The Football League Previews 2010/11 – Part 1: League Two

The Football League Previews 2010/11 – Part 1: League Two

By on Aug 4, 2010 in English League Football, Latest | 6 comments

In the latest of the twohundredpercent season previews, Rob Freeman takes his first look at the Football League starting at it’s basement, and predicts good times for two of the relegated clubs, consolidation for the promoted sides, and bad news for two of the relative newcomers, and hopes that the division can be decided by points, rather than points deducted.

1. Wycombe Wanderers

Last Season: Relegated (22nd) Manager: Gary Waddock (appointed October 2009)

In: Alan Bennett, Nikki Bull, Danny Foster, Ben Strevens (all Brentford), Kieron Murtagh (Yeovil Town), Scott Rendell (Peterborough United), Andy Sandell, Dave Winfield (both Aldershot Town)

Out: Matt Harrold (Shrewsbury Town), Lewis Hunt, Luke Oliver (both Bradford City), Dean Keates, Scott Shearer (both Wrexham), John Mousinho (Stevenage), Lewwis Spence (Rushden & Diamonds), Craig Woodman (Brentford), Joe Cobb, Kevin McLeod (released), Adam Hinshelwood (retired)

Despite relegation, Wycombe had the look of a side who could come straight back up, under the right man, and Gary Waddock will be hoping it is him. Waddock has been able to keep the nucleus of the side together, and has raided Brentford for most of the players they acquired from Aldershot and Dagenham last summer, with more signings joining from the Shots, Waddock is clearly going for familiarity, and unless something badly goes wrong, the Chairboys will be back at the first time of asking.

2. Gillingham

Last Season: Relegated (21st) Manager: Andy Hessenthaler (appointed May 2010)

In: Adebayo Akinfenwa (Northampton Town), Lance Cronin (Ebbsfleet United), Nicky Southall (Dover Athletic), Danny Spiller (Dagenham & Redbridge), Cody McDonald (Norwich City, loan until June 2011)

Out: Luis Cumbers, Andy Pugh (Welling United), Simeon Jackson (Norwich City), Stuart Lewis (Dagenham & Redbridge), Adam Miller (Cambridge United), Simon Royce (Brentford), Rashid Yussuff (AFC Wimbledon), Jacob Erskine, James Walker, Tom Wynter (all released)

Andy Hessenthaler is back at Gillingham, hoping to have a better record than last time he was at Priestfield. His Dover Athletic side almost made it three successive promotions last season, as they reached the Conference South play-offs last season, and the experience should put him in a better stead. Joining him, for a fourth spell with the Gills is Nicky Southall, who is more likely to be on the sidelines as player-coach. Also returning to strengthen the midfield is Danny Spiller, and while Simeon Jackson’s departure should have hit the club hard, but in getting Cody McDonald on loan in return, and signing the prolific (at this level) Akinfenwa, Gillingham start the season looking stronger than they finished, and are rightly one of the favourites.

3. Shrewsbury Town

Last Season: 12th Manager: Graham Turner (appointed June 2010)

In: Lionel Ainsworth (Huddersfield Town), Matt Harrold (Wycombe Wanderers), Sean McAllister (Sheffield Wednesday), Danny O’Donnell (Crewe Alexandra), David Raven (Carlisle United), Ben Smith (Doncaster Rovers), Ian Sharps (Rotherham United), Mat Sadler (Watford, loan until January 2011), Mark Wright (Bristol Rovers, loan until January 2011)

Out: Andreas Arestidou (Preston North End), Graham Coughlan (Southend United), Andre Grey (Hinckley United), Dave Hibbert, Kelvin Langmead (both Peterborough United), Terry Dunfield, Paul Murray, Jake Simpson (all released)

Paul Simpson paid the price for mid-table mediocrity last season, and he was replaced over the summer by Graham Turner – the man who took the Shrews to the second tier of English football in the late 1970s. The loss of Hibbert and Langmead would normally be a major setback, but Turner has made some impressive and ambitious signings, none more so than Sean McAllister and Mat Sadler, both of whom are young, full of potential, with almost two seasons of Championship football behind them. Sadler’s signing is only temporary (as is centre half Mark Wright’s), but if Shrewsbury can reach what potential their side has, they should be able to attract good enough replacements for the rest of their promotion push.

4. Morecambe

Last Season: 4th Manager: Sammy McIlroy (appointed November 2005)

In:  Andrew Fleming (Wrexham), Phil Jevons (Huddersfield Town), Chris McCready (Northampton Town), Adam Rundle (Chesterfield), Paul Scott (Bury), James Spencer (Huddersfield Town, loan until January 2011)

Out: David Artell (Crewe Alexandra), Wayne Curtis, Scott Davies (both Fleetwood Town), Henry McStay (Portadown), Fraser McLachlan, Matty Poole, Aaron Taylor (all released)

Morecambe were rather lazily labelled as favourites for relegation last season, despite having a better squad than the previous season, when they’d finished mid-table in their debut season. In the end, they confounded all critics by finishing fourth, after an end of season surge, only to fall in the semi-finals. Wayne Curtis leaves after after 12 years, and Henry McStay returns to Northern Ireland, but Phil Jevons makes his mover permanent, while McIlroy’s other signings bolster the midfield and the defence, which was the leakiest in the top half. If the defence clicks from day one, the Shrimps could be a force at their new home, the Globe Arena.

5. Rotherham United

Last Season: 5th Manager: Ronnie Moore (reappointed September 2009)

In: Luke Ashworth (Leyton Orient), Mark Bradley (Walsall), Ryan Cresswell, Tom Newey (both Bury), John Mullins (Stockport County), Tom Elliott (Leeds United, loan until January 2011), Exodus Geohaghon (Peterborough United, loan until September)

Out: Drewe Broughton (Lincoln City), Michael Cummins (Grimsby Town), Davdi Haggerty (Eastwood Town), Mark Lynch (Stockport County), Pablo Mills (Crawley Town), Gary Roberts (Port Vale), Ian Sharps (Shrewsbury Town), Marc Joseph, Andy Nicholas (released)

Rotherham were severely hampered by the Don Valley Stadium pitch last season, and the same is likely this season. Certain players were also deemed to be underperforming last season, and Ronnie Moore has wielded the axe. The defence in particular has been strengthened, with the arrivals of Ryan Cresswell, John Mullins and Tom Newey, although they start with defensive injuries which have necessitated the arrival on loan of Exodus Geohaghon. The burden for goals rests, as it did last season, with Adam Le Fondre, and his form and fitness could be the difference between promotion, and yet another season in the League basement.

6. Chesterfield

Last Season: 8th  Manager: John Sheridan (appointed June 2009)

In: Craig Davies (Brighton & Hove Albion), Simon Ford (Kilmarnock), Dwayne Mattis (Walsall), Danny Whitaker (Oldham Athletic)

Out: Alan Goodall (Rochdale), Danny Hall (Crawley Town), Lloyd Kerry (Kidderminster Harriers), Phil Picken (Bury), Adam Rundle (Morecambe), Wade Small (Aldershot Town), Kevin Austin, Danny Boshell, Paul Harsley, Terrell Lewis, Simon Whaley (released)

Chesterfield finished just two points behind the playoffs last season, and while there were a large number of players leaving Saltergate at the end of last season, the players arriving at the new Stadium at Whittington Moor include four new signings more used to playing at higher levels. As a result, the squad looks even stronger than last season, and a repeat of last season would be considered a minor failure.

7. Burton Albion

Last Season: 13th Manager: Paul Peschisolido (appointed June 2009)

In: Adam Bolder (Millwall), Adam Legzdins (Crewe Alexandra), Darren Moore (Barnsley), Nathan Stanton (Rochdale), Lewis Young (Watford)

Out: Romauld Boco (Sligo Rovers), Guy Branston (Torquay United), Marc Goodfellow (Barrow), Shaun Kelly (Bala Town), Michael Simpson (Eastwood Town), Darren Stride (released)

Last season was all about consolidation for the Brewers’ first season in the league. This season is about moving up. Darren Stride was released after seventeen years service (eleven of which he was captain for), and Michael Simpson was one of the regulars last season, but all players that have left have been by Paul Peschisolido’s choice, and he’s mades some very good signings. Darren Moore’s experience will be vital at the back and Stanton has a lot of experience at this level. Bolder has had a solid career at a higher level, and should shine in League Two, and the signing of Adam Legzdins will provide some stability in goal as Burton relied on loanees to keep goal last season. As a squad, they look a great prospect, and will be there or thereabouts come May.

8. Port Vale

Last Season: 10th Manager: Micky Adams (appointed June 2009)

In: Justin Richards (Cheltenham Town), Sean Rigg (Bristol Rovers), Gary Roberts (Rotherham United),  Stuart Tomlinson (Barrow)

Out: Joe Anyon (Lincoln City), Danny Glover (Worcester City), Daniel Lloyd-Weston (Cheltenham Town), Luke Prosser (Southend United), Ross Davidson, David Howland, James Lawrie, Simon Richman (all released), Geoff Horsfield (retired)

A quiet close season at Vale Park, with keeper Joe Anyon the only departee not released by Micky Adams. The incoming list is fairly small too, with Tomlinson likely to be a backup keeper, Rigg making his loan permanent and Richards and Roberts the only new faces. Having been sacked from his three previous clubs, Roberts has a lot to prove, and by his own admission he is now in the “last chance saloon”. If he can harness his talents, Adams may have the League Two signing of the season on his hands. Justin Richards and his namesake Mark do seem to have clicked up front in pre-season, and if they can carry that to their competitive games, Vale will be once again in the play-off hunt.

9. Aldershot Town

Last Season: 6th Manager: Kevin Dillion (appointed November 2009)

In: Clayton Fortune (Weston-super-Mare), Luke Guttridge (Northampton Town), Darren Jones (Hereford United), Glen Little (Reading), Aaron Morris (Cardiff City), Manny Panther (Exeter City), Jack Randall (Crystal Palace), Wade Small (Chesterfield), Damian Spencer (Kettering Town), Jamie Vincent (Walsall)

Out: Aaron Brown (Leyton Orient), Chris Blackburn (Wrexham), Lewis Chalmers (Macclesfield Town), Scott Donnelly (Swansea City), Dean Howell (Crawley Town), Kirk Hudson (Brentford), Mikhail Jaimez-Ruiz (Yaracuyanos), Andy Sandell, Dave Winfield (both Wycombe Wanderers), Louis Soares (Southend United), John Grant, Omer Riza (both released)

Kevin Dillon has brought in a number of new signings as he aims to build on last season’s play-off failure. The acquisition of Glen Little, in particular, is a great coup. He may have lost his pace, but his delivery will be a great asset going forward. The rest of the signings are a mixture of solid experience and promising youth, and despite a mass exodus, the biggest loss being Scott Donnelly, the squad looks strong enough, which should ensure another promotion challenge, as long as the Shots gel well at the start of the season.

10. Bradford City

Last Season: 14th Manager: Peter Taylor (appointed February 2010)

In: Tommy Doherty (Ferencvaros), Shane Duff (Cheltenham Town), Lewis Hunt, Luke Oliver (both Wycombe Wanderers), Jake Speight (Mansfield Town), Robbie Threlfall (Liverpool), Tom Adeyemi (Norwich City, loan until January 2011), Louis Moult (Stoke City, loan until January 2011)

Out: Jonathan Bateson (Accrington Stanley), Matt Clarke (Hibernians), Matthew Glennon, Jamie O’Brien, Stephen O’Leary, Luke Sharry (all released), Gavin Grant (imprisoned for murder)

Peter Taylor finished off his clearout in the summer, having already released four players in March, meaning most of the activity at Valley Parade has been incoming. Oliver competes for the title of the new Junior Lewis as he joins for his third spell under Taylor. Hunt and Doherty have also played for Taylor before, so he knows exactly what they will add to the side, and Duff has a wealth of experience at this level. As ever with Peter Taylor sides, the defence and midfield look solid and creative, but lack firepower. Gareth Evans and James Hanson show potential, but the biggest burden is likely to fall on Jake Speight (assuming his silence over his trial over assaulting his girlfriend hasn’t affected his chances at the club) whose scoring record in the League so far, is poor. The lack of goals is likely to be the difference between promotion and another season in the fourth tier, but they will improve on last season.

11. Macclesfield Town

Last Season: 19th Manager: Gary Simpson (appointed March 2010)

In: Jason Beardsley (Tampa Bay), Richard Butcher (Lincoln City), Lewis Chalmers (Aldershot Town), Matt Hamshaw (Notts County), Sam Wedgbury (Sheffield United)

Out: Lee Bell (Crewe Alexandra), Jonny Brain (Walsall), Sean Hessey (Accrington Stanley), Craig Lindfield (Accrington Stanley), Steve Reed (Chelmsford City), Matthew Tipton (Dundalk), Kyle Wilson (Hyde), Kristian Dennis, John Rooney, Ben Wright (both released)

Gary Simpson’s first close season saw him have a clear-out – releasing ten players in the process. Only John Rooney appears to have left of his own accord, but has been unsuccessful in finding a new club, and the existing offer from the club has not been withdrawn. Simpson has made some useful signings, and the Silkmen have the look of the squad that can maintain a good play-off challenge this season.

12. Northampton Town

Last Season: 11th Manager: Ian Sampson (appointed September 2009)

In: Marcus Hall (Coventry City), John Johnson (Middlesbrough), Tadhg Purcell (Darlington), Alistair Slowe (Onisilos Sotira), Nathaniel Wedderburn (Stoke City)

Out: Adebayo Akinfenwa (Gillingham), John Curtis (Gold Coast United), Peter Gilbert (Southend United), Luke Guttridge (Aldershot Town), Chris McCready (Morecambe), Stephen O’Flynn (Limerick), Joe Benjamin, Alex Dyer, Gary Mulligan (all released)

Northampton just missed out the play-offs in their quest to bounce back to League One at the first attempt, a problem which was down to a horrific start. The loss of Akinfenwa and Gilbert will sting, considering they turned down deals to move elsewhere (especially considering Southend’s financial soap opera). Marcus Hall will bring a lot of experience to the backline, but the rest of Ian Sampson’s signings are inexperienced in Football League terms. It promises to be an interesting season at the Sixfields, but the play-offs look like they’ll be just out of reach again.

13. Southend United

Last Season: Relegated (23rd) Manager: Paul Sturrock (appointed July 2010)

In: Sean Clohessey (Bath City), Barry Corr (Exeter City), Graham Coughlan (Shrewsbury Town), Craig Easton (Swindon Town), Rhys Evans (Bristol Rovers), Peter Gilbert (Northampton Town), Ryan Hall (Bromley), Glenn Morris (Leyton Orient), Mark Phillips (Brentford), Luke Prosser (Port Vale), Louis Soares (Aldershot Town), Paul Sturrock (Truro City), Sofiene Zaaboub (Walsall)

Out: Adam Barrett (Crystal Palace), Simon Francis, Alan McCormack (both Charlton Athletic), Kelvin Jack (Darlington), Steve Mildenhall (Millwall), Alex Revell (Leyton Orient), Damian Scannell (Dagenham & Redbridge), Jean-Francois Christophe, Francis Laurent, Osei Sankofa (released)

For a club whose existence has been under threat over the summer thanks to an unpaid bill from the taxman, new manager Paul Sturrock has been able to commit to offering contracts to a large number of potential signings once the transfer embargo is lifted. An unsure close season off the pitch continues after the first game, as the club are scheduled to have another winding up hearing (over a £140k debt to Charterhouse Commercial Finance) next Tuesday. On the pitch, the upheaval has been great, with just seven of last season’s professionals remain, and two of those are on the transfer list, with Franck Moussa on trial at Queens Park Rangers. As a result, the squad is the most changed in the division, and the bedding in period for the new players likely to take the longest. The level of signings is good, so a relegation battle is unlikely, and while a late play-off push may not be ruled out, mid-table is more likely.

14. Oxford United

Last Season: Promoted (3rd) Manager: Chris Wilder (appointed December 2008)

In: Richie Baker (Bury), Mitchell Cole (Stevenage), Simon Eastwood (Huddersfield Town), Matt Green (Torquay United), Asa Hall (Luton Town), Simon Heslop (Barnsley), Steven Kinniburgh (Rangers), Alfie Potter (Peterborough United), Harry Worley (Leicester City), Jake Wright (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Out: Jamie Cook (Crawley Town), Francis Green, Billy Turley (both Brackley Town), Adam Murray (Luton Town), Kevin Sandwith (Mansfield Town), Chris Hargreaves (released), Adam Chapman (imprisoned for causing death by dangerous driving)

Oxford will look to other recently promoted Conference sides, and see mid-table consolidation as their aim this season, with improving in future seasons, and their signings tell that story. Mitchell Cole is the oldest of the seven new faces at the Kassam, at the age of 24, and even the three permanent signings who were on loan last season (Matt Green, Alfie Potter and Jake Wright) are all younger. Richie Baker is likely to have the best impact this season having already fitted over a hundred games in for former club Bury at the tender age of 22. With experience already in the squad, safety this season shouldn’t be an issue, even if there’s a post-Christmas slump again.

15. Crewe Alexandra

Last Season: 18th Caretaker Manager: Dario Gradi (re-appointed October 2009)

In: David Artell (Morecambe), Lee Bell (Macclesfield Town), Danny Blanchett (Peterborough United), Adam Dugdale (AFC Telford United), Steve Phillips (Bristol Rovers), Rhys Taylor (Chelsea, loan until September)

Out: James Bailey, John Brayford (both Derby County), Billy Jones (Exeter City), Adam Legzdins (Burton Albion), Danny O’Donnell (Shrewsbury Town), Steven Schumacher (Bury)

With Dario Gradi still officially considered the caretaker manager of the club, some of the signings will unsurprising in style, with Dugdale and Blanchett being the traditional type of young players Gradi spots talent in. Lee Bell returns to hopefully control the midfield, and compensate for the loss of James Bailey. The squad looks to be of a slightly higher level compared to last season, so as long as they don’t suffer a bad beginning, or end, like last term, mid table safety beckons.

16. Torquay United

Last Season: 17th Manager: Paul Buckle (appointed June 2007)

In: Guy Branston (Burton Albion), Billy Kee (Leicester City), Lloyd Macklin (Swindon Town), Danny Potter (Cambridge United), Martin Gritton (Chesterfield, loan until January 2011)

Out: Mustapha Carayol (Lincoln City), Matt Green (Oxford United), Lee Hodges (Truro City), Ben Joyce (Salisbury City), Tyrone Thompson (Mansfield Town), Chris Todd (Newport County), Steve Adams, Mohammed Camara, Wayne Carlisle (all released)

Paul Buckle looks to slowly improve the side after last season’s consolidation. None of the departees look to be a major loss, with only Mustapha Carayol not being one of those cut by the manager. Gritton and Potter add experience, and Kee and Macklin both have the potential to be good League Two players. Nothing about the squad says promotion challenge, or relegation candidates, but Buckle seems to be planning beyond 2011.

17. Lincoln City

Last Season: 20th Manager: Chris Sutton (appointed September 2009)

In: Joe Anyon (Port Vale), Drewe Broughton (Rotherham United), Mustapha Carayol (Torquay United), Jamie Clapham, Delroy Facey (both Notts County), Albert Jarrett (Barnet), Josh O’Keefe (Walsall), Gavin McCallum (Hereford United)

Out: Rob Burch (Notts County), Richard Butcher (Macclesfield Town), Lee Bennett, Luca Coleman-Carr, Brian Gilmour, Michael Gordon, Stefan Oakes (released)

Chris Sutton’s first full season needs to be a good one, and they’ve not lost any players of note, unfortunately for the Imps, none of the incoming players look like they have what it takes to help push the club up the table either, although Gavin McCallum and Josh O’Keefe both look like players for the future, and Clapham offers experience. On paper, Drewe Broughton, Albert Jarrett and Delroy Facey look like great options at this level, but all three have a reputation of flattering to deceive. Lower mid-table, and maybe even a change of manager beckons.

18. Stevenage

Last Season: Promoted (1st) Manager: Graham Westley (appointed May 2008)

In: Darius Charles (Ebbsfleet United), Luke Foster (Mansfield Town), John Mousinho (Wycombe Wanderers), Peter Winn (Scunthorpe United)

Out: Mark Albrighton (Kidderminster Harriers), Mitchell Cole (Oxford United), Andy Drury (Luton Town), Eddie Ohihambo (Newport County)

Stevenage (no longer suffixed by Borough), finally make it into the league fourteen years after they won the Conference last time, only to have Broadhall Way not meet the ground regulations of the time. Manager Graham Westley has aimed for continuity, but with little League experience amongst the squad, the first season in the League for club and manager seems more likely to be spent toward the wrong end of the table. Even so, the main aim will be survival, and that should be comfortably achieved.

19. Barnet

Last Season: 21st Manager: Mark Stimson (appointed June 2010)

In: Mark Byrne (Nottingham Forest, loan until January), Sam Cox (Tottenham Hotspur), Darren Dennehy (Cardiff City), Rossi Jarvis (Luton Town), Steve Kabba (Brentford), Mark Marshall (Swindon Town), Jordan Parkes (Watford), Glenn Poole (AFC Wimbledon), Glenn Southam (Histon), Anwar Uddin (Dagenham & Redbridge)

Out: Albert Adomah (Bristol City), Paul Furlong (Kettering Town), Kenny Gillet (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Lee Harrison (Hayes & Yeading United), Micah Hyde (Billericay Town), Albert Jarrett (Lincoln City), John O’Flynn (Exeter City), Joe Tabiri ( Dover Athletic), Ismail Yakubu (AFC Wimbledon), Gary Breen, Chris James, Ahmed Deen, Nicky Deverdics, Jake Hyde, David Livermore, Luke Medley (all released)

All change at Underhill, as new manager Mark Stimson clears the decks, and Barnet lose other players higher up the leagues. The incoming transfers are a strange bunch, as they all fall into two categories – young players from the upper divisions, whose only experience is loans in League One and League Two, and journeymen recently released from Conference clubs. In that respect, indivually all the players may well be in the last chance saloon, as far as League careers go, and whatever the squad may lack in talent, they should make up in hunger.

20. Bury

Last Season: 9th  Manager: Alan Knill (appointed February 2008)

In: Andy Haworth (Blackburn Rovers), Phil Picken (Bury), Steven Schumacher (Crewe Alexandra), Joe Skarz (Huddersfield Town), Peter Sweeney (Grimsby Town)

Out: Richie Baker (Oxford United), Brian Barry-Murphy (Rochdale), Wayne Brown (Supersport United), David Buchanan (Hamilton Academical), Ryan Cresswell, Tom Newey (both Rotherham United), Stephen Dawson (Leyton Orient), Andy Morrell (Wrexham), Paul Scott (Morecambe), Danny Racchi (released)

Large squads don’t guarantee success, but small squads are usually guaranteed to be at the wrong end of the table. At the time of writing, Bury only have twenty players, and five of those have yet to taste League football. Now, if Bury stayed injury free, they would be near the top of the table (but in fairness, you can say that about just about any team at any level), but unless they add to the squad, any injuries will bite hard, and the pressure will be on Andy Bishop to return to his goalscoring form of his early days as Gigg Lane, otherwise it could be a long season.

21. Hereford United

Last Season: 16th Manager: Simon Davey (appointed June 2010)

In: Sean Canham (Notts County), Joe Colbeck (Oldham Athletic), Dan Connor (Cork City), Stuart Fleetwood (Charlton Athletic), Janos Kovacs (Luton Town), Sam Malsom (Knattspyrnufelagid Prottur), Dan Stratford (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Michael Townsend (Cheltenham Town), O’Neil Thompson (Barnsley, loan until June 2011)

Out: Matt Done (Rochdale), Darren Jones (Aldershot Town), Keith Lowe (Cheltenham Town), Gavin McCallum (Lincoln City), Marc Pugh (Bournemouth), Edrissa Sonko (APEP), Chris Adamson, Leon Constantine, Craig Jones (all released)

June saw the end of the Graham Turner, as he went to rivals Shrewsbury, and despite an influx since Turner left, new man Simon Davey starts the season with just eighteen players, and will need to utilise the loan system in order to avoid dropping into a relegation battle. Some of the signings are unknown quantities, coming from other leagues, but Stuart Fleetwood is clearly Davey’s hope to add strikepower to the side.

22. Stockport County

Last Season: Relegated (24th) Manager: Paul Simpson (appointed July 2010)

In: Mansour Assoumani (Wrexham), Barry Conlon (Chesterfield), Mark Lynch (Rotherham United), George Donnelly (Plymouth Argyle, loan until January 2011)

Out: Paul Huntington (Yeovil Town), John Mullins (Rotherham United), Michael Rose (Swindon Town), Peter Thompson (Linfield), Paul Gerrard (retired)

The best news for the Hatters this summer was the buyout that saw them exit administration, therefore avoiding being expelled by the league for starting two consecutive seasons in administration. Gary Ablett (who sadly this week has been diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, just after being appointed coach of Ipswich Town), has been replaced by Paul Simpson. Simpson has retained most of last season’s squad, although considering they only picked up two points in their last fourteen games last season, that may not be a good thing. There has only been minimal additions to the squad for now, and with League survival off the field guaranteed, League survival on the field is the new priority.

23. Cheltenham Town

Last Season: 22nd Manager: Mark Yates (appointed December 2009)

In: Danny Andrew (Peterborough United), Frankie Artus (Bristol City), Steve Elliott (Bristol Rovers), Jeff Goulding (Bournemouth), Daniel Lloyd-Weston (Port Vale), Keith Lowe (Hereford United), JJ Melligan (Dundalk), Wesley Thomas (Dagenham & Redbridge)

Out: Julian Alsop (Bishops Cleeve), Shane Duff (Bradford City), Justin Richards (Port Vale), Lee Ridley (Grimsby Town), Michael Townsend (Hereford United), Scott Brown, Jack Durrant, Barry Hayles, David Hutton, Will Puddy (all released)

Mark Yates has a tough time ahead. After surviving relegation on the last day of the season, and yielding just 28 points in his 25 games in charge, a solid close season of activity was needed, but the signings don’t totally convince, although JJ Melligan’s return may provide a boost. Of those leaving, Shane Duff and Justin Richards were the only two not considered surplus to requirements, but Duff’s experience, and Richards’ eye for goal will be sorely missed.

24. Accrington Stanley

Last Season: 15th Manager: John Coleman (appointed August 1999)

In: Charlie Barnett (Tranmere Rovers), Jonathan Bateson (Bradford City), Sean Hessey (Macclesfield Town), Craig Lindfield (Macclesfield Town), Andy Parkinson (Gateshead), Ray Putterill (Liverpool)

Out: Bobby Grant (Scunthorpe United), Darran Kempson (Grimsby Town), Gary King (Hinckley United), John Miles (Fleetwood Town), Michael Symes (Bournemouth), John Mullin (both released)

A troubled season financially off the pitch was tempered by mid-table security on the pitch, and a repeat of those financial troubles could spell disaster. The summer has been a strange one, with a transfer embargo having been in place due to the late filing of accounts, and chairman and benefactor Ilyas Khan paying £70,000 to improve the club’s playing surface as a parting gift as he is set to step down. The club are also seeking new directors. As a result, Stanley are a tough one to pick, which normally is an invitation to hedge one’s bets, and wedge into mid-table. However, with just fifteen players signed prior to their transfer embargo being lifted at the beginning of the month, as well as the departure of Khan, suggests this season is going to be a lot trickier, especially if the club runs into the kind of trouble where they needed Khan in the first place. On the pitch, the loss of Bobby Grant and Michael Symes will be huge. A unsuccessful battle against relegation awaits.

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    6 Comments

  1. Both Oxford and Stevenage will do much better than you predict.

    The glass-ceiling of only two-up and down to/from the Conference is still very much in action.

    Martin

    August 5, 2010

  2. Are you sure that table is not upside down?
    While I see you’ve done your homework on transfers etc, your predicitions for Morecambe, Bradford, Bury and definitely Macclesfield are bordering on laughable.
    Have you ever spent any time in L2?

    Lyndon

    August 5, 2010

  3. Re: Bradford City
    “Gavin Grant (imprisoned for murder)”

    Gavin Grant was a non-contract player last season, who had not played (or been paid) for three months.

    He was not a Bradford City player at the end of last season.
    He was not a Bradford City player during pre-season.
    He was not a Bradford City player when he was convicted of murder.

    If you insist on including him on the list of players that have left the club, he should be included in the list of released players.

    Adam Hepton

    August 6, 2010

  4. @Martin: Most of the sides promoted from the Conference in recent years have finished mid-table, as the 2 up, 2 down, while still disproportionate, has helped level out, as has the number of professional sides in the Conference, meaning that players aren’t as loathe to drop out of the league any more. I had this discussion when predicting that Burton and Torquay would finish in the bottom hald last season. Stevenage especially seem a little unprepared consdiering how few of their players have played at this level.

    @Lyndon: You think I’ve placed Morecambe too low? They finished fourth last season, and have a stronger side this season. By turning the table upside down, you would have Bradford 15th (which as overrated as Peter Taylor is as a manager is a touch bizarre. Macclesfield have made good signings, so mid-table (where they would still be if the table were upside down, so how laughable is that?) is a fair bet, and Bury have 16 players who have any sort League experience (inclduing Lincoln reject Lenel John-Lewis who signed last nigh) – squads of that size will struggle at any level.

    @Adam: The Out lists of players are those who left the club after the last game of last season, and state where they are now, rather than how they left the club. Gavin Grant was a Bradford City player at the end of last season, because he played in the last game of last season against Crewe. Jonathan Bateson was also released by Bradford City at the end of last season, but I notice that you have not complained that I have listed him as an Accrington Stanley player, instead of including him as a released player.

    I will not be changing the status of Gavin Grant, Adam Chapman of Oxford United or David Pipe of Bristol Rovers.

    Rob

    August 6, 2010

  5. Gavin Grant has never been in the employ of Bradford City. He had no contract and was not paid a penny. He cannot leave a club he never joined.

    Will Bradley

    August 6, 2010

  6. @Will: Gavin Grant played eleven times for Bradford last season. As far as the League, the FA, and I’m concerned, that makes him a Bradford player last season. Any other non-contract player who has left a club in the summer will be listed in the “Out” column of the club concerned in the same way.

    I realise it’s an unfortunate for Bradford City and their supporters, but neither the club nor the fans are responsible for the crime that Gavin Grant committed, especially considering it is a matter of record that Grant concealed it from the club.

    However, this is a pre-season preview, including the comings and goings of the players at the clubs concerned. If Adam Hepton wants me to pretend that Gavin Grant is “released” and therefore a free agent like all the other players listed as released, or Will Bradley wants me to pretend that Gavin Grant was never a Bradford City player, then I’m sorry, I’m not prepared to.

    Rob

    August 6, 2010

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