Friday, 17 August 2012

2012/13: League One & Two season previews

League One was won by Charlton Athletic last season by a massive 8 points. They achieved automatic promotion along with Sheffield Wednesday who pipped rivals Sheffield United to second place. United had go through the play offs where they were cruelly beaten on penalties to Huddersfield in the final. Along with Sheffield United, Stevenage and MK Dons were the unfortunate teams to fall short in the play offs and remained in League One. MK Dons will once again be favourites for a top six finish having finished there in the past two seasons. Relegated from the Championship were Coventry, Doncaster and Portsmouth, who will start the season with minus ten points having entered administration.

Pompey have had to clear out their squad to remain in existence and the deduction at the beginning of the season makes them strong favourites to drop another division once again. Manager Michael Appleton has done a sterling job and through fielding youth team players, he has managed to put some sort of squad together for their pre-season.

Coventry will be favourites for a return to the second tier of English football, and will be joined by Paolo Di Canio’s Swindon Town who won League Two last year. The Italian has a squad filled with quality with the likes of Matt Ritchie and Paul Caddis who have remained with the club over the transfer period.  Along with Swindon, Shrewsbury and Crawley Town were the other two sides to achieve automatic promotion. Crewe were the fourth and final team to achieve promotion via the play offs. They went 19 games unbeaten to reach the play offs, and with the summer signing of creative midfielder Abdul Osman, they will be looking for a good finish in the league.

The relegation battle last season saw Leyton Orient narrowly escape along with Walsall who finished 20th and 19th respectively. These sides will want to get off to a good start to the season to avoid another battle at the bottom. Yeovil Town are another team who will be favourites to take the drop, but will go into this season playing their eighth successive campaign in the third tier of football.

Moving onto League Two, we welcome Fleetwood Town and York City, who achieved promotion from the Blue Square Premier League last season.  Despite it being their debut season in the Football League Fleetwood lead the way along with Southend and Cheltenham for automatic promotion. Bradford City are another side who may fancy their chances, but will need to get off to a great start if they are to be challenging anywhere near the top of the division. Manager Phil Parkinson has brought in a number of players including Gary Jones from Rochdale signalling that his side mean business this year. Don’t rule out the relegated sides from League One, as they will be desperate to make an immediate return. Wycombe, Rochdale, Chesterfield and Exeter City all struggled in League One last year and their poor form resulted in relegation. It has been a summer of change at Rochdale with John Coleman newly appointed as manager. He has made wholesale changes to the team and will want an instant return back to League One.

Oxford United fell away near the end of last season and missed out on a play off place. The team suffered with some rotten injury luck last season, with the club investing £150,000 in a new fitness and sports science department. Manager Chris Wilder has added some new faces to the squad and fans will want at least a play-off place by the end of the season. The battle for the drop was hotly contested last season and saw Hereford Town and Macclesfield Town take the tumble out of the Football League. Barnet, Northampton Town and Plymouth were all amongst the teams that were lucky enough to keep their status. Once again, these teams will be amongst the favourites to fight out the relegation spots again. 

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