul Cook spent most of the end of last season throwing the players under the bus. He has been given complete freedom and an open cheque book but will need a blistering start to match expectation 3/10
The massive Sheffield Wednesday are sat as third promotion favourites, but I’m not convinced. There has been a mass player exodus and with finances tight and a six-point deduction hanging over them The Owls may be met with a frosty welcome back in L1. Their squad looks super thin and I make them well off the quality of many other teams in this division.
Random memories: Well how about Sir Chris Powell swinging off the crossbar at Hillsborough.
Any decent transfer business yet: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, the young Northern Irish keeper in on loan from Burnley
Promotion odds: 3/1
Chances the manager will make the season: Darren Moore was brought into steady the ship, and unless picked off by someone else, I think he has a good chance of keeping his job 7/10.
The Cowley brothers have always intrigued me and I don’t think Portsmouth fans are convinced yet. Their style of play, despite Danny Cowley’s contentions otherwise, is pretty direct. Pompey have also had a big clear out of players, many of whom have landed elsewhere in L1, so time will tell on those decisions. Money is a little tight and recruitment has been slow too down on the south coast.
Random memories: Two brilliant recent away day performances by Addicks’ fans behind the goal at the atmospheric Fratton Park.
Any decent transfer business yet: On loan Gassan Ahadme from Norwich has had a great pre-season.
Promotion odds: 4/1
Chances the manager will make the season: They are pretty loyal folk down at Pompey. Unless they are well out of the play-off picture at Christmas I expect the Cowley’s will make the season 7/10
Next up in the bookies list is another club that have thrown wide open their cheque book. Wigan Atheltic’s big summer spending has left a little bad taste in my mouth. None of my business of course, but am I alone in thinking Bahraini businessman Abdulrahman al-Jasmi’s loads of money approach is a bit disconcerting. The Latics’ fans mind need some good times and for their sakes I hope Leam Richardson can deliver.
Random memories: Wigan and Charlton fans joining forces to rid the game of dodgy owners
Any decent transfer business yet: I suppose Charlie Wyke is a good place to start.
Promotion odds: 4/1
Chances the manager will make the season: Leam Richardson deserves a full season with his newly renovated squad, but how loyal is the new owner? 6/10
I think if I was a betting man then Rotherham United would be a very justifiable pick to gain automatic promotion. They have been up and down between The Championship and League One like the proverbial knickers, and this is very much an unchanged squad and Paul Warne and these Millers’ players know how to get it done and will be hard to beat. I thought they were very unfortunate to get relegated last season.
Random memories: Buying Ronnie Moore from them with the help of my quid in 1983!
Any decent transfer business yet: Ex-Millwall left winger Shane Ferguson signed on a free.
Promotion odds: 9/2
Chances the manager will make the season: This is Paul Wayne’s 4th season with Rotherham and has two promotions to his name. I’m pretty sure he will be allowed to win another 9/10.