EFL League One 2017 – 2018 Preview
Last year there was just no stopping Sheffield United. The blades stormed to the title and finished 14 points better off than 2nd placed Bolton. Scunthorpe, Fleetwood, Bradford and Millwall made up the playoff picture but it was 6th placed Millwall who earned the right to play in the Championship this year beating Bradford in the playoff final.
Look for former premier league manager Phil Brown to provide fireworks as he continues his reign at Southend United. Whilst former spurs left back Justin Edinburgh continues his managerial education as a manager of Northampton Town.
Fans of Blackburn Rovers have had precious little to cheer about since being relegated from the Premier League. They were beaten by Wigan (who join them in League One this year) on the penultimate day of the 2011 – 2012 season and have never recovered. This year they are hot favourites to return to the championship and will be looking at new signing Peter Wittingham to add the necessary quality to the side. Wigan will be contenders for this year’s title having followed their Lancashire neighbours down from the championship. Will Grigg of Euro 2016 fame will lead the line and Paul Cook will be hoping that his settled squad can get back to Championship level the first time asking.
Automatic Promotion Contenders
In Robbie Neilson the MK Dons have another young promising British manager looking to make his mark. It will be hard to miss towering Ousseynou Cissé in midfield alongside Aston Villa youngster Aaron Tshibola that said the don’s promotion hopes will likely rest on Kieran Agards ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Both Scunthorpe and Fleetwood ended last season in disappointment as neither sides made the playoff finals after finishing with 82 points apiece. Despite losing key players the arrival of Rory Mccardle will add extra depth to the Iron and another automatic playoff push should be expected.
Charlton Athletic have had some impressive preseason results and whilst that’s no barometer for success the squad depth should leave them well placed for a run at the playoffs. In Uwe Rosler Fleetwood Town have an enigmatic manager who encourages his side to play attractive football. Despite losing in the playoffs last season can be seen as a huge success and with the arrival Conor McAleny the cod army should get to the playoffs once again. Having lost to Millwall in last years playoff final Bradford City will be looking to go one better. Losing McArdle to rivals Scunthope hampers their efforts but McCall has signed the talented Jake Reeves to bolster the midfield and will look to continue the development of Mark Marshall.
If you’re looking for an outside shot at this year’s playoffs then Portsmouth could be worth a punt. In Kenny Jackett pompey have an experienced if not conservative manager who led Wolves to the League One Championship in 2014. Whilst his style of management may not be to everyone’s liking his Wolves side romped to the title with an impressive 103 points. Nobody really know what to expect from Oxford United, in Pep Clotet Oxford enter the season with an untested manager who has only held assistant manager position. 22 year old Xemi arrives from Barcelona B and the club will look to Mike Williamson to provide leadership from the back. The signing of Michael Kightly from Burnley will have Southend United fans excited about the new season. Experienced centre back Michael Turner also arrives to bolster the back line and Phil Brown will be confident of reaching the playoffs this year
Outright favourites for relegation Gillingham have done little to inspire fans this summer. Dack and Mcdonald have left for pastures new and haven’t been replaced. Adrian Pennocks style of football divides opinion and if results are poor expect Pennock to lead the sack race. With Chinese backing Northampton Town will be looking to move away from the relegation scrap. The cobblers will be hoping that the new look defence gels quickly and that John-Joe O’Toole can inspire the side to move away from the relegation scrap. Having failed to address a woeful goal tally last year Oldham fans look set for another season of disappointment. The signing of Craig Davies is hardly inspiring and does little to address their desperate need for goals. With Conor Ripley returning to Middlesbrough there is little to suggest that Oldham can turn the tide and they will need a John Sheridan miracle to survive this year. Blackpool also seem destined for a tough year following their promotion. The fans continued fight against the Oyston’s sets a toxic atmosphere and its unlikely that the once Premier League club will be able to replicate last year’s playoff success.