LEAGUE ONE PREVIEW
Football's third tier is a mixture of former Premier League heavyweights (or makeweights, the Sheffield clubs and Charlton for example), failed wannabes (stand up, Preston and Huddersfield) and those who happily orbit around the Football League like wandering comets. (We're looking at you Bury, Scunthorpe and Colchester). This season could well be the toughest to predict yet but we're game for anything at thegoal-line.com so we're going to give it the full gun!
Champions - Huddersfield Town
Runners-Up - Preston North End
Lee Clark must still feel somewhat bitter having lost out to three late, late goals in last season's play-off final to Peterborough United. With the squad pretty much intact and with ambitions running high they should be able to improve on last year and go straight up as Champions.
Without any outstanding teams in this division should North End avoid injuries then under the experienced managerial duo of Phil Brown and Brian Horton they should bounce straight back up. Also worth seeing whether Iain Hume can continue his fine work from last year.
Play-Offs - Colchester United, MK Dons, Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient
Colchester had a poor start to last year but rallied towards the end and could well surprise a few teams especially if Steven Gillespie stays fit.
Experienced play-off losers Milton Keynes have another incentive to reach for the Championship, if AFC Wimbledon manage promotion they could well be paired in the same division.
Charlton have spent over the summer although perhaps some doubts hang over manager and Addicks legend, Chris Powell in what will be his first full season in charge.
Leyton Orient narrowly missed out on a top six finish last year but could go one better this year. Russell Slade's men showed consistancy and they could mix it with the big boys too, Arsenal needed a replay to despatch them from the FA Cup.
Although the play-offs are seen as a bit of a lottery we think Charlton Athletic may have enough in them to take the final promotion spot.
Making up the rest of the top half - Sheffield United, Exeter City, Brentford, Chesterfield, Sheffield Wednesday, AFC Bournemouth
Sheffield United fans will barely believe that they start the new season in League One for the first time in twenty-three years. What's worse is that they have a Wednesday legend, Danny Wilson, in charge of their team. Close but no cigar.
Exeter play great, attractive football but will need a bit more than that to get out of this tough division.
Brentford also promise great things under new manager Uwe Rosler. Maybe next year.
Chesterfield finished last year as League Two Champions. They've lost Craig Davies to Barnsley which could have made the difference.
Sheffield Wednesday fans would probably be happier if Danny Wilson was in charge of their team rather than their Steel City rivals. They've got Gary Megson and mid-table.
A great season last year for AFC Bournemouth ended with a dramatic play-off semi final defeat to Huddersfield. Since then the vultures have come calling and perhaps with the loss of several key players they'll have to settle for slightly less this time around.
The other eight - Stevenage, Carlisle United, Scunthorpe United, Tranmere Rovers, Rochdale, Wycombe Wanderers, Bury, Hartlepool United.
Stevenage adapted so well to the Football League that they were promoted in their first year. They should adapt equally to life in League One and avoid Dagenham's fate.
Now firmly established at this level Carlisle United may have to settle for a relatively unremarkable season.
Scunthorpe United were shocking last year in the Championship and there's no reason to suggest that they'll go straight back up.
Under Les Parry Tranmere Rovers steadied the ship after a rocky start. This year could be eerily similar to last. Should have enough to be safe though.
Defying all expectations was Rochdale's bag last year, even flirting with the play-offs. But with the loss of influential and legendary manager Keith Hill, Dale may find second season syndrome stalking them with scythe-in-hand.
Wycombe Wanderers had a highly successful season in League Two under Gary Waddock and perhaps consolidation is the name of the game here.
The fact that top scorer Ryan Lowe, depsite temptations, has remained at Bury should go someway to help the Shakers maintain their League One status.
Yes we've all laughed when Hartlepool United concede a goal on Soccer Saturday, just to see the look on the face of anchorman, Jeff Stelling. That said, the old Monkey Hangers are punching someway above their weight and should have just enough to remain at this level for another year.
Going Down - Oldham Athletic, Notts County, Yeovil Town, Walsall
Not enough goals threatened Oldham Athletic with the drop last year. Maybe waspish manager Paul Dickov will need to once more don the boots in order to keep the Latics from falling into the basement.
Notts County have been something of a joke for a few years now. Martin Allen will bring some much needed reality to Meadow Lane but even he may not be able to prevent the inevitable.
Yeovil Town look half-decent defensively but the sales of many top players won't help them dodge a trip down the plughole.
Walsall were fortunate to stay up last year, they won't be so lucky this time around. Relegated.
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