The 200% Football League Pre-Season: League One

By on Aug 2, 2013 in English League Football, Latest | 2 comments

As with League Two, this year, we’re doing small previews and looking at new arrivals. This is not intended to be comprehensive, so undoubtedly I’ll be missing that obscure signing from local non-league, but the aim is to be slighly informative without being heavy reading or repetitive. Although naturally, there are only so many ways in which to refer to forwards, strikers, attackers or frontmen.

Just two signings for Peterborough United, with midfielder Jack Payne and forward Britt Assombalonga being the latest youngsters hoping to follow in the footsteps of Dwight Gayle, who left for the Premier League and Crystal Palace for a sizable profit (conservative estimates place it at £4m) after less than a season.

Last season could barely have been worse for Wolverhampton Wanderers. Stale Solbakken and Dean Saunders couldn’t arrest the slide that began in 2011, leaving Wolves as a side who have spent most of the the last 18 months losing. That said, in Kenny Jackett, they have a man who has proven at Swansea City that he can turn teams around, and at Millwall build an overacheiving squad from a crop of talented youngsters. That will come in handy, as he’s only been able to bring in Sam Ricketts over the summer.

Bristol City never really recovered from a bad start last season, and with several players out of contract. Sean O’Driscoll has overhauled the squad. one time England squad goalkeeper Frank Fielding, defender Aden Flint and winger/forward Jay Emmanuel-Thomas are the most experienced of O’Driscoll’s seven signings.

Uwe Rosler’s biggest task at Brentford will be picking the squad up after double end of season heartbreak. Four of their new arrivals are loanees, with midfielder Alan McCormack and striker Will Grigg the major permanent signings. At the age of 37, Spanish right back Javi venta seems an odd signing, unless the plan is for him to become a coach.

David Weir begins his managerial career at Sheffield United by bringing in a new strike partnership in the shape of Febian Brandy and Lyle Taylor. Stephen McGinn in midfield is the only other experienced signing, and a season of consolidation may be on the cards.

Swindon Town would have hoped for a more settled season after last term’s financial problems and Paolo Di Canio’s departure, but Kevin MacDonald’s resignation as manager for personal reasons has left the Robins in turmoil again. Caretaker manager Mark Cooper has signed Ryan Harley, while four loanees arrive from Tottenham.

Leyton Orient just missed out on the playoffs last season despite a late run, and Russell Slade looks for a relatively unchanged squad to retain momentum. Shaun Batt converts his loan to a permanent transfer leaving French winger Yohann Lasimant as the only new face.

It’s a similar story at Walsall, where the Saddlers have looked for squad consistency, rather than bringing in a lot of newcomers, and the new faces that arrived are relatively young with little League experience. Richard O’Donnell and Romaine Sawyers and Troy Hewitt have spent most of the last two seasons out on loan, so will want to settle. James McQuilkin arrives from non-league.

Having hit the wall in terms of outspending their rivals in lower divisions, Crawley Town are another side aiming for a settled squad, with right back James Hurst and midfielder Andy Drury the only new arrivals.

Tranmere started last season as the divison’s surprise package, but their challenge slowly faded. Jason Koumas returns to teh clubm while Ryan Lowe and Akpo Sodje will look to add to the clubs firepower, while Stephen Foster and Evan Horwood will hope to shore up the defence as Rovers look to build on last season’s promise.

Chris Kiwomya’s first pre-season at Notts County has seen signings across the outfield. Mustapha Dumbuya at right back is the only defender to join, while David Bell, Mark Fotheringham and Andy Howarth add numbers to a very competitive midfield. Danny Haynes is a third wide player to arrive, but looking at the squad balance, he’s likely to be utilised up front.

Crewe Alexandra had a great season last season, with mid-table security, and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy being their biggest trophy win since they won the Welsh Cup in 1937. Midfielder Anthony Grant, wideman Lee Molyneaux and French right back Thierry Audel are the lastest additions as Steve Davis looks to emulate Dario Gradi’s successes of the 1990s.

Preston North End have had a quiet pre-season, but Kevin Davies will bring a lot of experience up front, and winger Chris Humphrey will hope to provide the service that Davies thrives on. Centre-half Tom Clarke will aim to be the lynchpin of Simon Grayson’s defence.

Coventry City‘s newcomers are all teenagers, but let’s be honest, their off the field problems have overshadowed everything, and the best the Sky Blue faithful can hope for it to have a club playing in Coventry.

After last season’s consolidation, Graham Turner has taken the quieter approach this season. Dave Winfield adds to the defensive options, as does Tamika Mkandawire, but Mkandawire may well be utilised in the defensive midfield role he adapted to at Millwall.

Carlisle United are another team with a quiet pre-season behind them in terms of arrivals, with David Amoo the only permanent signing so far, despite seven departures.

Graham Westley has previously used a five in-five out approach to the close season, but this year six go in each direction. Oumane Tounkara and Jordan Burrow will options up front, Luke Jones has a little versatility at the back. Simon Heslop, Jimmy Smith and Sam Wedgbury are the other arrivals strengthening the midfield.

Oldham Athletic’s main exploits last season were in the FA Cup, and were dangerously close to dropping out of the division.  Adam Rooney, Charlie MacDonald and Jonson Clarke-Harris look like they will join Jose Baxter up front, with James Dayton looking to supply the service. The other new arrivals (inlcuding loan keeper Mark Oxley) are mainly inexperienced.

Colchester United’s only experienced newcomer is left back Ryan Dickson, but they have made the signings of Arsenal loanees Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond permanent. After finishing 20th last year, they will need to strengthem themselves further, otherwise they may end the wrong side of the drop zone.

Gillingham were worthty champions last year, and manager Martin Allen keeps faith with most of the squad, with just two additions – midfielder Amine Linganzi, and the much travelled forward Adebayo Akinfenwa, who starts his second spell at Priestfield.

Rotherham United celebrated returning to the town that bears their name by escaping the bottom flight. Steve Evans makes four signings, most notably midfielders David Worrall and Robert Milson and striker Danny Hylton. Defender Richard Brindley completes the quartet,

Port Vale add six players to their squad in an attempt to avoid an immediate return to League Two, Carl Dickinson and Chris Robertson add versatility to the defence, while Chris Lines and Anthony Griffith have great experience at this level, while Kaid Mohamed improves all the time. The much travelled striker Gavin Tomlin will be a goal threat.

After eleven years of relentless decline and bad news off the pitch, Bradford City‘s long suffering fans deserved their two Wembley finals and promotion more than most. Matt Taylor arrives to strengthen the defence, but Phil Parkinson clearly sees midfield as the area to improve as Mark Yeates, Jason Kennedy and Raffaelle De Vita add to his options in the centre of the park.

 

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    2 Comments

  1. There’s nothing wrong with our third kit, from the back that is.

    Bill

    August 2, 2013

  2. Congratulations on mentioning the 23 proper clubs in Div 3 and completely ignoring the plastic one.

    DerBrenster

    August 11, 2013

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