TTU Go Predicting: A Club-By-Club League 1 Preview 2015-16

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in TTU Go Predicting | One Comment
TTU Go Predicting: A Club-By-Club League 1 Preview 2015-16
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2014-15 did not go to plan for Barnsley. Freshly relegated from the Championship and adorned with an array of shiny new signings, a promotion push was on the cards. But an unconvincing start cost Danny Wilson his job in February, and it was left to Lee Johnson to salvage things. Johnson’s impact was immediate, but a shocking nine-game winless streak ended any hopes of finishing in the play-offs. Ex-Plymouth midfielder Conor Hourihane was the Tykes’ top scorer, also chipping in with 14 assists, and he will be key again this year. Transfer activity has been fairly modest so far, with 21 year-old centre back Alfie Mawson the pick of the incoming players. Mawson arrives off the back of a blockbuster season on loan at Wycombe and will be confident of making an impact after earning a place on the three-man shortlist for the League 2 Player of the Season award. The double loan signing of Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell from Manchester United adds class to their midfield (until January, at least) and at 20 years old, they’re hardly kids. Another striker of decent quality is probably required if Barnsley are serious about promotion, but a defence built around Mawson and Lewis Nyatanga will be amongst the best in the division.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs


Blackpool’s woes are extensive and well-documented. From the revelation in 2012 that owner Owen Osyton was paid £11m in remuneration for the club’s Premier League relegation season, to the farce of the final game of last season being abandoned after just 48 minutes amidst a mass pitch invasion, these are bleak times for supporters. Lee Clark has moved on after overseeing the worst campaign of any side in the history of the Championship. In comes Neil McDonald, who possesses a wealth of experience as a member of Sam Allardyce’s backroom team, but whose credentials as a manager in his own right are limited. The club have undertaken another massive overhaul of their squad, which looks fairly measured compared to the frantic activity of last summer. Former Brighton winger Andrea Orlandi has been retained, and should do well for them in League 1. Of the throng of incoming players, forwards Mark Cullen and Jack Redshaw both arrive for a fee. Cullen scored 14 times for Luton last season on their return to League 2, and Redshaw will be a decent acquisition if he can adjust to playing at a higher level. They will be joined up front by perpetual liability Nile Ranger, who returns after eight — doubtless fulfilling — months spent uploading selfies to Instagram and not playing football. It may be another season of struggle, but I predict them to escape relegation by a small margin.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Bradford City

It would be discourteous to discuss Bradford without referencing their aptitude for cup competition. Their demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last year was one of the all-time great FA Cup upsets, and no less than five Premier League sides have fallen at their hands in the last three years. Admirable though this is, what really deserves praise is their ability to effectively manage their league and cup form alongside one another. In 2013, they won promotion from League 2 and reached the League Cup final, while last season’s 7th place finish was highly credible — indeed, just four more points would’ve been enough to finish in the play-offs. Long-serving manager Phil Parkinson is the architect of Bradford’s recent success, and one suspects that they remain partway through an upward trajectory. Parkinson has kept the core of last season’s squad together and has so far been able to hold on to in-demand striker James Hanson, despite multiple bids from Millwall. If Hanson stays, he should continue to thrive alongside Billy Clarke, and the signing of winger Mark Marshall from Port Vale will increase the quality of service to the pair. Former Leyton Orient captain Nathan Clarke should nicely complement last season’s standout performer Rory McArdle at the back — although the loss of Filipe Morais to long-term injury is a blow. By mid-July, the club had sold nearly 20,000 season tickets after reducing the price of early-bird tickets to just £149. With such overwhelming home support, a solid League 1 squad and the expectation of further additions to come, expect a very good season from the Bantams.

Prediction: Automatic

Burton Albion

There is not a huge gulf in class between the clubs at the bottom of League 1 and those at the top of League 2, and in the absence of a glass ceiling there is much to be said for the power of momentum. Burton may well, therefore, hit the ground running after an exceptional promotion campaign. They’re used to winning and they won’t be fazed by the prospect of a first season in the third tier of English football. Much will depend on the form of the players who got them here in the first place. Last season’s top scorer Lucas Akins has plenty of experience in League 1 with Tranmere and Stevenage, and should do well again. Fellow Stevenage old boys Darius Charles and Phil Edwards also bring experience at this level, while the addition of Timmy Thiele from Borussia Dortmund is intriguing — and indicative of a club unafraid to think outside the box. With Dutch striker Abdenasser El Khayati having recently signed a new deal, it will be interesting to see if the draw of manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink continues to buoy Albion’s efforts in the transfer market. A top 10 finish is not out of the question.

Verdict: Middle of the Road


These are exciting times for Bury fans. Manager David Flitcroft has taken the club from the brink of non-league to promotion to League 1 in less than two years and in doing so the former Barnsley boss has become one of the most esteemed managers in the Football League. While some of their rivals have procrastinated in their transfer market, Bury moved swiftly to tie up the free transfers of formidable attacking duo Tom Pope and Leon Clarke by mid-June — both of whom virtually guarantee goals at this level. Defender Peter Clarke and Chelsea academy graduate Jacob Mellis arrive from Blackpool, and Flitcroft’s comments on Mellis — whom he managed at Barnsley — are symptomatic of a fresh era at Gigg Lane: “I feel he fits perfectly into the vision we have for our team on the pitch and into the new DNA profile for a Bury player.” If Danny Pugh can recover from the injury that kept him out for almost the whole of 14-15, he will also be a handy addition, and last season’s League 2 Player of the Year Danny Mayor will relish the chance to prove himself, having failed to make an impact with Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship. There are legitimate concerns over the long-term implications of their spending, but fans will gladly sweep those issues under the carpet for the time being if Flitcroft is able to deliver a second successive promotion push.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs


Success can be something of a double-edged sword for lower league clubs. Exceed expectations without actually achieving promotion, and you can find yourself worse off than you started. Take Chesterfield, who reached the play-offs having been as long as 18/1 for promotion at the beginning of last season (less fancied than relegated pair Leyton Orient and Yeovil). A one-sided defeat to Preston North End later and they look like victims of their own success. The willingness of former boss Paul Cook to drop a division to take over at League 2 Portsmouth just days after the play-off disappointment was a blow, and a number of last season’s key players have already departed (or are expected to). Experienced winger and prolific assist-maker Gary Roberts followed Cook to Pompey in June, while midfielder Sam Clucas joins Hull for a record £1.3m and last season’s player of the year Tendayi Darikwa has made the switch to Burnley. The club have so far managed to resist bids from Cardiff for midfielder Sam Morsy, but there is no guarantee that the Spireites will be able to continue to do so. It’s also worth remembering that the services of talismanic striker Eoin Doyle were lost to the Bluebirds back in February. The task of rebuilding has been left to Dean Saunders, a man whose previous three managerial reigns have all ended in relegation, while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will be relied upon for goals, having started just one game for Preston in 14-15. It doesn’t look good.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Colchester United

One of only a handful of southern-based clubs left in League 1, Colchester endured another season of struggle in 2014-15, eventually securing safety with a final-day victory over Preston. Eight points from their final four games demonstrated an impressive level of determination from what is a largely young squad, but struggle has become worryingly habitual for the U’s. The Essex side ended the season with the second worst defence in League 1 (inferior to three of the four relegated sides), and manager Tony Humes has moved quickly to reinforce his backline, with Richard Brindley, Matthew Briggs, Joe Edwards, George Elokobi and goalkeeper Elliot Parish all arriving over the summer. A more robust defence will improve their chances next season, but a repeat of last season’s relegation battle is likely unless they significantly upgrade their options elsewhere. Adequately replacing Freddie Sears, who joined Ipswich in January, is imperative.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Coventry City

Stability will be key for Coventry as they settle into a first full season back at the Ricoh Arena. A poor 14-15 was salvaged only by the March arrival of Tony Mowbray, who ultimately guided the Sky Blues to safety with a win against Crawley on the final day. He has since set about attempting to drag the club into a new era of professionalism, both on and off the pitch. An impressive spine has been recruited in experienced defenders Sam Ricketts and Reda Johnson, and former Leyton Orient midfield enforcer Romain Vincelot. Highly regarded England under-18s striker Adam Armstrong arrives on loan from Newcastle until January to wear the number 9 shirt and should be prolific in League 1, provided he adjusts to its physicality. Much, too, will depend on who else Mowbray is able to bring in to support Armstrong up front, with goalscoring options currently looking distinctly scarce. Expect big things from 18 year-old academy graduate James Maddison, who is set to play a more pivotal role this season. For once, Coventry fans enter the season with a degree of optimism. Could that elusive top 6 finish finally be on the horizon?

Verdict: Middle of the Road


It’s been a case of plus à§a change, plus c’est la màªme chose for Crewe in recent years, limping plaintively to 19th and 20th-placed finishes in League 1 in consecutive seasons. Manager Steve Davis has been a common thread in this extended period of struggle, and one suspects that many fans will lose patience quickly if his side do not start well. A tough opening run of games that includes trips to Scunthorpe, Coventry and Wigan does not look likely to aid his cause. As always, Crewe can look to their academy for solace, with 2015 League 1 Apprentice of the Year George Cooper expected to build on an impressive breakthrough season on the wing, during which he scored three times in 22 league appearances. Fellow youngster, goalkeeper Ben Garratt, should also continue to develop after winning the club’s Player of the Year award in May. The arrival of David Fox from Colchester adds experience, but much more work is still to be done in the transfer window if Crewe are to avoid returning to League 2 next May.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Doncaster Rovers

In recruiting Andy Williams, Paul Dickov has pulled off one of the signings of the summer. Out of contract with Swindon in May, Williams was reportedly targeted by a host of League 1 sides and it is a measure of Doncaster’s status that they were able to attract the division’s joint-third most prolific scorer. Joining him at the Keepmoat is Richard Chaplow, who is still only 30 despite seemingly having been knocking around the Championship (and, briefly, the Premier League) for decades, and former Preston goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann, another player with recent experience of successfully making the play-offs. French winger Dany N’Guesen should settle quickly following spells with numerous English sides. Pre-season preparations have been somewhat soured by the departure of winger Kyle Bennett, who Dickov has accused of being “badly advised” after he turned down the offer of a new contract to sign for Portsmouth. A 13th-place finish last season was a disappointment and fans will be hoping Andy Williams et al can fire Donny to the play-offs this time around.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs

Fleetwood Town

Much like Stevenage before them, the Cod Army currently occupy the status of ‘club that relegation-threatened Championship clubs are most likely to cite when expressing concern at the prospect of trips to the likes of Fleetwood if they don’t turn things around’. Even after a hugely impressive debut season in League 1 that saw them finish in the top ten, they remain nothing more than a curiosity to fans of some of the more well-established sides. But this is based on nothing more than ignorance, and don’t be in any doubt that Fleetwood will expect to build on last season rather than consolidate. New signing Jimmy Ryan was an important component of the Chesterfield side that reached the JPT final and made the League 1 play-offs last season, and his acquisition serves as evidence that Fleetwood are not resting on their laurels. Ex-Birmingham left back Amari’i Bell is only 21 and should do well in League 1, and former loanee Bobby Grant will increase their attacking options after shining at Shrewsbury last season. If they can hold on to the impressive Graham Alexander, expect another confident top-half finish from Fleetwood.

Verdict: Middle of the Road


Sacking their manager on New Year’s Eve 2014 following a run of two wins in four was slightly unorthodox, but Peter Taylor’s departure ultimately sparked Gillingham’s 14-15 season into life. The unusual ‘gang of four’ caretaker team of Andy Hessenthaler, Steve Lovell, Darren Hare and Mark Patterson did an admirable job of steadying the ship until Justin Edinburgh arrived in February and led the Kent side to 8 wins and 6 draws in 18 games to secure a 12th-placed finish. The former Newport boss has been busy in the transfer window, bringing in nine players so far, and work was certainly required. Edinburgh has utilised his own contacts by signing defender Ryan Jackson from Newport and sealing a loan deal for Cardiff’s Adedeji Oshilaja, whom he also briefly managed during a loan spell at the Welsh side in 2013. Max Ehmer and Bradley Garmston look like cunning acquisitions, while the continued presence of last season’s top scorer Cody McDonald in a Gillingham shirt will reassure the Priestfield regulars. Much will depend on whether the new recruits are a success, and supporters may have to tolerate treading water for the time being.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders


As is customary for newly-relegated sides, Millwall were ruthless in culling members of last season’s ill-fated squad, with 18 players being told their services were no longer required. Just four new players have replaced them thus far, and Lions fans would be forgiven for feeling slightly apprehensive at the lack of activity. The signing of Tony Craig from Brentford on a free is a good piece of business and he should serve as a solid presence at the heart of their defence, while fledgling keeper Jordan Archer arrives from Spurs along with former Gillingham full-backs Mahlon Romeo and Joe Martin. However, Neil Harris may live to regret allowing the likes of Richard Chaplow and Martyn Woolford to join League 1 rivals if he isn’t able to recruit alternatives of at least equivalent quality. There is still time to make additions and Millwall come armed with more financial clout than most, but until they do, they could struggle to mount a credible promotion challenge under the inexperienced Harris.

Verdict: Middle of the Road

Oldham Athletic

Oldham are perhaps best known amongst rival fans for their seemingly infinite presence in League 1, which now extends to 18 consecutive years. They have only breached the top 6 twice during that spell, most recently in 2007. Since then, they’ve made themselves at home in 15th-19th and done little else of note aside from providing fans of opposition sides with a familiar away trip (and briefly entertaining the idea of employing Ched Evans). Much is expected this season of newcomer George Green, who arrives on a free from Everton thanks to a recommendation from Joe Royle. The attacking midfielder signed for the Toffees from Bradford in 2011 for a six-figure sum, but subsequently failed to live up to his enormous potential. Darren Kelly will hope that the 21 year-old can follow the example of Jose Baxter, who trod a similar path when he signed for the Latics on a free back in 2012. Bringing in Jake Cassidy for nothing is another astute piece of business if the striker can recreate the form that briefly saw Tranmere Rovers flirt with promotion to the Championship in 2012-13. David Dunn will be tasked with providing an example to the likes of 22 year-old Northern Ireland international midfielder Carl Winchester, who is another one to keep an eye on after an impressive breakthrough season last year. As usual, Oldham should do just enough to maintain third tier football for another year.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Peterborough United

There is no hiding from the fact that last season’s 9th-placed finish represents something of a blip for Peterborough, who had finished in the top six in their three previous seasons in the third tier. The fact that they were outscored by eight sides below them (including relegated Leyton Orient) makes it abundantly clear where they need to improve. Posh have an enviable record of delving under the radar to identify and develop players with potential, and will hope to have repeated the trick with the signing of Joe Gormley from Cliftonville. Gormley’s is a name that will be unfamiliar to most, but the 26 year-old striker joins Dave Robertson’s side off the back of a record-breaking season in the Irish Premiership, during which he scored an extraordinary 40 goals (including 5 hat tricks). There is no guarantee that he can replicate that form in England, but a haul even half as good would represent an excellent return. Joining him is academy graduate Jack Collison, who returns after spells at West Ham and Ipswich. With extensive Premier League and international experience, the Welsh midfielder will surely prove to be one of the division’s stand-out players, and at 26, could prove to be an excellent long-term addition. Alongside him, fellow midfielder Joe Newell will expect to emulate and build upon the impact he made last season.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs

Port Vale

Vale were one of a number of teams who left it until the final day of 2014-15 to secure their safety, but they were probably kicking themselves more than most after allowing a fairly respectable season to spiral into a run of just one win in eleven games. Chairman Norman Smurthwaite has kept faith in Rob Page, who is just 40 games into his managerial career, but the spectre of last season’s collapse will exert pressure should 2015-16 begin unconvincingly. The manager’s first challenge is to overcome the losses of striker Tom Pope, top scorer for the past three seasons; winger Mark Marshall, provider of seven assists in 14/15; and defender Freddie Veseli, who has rejected the offer of a new contract to join Swiss side FC Lugano. The pattern of key players turning down contracts this summer will be a source of annoyance for fans, but the club appear to have recruited wisely. Experienced right back Ben Purkiss arrives as a replacement for Veseli following his release from Walsall, and Watford loan striker Uche Ikpeazu will be tasked with compensating for the goals lost with the departure of Pope. Former Newcastle United Young Player of the Year Remi Streete should also be a formidable presence in League 1.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders


Under the guidance of Keith Hill, Rochdale took much of League 1 by surprise in their first season back, and an 8th-placed finish was totally deserved. Expectations will be high of Ian Henderson after last season’s haul of 22 goals was second only to that of Joe Garner in the goalscoring charts. Assuming Rochdale can retain his services following rumours of a bid from Barnsley, he will be paired with versatile striker Lewis Alessandra, who joins after two promising seasons with Plymouth in League 2. Alessandra was monitored by a number of rivals, and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t make an impact. Hill has spoken during pre-season about the dangers of complacency, and — providing they can hold on to Henderson — his side look just as strong on paper as last season.

Verdict: Middle of the Road

Scunthorpe United

It’s hard to know where to start, such is the scale and ambition of Scunthorpe’s summer rebuilding job. Following a fairly disappointing season, the club has set about constructing a squad that will surely be aiming to compete for promotion. Much of 14-15 was spent in the bottom four, but despite the lack of success, star striker Paddy Madden still managed 17 goals in all competitions, while midfielder Neal Bishop stood out and should continue to be an influential figure. Madden will look forward to sharing the goalscoring burden with new recruits Darius Henderson and Tom Hopper, one of the Leicester City players involved in the notorious Thai sex tape scandal. Scunny fans will remember Hopper fondly for scoring four in six whilst on loan back in January. Only 21 years old and destined to play at a higher level than League 1, he is something of a coup. Midfield options have been bolstered by former Stoke midfielder Jamie Ness and Luke Williams, who is able to play anywhere across the middle, or as a second striker. Ness struggled to make a mark with the Potters during a three-year spell, but should find his feet easily in League 1. The defence has been reinforced by the signings of Scott Laird and Scott Wiseman, who made a combined 52 appearances for Preston during last season’s successful promotion campaign. Mark Robins will be aware that ambition carries expectation, and moulding so many new players into a cohesive system will be a challenge in itself — just ask Andre Villas Boas or Brendan Rodgers. An impressive pre-season victory over Sheffield Wednesday suggests that they’re already nearly there, and have every right to be optimistic.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs

Sheffield United

The first rule of League 1 is that the mainstream media must not discuss League 1 football unless covering a club in crisis or a viral video. The second rule of League 1 is that Sheffield United must begin the season as promotion favourites, but must never be promoted. Once again, it’s August and Sheffield United possess one of the strongest squads in the league on paper. Having signed Billy Sharp, Martyn Woolford and Connor Sammon, their attacking options are quite frankly frightening, especially when you factor in the prodigal talents of Che Adams. The 21 year-old exploded into the first team in the second half of last season and wrote his name into Blades folklore by scoring twice against Spurs in the League Cup semi-final. 2015-16 will also be winger Matt Done’s first full season with the club after scoring 7 in 14 following a move from Rochdale in February.  Nigel Adkins has earned promotion from League 1 on three previous occasions with Scunthorpe and Southampton, and few will doubt his credentials at this level. Many tipsters have written the Blades off on the basis that they offer dreadful odds and the past has shown that they are seemingly incapable of executing a consistent promotion campaign. Forget that trite Einstein quote about the definition of insanity for a moment — alternative logic suggests that their squad is as strong as ever, and they will surely go up eventually. Surely?

Prediction: Automatic

Shrewsbury Town

As well as having one of the most appealing names in English football, Micky Mellon has quickly gained a reputation as one of the best managers around. Like Burton, the Shrews have become accustomed to winning games — so much so that they were arguably a more consistent side than the champions over the course of last season. Ryan Woods, who made the three-man League 2 Player of the Year shortlist, will be key, as will academy graduate Conor Goldson. Mellon has brought in Wolves striker Liam McAlinden on a six-month loan deal, who supporters will recall scored three times in nine appearances during a previous loan spell in 2013. Shrewsbury have also successfully shrugged off competition to sign former Dagenham midfielder and captain Abu Ogogo on a two-year deal. At 25, Ogogo is still young, but comes furnished with the experience of over 250 games. If he can settle in to a new club and quickly adjust to the demands of playing at a higher level, he could be a wily acquisition. Midfielder Martin Woods and left back Mat Sadler, meanwhile, will supplement the vast experience already provided by former Republic of Ireland international Liam Lawrence. Expect Mellon to keep his side up with relative ease.

Verdict: Middle of the Road

Southend United

The Shrimpers’ play-off victory in May had the feel of one of those defining ‘sliding doors’ moments. Entering the final day of the season on the back of a run of seven consecutive wins, automatic promotion was cruelly denied thanks to defeat at the hands of a Morecambe side playing for nothing.  Fast forward nearly two weeks to the play-off final, and the Shrimpers looked destined for another year in the third tier after ‘keeper Daniel Bentley deflected a 95th minute Wycombe free kick into his own net to put the Essex side behind. But Charlton loanee Joe Piggott scored a dramatic equaliser in the 122nd minute, and Bentley fittingly went on to save two penalties in the shoot-out to hand Southend promotion. He will again be key if the club are to remain in League 1. Phil Brown will rely on the talents of a number of existing squad members this season, and retaining the services of Will Atkinson, Adam Barrett and Michael Timlin is good business. Former Histon left back Ben Coker, too, should take the step up in his stride. David Mooney arrives from relegated Leyton Orient with a solid track record in front of goal, while central midfielder Anthony Wordsworth is arguably one of those players who is too good for League 1 but not quite good enough for the Championship, and should impress.

Verdict: Looking over their shoulders

Swindon Town

A season of transition is likely to be in store for Swindon, who have lost a number of key players following defeat at the hands of Preston in last season’s play-off final. Massimo Luongo and Blen Gladwin depart for Loftus Road, while last season’s top scorer Andy Williams will link up with Paul Dickov at Doncaster. Goalkeeper Wes Foderingham has also left the club after five seasons with the Robins, and defender  Jack Stephens leave a major hole in the centre of defence after returning to parent club Southampton following a fruitful loan. And it is within Premier League academies that manager Mark Cooper will once again hope to have found the generation of players that will finally inspire the club to promotion. Former Arsenal Under-21 left back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill should excel at this level, having joined following his release by the gunners. Cooper has also raided Liverpool’s Under-21s to sign midfielder Jordan Williams and full back Kevin Stewart. Alongside the new arrivals, Nathan Byrne is expected to continue to shine after his enterprising displays at right back earned him a place in the League 1 team of the season last year. Forward Michael Smith will be under pressure to make up for the loss of Andy Williams, and is more than able after scoring 16 in all competitions in 14-15. This side won’t struggle, but automatic promotion may be beyond them without further toil in the transfer market.

Verdict: Middle of the Road


Renewing the services of former Shrewsbury striker Tom Bradshaw may prove to be the most important piece of business that Dean Smith does this summer. The young Welshman scored 20 goals in all competitions for Walsall last season despite a series of hamstring injuries, and he will be heavily relied upon for goals once more, providing he can stay fit. Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell has joined League 1 newcomers Wigan on a free transfer, and the loss of last season’s Player of the Year is a major blow. Replacing him in goal will be 25 year-old Philippines international Neil Etheridge, who arrives following a short spell with Charlton. Former Leyton Orient Player of the Year Jason Demetriou has also signed, and should be a handy option at right back. Further additions are required if the Saddlers are to consolidate last season’s 14th-placed finish, and Smith will be wary of being overtaken by the likes of Scunthorpe and Bury.

Verdict: Middle of the Road

Wigan Athletic

By far the strongest of the relegated sides on paper, anything less than promotion will be a disappointment for Wigan this season. Much will depend on how the inexperienced Gary Caldwell fares in his first managerial role. Caldwell’s ability to work under a chairman who was just thirteen when the Latics were promoted to the Premier League ten years ago should be an absorbing spectacle for neutrals. The Scot’s transfer business has been shrewd thus far. Goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell kept 16 clean sheets in 44 games for Walsall last year and should inspire confidence in a new-look defence featuring Welsh international centre back Craig Morgan. Will Grigg is certain to score goals after reaching the 20+ mark with MK Dons and Walsall twice in the last three seasons and he should thrive alongside Grant Holt and Craig Davies, who arrives from Bolton. Max Power should also prosper in midfield – at just 22 he is still developing, but has already made over 100 appearances for Tranmere and is capable of playing at a higher level. The club have made effective use of their Premier League contacts by bringing in Francisco Junior and Jonjoe Kenny on loan from Everton and Manchester United defender Reece James on a permanent basis. Bouncing back from relegation to League 1 isn’t always as straightforward as it first seems to many ex-Premier League clubs (Charlton, Portsmouth, Forest, Leicester, Sheffield United and Coventry will attest to that), and Caldwell will feel the pressure if his side don’t start the season strongly. Even so, it’s difficult to envisage a squad of players of this calibre finishing outside of the top 6, even if things don’t go to precisely plan.

Verdict: Chasing the Play-Offs

Tom Furnival-Adams
Astonishingly patient 26 year-old London-born Coventry City supporter living in Brighton. Looks disapprovingly at the common hipster, but believes in a world in which football, indie music & classic literature can co-exist peacefully. Biding his time writing inconsequential drivel about ’22 men kicking a ball around’ while waiting for a groundbreaking novel to write itself. Sisu not on his Christmas card list. @Tom_FA

1 Comment

  1. Jason
    August 6, 2015

    Really interesting preview and most probably not far off the mark, Sheff Utd and Bradford City are most likely the teams that will contest the automatics. But unlike last year when there was really only four teams in it, the scope for a broader competition is there.

    No-one team really stands out head and shoulders above another, Swindon are again being written off as the annual exodus of talent suggests they are a spent force, but the club keeps finding talent, over the last 5 years they have discovered Austin, Ritchie, Luongo, Gladwin, Foderingham, Thompson, and developed, Mason, Pritchard, Stevens, to name but a few to greater heights and beyond. And so it is expected again this season, with Bryne, Roberts and Kasim in midfield, the creativity won’t have diminshed from last season, Turnbull is back from Southampton along with new recruits from Liverpool in the form of Williams, Stewart and Vigouroux. Last season their lack of a plan B in the toughest games was there for all to see, but there domination of possesion in most games is fully expected to be repeated this season. Preseason has seen a change in shape that should shore up the back line when required. With the highly regarded Bournemouth target Randall expected to break into the first team this season the loss of last years rising staff Gladwin isn’t as worrysome as many expect. Kasim is expected to take the centre stage in Midfield to replace Luongo, some would say he was the understated glass act last season, now is his time to shine.

    With Roberts from LOrient expected to provide further creative input it is only in the attacking third where concerns really exist, Williams has gone, but rarely got into the Swindon team after Christmas with the emergence of Gladwin. A fourth attacking option to the bolster the foward line is expected and could be the defining transfer, that could tip Swindon from Play off contenders to Automatic challengers


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