The Football League starts this season and in League Two it looks set to be an interesting season. This blog takes a look at the teams involved and the summer they have had, assessing their chances.
Portsmouth are the favourites with the bookies to return to League One at the first time of asking.
Despite a free-fall that has seen the club drop from the Premier League to League Two in just 4 seasons things are beginning to look up for the south coast club as their Supporter’s Club has finally taken over the club.
Guy Whittingham has bought in a whole host of signings, including Patrick Agyemang, Simon Ferry and Tom Craddock, whilst keeping hold of young stars such as defender Adam Webster, striker Ashley Harris and midfielder Jed Wallace.
Another of the relegated clubs Scunthorpe will also hoping to bounce back at the first time of asking. Brian Laws has signed a lot of experienced players, including Scottish international Chris Iwelumo, Deon Burton and Andy Dawson.
Other teams hoping to challenge will be the other relegated clubs, Hartlepool and Bury. Hartlepool will have to look to continue to rebuild their squad however, with Jack Compton the only player to join the club on a permanent basis this summer. Both look likely to struggle however with their finances coming under serious pressure following relegation and promotion at this current stage seems a long way away.
Last years beaten play off teams, Northampton, Cheltenham and Burton, where Rory Delap has brought his long throw to League Two, will be looking to go one step further and achieve promotion. Northampton have lost a lot of experience this summer as Adebayo Akinfenwa and Clarke Carlisle have left the club but Matt Duke and Darren Carter have both joined the club. Cheltenham have brought in goals with the signing of experienced striker Jamie Cureton on a free transfer.
Fleetwood and Chesterfield have also been placed among the favourites by bookies to gain promotion this season. Fleetwood have made some impressive signings in former Notts County midfielder Jeff Hughes and Stevenage defender Mark Roberts. Chesterfield will be looking to continue their strong run of form towards the back end of last season into the coming season and with the signing of former Ipswich and Huddersfield man Gary Roberts will give them extra quality in the wide areas.
Teams that could make the playoffs but could look set for a top half finish are Rochdale, Southend, Oxford and Exeter, all of whom had top half finishes last season, as well as Bristol Rovers, who have acquired John-Joe O’Toole from manager John Ward’s old club Colchester. Dave Kitson has joined Oxford whilst Rochdale under Keith Hill have signed no less than 10 players. Southend, managed by former Hull manager Phil Brown, have had a lack of signings and may struggle after losing a number of key players such as Bilel Moshni, Michael Spillane and the retiring pair of Neil Harris and Graham Coughlan.
Both of last years promoted teams Newport County, returning to the Football League for the first time in 25 years, and Mansfield Town, could be the teams to look out for next season. Both have been given a decent chance with the bookies and with momentum could push for that back to back promotion, the likes of with Crawley and Stevenage have achieved in recent years.
In the bottom half of the table York, managed by Nigel Worthington, Wycombe, under the guidance of Gareth Ainsworth, and Torquay, will look to have comfortable seasons, avoiding the relegation battle and hopefully pushing for the top half. York have made a whole host of signings including Ryan Jarvis, who Worthington nurtured in his earlier career at Norwich City. Paris Cowan-Hall and Jon-Paul Pitman have joined Wycombe and Torquay have made 6 signings including Krystian Pearce from Notts County.
Favourites for relegation with the bookies are Dagenham & Redbridge. With a summer short of transfers they will be expected to struggle again. They have signed former Arsenal striker Rhys Murphy on a free transfer but have seen a numbers of players such as Jonathan Fortune and Ben Strevens leave the club.
AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth both struggled last season but have bought well in the transfer market. AFC Wimbledon have acquired former Norwich City full back George Francomb and Charlie Sheringham as well as George Porter and Michael Smith on loan. Plymouth have signed the likes of Andre Blackman, Dominic Blizzard and Reuben Reid on loan from Yeovil.
Accrington Stanley, managed by James Beattie, and Morecombe. Both teams struggled last season and could be dragged into the relegation mix again this time around. Stanley have brought in experience in with the likes of Nicky Hunt and Danny Webber. Morecombe have signed 5 players including winger Marcus Marshall.