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League One: The Contenders And The Pretenders

Twelve stadiums, 384 players, hundreds of stewards, thousands of fans, 1,080 minutes of nerve-racking football. What more could you want? A win of course.

The League One season kicks off with a bang on the 9th of August with the first round of matches. However, come the beginning of May, who will be thinking of the play-offs and the Championship and who will be packing their bags for League two.

The Football League is a strange beast, quite unpredictable at times, with ‘big’ teams expected to do well sometimes not doing so and the ‘minnows’ that were expected to struggle bucking the trend.

Take Sheffield United last season. They spent the first half of the season languishing in the relegation zone, struggling to win anything apart from F.A. Cup matches. The previous two seasons had seen them finish in the play-offs, so they were expected to do be contending again.

When Nigel Clough took over in October, United were propping up the table and were looking certain to be relegated. However, Clough worked some magic eventually, and United went on a ten-game unbeaten streak and were mid-table before anyone knew it, finishing comfortably safe and, in the end, just outside the play-offs.

‘’I coulda’ had class. I coulda’ been a contender.’’- Marlon Brando

There is no clear favourite to win the league out of the 24 teams who will start their campaigns on the 9th of August; compared to last season, when Wolves were seen as clear favourites due to their squad size, financial backing, manager and fan base. That said, Barnsley, Doncaster and Yeovil will be expected to do well, all hoping to bounce back to the Championship, the division they were just relegated from last season.

Preston North End, Leyton Orient and Peterborough were the three other teams who competed, alongside promoted Rotherham, in the play-offs at the end of the last season. All their fans will hope that they can go one better this time around.

Coventry, Bristol City and Sheffield United are expected to do well; they all finished very strongly last season and they are guided by experienced managers who know what they’re doing at this level. It is set to be a very open and competitive League One, which will make it even more imperative to get a good start to the season.

‘’So near and yet so far’’

M.K Dons, Walsall and Bradford will be among the group who should have good seasons but will probably fall just short, unless one of the aforementioned sides slip up. They should make the top ten or twelve.

Below the top twelve, you enter the murky waters of unpredictability. Crewe, Gillingham, Notts County, Swindon and Oldham are teams that can play very well and put it up to the better teams in the League at times, and then sometimes they can just look utterly abysmal. Swindon and Notts County probably won’t get relegated but won’t be challenging for promotion either come the beginning of May.

The teams promoted from League Two, Fleetwood, Chesterfield, Rochdale and Scunthorpe are an unknown quantity, with the latter pair the most recent League One sides, both having been relegated back in the 2012/13 season. Scunthorpe were in the Championship as recently as 2010, which shows potential in the club.

Dark horses Fleetwood could do a Rotherham on it and get promoted two seasons running, but a top half finish seems more likely.

‘’So long, farewell.’’

Chesterfield and Rochdale will probably struggle alongside the likes of Crewe, Colchester, Crawley and Port Vale, the relegation battle will be decided by how these teams do against each other, points picked up against the frontrunners could prove crucial

Whatever happens, the forthcoming League One season should be as unpredictable and entertaining as usual and have as many twists and turns as ever before.

Jack McCann, Pundit Arena.

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Author: The PA Team

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