I did say I wasn’t doing a comprehensive 1-24, and in some ways, I’m not.
I have been through every club and I do have a feeling for the division, but I won’t be taking each team and going into any depth. However, in the spirit of putting my head above the parapet to get shot down, I do want to deliver my 1-24, with a brief explanation of why I’ve put each team where they are. You can hear some of my thoughts on the podcast, but if you’re a reader rather than a listener, here are the headlines for the bottom half.
After each team, you’ll see a second prediction – this is where the SW readers have selected that team to finish. Thank you for your submissions by the way, I had around 40 in total.
24th Cambridge United (23rd)
In – Lloyd Jones, James Brophy, Shilow Tracey, George Williams, Jack Lankester, Sam Smith, Jensen Weir, Will Mannion, Jubril Okedina
Out – Luke Hannant, Kyle Knoyle, Paul Mullin, Callum Burton, Joe Neal
It’s going to be tough for Cambridge. They mounted a promotion assault from nowhere really, on the back of one great season for Paul Mullin and the magic of Wes Hollahan. The latter has stayed put, the former took the payday and moved to Wrexham, It’s not just his departure that makes me think the Us are destined to fail this season, I felt their promotion was based on a gung-ho approach rather than a sound tactical basis that transfers easily to this division. They look to me like a side almost preparing to fail, and go back stronger. It’s not a bad tactic.
23rd Morecambe (24th)
Ins – Callum Jones, Arthur Gnahoua, Ryan Delaney, Wes McDonald, Anthony O’Connor, Ryan Cooney, Jonathan Obika, Josh McPake, Alfie McCalmont, Greg Leigh, Jacob Mensah, Shane McLoughlin, Jokull Andresson, Jonah Ayunga, Adam Phillips,
Out – Nathaniel Knights-Percival, John O’Sullivan, Carlos Mendes Gomes, Yann Songo’o, Harry Davis, Mark Halstead, Alex Kenyon, Stephen Hendrie, Liam McAlinden, AJLeitch-Smith, Ben Pringle, Jordan Slew
This is a seemingly lazy prediction, putting Morecambe in the bottom four. It’s easy, isn’t it? Smallest club in the division by some distance, never been at this level, lost their manager and best player over the summer, it all reeks of relegation candidates. Sadly, despite moving forward, I think the last assumption is the right one. They do have a new boss, Stephen Robinson, who didn’t do badly for Motherwell, but who wasn’t up to the job of managing Oldham in this division in 2016/17 – you might remember him being in charge when we did them in the FA Cup. It’ll be a brave fight, but for me, they’re going to struggle.
22nd Fleetwood Town (22nd)
Ins – Brad Halliday, Harry Wright, Ryan Edmondson, Tom Clarke, Max Clark, Anthony Pilkington, Callum Morton, Darnell Johnson
Out – Wes Burns, Paul Coutts, Mark Duffy, Sam Finley, Josh Morris, Harvey Saunders, Nathan Sheron, Glenn Whelan, Michael Fowler, Laurence Smith
I don’t judge a team on their signings, it isn’t entirely fair, but when you see that Fleetwood are likely to start with Edmundson and Morton up front, you do have to worry. Both struggled at this level last season, and they no replacement for the likes of Madden and Ched Evans. I think Fleetwood are a team slowly adjusting to a post-Covid reality in terms of wages and transfer fees, and that could be reflected in their ultimate relegation. It comes down to this – can Simon Grayson keep them up on a smaller budget, using only his tactical nous? I don’t think he can.
21st Plymouth Argyle (16th)
Ins – James Wilson, Dan Scarr, Macauley Gillesphey, Callum Burton, James Bolton, Jordan Houghton, Brendan Galloway, Ryan Broom
Out – Will Aimson, Byron Moore, Jarvis Cleal, Rubin Wilson, Scott Wootton, Klaidi Lolos, Frank Nouble, Lewis Macleod, Ben Reeves, Jack Ruddy, Gary Sawyer, Luke McCormick
Plymouth beat us twice last season, and probably should have had something from the other game at our place, so it feels strange putting them in the bottom four ahead of other sides. They’ve got decent attacking players in Danny Mayor, Niall Ennis and Panutche Camara, but I just don’t see how they correct the rut they found themselves in last season. they won three of their last 18, one of which came against us in a game we gifted them a two-goal headstart, fought back to 3-2 and still lost. I fear Ryan Lowe has lost his way a little here, either that or his successful brand of football doesn’t quite stand up to the robust challenges of League One.