As a division that is so often incredibly competitive it’s grown in quality and also in prestige in the last few years with more and more big clubs finding themselves in League one and having to battle their way out, Leeds and Southampton being two of the bigger names to have won promotion recently. This year is no different as Wolves find themselves in a league that contains such a spread of clubs in their size and finance it seems straight forward to where each side will finish, but Yeovil were favourites for relegation last season and now they are one promotion off of the Premiership.
The nearly-men of last season are expected by many to make a push as Brentford so nearly gained promotion but fell at the final hurdle after a strong season and some delicious attacking football throughout that Premier League sides would have been proud of – they have done well to retain Clayton Donaldson. However, it would be a surprise to see them fly through the league again without further additions as they’ve lost some players who were quite integral and when a team gets so close to promotion there often seems to be a hangover season of recovery to get to the point to push again; this is what Brentford may have to experience although they will still be around the key positions.
Wolves are almost everyone’s favourites for a direct promotion back to the Championship this season, but there will be time for them to turn it around and the remaining few weeks of the transfer window are vital for them to keep their key players otherwise it could be a tricky season for Wolves and it is crucial they get Leigh Griffiths firing; but the season is not one to expect fireworks from as Kenny Jackett is a steady manager who needs to perform one head-twisting turnaround. This season is stabilising themselves as a club and giving themselves a foundation to mount a promotion charge this season, although it could have all come too soon that play-offs could be their best hope unless they really can hit the ground running and settle on a formation that allows Bakary Sako to settle into a role producing opportunities for Griffiths and plug the hole in their midfield ball winning area after the sale of former-club captain Karl Henry to QPR.
Other sides are all involved in the chase for promotion, with Peterborough being amongst the favourites to go straight back up as Darren Ferguson has built an efficient side that were unlucky to be relegated, I can definitely see them going straight back up as one of the automatically promoted sides. The Posh have kept a lot of their Championship side intact and definitely possess the credentials to put together a long run of form but heavily rely on keeping their defence well marshalled and keeping regular clean sheets; Ferguson will require all of his tactical nous to out manoeuvre his opponent in this league and will face some sides who can provide some notable surprises.
In general, this league takes a lot of time to get used to and the variety of styles that you can face; as a number of teams will draft in talented youngsters with pace and energy the speed of football at this level is troubling to keep up with and to carefully scout each team more so than anywhere else with players appearing at clubs from nowhere and providing some breathtaking performances as Chelsea loanee Milan Lalkovic did on his Walsall debut, the managers take on a lot of responsibility and my dark horses are undoubtedly Preston to come up with the goods and have – in my opinion – the best manager in the league, in Simon Grayson. Grayson’s experience at this level will give North End the advantage tactically, although Bristol City will also provide a threat with the number of players they have brought in and the signing of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas gives some much needed experience of a higher level and a powerful versatile forward who will cause some slower and veteran defenders in this league problems.
A season of surprises and big contests, some lower league players will get trips to old and once majestic stadia whilst recent Premier League players may find themselves wondering just how they ended up playing on a rainy Tuesday evening at Crawley and getting run around by some fresh-faced under-18 from the Premiership whilst they ache all over from their league cup game six months ago. League one; the league encompassing all aspects, young, old, big clubs, growing clubs, the league of change.
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