Welcome to part two of my look at the 24 teams that make up League One this season. I’m focusing on the top half in this article.
If you missed the bottom half, you can find it here. There’s also a podcast on teams that might go up, might go down and might surprise which you can listen to here. If you’re sitting comfortably, we shall continue.
12th Sheffield Wednesday (8th)
Ins – Dennis Adeniran, Jaden Brown, Mide Shodipo, Jack Hunt, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Lewis Wing, Florian Kamberi, Theo Corbeanu, George Byers, Marvin Johnson, Lee Gregory
Out – Liam Shaw, Julian Börner, Joost van Aken, Kadeem Harris, Elias Kachunga, Tom Lees, Matt Penney, Moses Odubajo, Joey Pelupessy, Adam Reach, Jordan Rhodes, Keiren Westwood
Wednesday are a tough one to call, because on paper they have a decent side forming. They’ve kept key players such as Barry Bannan (so far), who is an equivalent to Aiden McGeady in my eyes, having no business at this level. There’s a hope that the likes of Lewis Wing, Lee Gregory and Marvin Johnson can fire them up the table, but like many, I’m not convinced. The club is in a fragile state in terms of ownership and the new faces are no going to be smiling if the wafer-thin stability of the last month or so is ruined by the erratic ownership once again.
11th Bolton Wanderers (11th)
Ins – Dapo Afolayan, George Johnston, Josh Sheehan, Declan John, Will Aimson, Joel Dixon, Amadou Bakayoko, Xavier Amaechi
Out – Shaun Miller, Arthur Gnahoua, Sonny Graham, Callum King-Harmes, Muhammadu Faal, Jak Hickman, Jamie Mascoll, Markus Assarsson, Nathan Whalley
Bolton are expected to do well because they’re Bolton, a big name, and although I’ve gone for 11th, I’m not entirely convinced on their chances. They were the form team at the end of the League Two season and I’m working on the assumption that they’ll pick up from there, and Ian Evatt’s rise through the divisions will continue. They won 18 out of 22 to snatch promotion, but of those 18 wins, 12 came from a solitary strike. Can their blueprint hold up under the pressure of better teams? I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, for now.
Disclaimer – in the podcast I spoke about MK Dons being my surprise strugglers, but I confess it was between them and Bolton. True to form, I’ve named both in the top half!
10th Milton Keynes Dons (12th)
Ins – Scott Twine, Franco Ravizzoli, Josh Martin, Ethan Robson, Max Watters, Aden Baldwin, Mo Eisa, Tennai Watson, Troy Parrott
Out – Matthew Sorinola, Cameron Jerome, Sam Nombe, Scott Fraser, Ben Gladwin, Lee Nicholls, Jordan Houghton, Kieran Agard, Joe Mason
You know the term smoke and mirrors, where something is made to look much different than it is? That’s MK Dons, even before Russell Martin left. He was held up as a shining example of a great manager, but with nothing to back it up. Their transfers have been heralded by many, but look closely and there are question marks. Max Watters scored four goals in 17 games on loan at Grantham two years ago, yet he’s seen as a coup here? He’s promising, but we’re blinded by that spell at Crawley. Mo Eisa is a decent striker, but he didn’t really impress at Peterborough, whilst Troy Parrott had two poor loan spells at Millwall and Ipswich. There’s an illusion at Milton Keynes, and one I don’t buy into. They’ve good enough to finish in the top ten if there’s a good manager come in, which I’m banking on here, but they’re also balanced on a knife-edge in terms of Martin’s aborted project and a whole restart.
9th Wycombe Wanderers (9th)
Ins – Josh Scowen, Sullay Kaikai, Adam Przybek, Sam Vokes, Jack Wakely, Tjay de Barr, Max Ram, Tyla Dickenson
Out – Fred Onyedinma, Uche Ikpeazu, Darius Charles, Cameron Yates, Giles Phillips, Andron Georgiou, Ryan Allsop
Many are tipping Wycombe to go straight back up and I get why, to a degree, but I don’t buy it. I’m not going to be super critical of their style, they do what Gillingham do, and they do it better. I just don’t see them dropping back into League One in a different manner to how they left: edge of the play-offs, fighting for results. They made no friends at this level last time and they’ll be the team we all love to criticise again, but I don’t think their bullish tactics will see them promoted over a 46-game season. They have the quality to fight for the top six, but I’m not sure they have the style to actually get there.
8th Oxford United (10th)
Ins – Marcus McGuane, Ryan Williams, Billy Bodin, Steve Seddon, Nathan Holland, Gavin Whyte, Jordan Thornily
Out – Josh Ruffels, Rob Atkinson, Sean Clare, Rob Hall, Dylan Asonganyi
7th Lincoln City (6th)
More on us in a full article tomorrow morning