Terry Pierce - League One Season Preview

26 July 2010 09:14

With the start of the npower Football League season less than a fortnight away, Football.co.uk's npower Football League blogger Terry Pierce moves on to League One this week.

League One is a darn sight easier to predict than the bottom tier. In fact, at times last year there were three divisions in one, with the top seven miles ahead of the rest.

And it doesn’t look like being too different this time around, with an almighty scrap between seven or eight sides for the top spots, a handful who are already consigned to mid-table and the rest desperate for mere survival.

- League One News / League One Fixtures

In the third tier, like any other league, money talks and Southampton have the paper stuff coming out of their ears.They already boast a ridiculously good strike force in the shape of Rickie Lambert, Lee Barnard and David Connolly and have got the cheque book out over the summer to strengthen at full-back, with Frazier Richardson, Ryan Dickson and Danny Butterfield heading south.If they add one or two more faces, particularly in the centre of the park, next season could well be the canter that their fans love to predict.

But the Saints won't have it all their own way. Huddersfield Town have caught the eye with their summer transfer dealings and their new-look centre midfield partnership of Scott Arfield and Joey Gudjohnsen looks tasty, while Gary Naysmith and Jamie McCombe should help reduce the 'goals against' column that held them back last year.

Swindon and Charlton finished in the top six alongside the Terriers last season but will have a battle on their hands to push for a play-off spot again after losing key players.

The Robins have lost top scorer Billy Paynter and skipper Gordon Greer but the capture of David Prutton to play alongside Jonathan Douglas looks shrewd business and their links with Premier League sides will see a number of promising loanees arrive in Wiltshire.

The Addicks have also lost their top striker - Deon Burton - and their captain - Nicky Bailey - as well as another five of the 11 that played Swindon in the play-offs, and with the financial constraints currently being experienced, Phil Parkinson has so far struggled to find replacements.

Alongside the Saints and the three losing sides in last year's play-offs, the three promoted sides will be hoping to bounce back the Championship at the first attempt.

Sheffield Wednesday have signed some proven quality at this level, with Paul Heffernan, Neil Mellor and Clinton Morrison combining to create a rather strong strike-force, but they could yet lose a couple of key names ahead of the kick-off, with Lee Grant and Marcus Tudgay linked with moves away from Hillsborough.

Peterborough also look in good shape and with Gary Johnson at the helm they'll be in with a shout of a top six finish, but Plymouth are in desperate need of investment if they're to challenge. New boss Peter Reid has yet to really dip his toes in the transfer market and he'll need to make some big moves if Argyle are to be competitive this season.

Brighton look the best placed from last year's also-rans to make an impact on the upper echelons of League One, and with a move to their new stadium on the horizon, everyone in Sussex will be busting a gut to get back to the Championship in time for the move.

At the other end, two of the four promoted sides - Notts County and Bournemouth - will have more than enough to survive and may even push for mid-table obscurity.However, the other two - Rochdale and Dagenham & Redbridge - would bite your hand off if you offered them survival right now.

Tranmere just about survived last year and are in for another tough season, while up in the North East, Hartlepool fans will be praying rumours of a big cash injection are true because without they're almost nailed on for the drop.

Carlisle, Exeter, Oldham and Yeovil will all be looking over their shoulders for the majority of the campaign but should have enough to pull clear of the bottom four, although one of them may slip into trouble.

If the promotion battle is anywhere near as intense and dramatic as last season, the top end of League One will once again be a cracking spectacle, but for sides such as Oldham and Hartlepool, who have been dodging the bullet of relegation for a couple of seasons, this campaign may finally be one too many.

Tip for the top Southampton

Outside bet Brighton

Destined for the drop Hartlepool


Source: DSG

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