Original Story by Ryan Howden
(Introduction by Robin Popley)
Following on from his early season review for League One, we felt that it was still a very accurate reading from Ryan, so here it is. The Official 11 League 1 Review 12/13. Hope you like it; Robin.
The Promotion Contenders
Sheffield United – Last Season: 3rd – League One (Beaten in Play-off Final)
Sheffield United faced probably the cruellest end to the season of any team, beaten on penalties in the play-off final. United though have a strong squad and will definitely be up the top end of the table come the end of the season, their main problem lies in the void left by the departure of Ched Evans after his prosecution and subsequent imprisonment. Evans scored 29 goal in last seasons league campaign and it will be vital to the teams success to find a new source of goals either from a current member of the team or a transfer in from elsewhere. Looking away from the strikers the release of goalkeeper Simonsen has left a gap between the sticks with the only other keeper in the squad being untested Arsenal youth product Mark Howard. Things look good for a bright season at United but loss in the final has meant they need to cut their wage bill for the run to continue running financially, meaning some good deals will need to be made to fill these gaps in the squad.
Milton Keynes Dons – Last Season: 5th – League One
MK Dons had a good season last year finishing in the play-offs, they have yet to make any big moves in the transfer market but keeping influential passing midfielder Stephen Gleeson is a good sign for them. Ian Wright has also joined as a 1st team coach and if he can bring only a little of his experience to the squad it will do them wonders.
Swindon Town – Last Season: Champions – League Two
Swindon under colourful manager Paulo Di Canio had a brilliant season last year being crowned champions of League Two and the Italian seems ready to build on this having made seven summer signings already. He has brought in experienced defender Tommy Miller and winger Gary Roberts in from Huddersfield as well as forwards Andy Williams and James Collins from Yeovil and Shrewsbury respectively, both of whom scored over 15 goals a piece last season, adding some serious fire-power to the Swindon attack.
Preston North End – Last Season: 15th – League One
Graham Westley has this summer began a major rebuilding project at Preston after a disappointing season saw them finish mid-table. He has already released 14 players and added another 7 to the transfer list while bringing in many new signings, the most notable including Tranmere midfielder John Welsh, Lee Holmes from Southampton and former Arsenal and England goalkeeper Richard Wright. While it is admirable of Westley to attempt a major rebuild the question lies in whether this new squad will gel as a team.
Coventry City – Last Season: 23rd – Championship
Relegated Coventry face a tough ask, now the football league has lifted the transfer embargo on them, keeping their relatively strong squad together is key. If they can hang onto players like Richard Keogh, Martin Cranie and James McPake while reinforcing other areas of the squad they stand a chance of a successful season.
Doncaster Rovers – Last Season: 24th – Championship
The infamous Willie McKay experiment at Doncaster that saw players like Diouf and Chimbonda brought in is now over. Doncaster in the close season have focused on promoting players from their successful youth team and have also brought in experienced former Bolton midfielder Robbie Blake and young midfielder’s David Cotterill and David Sayers. They have also lost some of their quality players in Sam Hird, James Hayter and John Oster who did not renew their contracts. The budget has also been heavily cut following relegation meaning Doncaster’s chances hinge on what sort of a team manager Dean Saunders can pull together with limited resources.
The Relegation Candidates
Yeovil Town – Last Season: 17th – League One
Yeovil have already take a huge blow in the close season losing top scorer Andy Williams to Swindon though the resigning of experienced defender Richard Hinds could prove invaluable to them. Yeovil will now look to new signing Sam Foley from Newport County to step into Williams boots and score the goals needed for a good campaign this year.
Bury – Last Season: 14th – League One
Bury have yet to do much business in the close season but the signing of Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson after two successful loan spells at the club last season and the retention of Mark Carrington and captain Steven Schumacher are huge confidence boosts for a squad the will be looking to avoid another relegation battle.
Lleyton Orient – Last Season: 20th – League One
Lleyton Orient narrowly missed relegation to League Two last season and have had little transfer activity in the close season. They lost Dean Leacock to Notts County and have brought in Anthony Griffith from Port Vale but will need to improve the squad more to avoid the risk of another relegation battle.
Crewe Alexandra – Last Season: 7th – League Two Play-Off Winners
Crewe have lost talisman Nick Powell to Manchester United over the close season, though a blow to lose a player of his quality the reported £3 million price tag gives Crewe the money to rebuild. This could be the key to Crewe’s season, if this money is invested wisely in a strong team they can do very well. Crewe are also offering contracts to players from their brilliant youth academy if even a few of these have the quality and potential of Powell it could be a very exciting year down at the Alexandra.
Walsall – Last Season: 19th – League One
Walsall seem to be in a bit of a crisis this close season they have lost promising young defender Jamie Tank to Wolves, Mat Sadler to Crawley and forward Alex Nicholls, who scored 8 goals in the last campaign to Northampton Town. They have signed four youth players from their academy but will need to bring in some experience if they are to survive in a much stronger League One.
Oldham Athletic – Last Season: 16th – League One
Oldham have already been active in the transfer market signing striker Robbie Simpson from Huddersfield on a permanent deal after his successful loan spell last season and full-back Connnor Brown from Sheffield United. They are also looking to keep imposing midfielder James Wesolowski who is seen as an important figure for the clubs future success. They have lost players though with striker Reuben Reid joining Yeovil and full-back Kieran Lee joining up with promoted Sheffield Wednesday. Oldham should have a strong enough squad to survive though it may be just that.