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  • Chris Sobey

Football


2018/2019 EFL League One Preview

The 2018/2019 EFL League One season gets underway on Saturday 3rd August and there’s a full quota of games to enjoy. The three Championship relegated teams Burton, Barnsley and Sunderland and four promoted League Two teams Accrington, Coventry, Luton and Wycombe join the fray this season. The four promoted League Two teams look set to do battle with most of last seasons squads, bar a few loan signings and minus players released or sold for financial reasons. The four teams are all capable of competing at this level but only if they can keep most of their best players and maintain that winning team mentality.

However, this is a step up in class for the cash strapped four teams and in such a competitive league the reality is more likely to be fighting off relegation or a mid-table. Coventry City could be the team most likely to struggle as they sold last seasons top scorer striker Marc McNulty to Reading but the other three teams have all managed to keep hold of their respective top-scorers from last season, which should make them more competitive. The one promoted who might be capable of competing for the play-offs or promotion is Accrington Stanley. They were a class above most League Two’s teams last season, they’ve managed to keep hold of two of last season’s best players and top scorers, Billy Kee and Kayden Jackson, they’ve added new players, who are experienced and were playing at League One or Championship level before, and this should add further quality and strength in depth to an already talented team.

Championship relegated teams Sunderland and Barnsley are first and second favourites to win the league and both teams will be hoping for better fortunes this season with a fresh start and new managers at the helm. Sunderland and new manager Jack Ross have obviously had to let go of plenty of players for financial reasons but they still have a strong enough squad to compete at this level, and there are still potential new signings or loans to be completed, which will add further quality and strength in depth. If Ross has been able to get the squad onside, working together to deliver his strategy and plans and he’s selected the best possible first team and good cover in the key areas of the team, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be challenging for promotion come the end of the season.

Barnsley have taken a risk on appointing a German coach Daniel Stendel formerly of Hannover as their new manager, who has no experience of managing in England, which is a big risk at this level. Stendel has received no real money to invest in the squad but has been wheeling and dealing during the summer. He’s released/loaned out players who don’t feature in his plans this season and has brought in a handful of experienced, proven performers at this level, who should complement the squad and ensure there is decent competition for places in the first team. In relation to them challenging for the title and promotion this season, they do have a squad capable of achieving success but it might be a big ask for Stendel to achieve this in his first season managing in England.

Looking at the chances of teams who lost in the play-offs, or just missed out on making the play-offs, and Portsmouth, Plymouth and Scunthorpe could be challenging for the title and promotion again come the end of the season. They’ve managed to keep hold of the majority of their first team regulars from last season, including their top-scorers and best attacking players, and at the prices Plymouth and Scunthorpe appeal the most. From a relegation perspective the teams who were fighting relegation last season like Rochdale, Wimbledon and Walsall will need to improve this season if they want to survive the drop, and the newly promoted teams like Luton, Coventry and Wycombe will also need to be vigilant and step up their game to achieve the same.

Selections:

League One

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