In the second part of the twohundredpercent Football League season previews, Rob Freeman takes a look at League One, and predicts good times for two of the striped clubs, more consolidation for the promoted sides, and bad news for one of the newcomers, and wonders if Bournemouth and Rochdale can do enough to keep their remarkable stories going.
Last Season: 7th Manager: Alan Pardew (appointed July 2009)
In: Danny Butterfield (Crystal Palace), Ryan Dickson (Brentford), Fraser Richardson (Charlton Athletic)
Out: Simon Gillett (Doncaster Rovers), Lloyd James (Colchester United), Oliver Lancashire (Walsall), Lee Molyneux (Plymouth Argyle), Jon Otsemobor (Sheffield Wednesday), Michael Poke (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jake Thomson (Exeter City), Kayne McLaggon, Graeme Murty, Chris Perry, Wayne Thomas, Jamie White (all released)
The ten point deduction for being administration (despite paying all their creditors in full) was the difference between Southampton making the play-offs and just missing out. As it was, once they got over a tricky start, they were the strongest side in the division, and with most of the top six falling over themselves trying not to get promoted, Southampton were the form side at the end of the season. I expect that to continue, as Alan Pardew has been careful not to change too much – looking to tighten up an already tight defence has been his only focus. He’s also trimmed the squad, without losing any first teamers. It’s difficult to see who can stop them being champions.
2. Huddersfield Town
Last Season: 6th Manager: Lee Clark (appointed December 2008)
In: Scott Arfield (Falkirk), Ian Bennett, Gary Naysmith (both Sheffield United), Joey Gudjonsson (Burnley), Jamie McCombe (Bristol City), Graham Carey (Celtic, loan until January 2011) , Lee Croft (Derby County, loan until January 2011), Joe Garner (Nottingham Forest, loan until January 2011), Damien Johnson (Plymouth Argyle, loan until June 2011)
Out: Lionel Ainsworth (Shrewsbury Town), James Berrett (Carlisle United), Michael Collins (Scunthorpe United), Simon Eastwood (Oxford United), Phil Jevons (Morecambe), Krystian Pearce (Notts County), Joe Skarz (Bury), Andy Butler, Chris Lucketti, Robbie Williams (all released)
The experience of Gary Naysmith and Joey Gudjonsson will help what is otherwise a young squad, especially considering that their form away from home left them down last season, and was the difference between scraping into the playoffs and automatic promotion. They’ve managed not to lose any of their stars over the summer, and Lee Clark has continued his policy of signing promising players from elsewhere. I jinxed them last season, and they look even stronger this time round, but they’re not the strongest side in the division.
Last Season: 9th Manager: Andy Scott (appointed January 2008)
In: Gary Alexander (Millwall), Pim Balkestein (Ipswich Town), Toumani Diagouraga (Peterborough United), Nicky Forster (Brighton & Hove Albion), Kirk Hudson (Aldershot Town), Richard Lee (Watford), David McCracken (** ****), Simon Royce (Gillingham), Michael Spillane (Norwich City), Craig Woodman (Wycombe Wanderers)
Out: Alan Bennett, Nikki Bull, Danny Foster, Ben Strevens (all Wycombe Wanderers), Ryan Dickson (Southampton), Steve Kabba (Barnet), Mark Phillips (Southend United), Cleveland Taylor (St. Johnstone)
Brentford’s progess under Andy Scott has been slow but steady, but they are going in the right direction. Scott also has the ruthlessness not to persist with underperforming new signings, as the four departees to Wycombe found out over the summer, but his signings have to be better from day one. Forster had a great season for Brighton and Charlton last season, and Balkestein impressed in his loan last season, as did Scott’s other loanees last season. The rest of the signings all show promise, and as long as Scott utilises the loan system as well as he’s done in the past, few sides look as well equipped for the playoff spots as the Bees.
4. Charlton Athletic
Last Season: 4th Manager: Phil Parkinson (appointed November 2008)
In: Pawel Abbott (Oldham Athletic), Gary Doherty (Norwich City), Simon Francis, Alan McCormack (both Southend United), Johnnie Jackson (Notts County), Kyel Reid (Sheffield United), Ross Worner (Woking), Akpo Sodje (Sheffield Wednesday), Matt Fry (West Ham United, loan until January 2011)
Out: Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough), Deon Burton (Gabala), Chris Dickson (Nea Salamis), Stuart Fleetwood (Hereford United), Darren Randolph (Motherwell), Fraser Richardson (Southampton), Lloyd Sam (Leeds United), Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool), Sam Sodje (Skoda Xanthi), Matthew Spring (Leyton Orient), Grant Basey, Leon McKenzie, Izale McLeod, Yassin Moutaouakil, Dean Sinclair, Tony Warner (all released)
On the pitch, things don’t look too great at The Valley. At the time of writing, they have just 20 professionals, four of whom are still teenagers. There have been numerous trialists, so Phil Parkinson’s close season isn’t finished yet. Charlton have lost a lot of quality over the close season, and while Bailey, Shelvey and Richardson in particular will be missed, Parkinson knows this division well, and each of the seven signings made so far either have the experience at this level, or the prospect to do well here. The only concern is the squad size, and if that isn’t rectified, each injury and suspension will hit the Addicks harder than most, but with so few quality sides in the division this season, they could still get away with it.
5. Swindon Town
Last Season: 5th Manager: Danny Wilson (appointed December 2008)
In: David Prutton (Colchester United), Michael Rose (Stockport County)
Out: Craig Easton (Southend United), Gordon Greer (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alex Henshall (Manchester City), Lloyd Macklin (Torquay United), Mark Marshall (Barnet), Billy Paynter (Leeds United)
One of the surprises of last season was Swindon’s appearance in the playoffs, and while Danny Wilson would have wanted to keep the side together, losing Billy Paynter up front and Gordon Greer in defence will be a setback. On the upside, Swindon did keep hold of Charlie Austin – one of the finds of last season – but it will be important for the ex-Poole Town marksman to avoid second season syndrome, as the burden for goals will mainly fall on him. Neither Greer or Paynter seems to have been directly replaced yet, although Prutton seems the ideal partner for Jonathan Douglas in midfield. Regardless of that, though, the Robins look or weaker than last season, but their position this season won’t reflect that, as the division as a whole seems weaker, so they should still edge into the playoffs.
6. Peterborough United
Last Season: Relegated (24th) Manager: Gary Johnson (appointed April 2010)
In: Arron Davies (Brighton & Hove Albion), Dave Hibbert, Kelvin Langmead (both Shrewsbury Town), Mark Little (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Grant McCann (Scunthorpe United), Nana Ofori-Twumasi (Chelsea), James Wesolowski (Leicester City), Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (Wolverhampton Wanderers, loan until January 2011)
Out: Danny Andrew (Cheltenham Town), Shaun Batt (Millwall), Danny Blanchett (Crewe Alexandra), Jamie Day (Rushden & Diamonds), Toumani Diagouraga (Brentford), Craig Morgan (Preston North End), Alfie Potter (Oxford United), Scott Rendell (Wycombe Wanderers), Sergio Torres (Crawley Town), Tom Williams (released)
Gary Johnson’s biggest task is bringing some much needed stability to the club, and with the biggest squad in the division, the Posh clearly need to continue the clearout. They have been able to keep hold of the attacking triumvirate responsible for the on-pitch rise up the League (Aaron McLean Craig Mackail-Smith, George Boyd), but Morgan, Daigouraga and Batt will all benefit their new clubs. Of the new signings, James Wesolowski is a little too injury prone for a centre half, and Arron Davies has seemed directionless since he left Yeovil three years ago (although it was Johnson who got the best out of him), but McCann and the pair from Shrewsbury should become integral to the squad. Johnson has a job on his hands in order to get the Posh back into the Championship, but it may take more than a season.
7. Carlisle United
Last Season: 14th Manager: Greg Abbott (appointed November 2008)
In: James Berrett (Huddersfield Town), Tony Caig (Workington), Craig Curran (Tranmere Rovers), Sean McDaid (Doncaster Rovers), Jason Price (Millwall), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Francois Zoko (Oostende), James Chester (Manchester United, loan until January 2011)
Out: Tom Aldred (Watford), Scott Dobie (St. Johnstone), Evan Horwood (Hartlepool United), Richard Keogh (Coventry City), David Raven (Shrewsbury Town), Gavin Rothery (Guiseley), Joe Anyinsah, Lenny Pidgeley (both released)
Greg Abbott has been patient with his first managerial appointment, looking to build slowly rather than got for a one season revolution, and this may well be the season where it all bears fruit. Once again, Coventry have raided them for one of their best prospects, however he’s unlikely to be missed, as three new defensive options arrive, two of which having experience at Championship level. Further up the field, Jason Price brings talent and experience, although there have always been questions over his temperament. All in all, the squad is stronger, and in a division where that’s not always the case this season, Carlisle should be challenging for the play-offs.
8. Sheffield Wednesday
Last Season: Relegated (22nd) Manager: Alan Irvine (appointed January 2010)
In: Giles Coke (Motherwell), Paul Heffernan (Doncaster Rovers), Daniel Jones (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Clinton Morrison (Coventry City), Jon Otsemobor (Southampton), Chris Sedgwick (Preston North End), Gary Teale (Derby County), Nicky Weaver (Burnley), Neil Mellor (Preston North End, loan until June 2011)
Out: Leon Clarke (Queens Park Rangers), Lee Grant (Burnley), Sean McAllister (Shrewsbury Town), Lee Molyneux (Plymouth Argyle), Frank Simek (Carlsile United), Akpo Sodje (Charlton Athletic), Etienne Esajas, Francis Jeffers (both released), Michael Gray (retired)
Not good times at Hillsborough. One of the latest recipients of HMRC’s winding up orders, yet have strengthened their squad. Most of the signings are very good for this division, especially Heffernan, Teale and Sedgwick. If Mellor can reach full fitness he’ll be useful too. However, most of the signing are attacking players, yet leaking goals was the Owls’ biggest problem last term, and the defence doesn’t look strong enough to compete at the top end of this division. The biggest worry is between the posts, as Nicky Weaver hasn’t looked his best in almost ten years, and has only completed one full season in that time, while the second and third choice keepers have just four professional games between them.
9. Yeovil Town
Last Season: 15th Manager: Terry Skiverton (appointed February 2009)
In: Luke Ayling (Arsenal), Paul Huntington (Stockport County), Ed Upson (Ipswich Town), Adam Virgo (Brighton & Hove Albion), Andy Williams (Bristol Rovers), Luke Freeman (Arsenal, loan until January 2011), Rob Kiernan (Watford, loan until September 2010), Cameron Stewart (Manchester United, loan until January 2011), John Sullivan (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan until September 2010)
Out: Terrell Forbes (Leyton Orient), Scott Murray (Bath City), Kieron Murtagh (Wycombe Wanderers), Gavin Tomlin (Dagenham & Redbridge), Aidan Downes, Richard Martin, Andre McCollin (released)
It was a solid, if unspectacular first full season in charge for Skiverton, and he seems to be taking a long term approach to the club. Out have gone some of the fringe players, and the older members of the squad. In come a range of youthful signings. The only new signing who isn’t relatively young is Adam Virgo, and he has a wealth of experience for a player who is still only 27 years old. Even so, Huntington and Williams have experience at this level and overall, and while this side won’t peak this season, they should be comfortably mid-table – and may even spring a surprise by reaching the play-offs.
10. Leyton Orient
Last Season: 17th Manager: Russell Slade (appointed April 2010)
In: Aaron Brown (Aldershot Town), Dean Cox (Brighton & Hove Albion), Stephen Dawson (Bury), Terrell Forbes (Yeovil Town), Elliott Omozusi (Fulham), Alex Revell (Southend United), Matthew Spring (Charlton Athletic), Michael Liddle (Sunderland, loan until January 2011)
Out: Luke Ashworth (Rotherham United), Andrew Cave-Brown (Lowestoft Town), Jason Demetriou (AEK Lanarca), Tamika Mkandawire (Millwall), Glenn Morris (Southend United), Loick Pires (Welling United), Stephen Purches (Bournemouth), Harry Baker, James Scowcroft, Sean Thornton (all released)
Another mid-season change of manager for the O’s sees another batch of players being released from Brisbane Road, although Mkandawire leaves a gap at centre-half. Coming in are a good group of players, which will strengthen the side across the whole side. One area that the O’s haven’t strengthened is their strikeforce. Alex Revell will provide some goals, but there’s still a gap for a 20 goals a season man. Unless Revell becomes that man, it’s mid-table mediocrity, rather than a play-off challenge.
11. Brighton & Hove Albion
Last Season: 13th Manager: Gus Poyet (appointed November 2009)
In: Ashley Barnes (Plymouth Argyle), Agustin Battipiedi, Cristian Baz (Club Communicaciones), Gordon Greer (Swindon Town), Radostin Kishishev (Litex Lovech), Marcos Painter (Swansea City), Michael Poke (Southampton)
Out: Andrew Crofts (Norwich City), Dean Cox (Leyton Orient), Arron Davies (Peterborough United), Craig Davies (Chesterfield), Liam Dickinson (Barnsley), Nicky Forster (Brentford), Colin Hawkins (Sporting Fingal), Michel Kuipers (Crawley Town), Jake Wright (Oxford United), Seb Carole (released)
A bit of a turnover at the Withdean in the close season, with some of the more well-known players departing, and some unknown quantities arriving, such as the two Argentines. Goals appear to be the most likely problem, with just three recognised strikers, and only Glenn Murray known as a goalscorer – although Ashley Barnes notched four in eight games here on loan, last season. The defence looks stronger, and the acquisition of Gordon Greer is a good one. The play-offs are probably out of reach, unless Barnes can reproduce his form over a season, or Poyet utilises the loan system better than most.
12. Notts County
Last Season: Promoted (1st) Manager: Craig Short (appointed June 2010)
In: Rob Burch (Lincoln City), Ben Burgess (Blackpool), Liam Chilvers (Preston North End), Jon Harley (Watford), Stuart Nelson (Aberdeen), Krystian Pearce (Huddersfield Town), Kevin Smith (Dundee United), John Spicer (Doncaster Rovers), Jake Jervis (Birmingham City, loan until January 2011)
Out: Sean Canham (Hereford United), Jamie Clapham, Delroy Facey (both Lincoln City), Matt Hamshaw (Macclesfield Town), Johnnie Jackson (Charlton Athletic), Kevin Pilkington (Luton Town), Kasper Schmeichel (Leeds United), Ade Akinbiyi, Ben Fairclough, Russell Hoult (all released)
It’s been a rollercoaster for the Magpies, and while the biggest wage earners have gone, there still an air of high spending at Meadow Lane. It’s a tactic that will only work so far, and in the right hands, as was seen by the difference in results between Steve Cotterill’s tenure compared to those that came before him. It seems a strange choice to have give Craig Short his first managerial role (his tenure at Ferencvaros ended before it really started, as Short does not have a UEFA Pro coaching licence). The signings are mainly solid, so it’s really down to whether Short is an fast learner as manager. Even the most disastrous of tenures are unlike to see County go down, as the new management have shown they’re prepared to be ruthless when they need to be.
Last Season: 10th Manager: Chris Hutchings (appointed January 2009)
In: Jonny Brain (Macclesfield Town), Oliver Lancashire (Southampton), Aaron Lescott (Bristol Rovers), Paul Marshall (Manchester City), Sofiene Zaaboub (Southend United), Ryan McGivern (Manchester City, loan until June 2011)
Out: Mark Bradley (Rotherham United), Rene Gilmartin (Watford), Mark Hughes (North Queensland Fury), Dwayne Mattis (Chesterfield), Josh O’Keefe (Lincoln City), Sam Parkin (St. Johnstone), Peter Till (York City), Jamie Vincent (Aldershot Town), Rhys Weston (Dundee), Sam Adkins, Richard Davies, Netan Sansara (released), Clayton Ince (retired)
There’s been a fair bit of unrest at the Bescot this year, and fans staying away from the ground, and suggestions of money not being invested in the club lead to one thing; a drop in quality in the squad. Hutchings has cleared out a lot of dead wood, but Ince, Gilmartin and Bradley are likely to be missed. None of the new signings seem that inspiring, but are good enough to fit in, and good enough to make sure that Walsall don’t struggle – which in itself may be bad news for chairman Jeff Bonser, as if there’s little going on, on the pitch, the fans may look elsewhere for their entertainment.
14. Bristol Rovers
Last Season: 11th Manager: Paul Trollope (appointed September 2005)
In: Wayne Brown (Fulham), Will Hoskins (Watford), Gary Sawyer (Plymouth Argyle), Mikkel Andersen (Reading, loan until September 2010), James Tunnicliffe (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan until June 2011)
Out: Steve Elliott (Cheltenham Town), Rhys Evans (Southend United), Aaron Lescott Walsall), Steve Phillips (Crewe Alexandra), Sean Rigg (Port Vale), Andy Williams (Yeovil Town), Ben Hunt (released), David Pipe (imprisoned for wounding with intent to cause GBH)
Rovers started the season strongly last season, but fell away, but the signs were there that Trollope can build a side that aims at the top of the table. At least, that was the theory, as while the Pirates haven’t lost anyone of note (other than Pipe, whose loss to the game is the fault of the player and not the club), but the signings brought in have been few and mainly unimpressive. The biggest weakness is in goal, with Andersen only on a month’s loan, an no other keeper with a game under his belt. Hoskins and Sawyer are nice signings though, and mid-table seems achievable, as long as a half-decent keeper comes in for the season.
15. Exeter City
Last Season: 18th Manager: Paul Tisdale (appointed June 2006)
In: Jamie Cureton (Norwich City), Billy Jones (Crewe Alexandra), Artur Krysiak (Burton Albion), Daniel Nardiello (Blackpool), John O’Flynn (Barnet), Jake Thomson (Southampton)
Out: Joe Burnell (Bath City), Barry Corr (Southend United), Craig McAllister (Crawley Town), Manny Panther (Aldershot Town), Alex Russell, Neil Saunders (both released)
Exeter defied the odds – again – to stay up last season, and Paul Tisdale has set his stall out for this season by making some impressive signings, particularly up front, where John O’Flynn will benefit from Jamie Cureton’s experience. If anything the defence, and specifically the choice of goalkeepers seems to be the weak area of the side, and if any area is their undoing, it will be that one.
Last Season: Promoted (3rd) Manager: Keith Hill (appointed December 2006)
In: Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro, Joe Widdowson (both Grimsby Town), Brian Barry-Murphy (Bury), Matt Done (Hereford United), Anthony Elding (Ferencvaros), Alan Goodall (Chesterfield), Josh Lillis (Scunthorpe United, loan until July 2011)
Out: Kenny Arthur (Grimsby Town), Chris Dagnall (Scunthorpe United), Kallum Higginbotham (Falkirk), Tom Kennedy (Leicester City), Rory McArdle (Aberdeen), Nathan Stanton (Burton Albion), Ciaran Toner (released)
Unknown territory for the vast majority of Rochdale fans, as they have their first promotion in 31 years, and embark on a season in the third tier for the first time since 1974. It would be easy to say that as a result, they’re likely to come straight back down (like a lazy prediction would), but Keith Hill has put in too much hard work in his first managerial job, for that to happen. The signings are mainly ones from former League Two rivals, and a couple of first team players have lost higher up the leagues, but one thing the club has is momentum, and considering some of the basket cases in this division, it would be a shame for Rochdale to do anything but stay up.
17. Colchester United
Last Season: 8th Manager: John Ward (appointed June 2010)
In: Andy Bond (Barrow), Lloyd James (Southampton), Brian Wilson (Bristol City), Dave Mooney (Reading, on loan until January 2011)
Out: David Fox (Norwich City), Clive Platt (Coventry City), David Prutton (Swindon Town), Scott Vernon (Aberdeen), Philip Ifil, Matt Lockwood, Joel Thomas (all released)
It’s hard not to feel sorry for the U’s. Since Geraint Williams was sacked after a relegation hangover saw them bottom of League One in September 2008, first Paul Lambert, and then Aidy Boothroyd have come and gone to “bigger” clubs, with different styles and requirements in players, leaving the club with a large squad, many of whom don’t fit the next manager’s ideal. Even though John Ward was Boothroyd’s deputy, his style is different again. It also doesn’t help that the departures of Fox, Platt and Prutton will hurt, and the new signings are at best, unconvincing. A tough season awaits.
18. Dagenham & Redbridge
Last Season: Promoted (7th) Manager: John Still (appointed April 2004)
In: Stuart Lewis (Gillingham), Damian Scannell (Southend United), Gavin Tomlin (Yeovil Town)
Out: Mark Nwokeji (AFC Wimbledon), Danny Spiller (Gillingham), Wesley Thomas (Cheltenham Town), Anwar Uddin (Barnet)
John Still returns to the third tier for the first time in fifteen years, and the Daggers make their debut at this level. It’s useful that they haven’t lost any of their players, and their three signings all have experience at this level, although they may not be enough – staying up after finishing seventh is a hard task for any team. But, Still is an astute manager, and may be canny enough to keep them here for another term.
19. ** ****
Last Season: 12th Manager: Karl Robinson (appointed May 2010)
In: Dietmar Hamann (Free Agent), Lewis Guy (Doncaster Rovers), Gary MacKenzie (Dundee), David Martin (Liverpool), Angelo Balanta (Queens Park Rangers, loan until June 2011)
Out: Sol Davis (Kettering Town), Lewis Gobern (Grimsby Town), David McCracken (Brentford), Jemal Johnson, Dean Morgan, Darren Powell (all released)
Maybe the experiment is nearing the end. Paul Ince quit over not having enough money to spend next season, and his replacement is in his first managerial role at the age of 29, having never played above the Northern Premier Division. Dietmar Hamann arrives as player coach, having not played in eighteen months, nor having ever played at this level. It’s a strange combination. The signings are weak, and while relegation probably won’t happen, hopefully the Franchise has peaked. The shopping centre has been built, the club isn’t needed anymore.
Last Season: Promoted (2nd) Manager: Eddie Howe (appointed December 2008)
In: Harry Arter (Woking), Steve Lovell (Partick Thistle), Mitchell Nelson (Tooting & Mitcham United), Marc Pugh (Hereford United), Stephen Purches (Leyton Orient), Michael Symes (Accrington Stanley), Rhoys Wiggins (Norwich City)
Out: Alan Connell (Grimsby Town), Jeff Goulding (Cheltenham Town), Sammy Igoe (Havant & Waterlooville), Scott Guyett (released)
Let’s be honest, last season’s promotion was such a great achievement, that Eddie Howe was the manager of any season. The transfer embargo has gone, and now Howe has to act – and be judged – as a normal manager. It also means that there’s more freedom to make mistakes when signings are concerned, and while none of the incomers look to be major mistakes, there’s a concern over whether many of them can cut it at this level. A lot will rest on the versatile Stephen Purches, and new striker Michael Symes, but staying up may be as big an achievement as going up.
21. Plymouth Argyle
Last Season: Relegated (23rd) Manager: Peter Reid (appointed June 2010)
In: Lee Molyneux (Southampton), Bondz N’Gala (West Ham United), Rory Patterson (Glentoran), Anton Peterlin (Everton), David Button (Tottenham Hotspur, loan until June 2011)
Out: Ashley Barnes (Brighton & Hove Albion), Yoann Folly (Aberdeen), Jamie Mackie (Queens Park Rangers), Gary Sawyer (Bristol Rovers), Alan Gow, David McNamee (both released)
Mark summed up the off the field situation at Home Park the other day, on the pitch things look even dimmer. What a relegated side short on confidence needs in a new manager is someone with fresh ideas, someone who can make players believe in themselves. What Argyle have got is Peter Reid – a man whose ideas looked out of date in handful of months of his last jobs at Leeds and Coventry. He hasn’t managed at club level for over five years, he hasn’t managed a full season in the last eight. Added to that, and Reid has never experienced the third tier as player or manager, and it looks like John Barnes at Tranmere all over again. The signings are all inexperienced at this level too, and the only one that shows any imagination (Patterson) was made by Paul Mariner three weeks before Reid was appointed. Argyle may need a lot of fortune to not suffer two relegations.
22. Oldham Athletic
Last Season: 16th Player-Manager: Paul Dickov (appointed June 2010)
In: Paul Dickov (Leeds United), Warren Feeney (Cardiff City), Jason Jarrett (Port Vale), Ritchie Jones (Hartlepool United), Dean Kelly (Crumlin United), Jean-Yves M’voto, Oumare Tounkara (both Sunderland, loan until June 2011)
Out: Pawel Abbott (Charlton Athletic), Joe Colbeck (Hereford United), Keigan Parker (Mansfield Town), Danny Whitaker (Chesterfield), Hasney Aljofree, Chris Rowney (released)
Lower mid-table wasn’t seen as a good enough return for Dave Penney, and he’s replace by the untested Paul Dickov. Dickov also seems to be the replacement for Charlton-bound Pawel Abbott, as neither Warren Feeney nor Dean Kelly have the sort of history that says League One goalscorer. With just five defenders with league experience, who aren’t on the transfer list, and a surfeit of midfielders, it seems strange that the backline has not been bolstered, and it’s also a wonder how the seemingly unsettlable Jason Jarrett will fit in. It could be a very long season at Boundary Park.
23. Hartlepool United
Last Season: 20th Manager: Chris Turner (appointed December 2008)
In: Evan Horwood (Carlisle United), Paul Murray (Shrewsbury Town)
Out: Ben Clark (Gateshead), Ritchie Jones (Oldham Athletic), Alan Power (Rushden & Diamonds), Jonny Rowell (Olympique Charleroi)
A very quiet summer at Victoria Park, and considering the team only survived relegation by goal difference last season, they need to make more than two signing to survive the drop this time. Scoring goals, in particular looks to be an issue that Turner hasn’t resolved, and Paul Murray, who was released by Shrewsbury in the summer, isn’t likely to be the answer.
24. Tranmere Rovers
Last Season: Manager: Les Parry (appointed October 2009)
In: Timothy Cathalina (Emmen), Joss Labadie (West Bromwich Albion), Enoch Showunmi (Falkirk), Liam Darville (Leeds United, loan until September 2010), Gunnar Nielsen (Manchester City, on loan until January 2011)
Out: Charlie Barnett (Accrington Stanley), Craig Curran (Carlisle United), Gareth Edds (North Queensland Fury), Kitshon Bain, Bas Savage, Chris Shuker (released)
The John Barnes era ended with a whimper, rather than a bang, as he managed to undo all of Ronnie Moore’s good in just four months at the club. Les Parry did a sterling job to keep Rovers up in the end, but this season may be tougher. The squad looks weak and the signings are full of potential, but lacking in experience, with the exception of Enoch Showunmi. Showunmi showed great potential at Luton, but it’s been four seasons since he really looked his best. Without sounding too harsh, he’s in good company, as the existing players form an older than average squad (with five players aged 32 or over), many of who have seen their better days. Tranmere need an overhaul, and Les Parry doesn’t seem to be the man to do it.