Although this bet is unlikely to happen I do think it may be overpriced. There have been 20 years of the Premier League and twice a team has scored 9 goals in a match, therefore making the odds on that happening this season 9/1 by my reckoning.
If I've got that right then what odds would you suggest a team scoring 10 goals in a match should be? I know it hasn't happened in the 20 years, but looking at the fact twice a team has scored 9 I'd say about 20/1, maybe 25/1.
I've seen 40/1 available, do you think it's a fair price or no chance??
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Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:21 am Post subject:
Just finalising my Ante Post bets and the last one is going to be Relegation from the Premiership.
Last season all 3 of the promoted sides survived, this hadn’t happened since 2001/2002.
I don’t think that will be the case this season though.
Interestingly there are currently no teams priced at odds on for the drop which indicates that the market thinks it is going to be tight down at the bottom.
The 3 promoted teams are best priced as follows:
Southampton – 2.44
Reading – 2.56
West Ham – 3.8
I don’t think West Ham will go down as they look to be strengthening and I believe that Big Sam is a decent enough Manager to keep them up.
Southampton and Reading may struggle at this level and therefore I am looking to Dutch the 2 to be relegated in the hope that at least 1 of them goes down.
100 points will return 25 points if 1 of them goes and you have the added bonus that they might both go!
Another one that takes the eye is West Brom as I think they are going to find life after Roy a tad difficult.
New Manager Steve Clarke is unproven at this level (any level as Manager) and whilst he has experience as a number 2 in the Premiership being the number 1 brings on a huge amount of additional pressure.
They have a tough few opening games so I am going to back them to be relegated @ 4.8 on Betfair and look to trade out as they shorten.
Before this season 59 clubs have been promoted to the Premier League.
26 got relegated first time of asking.
Promoted Teams Relegation Chance - 26/59 = 44.07%
Promoted Teams Average Finishing Positions
1st to 5th Seasons - 13.80
6th to 10th Seasons - 14.60
11th to 15th Seasons - 15.40
16th to 19th Season - 15.60
It appears it's becoming progressively harder to stay in the Premier League first time of asking. This is more than likely due to the sheer amount of spending on the squad required not helped by the massive gulf in revenues between the two divisions.
30 Clubs have played a second season
Chance of Top 2: 1/30 = 3.30%
Chance of Top 6: 4/30 = 13.33%
Chance of Top 9: 7/30 = 23.33%
Chance of Top 10: 10/30 = 33.33%
Chance of Relegation: 7/30 = 23.33%
It's a hard one to suss out because only once has all 3 promoted teams been relegated and only twice have they all stayed up.
The relegation prices, taking into account the 44% strike rate for it mean some crafty dutching would have to occur but ultimately 2 of the 3 would have to go down to secure profit and that's above the strike rate.
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Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:46 am Post subject:
Premier League Relegation
The bookies have found it hard themselves to determine who should be favourites for the drop, and it’s the first time for a while (to the best of my knowledge) that there isn’t a side who are odds-on for the drop. The three promoted sides are amongst the favourites, as is to be expected, but in recent years they have actually gone on to do pretty well, out of the 12 teams who have been promoted over the last 4 years, only two have gone straight back down (Blackpool & Burley) which makes for a good omen if you are a fan of Southampton, Reading or West Ham. The only one of those 3 I can see struggling are Southampton. The Saints haven’t really brought in anyone who can be a proven difference maker, instead they have splashed out on Rodruiguez from Burnley, and Billy Sharp from Doncaster, and no disrespect to either, but spending big on players from the level below isnt what you want to be doing as a Premier League club. What Southampton needed was a Premier League striker, and even though Billy Sharp is a class act, it is a huge gamble to think that he can do the job at this level, a few teams have gambled on decent scorers from the second tier, and many times it has failed, Southampton have taken the same risk, and without that strengthening, I think the 11/8 (William Hill) offered on them for the drop is worth taking.
Wigan are a side who have consistently avoided the drop against the odds, and this season it would be against the odds for them to make the drop, and so to not live up to expectation, I can see them finally succumbing to relegation. They had a cracking end to last season to keep themselves in the top flight, and another year at the wrong end of the table looks likely. There hasn’t been much in the way of spending to improve the squad over the summer, a few free transfers have been made, but the team from last year remains very much in tact. Is this a good or a bad thing? Well, only time will tell really, but if their heroic spirit has finally been drained then I can only see them going one way, and that’s the same way everyone has expected them to go, down to the Championship @ 7/4 (Coral)
Swansea City did well to keep themselves in the top flight last season, heir team spirit was fantastic for most of the season, and they gave sides a real game, they had a very impressive defensive record at home for the first half of the season, and ended up conceding just 19 goals in 18 games at The Liberty Stadium, and losing only 4 times. Their reward for this, preservation of their Premier League status and a lot of notice for their surprising performance, the downside, Brenden Rogers did such a good job masterminding their season that he has now gone to manage Liverpool, taking midfielder Joe Allen with him, whilst pivotal player Gylfi Sigurdsson was so influential during his time a Swansea that he has now signed for Tottenham. Their replacements, Michael Laudrup, who has no experience of the English game and has done pretty well in sustaining mediocre Spanish teams in La Liga, getting the best out of them in the process, and a stint at Spartak Moscow which saw him win 4 times in 14 games (not impressive by their standards) and Chico and Michu from abroad, it’s going to take a lot to keep them up this year, and to rely on a manager like Laudrup to do that is taking a very big risk, it’s a 50/50 gamble as to whether it works or flops, and I’d much rather be on the 2/1 (Ladbrokes) shot that they flop.
That’s the three I think are destined for the drop and it’s 28/1 for the three to be relegated (bet365), the other teams in and around the drop zone should be pretty much as the bookies are expecting, Reading are going to find it difficult on their Premier League return, Norwich might be the side that suffer from ‘second season syndrome’ and despite having the ability in their squad West Ham can’t be ignored based on the fact that their promotion last season involved the play-offs. One side that could surprise a few is Stoke City having established themselves as a decent side in recent years, last season was pretty poor by their standards, and if teams are finally starting to figure them out then 6/1 could be too large a price to turn down, possibly worth considering for an interest, but they should ultimately survive.
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Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:45 am Post subject:
The following post was posted by portvalenil
There doesn't seem to be a thread on League 2 (or if there is I can't find it). Here's my views.
For the record, I've backed:
AFC Wimbledon to be relegated (13/2 @bet365)
Port Vale to be promoted (10/1 @Betfred)
Accrington Stanley Writing a preview about Paul Cook’s men is tough. Year after year they lose their better players, and bring in unknowns. Who can tell me whether or not Preston youth graduates George Miller and Luke Clarke can cut it at this level? Or how good Liverpool trainee Lewis Hatch may turn out to be? I’ll have a guess at nobody. Stanley finished a comfortable fourteenth last season, characteristically struggling on the road but winning almost half of their home games. The Crown Ground must be one of the toughest places in the country to visit – a breeze block bunker for a changing room, a sloping pitch with bare patches, and stands as big as your garden shed (all together now…) – and Accy will again pick up plenty of wins on home turf/soil. The loss of midfield maestro Kevin McIntyre to Rochdale is a blow, but losing good players to bigger fish is old news for this club, who will take it in their stride and comfortably avoid the drop.
AFC Wimbledon Let’s give the Wombles a 7/10 for their first season back in the football league. Terry Brown’s men finished a comfortable 16th, achieved a respectable home record at the ever-packed Kingsmeadow and made plenty of friends along the way. The problem remains that until they find a bigger home of their own, there will be a glass ceiling to their progression as a club. Talks with Merton council over a return to their home borough are progressing, but it’s likely that a move would take years to finalise and complete. A return to Wimbledon remains a long term goal, but I fear the Dons will have a scrap on their hands to achieve their short term goal of staying in the league. Terry Brown looks short on numbers as fourteen players have left the club this summer, with only six coming in – none of whom immediately make you sit up and take notice. Warren Cummings (Bournemouth) and Curtis Osano (Luton) are probably the pick of the new boys, but compared to other clubs in the division it has been rather a modest summer. They let in seventy-eight goals last season and I see no signs that they’ve mended that leaky defence, which could spell danger. The Dons will be hoping to avoid second season syndrome, but without the momentum of promotion and the novelty aspect of being in the football league, I fear the worst. I can see backing against the Dons becoming a recurring theme as the season progresses.
Aldershot The shots’ will be looking to build on last season’s eleventh place finish and their signing of the summer was keeping manager Dean Holdsworth at the club in the face of interest from promoted Crawley. The former Crazy gang target man chose to stay at the Recreation ground instead of jumping ship to the league above, and that should tell us a lot about the ambitions of the club this season. Last season’s top performers Guy Madjo and Danny Hylton are joined by the experience of Guy Branston (Bradford City) and Anthony Tonkin (Oxford United) as well as the more exciting signings of Craig Reid (Stevenage) and Sonny Bradley (Hull City). Time will tell whether or not the Hampshire club have stumbled upon the perfect combination of youthful exuberance and lower league grit, but in a tough league I suspect they may fall just short of the top seven once more.
Barnet The months ahead promise to be a baptism of fire for Stuart Robson. The bees continued to defy gravity as they survived on the final day for a second successive season. Needless to say, they’d take a final day escape again this time around as it could be argued that the North Londoners have lost their five best players over the summer. Classy midfielders Sam Deering and Mark Hughes have departed, as has experienced stopper Dean Brill. Most crucially though, is the void left by the departure of eighteen goal man, Izale McLeod. Losing a player of his calibre would hurt any side at this level but will especially wound a reliant Barnet and one has to wonder where the goals will come from. Of the new signings, the onus will be on Jon Nurse to step up to the mark. This seems a tough ask for the thirty one year old who only scored five goals for Dagenham last season despite playing over three thousand minutes of league two football. Jon Fortune and Danny Senda will marshall the back line, and one feels they’ll have to draw upon every ounce of experience to perform another great escape.
Odds: 150/1 (Coral) Verdict: Another mammoth struggle.
Bradford City It’s the same old story in West Yorkshire. A relatively high profile manager, some relatively high profile signings, and a relatively large fanbase expecting a decent season. Usually, the season is over by late September as the reality of being just another mediocre league two team kicks in. The fact that last season turned out to be the worst yet in their five year spell in the fourth tier increases the pressure on Phil Parkinson to get things right this time. City fans will be buoyed by the marquee signings of commanding centre half Andrew Davies (from Stoke) and the experienced Gary Jones (from Rochdale) as well as the interesting acquisitions of James Meredith (York City), Rory McArdle (Aberdeen) and Will Atkinson (Hull). Moreover, Parkinson has recognised his side’s need for more goals and their biggest signing of the summer may well be that of Alan Connell, as Parkinson moved quickly to secure his signature from promoted Swindon Town. The 29-year-old was deemed surplus to requirements by Robins boss Paulo Di Canio, despite firing eleven goals on their way to the League Two Championship and could well be a catalyst for an improved season. Whilst City’s home form was respectable, their main problems came away from Valley Parade – City managed just four wins on the road all season. Whether they like it or not, some clubs raise their games when Bradford City come to town and this may present itself more so this season with Yorkshire derbies against York City, Rotherham United and Chesterfield to look forward to. An improved season beckons (it can’t get any worse), but it’s likely that the Bantams will fall just short of the play-off in a tough division.
Bristol Rovers Expectations are high at the Memorial Ground. The Pirates struggled on under the misguidance of Paul Buckle until the season was all but over and handed the reigns over to Mark McGhee. I’m not going to beat around the bush with the Scotsman, I don’t like him. I grew up in an era where my team would stroll past McGhee’s Wolves time after time, and will never forget/forgive his disparaging comments towards us in the 90’s. The bloke’s always got an excuse ready, and I think he’ll be needing a few more this season. For all their good work as the season drew to a close, Rovers are a club who struggle to find form when the pressure is on. Being one of the favourites won’t help them and the club has again adopted a policy of allowing a huge turnover of players in the close season. No less than twelve players have left (with eight coming in) and it’s rare to see a side hit the ground running in this scenario. The signings of Oli Norwood (Leicester), Matt Lund (Stoke) and Gary Kenneth (Dundee United) are eye catching, but then so were the Scott McGleish and Matty Harrold last summer. The duo’s twenty five goals were nowhere near enough to make up for the lack of quality in other areas, and I think this season may be the same old story. By no means are the play-offs beyond the Bristol club (I don’t think they’re beyond anyone barring the dregs at the bottom of the table), but I feel the improvement won’t be significant enough to keep the side going once it realizes that there’s a whole bunch of better sides in the division.
Odds: 20/1 (BetVictor, BWin) Verdict: Not as good as they think they are. Frustrated in midtable.
Burton Albion The Brewers seem a loyal club and that nearly cost them their league status last season. In my eyes, they held onto Paul Peschisolido for about six weeks too long as they hit a major slump in mid winter. When he was finally axed, Gary Rowett steadied the ship and the East Midlands club battled to a seventeenth place finish. The former Leicester man’s reward is the job on a permanent basis and he’s got a job on his hands to drag his side away from the bottom third of the table. The new gaffer’s signings have been solid if not spectacular – Zander Diamond (Oldham), Marcus Holness (Rochdale), Robbie Weir (Tranmere), Damien McCrory (Dagenham) and Lee Bell (Crewe). Every single one of these players knows their way around a football pitch at this level. In Calvin Zola and Justin Richards, they have a forward line capable of goals, but last season’s tally of twelve and eleven (respectively) will have to be improved upon if they are to push on. The yellow’s are generally good at their Pirelli base, but struggle to keep their shape when put under intense pressure on the road – their away games averaged a goal a game more on the road than at home last season. They’ll need to rectify this but if they do, Rowett’s men could be in for a decent enough season.
Odds: 125/1 (Boylesports) Verdict: If the goals dry up they’re in trouble, but should see a slight improvement on last season’s 17th position.
Cheltenham Town I have to confess, I really like what’s happening at Whaddon Road these days. Once a side everyone would be disappointed not to beat, Mark Yates has transformed Cheltenham into a tough side with no shortage of guile and ability. The Robins bossed most of their play-off final against Crewe back in May, but succumbed to a spectacular Nick Powell strike before a breakaway second by Byron Moore secured promotion for the Alex. Yates has proved he has no room for sentiment by replacing crowd favourite Josh Low with exciting Barnet midfielder Sam Deering. The former Kidderminster boss also wasted no time in recruiting Billy Jones from relegated Exeter and was backed financially by his chairman to sign Chris Zebrowsi. The nomadic frontman was most recently with Bristol Rovers but struggled to settle and seems like the type of player who needs to be loved. If the Whaddon Road faithful take to Zeb, they’ll have a capable goalscorer on their hands. Even if he doesn’t find the net, Shaun Harrad and Darryl Duffy (both players with a good pedigree and goalscoring record) will be waiting in the wings to fill the breach. After last season, don’t expect the Robins to simply slink away back into the bottom half. While Mark Yates is still the main man, Cheltenham will still be contenders.
Odds: 25/1 (BetVictor, Boylesports) Verdict: Very lively outside bet. No reason why they can’t replicate the success of last season.
Chesterfield What’s all the fuss about? Two years ago, the Spireites were on the crest of a wave. They moved to a new ground, magically doubled their support in the process, and boasted a strikeforce of Craig Davies and Jack Lester. They also had a hungry, untarnished manager in John Sheridan. Fast forward twenty four months and they’re a shadow of their former selves. They lasted just one season in the third tier and return with the task of bouncing straight back. League Two is undoubtedly stronger than it was when Chesterfield were last here, and they now carry the mental baggage of relegation. The familiar faces linger at the B2net, the ageing Lester is still on the fringes and Sheridan is still the boss and this is a worry. Once a messiah for achieving promotion, doubts must be raised about the appetite and consistency of the former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder – don’t be surprised if the natives get restless if they don’t come racing out of the blocks. At least their two signings are positive. Marc Richards was prized away from Vale Park with an offer too good to refuse, and he will be charged with the task of being the much needed twenty-goal-a-season man. Having watched Rico over the past five years I have my doubts over whether he will do the business over in Derbyshire. For a start, he’s always been the top dog at Vale. Everything went through him, the tactics were picked to accommodate him, and his goal tally was boosted each season by his first refusal on penalties and free kicks. He won’t be allowed these luxuries by Sheridan and if Marc loses confidence, he could go missing. The Spireites have also added solid ‘Wednesday defender Richard O’Donnell to the ranks, whilst releasing nine of last season’s ‘deadwood’. I don’t think any team will fear Chesterfield, and the thought that they have some kind of devine right to be in the play-offs in May is wide of the mark. Expect a topsy-turvy season which may result in the boss losing his job.
Odds: 14/1 (generally available) Verdict: Make or break season for Sheridan. My head says ‘break’.
Dagenham & Redbridge The Daggers hardly set the division alight on their return. Ending the season in nineteenth, they teetered on the brink of the relegation places for much of the season. Not that this should be a surprise. John Still performed a miracle in taking them to the third tier and they were much helped by the goals of then prolific striker Paul Benson. Make no mistake about it, they are a poor outfit. They lost over half of their league games last season and really got found out on the road – where they only bagged nine goals. Scoring goals was a huge problem and the former non-leaguers managed less than a goal per game – and I see it being no different in 2012/13. The signing of Gavin Hoyte from Arsenal will surely prove to be good business but he’ll need to learn fast as Still has lost the experience of Jon Nurse, Mark Arber, Richard Rose and Peter Gain. The backbone of the team has gone, and unless the unknown kids are akin to Fergie’s class of ’95, it’ll take a huge effort to keep the Daggers in the league.
Odds: 125/1 (Stan James) Verdict: Continue to dance around the trapdoor, perhaps this time they’ll fall.
Exeter City The Grecians spell in the third tier was bought to an abrupt end last season as they endured a torrid time on their way to relegation. Modern thinking manager Paul Tisdale will have learnt a lot from that experience and as he enters his seventh season at the helm, nobody knows the club better. City fans are a patient lot and appreciate the immense job the gaffer has done in getting them to this position, and will forgive a relegation considering the two promotion’s that preceded it. This unity will be a huge bonus in what will probably become a transitional season at St. James’. Eleven players have left (most notably the prolific Daniel Nardiello), but they have been replaced by nine. Of the new boys, Jamie Cureton and Matt Oakley will offer bags of experience while Kevin Amankwaah (Swindon), Troy Archibald-Henville (Swindon) and Arron Davies (Northampton) played at this level last season. In particular, Tisdale will be hoping that Cureton can hit the sort of form that saw him notch 17 goals two season’s ago. One thing’s for sure, the veteran will be adding to his impressive tally of 216 goals in English football – but how many he adds may determine what type of season his side have.
Odds: 50/1 (BetVictor) Verdict: A season of consolidation. Better prospects next season if they retain faith in the manager.
Fleetwood Town My word (as Ray Wilkins would say), look at the squad Micky Mellon has put together up at Highbury. Jamie Vardy’s big money move to Leicester paved the way for the signings of Steven Gillespie (Colchester), Jon Parkin (Preston) and David Ball (Peterborough). All three were playing (and scoring) at a higher level last season, and will surely notch plenty down in League Two. Parkin in particular will be a handful for any defence, and will fondly remember the prolific spell he enjoyed at Macclesfield at this level albeit six years ago. An illustration of this strength in depth is that last season's top scorer Andy Mangan looks destined for a season of bench-warming, a bitter pill to swallow for a player who's scored over sixty-five goals in his last three seasons. In midfield the experienced duo of Barry Nicholson and Damien Johnson are handed the task of supplementing last season's championship winning playmakers in feeding the potentially lethal frontmen. Likewise, Mellon has again opted to add experience to the back line with the acquisitions of Dean Howell (Crawley) and Youl Mawene (Aberdeen). Let’s not forget that this was already a Championship winning side, and factor in that the last two Conference Champions – Stevenage and Crawley – went on to achieve back-to-back promotions. There's no reason to doubt that a similar result is well within reach for the Cod Army. They won an incredible eighteen of their twenty three away games last term, and although they will find it impossible to repeat that success ratio at this level, if they can find their feet quickly – they may get leave the chasing pack in their wake.
Gillingham Who let the dogs out? Because there’s one loose in Essex. To be precise, the Mad Dig has surfaced in Gillingham, hoping to revive the fortunes of an ailing football club. Predictably, he’s dragged his son along (as he has at his last three clubs) presumably for companionship. The Gills summer has been overshadowed by the court case brought against them by Mark McCammon. It was found that the former striker was treated differently because of the colour of his skin and that the club tried to force him out. Mad Dog will hope to put the focus back on the pitch with some eye catching performances and a campaign near the top of the table, and has proved to be quite the shrewd wheeler dealer this summer. If he can get a tune out of one his veteran strikers – be it Deon Burton or Ben Strevens – then they’ll provide a perfect partnership with the dangerous Danny Kedwell. The former Wimbledon star didn’t have the most explosive season but still bagged a handy fourteen as his side narrowly missed the play-offs, finishing eighth. In addition, Stuart Nelson has followed his gaffer from Meadow Lane to The Priestfield and the stopper will be worth a few points over the course of the season. Allen has assembled a squad capable of pushing on from last season, so don’t be surprised to see them contending at the business end.
Odds: 18/1 (Boylesports, Blue Square) Verdict: Massive chance of promotion if Mad Dog gets the right tune out of his players.
Morecambe Last season was a learning curve for Jim Bentley who guided the Shrimpers to a respectable fifteenth in his first full season in charge. Unlike most other clubs at this level, Morecambe have oddly seemed to gain no advantage from moving to a new stadium two years ago. In fact, it’s fair to say that they’ve gone backwards in many respects. Christie Park was a tough place to visit , whereas the club had to rely on away form (they picked up eight points more on the road than at home) to keep them out of trouble last season. Indeed, the young scouse manager’s first port of call will be to address that dire home form that saw his side pick up only six wins at the Globe Arena. Veteran’s Phil Jevons and Jason Price have left, and with their wages freed up, Robbie Threlfall (Dundee), Andrew Wright (Scunthorpe) and Richard Brodie (Crawley) have been recruited. The loan signings of striker Brodie could prove a masterstroke. The North-East born forward has not been allowed to settle at any club in the past few seasons, seemingly being traded every six months from one Conference side to another, but a prolonged spell in the football league may see him hit the sort of form that earned him his reputation at York City. The Shrimpers will be hoping that a solid spine to the team including Barry Roche, Robbie Threlfall and Stuart Drummond will provide the perfect platform for the evergreen Kevin Ellison and aforementioned Brodie to strut their stuff up top, providing the firepower to launch Morecambe towards the play-offs. I think the idea is a good one, but it is a big ask considering the lack of squad depth. Don’t be surprised to see them fire out of the blocks but fade away in the latter part of the campaign, just like they did last season.
Odds: 66/1 (SkyBet, Stan James) Verdict: Almost identical campaign to 2011/12 beckons.
Northampton Town Adey Boothroyd’s reputation is on the line in the next nine months. Still regarded as a bright prospect by many who recall his journey to the Premier League with Watford, the young manager has found himself in the fourth tier with expectations high. He was helpless to stop the rot last season as the Cobblers endured a disastrous campaign, eventually finishing fifth bottom. Experienced heads have been recruited all over the park and Boothroyd looks to have assembled a team of leaders. At the back, they’ll have Clarke Carlisle (if he can find the time to play between appearances on Countdown and making documentaries) and David Artell (who renegade on a move to Port Vale after a summer training with the Potteries’ club). In front of this pair, hoping to fill the void left by Michael Jacob’s departure to Derby County, will be former Aldershot playmaker Luke Guttridge and the once-exciting winger Chris Hackett (from Millwall). But it is upfront that they can boast their strongest area. With the beast Adeboayo Akinfenwa still hanging around, the club have also recruited Clive Platt who’ll be looking to revive his career after a tough time at Coventry. If paired up, these two could be a real handful for any defence in the division. So will this be the year that Northampton awake from their slumber and challenge at the top end? I have my reservations. For me, Boothroyd has (and will) always be a long ball manager with no Plan B. The loss of Jacobs in midfield will see them almost bypassing that area, instead opting for the route one option – a long ball from Carlisle or Artell straight up to the big men upfront. Going for experience is all well and good, but the squad has too many players who are over the hill with the whole team severely lacking in pace. They’re going to be relying on moments of individual brilliance to dig them out of holes, and if they don’t find them the Sixfield’s could become a very uncomfortable place for Boothroyd and Co.
Odds: 25/1 (bet365) Verdict: Boothroyd to be sacked by Christmas (with Clarke Carlisle taking over). Midtable at best.
Oxford United After establishing themselves back in the football league, there’s a general consensus that the Yellow’s should be ready to push on this season. Chris Wilder has been given ample time and resources to build a squad capable of promotion, and if he doesn’t deliver you’d have to suspect he’ll be out of work come May. Last season they fell just short in ninth, with too many home draws probably the contributing factor. Of the players who’ve left the club in the close season, nobody is really worthy of mention, and fans at the Kassam will be pleased that the club have again seen off approaches for biggest asset James Constable (Bristol Rovers have had three separate bids rejected in a matter of weeks). Wilder has looked to bolster his attacking options with Sean Rigg joining from Port Vale, Jake Forster-Caskey (son of Darren Caskey and step-son of Nicky Forster) coming in on loan from Brighton and Lee Cox making the move from rivals Swindon Town. On paper, there’s no disputing why Oxford are amongst the bookies favourites for promotion. Michael Raynes, Tony Capaldi and Michael Duberry are the cornerstone’s of a solid backline, the new signings in midfield should compliment Simon Heslop and Peter Leven, and upfront they have four strikers (Constable, Craddock, Rigg and Smalley) who would make the matchday squad of any team in the league. It is down to the manager to find the right combinations of players and to fully utilize an often intimidating and loud home support. Turning a few draws into wins at the Kassam would see Oxford comfortably inside the top seven, and nothing else will be tolerated.
Odds: 14/1 (Coral) Verdict: If Wilder gets things right, could be genuine title contenders. Top seven at minimum.
Plymouth Argyle The gloom hanging over the Devon club sees no sign of lifting any time soon, and Carl Fletcher has his work cut out in trying to keep Argyle from slipping into the abyss. Last season, the Pilgrims found it tough to do anything productive – be it scoring or winning. They won only ten games all season and scored only a goal per game on route to their lowest ever finish (20th). In truth, they were fortunate that Hereford and Macclesfield were even worse, finally succumbing to relegation after years of battling against it. With the deadwood gone, Argyle are in prime position to struggle, especially seeing as they’ve had a strangely quiet summer in the transfer market. Their only notable signing is Paris Cowan-Hall from Woking, whilst they’ve lost Northern Irish midfielder Damien Johnson to Fleetwood. Fletcher will be looking for a more productive season from a potentially decent forward line comprising of Warren Feeney and Nick Chadwick. The pair only notched seven goals between them last season, and another baron run could signal the end of league football at Home Park after over one hundred years.
Odds: 40/1 (bet365. Coral) Verdict: In for a tough, tough season. Will be lucky to avoid the drop.
Port Vale If truth be told, I’ve written and re-written this entry countless times. I’ve supported the club for the best part of two decades and still haven’t got a clue what the next nine months has in store. I’ve just returned from Vale Park, where I saw my boys run out in pink to face Burnley. That’s right, Pink. Things are so bad that’s all the manufacturers could conjure up. Beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose. We went ahead, then conceded within the minute, and eventually went down 1-3, despite a spirited second half display. The summer has been dominated by the on/off takeover by Keith Ryder, but to this day we’re no clearer as to the deal’s completion date (if any) and as such, we start the season in administration. To cut a long story short, we’ve managed to keep hold of all but one of the summer signings (David Artell opted for a longer contract at Northampton), despite cutting their contracts from two-years to one. Of the new recruits, Richard Duffy (Exeter) and Chris Neal (Shrewsbury) look to be the pick, although Ashley Vincent (Colchester) and Jennison Myrie-Williams (Stevenage) will ensure that Vale have an abundance of options on the flanks. Our main problem will be scoring goals. We’ve lost talisman Marc Richards to Chesterfield and his goals will be tough to replace. There’s plenty of pressure on Tom Pope’s shoulders and we’re definitely short in this area so don’t be surprised to see Micky Adams reverting to type by playing one up top and grinding out results. Whilst this squad won’t run away with the league, it is certainly capable of the play-offs. With a little luck and belief (and in spite of the circus off the pitch) the club still have an outside chance of promotion. Fingers crossed.
Rochdale Boss John Coleman is back at the level where he enjoyed so many great years with Accrington Stanley, and will relish being back at the level he knows best. He has gone back to his former club to steal midfielder Kevin McIntyre, as well as raiding relegated Macclesfield for promising George Donnelly and recruiting veteran target man Dele Adebola to the ranks at Spotland. However, Coleman’s biggest signing of the summer will be if he manages to keep hold of forward Ashley Grimes after the transfer window closes in a week or so. After losing Akpa-Akpro to Tranmere, it is vital that the Dale keep hold of their biggest goals threat beyond the opening few games as a reliance on Dele Adebola to score a hatful may prove futile (the veteran has found the net just six times in the past three years). Along with Akpa-Akpro, the Dale have had to release many of their highest earners as they drop back down to the fourth tier, and as such it’ll be a new look side having a crack at an immediate return. Before promotion in 2010, Rochdale had spent twenty six years at this level and Coleman will be hoping for a shorter stay this time. This season’s squad looks more like a John Coleman type squad. No frills, hard-working and reliable. The gaffer knows this level better than anyone and will no doubt be installing the same ethics that bought him success at the Crown Ground to the dressing room at Spotland. With that in kind, the Lancashire club could be a surprise outsider in the promotion race.
Rotherham United The Millers may as well have been given the title before the season has started. The pundits, the fans and most importantly the bookies expect them to win the title. There’s not too much you can argue with. Just like neighbours Chesterfield two years ago, Rotherham are benefiting from a surge of excitement and optimism surrounding their new stadium, new manager and new players. Unlike Chesterfield, Rotherham’s new ground is everything a new ground should be – town centre location, all corners filled and individualistic in style. As a Vale fan rattling around in a big, old ground far beyond our requirements, I am filled with envy and look forward to our boxing day visit to the New York Stadium. On the pitch, Steve Evans has signed eleven players – all of whom are tried and tested in the football league. Kayedi Odejayi, Daniel Nardiello and Kieran Agard have been recruited to bolster a forwardline already containing Alex Revell and Gareth Evans. Lewis Grabban has left for Bournemouth, and who’d blame him given he’d be lucky to make the bench. From promoted Shrewsbury, Evans has bought in commanding centre half Ian Sharps and tricky wingman Lionel Ainsworth and has raided former club Crawley for dependable stopper, Scott Shearer. Lawrie Wilson (Morecambe) and David Noble (Exeter) will be first choice fullbacks having been key men for their former employers, and midfielders Karl Arneson (Aberdeen) and Michael O’Connor (Scunthorpe) will probably prove too good for this level as the season progresses. It is testament to the direction that the Millers hope to be heading that the much disliked boss Evans decided to jump off the Crawley bandwagon to take charge in South Yorkshire. It’s been a long, hard wait for the Millers but they’re finally in a position to build a strong club. Chairman Tony Stewart seems to be doing everything the right way and I won’t begrudge them a promotion at the end of the season, and mark my words: they will be promoted.
Odds: 3/1 Verdict: If not champions, certainties for automatic promotion.
Southend United It was play-off heartbreak at the hands of soon-to-be promoted Crewe for Paul Sturrocks men last April, and the Scotsman will look to a similar campaign this time around. The former Plymouth boss has been ruthless in the summer, releasing a number of players including senior pro’s Liam Dickinson and Christian Dailly. Another face on the move is the volatile Frenchman Bilel Mohsni. Plucked from obscurity, the man mountain had been used by Sturrock as both centre back and centre forward, and his prowess in the air was something to behold. However, the guy has no self control whatsoever. Even infront of a couple of thousand fans at places like Morecambe and Dagenham, he would wind up the crowd, get booked every game and generally look as if he would lose it at any point. This summer, he’s been on trial at West Ham and it seems that Big Sam has taken a punt on him. It’ll be fascinating to see how he reacts to 76,000 at Old Trafford should he be called upon by the Hammers. Not that the Roots Hall faithful will be overly bothered by his departure, as they welcome home to the prodigal son – Freddie Eastwood. With him, reliable midfielder Kevan Hurst (Walsall), Anthony Straker (Aldershot) and Ryan Cresswell (Rotherham) represent United’s main recruits. Whether this will be enough to replicate last season’s achievements is debatable and I foresee a play-off hang over for the Essex boys. In a tougher league and with lingering doubts over their mental toughness, last season’s play-off semi-finalists may have to settle for a season of midtable obscurity.
Odds: 20/1 (BetVictor, Coral) Verdict: Not quite good enough this time around. Midtable a distinct possibility.
Torquay United What a summer it has been for Tom Cruise. A break-up with Katie Holmes, a pending custody battle for his kids and now he signs for Torquay United. How bizarre, must have something to do with scientology. Or maybe I’m confusing a movie star with a former Arsenal trainee just because they have the same name? Whoever the guy proves to be, he’ll be joining a side who progressively get better each season under Martin Ling. Last season’s play-off semi final defeat to Cheltenham was no disgrace after a great season down at Plainmoor. As always, bigger clubs have swooped on some Ling’s prized assets (‘keeper Bobby Olejnik has joined Peterborough for £300,000 and centre back Mark Ellis has joined promoted Crewe for a fee just under £100,000), yet the biggest disappointment will be the loss of starlet Eunan O’Kane to big spending Bournemouth. The recruitment process has been fruitful though, and Ling has been able to bring in striker Billy Bodin (Swindon), Keeper Michael Poke (Brighton), as well as defenders Craig Easton (Dunfermline) and Aaron Downes (Chesterfield). With the development of the club taking shape off the pitch with a new main stand at Plainmoor, the supporters will be hoping the same will be reflected on the pitch and another top half season is the aspiration.
Odds: 25/1 (BetVictor, Stan James) Verdict: If Howe and Bodin click up top, could be in for another good season.
Wycombe Wanderers The yoyo-club between the third and fourth tier of English football is not a tag anyone wants to be labeled with. But for the Chairboys it’s justified. They feel the highs and lows of promotion and relegation so often that the Adams Park faithful must be desensitized to the emotion of it all by now. Gary Waddock remains at the helm in spite of the latest setback, and like many others has looked for experience in this league. Gary Doherty and Matt Spring have joined from Charlton and Orient respectively and between them have made 872 professional appearances. Alongside, Richard Logan (Exeter) and Sam Wood (Brentford) both have experience at a higher level than League Two. However, the key to their success this season will be striker Stuart Beavan. Should Wanderers manage to hold onto the in-demand forward (who scored 20 goals in all competitions last season) they may have enough for an instant return.
Odds: 20/1 (Totesport, Boyelsports, Betfred) Verdict: In with a shout for the play-offs, but nothing more.
York City Finally back in the league after a nine year exile, the Minstermen should prove to be a welcome addition to the league. Gary Mills’ side built a reputation as an excellent passing team in non-league and it was only a matter of time before the former Forest midfielder guided them to promotion via a play-off victory over Luton Town. They have many players hoping to prove their worth in the league, but have also recruited Cardiff’s Lee Bullock to marshall the midfield alongside Jonathan Smith who has been brought in from Swindon. In spite of this, their squad looks painfully thin on the ground and goalscoring could be a major problem. They’ll be heavily reliant on former Barrow forward Jason Walker, who has hit twenty goals in just thrity two appearances for the Minstermen. If he can continue this incredible rate of scoring, then the Yorkshire club should be safe this season, but the worry is that they may struggle to adjust. It seems a good club and from a personally perspective, I hope they can find a winning formula in order to stay here, seeing as they’ve been through the mill to get back into the league.
Odds: 50/1 (Stan James) Verdict: Will find it tough on their return to the league. Need goals from somewhere or else could be in trouble.
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