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Football League ready to roll

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Paul Fletcher | 10:49 UK time, Thursday, 6 August 2009

The problem with writing a piece looking ahead to a new season is the temptation to suggest the forthcoming campaign will be more competitive and stronger than ever.

It is almost a cliché, one that is perhaps born of a desire to see the football season kick off again and often followed by an acknowledgement sometime around March that the previous few months have been a little disappointing/predictable/lacking in quality

This time around, however, I have truly high hopes for the Football League, which starts on Friday with the Championship fixture between Middlesbrough and Sheffield United.

It comes comes only 74 days after Burnley pulled off their remarkable and largely unexpected promotion to the Premier League.

But who will go up this season?

newcastlefan595.jpg"I don't fancy Blackpool or Scunthorpe but after that nobody and everybody," said BBC pundit Steve Claridge.

"It will be as unpredictable as ever. There will be some major disappointments and some nice surprises."

Newcastle seem certain to be one of the stories of the season - and in some respects precisely because it is impossible to predict what is going to happen to them.

The Magpies continue to lurch from one crisis to another, elevating the entire process into something of an art form.

Managerless, unhappy players, up for sale, thrashed 6-1 by Leyton Orient in pre-season - perhaps not surprisingly I have heard more people suggest they are more likely to suffer back-to-back relegations than win promotion. That said, their squad looks great on paper (emphasis on the word paper).

Newcastle open their campaign at West Brom, another relegated side, in a match that is being broadcast live on BBC One at 1720 BST on Saturday. I'll be there to see how the two teams shape up as they adjust to life in more modest company

The Baggies lacked a cutting edge at Premier League level but if they play the same brand of football under Roberto di Matteo as they did for Tony Mowbray before he left for Celtic then I think they could be a real success this season.

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was far from popular with a large percentage of his club's supporters last season and, despite working for a very tolerant chairman in Steve Gibson, it is imperative his side starts well.

Leroy Lita is a good signing for them at Championship level but looking at some of the names in Boro's squad I do wonder if some really fancy an attritional season in the second tier.

Roy Keane had a brief look at the second tier of English football after arriving at Ipswich towards the end of last season and it will be fascinating to see whether he can repeat the promotion he achieved with Sunderland in 2007. Keane has money at his disposal, plenty of it apparently. But the summer's big spenders have instead been Nottingham Forest.

I think Forest boss Billy Davies boss has made some very shrewd signings - the likes of Paul McKenna, Chris Gunter, David McGoldrick and Dexter Blackstock. Davies has got loads of artillery and I just don't buy into anything he says about long-term plans. Davies is ultra-competitive and after just keeping Forest in the division last season I expect his side to figure at the other end of the table.

I haven't yet mentioned the likes of Bristol City, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Preston, QPR, Sheffield United, Reading and Swansea - all of whom will fancy their chances.

The Championship is rich in a young and hungry generation of managers, people like Nigel Clough at Derby, Darren Ferguson at Peterborough and Malky Mackay at Watford.

What makes it so intriguing for me is that, unlike in the Premier League, so many teams will feel that if they stay injury free and play to their potential they have a realistic chance of making at least the play-offs.

Of course, we have seen over the last few years several teams that recently played top-flight football slipping into League One.

This year, Charlton, Leeds, Norwich and Southampton all find themselves facing a hard slog to get back to the Championship. There cannot be a third-tier league anywhere else in Europe than can boast so many clubs of such size and stature.

"Undoubtedly the bigger the teams, the better the league and this season League One should be great," added Claridge.

I was convinced that Leeds would win last season's play-offs and I expect them to go up this season under the assured management of Simon Grayson. Sven-Goran Eriksson's arrival at Notts County was one of the stories of the summer

Norwich decided to keep faith in club legend Bryan Gunn, despite his failure to avoid relegation last season. It was a bold move but the Scot seems to have made some shrewd signings in the likes of defender Michael Nelson, winger Simon Whaley and forward Grant Holt. Having brought in 12 players, Gunn must manage their transition from a collection of individuals into a team if they are to succeed.

Huddersfield boss Lee Clark has been heavily backed by chairman Dean Hoyle as he shapes a team to have a crack at promotion. When I spoke to Terriers fitness conditioner Steve Black last season he was convinced that Clarke would go on to become a top-class manager. We should get some idea of whether Black is correct or not over the coming months.

Former Liverpool reserve team coach Gary Ablett recently became manager of Stockport, a club that went into administration towards the end of last season, is several million in debt and in the midst of a takeover. I have absolutely no idea how they will do this season but most bookmakers are convinced County will struggle.

Then there is League Two - and all eyes seem focused on Notts County following the arrival of former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football.

I think it is important to remember that County finished 19th last season. They have brought in some decent players such as Lee Hughes, Luke Rodgers and Karl Hawley but I am not convinced that Eriksson's arrival suddenly means they are promotion material. It remains to be seen how his relationship with Ian McParland, who is the actual manager after all, works out and just what sort of benefits the Swede will bring in return for his salary.

I hope that some of the unfashionable and cash-strapped clubs like Bury and Rochdale are able to push for promotion again. Alan Knill and Keith Hill did extremely well while working within tight budgets last season but just fell a little short at the end.

Mark Robins at Rotherham is a young manager who talks a lot of sense and I would not be surprised to see the Millers win promotion.

All things considered, there is plenty to be excited about when looking forward to the new season - and you will be able to watch every goal on the BBC website.

I obviously haven't been able to mention every team in this piece but I would love to know who will think will succeed - and who will struggle!

You can learn more about the BBC's new Football League coverage by reading this blog from Lewis Wiltshire.


Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Crewe to win League 2! Gudjon is the man!

  • Comment number 2.

    Typically Argyle are once again the forgotten side in the Championship...it's no wonder that most people I talk to outside of Plymouth are unaware we are even in the Championship. As Luggy said, improved home form, if achieved, will put us right up there on the outskirts of the playoffs.

  • Comment number 3.

    I love it when Mr Claridge gives his "Expert" opinion about the Championship. Written off Blackpool before a ball has been kicked.

    I look forward to Blackpool Fc's 3rd season in the Championship and another season of improvement from the men in Tangerine.

    Our President has backed "Ollie" giving him a pot of cash to work with and we are already seeing the signings arrive. Charlie Adam for £500k smashing our previous record signing. Big things are about to happen and you are all brushing over it... Fantastic

  • Comment number 4.

    I'd like to see Keane do well as he was building a good thing at sunderland like to see the same at ipswich

  • Comment number 5.

    How about a Yorkshire Treble? Championship Sheff Utd, League 1 Leeds Utd, League 2 Rotherham, worth a punt.
    No doubt the Geordies will keep us all laughing agian this season with their deluded fans and soap opera carryings on.
    I just hope that we start to see help from the FA to assist smaller clubs BEFORE they go hit financial difficulties and go into administration. I'm sure no real football fans want to see another Luton Town disappear

  • Comment number 6.

    Well, as Lawro sticks to the Premiership, here are my tips for this weeks Championship games. Dip your bread.

    http://sportales.com/soccer/english-championship-correct-score-predictions-week-one-7809/

  • Comment number 7.

    Don't forget Brighton and Hove. I'm surprised the Seagulls didn't feature in the blog because with a new manager, new chairman, several new players and a new stadium being built things are certainly looking up for the Albion.

    Slade has been handed a bigger transfer kitty than I can ever remember a Brighton manager getting and if he can replicate the kind of form we produced at the tail end of last season we'll find ourselves amongst the play-off candidates and the two year 'championship plan' that has been laid out by the chairman will be well and truly under way.

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting blog.

    The Championship is impossible to predict, you'll have all the ex Premiership teams there for sure, including Newcastle, Championship sides with the budget that may cover Newcastles wagebill for a month (see Blackpool, Scunthorpe) and those teams there or there abouts every season (Bristol City, PNE, Cardiff).

    To win it: Id say WBA or Middlesborough, with the other one of those 2 in 2nd. Playoffs? Reading.

    League 1 - some interesting games, ex European sides, aka Norwich, Leeds & Southampton vs teams who were non league 2 or 3 years ago, Exeter, Carlisle, Yeovil.

    I fancy Huddersfield and Leeds to occupy the top 2 slots, with Bristol Rovers to win the playoffs, all the former Championship sides from last year will struggle a bit.

    What about the newly promoted sides? All safe id expect, Exeter could be a surprise package.

    League 2 - Rotherham, Bradford and Shrewsbury will be top 3, playoffs could be anyone from the other 21 clubs! Nobody really stands out, so i'll go for Bury or Rochdale.

    2009/2010 is going to be a very interesting season for all concerned...

  • Comment number 9.

    Norwich to go well this season. Our players have really played well together and have shown it with victories over Palace and Wigan. I'd like to see how Leeds will go without Delph, and I've heard he is a big part of Leed's set up.

  • Comment number 10.

    It's going to be tight in all divisions, but very exciting and probably a few surprises.
    Leyton Orient and Dagenham and Redbridge have been predicted as value outsiders with Ipswich for the Championship.

    Once again, hats off to the BBC for free live coverage of the football league.

    http://www.loserscomesecond.com/

  • Comment number 11.

    As was stated in the blog, not all 92 teams could feature but the coverage of League Two was a little 'thin'...surely not an omen of how the BBC will approach their football league adventure this season?! On that note, I also find it slightly ridiculous that the football league highlights will directly follow MOTD on Saturday nights - talk about burying/diluting these teams! A far better approach would have been to show the football league highlights at a seperate time at the weekend - how about Sunday lunchtime before the F1?

    As for surprise packages watch out for Burton Albion's debut season in League Two. Their style of play and quality in midfield could take a lot of the more 'agricultural' teams by surprise.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ah, Mr. Claridge that "Expert" who was sacked from Millwall after a couple of weeks!. So, he says Scunny will go down, i fancy us to stop up. Important signing in Rob Jones, and Gary Hooper, martyn Woolford and Paul Hayes will worry alot of teams. Up the Iron!

  • Comment number 13.

    I can't look past West Brom, they have essentially kept the same team that got releagated but which was also essentially the team which got them promoted. Their important players; the likes of Brunt, Koren and Miller know this league and I think should therefore do well. Boro and Newcastle are in completely new water and there I think'll struggle (in relative terms) and thus top half of the table maybe a push for the playoffs tops. Although i expect afonso to get a fair few goals (fingers crossed anyway he's in my championship tem for fantasy football.)

    For ourselves I think we'll be in for a season of midtable obscurity although I'd happily settle for 23rd as long as Derby are the team below.

  • Comment number 14.

    You're right Fletch. It's so hard to predict this year with so many 'big' teams in lower divisions.

    In the Championship, Newcastle might start the season badly if the uncertainty continues. Boro start with Sheffield United and Swansea, which could be a hard introduction to that league. I fancy West Brom to win it, but they'll be pushed hard by the likes of Ipswich, Cardiff, and Forest. At least one of Newcastle and Boro are going to be missing Premiership football for more than a single season.

    In League One, I think Southampton will continue to struggle and Charlton might just make the play offs. With Leeds, a lot will depend on what they do with the money from the sale of Delph (and maybe Beckford). If they can't get anyone good in time, they might miss out on promotion yet again. Norwich have brought in a lot of fairly good players and I think they might clinch an automatic promotion spot. I fancy Huddersfield to be in the playoff final against Millwall.

    In League two, you're probably right to doubt Notts County's chances — unless they bring in a few more faces with their pot of gold. Rotherham and Bradford should both be strong contenders.

  • Comment number 15.

    Boro - Chamrionship

    Huddersfield - League One

    Crewe - League Two

  • Comment number 16.

    politeDJDave wrote:
    As was stated in the blog, not all 92 teams could feature

    ------------------------------------------
    The Football League has 72 clubs not 92

  • Comment number 17.

    Providing we (Norwich) keep hold of a certain Mr. Hoolahan, then i think we are certainly top six material. Bearing that in mind, I think we will finish second, with Leeds finishing first, and Huddersfield going up via the play-offs.

    In the Championship, I believe that West Brom will win it, with Sheff. Utd finishing second. Don't see Newcastle going up this year- they seem to be in disarray- next year may be their's though... Going up through the play-offs will be Reading I think, with Sheff. Wed as a dark horse- they played us off the park at the Carra last year.

    In League 2, I'm backing Rotherham and Bury to finish first and second, with Shrewsbury in third. Possible play-off winners could be Morecambe, as they seem to improve with each passing season.

  • Comment number 18.

    A United fan obviously, but have seen a lot of Swansea City, and cant help but be impressed. Great stadium, loyal support and play football the way it should be played. Sousa has come in and instantly got the backing of the players and will be looking to play the same style of football they played under martinez. If he can get a couple of the transfer targets he has lined up then they will be a team to be feared.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just been bookies and put my league winners bet on, I have gone for:-

    Premiership - Chelsea

    Championship - Ipswich

    Div 1 - Leeds

    Div 2 - Rotherham

    Blue Square - Luton

    given my record can I apologise in advance for making sure the above teams finish up mid table:)

  • Comment number 20.

    There is only one definate in League football this year...

    Tranmere are going to struggle! Barnes is not a good manager.

    Promotions:
    Middlesboro
    WBA
    Ipswich

    Huddersfield
    Leeds
    Brentford

    Rotherham
    Crewe
    Bury
    Morecombe

    Relegated:
    Scunny
    Barnsley
    Donny

    Yeovil
    Tranmere
    Calisle
    Walsall

    Aldershot
    Barnet

  • Comment number 21.

    Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate was far from popular with a large percentage of his club's supporters last season and, despite working for a very tolerant chairman in Steve Gibson, it is imperative his side starts well.

    ----

    Where has this myth about Gibson's tolerance come from?

    Was it not he who stupidly stated one year that the team would be able to field a team of graduates from the Boro academy before the end of the next season? And then even more stupidly forced the manager to do just that, effectively fielding a reserve team in the final game of the season?

    Is it not he who has forced Southgate to sell/release players like Yakubu, Woodgate, Boateng, Cattermole, Schwarzer and Young to be replaced by Mido, Shawky, Emnes, Digard, Hoyte and a bunch of youngsters who were not good enough in the first place.

  • Comment number 22.

    Don't forget the John Barnes factor!

    One thing that isn't really covered in this blog is that a lot of the Coca Cola games are going to be live on tv! This is excellent news for most people and I would much rather watch Newcastle vs WBA on bbc than spend the £800 a year for a satellite package. I actually think the impact of there being so many 'big' clubs in the second tier could lead to viewing audiences for the less fashionable teams in the EPL going down. If this is the carrot that leads the Premier League to show more games on terrestrial telly (as they realise that more people are watching) then I will be delighted, however I really hope that the Championship grows in popularity as people realise that they can stay home with a supermarket carry out and a home delivery and watch some great football.

    Note: I haven't mentioned the streaming sites that allegedly a lot of people use and allegedly they aren't aware that they are illegal (allegedly).

  • Comment number 23.

    Please, please, please don't get the BBC/tabloid disease of only talking about "the few". Far too often most teams are forgotten. The two or three at the top and the two at the bottom get 99% of the coverage, except when there are managerial sackings, nightclub fights, court appearances, marital infidelity and drug use.

  • Comment number 24.

    As others have indicated, The Championship is impossible to predict. So, my predictions are
    1. Lots of moaning by fans.
    2. Many idiotic statements by managers.
    3. Great games - and rotten ones!
    4. Joy for 3 clubs, misery for 3 clubs.
    5. Totally unbiased coverage by local media.

    Bring it on!!

  • Comment number 25.

    I have a feeling about Bournemouth this year. They did pretty well last season, and have a decent young manager. Could happen.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm surprised that no pedantics have picked up that Fletch described Rotherham as the Robins (obviously as he had just mentioned Mark Robins) when of course they are the Millers or even the Merry Millers.
    I think the Championship is just impossible to predict, so many ifs, buts and maybes - I just hope that my team, Sheff Utd, do well, although I think that is unlikely under Mr Personality Warnock Mark II Blackwell.
    I was so disappointed when he finally decided to stay after teasing us after the Play-off final that we failed to turn up for.

  • Comment number 27.

    Championship winners - Sheffield United
    League 1 - Leeds United
    League 2 - Bradford City

    Outside bets for playoff spots
    Championship - Leicester
    League 1 - Brentford
    League 2 - Aldershot

  • Comment number 28.

    Sadly, this will be the season that at least two clubs will not finish their campaign. The financial problems in the lower tiers continues to be brushed over, and on the days that clubs go out of business, no doubt their demise will be hidden somewhere below the tiresome 'Fabregas breaks fingernail' headlines.

    I believe that success for many League One and Two clubs will be simply still being in place to start the 2010/11 season. Refereeing decisions, player form and even results between now and then are quite trivial in comparison to the continued existence of your club.

    That all said, I fancy Torquay to have a good season now they are run by a level-headed footballing person like Colin Lee than the guy who presided over our relegation in 2007!

  • Comment number 29.

    Wish people would read the article sometimes. Claridge is only writing off Blackpool and Scunthorpe as those who have a chance of going up not going down. Even the Blackpool and Scunthorpe fans have admitted that staying in the Championship and building from last season is the main goal for the season.

    He is saying that everyone else outside of those two teams could potentially go up to the Premiership next season - as is the equal playing field of the Championship.

    I'll go with Ipswich, Sheffield United and maybe Cardiff.

  • Comment number 30.

    i only read the title and the preface. argyle are up

  • Comment number 31.

    It should be a good season for the championship, now that the BBC will give it some decent coverage (unlike ITV's shambolic effort). Unlike the Premier League, the football league seems to be more about football than finance, management more than money. If your team's got a manager who is tactically aware and knows how to manage and motivate a squad, it looks like you're half way there, regardless of what 'big name' signings you made in the summer - just look at Burnley last season. It'll be interesting to see how the likes of Roy Keane, Nigel Clough, Chris Coleman, Nigel Pearson and Gareth Southgate get on - all having been hyped as the 'next generation' of top managers.

  • Comment number 32.

    Middlesbrough fan here

    Got butterflies in my tummy now, i'm really looking forward to this season. It's a fresh start for Gareth and the Lads. Hopefully Promotion is what we are targeting.

    Think the signing of Leroy Lita was a good one, hope we sign another striker like Rob Hulse cause we're likely to lose Alves and Tuncay come the end of the Transfer window.

    Adam Johnson is hopefully gonna take the Championship by storm and Keeping the likes of Wheater, Huth and Gary O'Neil could be good for us.

    Also would like to wish fans from other Championship clubs good luck for this season.

    UTB.

  • Comment number 33.

    Now then - once again, sorry to everyone who supports a club that did not get a specific mention. ddpafc - I did a piece totally focused on the Pilgrims last season and it is my intention to ensure that it is not just the fashionable clubs who are covered on this blog. I really believe that there are plenty of interesting stories at clubs that don't really get many headlines - to my way of thinking they deserve a wider audience.

    hackerjack - Steve Gibson - surely he is a manager who really sticks by the managers he employs? Otherwise Southgate might not be in a job at the moment.

    Sackisax38 - quite correct. I even think you have worked out for me just why I made the mistake I did. Do you know much about finances?

  • Comment number 34.

    Faceman12, I think Steve Claridge is the perfect Expert on league football, having seemingly played for about half the clubs.
    BTW, it was five weeks at Millwall without losing a match.

    famousmarkobfc, had SC really assigned Blackpool to League 1? He just doesn't fancy you to win (and neither do I), but that would not lessen your achievement if you reach mid-table with your resources.


    The lack of consensus backs up Paul Fletcher's point.
    I can't wait - roll on Saturday!

  • Comment number 35.

    No Mention of leicester city? Do not underestimate us, we will be a threat this season if fryatt stays fit :)

  • Comment number 36.

    So long as Derby post a promising finish I'll be happy! Come on Nige!

  • Comment number 37.

    come on preston

  • Comment number 38.

    Delighted someone else has mentioned this. Plymouth Argyle can acheive. Big weaknesses last season almost all over the pitch but particularly defence and upfront.
    However a few shrewd signings (The accountant is still on the board) and new owners and this could be the year Plymouth touch on the playoffs.

  • Comment number 39.

    #26 Sackisax38
    I'm surprised that no 'pedants' picked up that pedantic is the adjective therefore cannot be made into a pluralised noun!

    Good luck to Sheffield United though. What is the latest with Paddy Kenny?

  • Comment number 40.

    Preston North End to go get promotion to the premier league.

  • Comment number 41.

    I really fancy Sheffield Utd to push for automatic promotion this season. They are always up there challenging and have made some good signings over the summer.

    If Chad Evans proves to be a success in the championship i think this will fire them to the premiership.

  • Comment number 42.

    I hope Cardiff get promoted this season or are comfortably mid table. I couldn't take another season falling at the last possible hurdle. Not really sure I could stomach a play-off battle either but with such a tough Championship this season I reckon it'll go to the wire.

  • Comment number 43.

    35. At 2:13pm on 06 Aug 2009, JulesMorton wrote:
    No Mention of leicester city? Do not underestimate us, we will be a threat this season if fryatt stays fit :)
    --------------------------------------------------------

    PLease tell me this is some kind of joke, Fryatt has never looked very good in the championship. Ok he's jhad a good season in league one, but then he had numerous of those at Walsall before he joined you. think you'll bottom of the pile for the big 3 east midland clubs again.

  • Comment number 44.

    Preston to *finally* get promoted somehow, then I don't have to spend a fortune to go and watch Liverpool!

  • Comment number 45.

    by "jhad" I obviously meant just had.

  • Comment number 46.

    I fancy Forest will go down this season...

  • Comment number 47.

    All looks very interesting for the outsider and thats all positive for football. I think Paul Rodgers Reading will win the Championship.
    Elsewhere Southend will be up there in League One, Tilly is one of the best young managers in the country, and I think given the chance at a bigger club would thrive.
    Newcastle are all the talk outside the Premier and I can't see anything but more doom and gloom for the toon. They're in such a mess as the Orient game shows. No stability all uncertain and big name players that don't care. They'd be better playing the lesser known names such as Andy Carroll who have a bit of guts and pride about the club if they are to pick up... time will tell!

  • Comment number 48.

    Once again the MK Dons arnt even mentioned in the league one section!!! We came third in the league last year, ahead of leeds, hudersfield and stockport and yet the we are still disregarded. It is now clear that the BBC has a hate for our club and our fans!

  • Comment number 49.

    45. At 2:57pm on 06 Aug 2009, Albertaforestfan wrote:
    by "jhad" I obviously meant just had.


    I thought you were talking about a possible 39th game in Iran! lol

  • Comment number 50.

    A good start to the season is a must for all championship clubs, just look at us rams last season.

    WBA SheffU and Cardiff look strong, with the Rams hopefully finising inside the top 10.

    Vital to keep Commons fit, perhaps the most talented midfielder in the league?

    League1 - Norwich, MKDons
    League2 - Rotherham

  • Comment number 51.

    Franchise FC weren't mentioned on the grounds that they're evil personified. On the other hand, I'm be taking a keen interest in how AFC Wimbledon do in their first season in the Blue Square Prem.

    As for the Championship, I think Boro will do best of the three relegated teams and seem most likely to go straight up. The Blunts will choke in the play-offs again and I can see th'mighty Owls sneaking into a play-off spot if Tudgay stays fit all season...

  • Comment number 52.

    'Once again the MK Dons arnt even mentioned in the league one section!!! We came third in the league last year, ahead of leeds, hudersfield and stockport and yet the we are still disregarded. It is now clear that the BBC has a hate for our club and our fans!'

    ------

    I don't think coming above Stockport is a particularly stunning achievement!

  • Comment number 53.

    Comment #2

    See you in League 1 next season.

    Yours Faithfully

    Exeter City!

  • Comment number 54.

    11. PoliteDJDave said "On that note, I also find it slightly ridiculous that the football league highlights will directly follow MOTD on Saturday nights - talk about burying/diluting these teams! A far better approach would have been to show the football league highlights at a seperate time at the weekend - how about Sunday lunchtime before the F1?"

    The BBC rights to broadcast run from Saturday night to around 10am the following morning, then online later in the week. So lunchtime is out.

  • Comment number 55.

    Mike Newell's newly formed black & white army for promotion to L1!!

  • Comment number 56.

    Er, that link to Newcastles squad is quite out of date! They don't have half the players!

    I think they will go down though and deservedly so, they offer nothing to the world of football. I feel sorry for there fans.

  • Comment number 57.

    MajorStom, Barnet won't go down. Neither will Aldershot.

    Championship: Middlesborough
    League 1: Leeds
    League 2: Crewe

  • Comment number 58.

    Post 54 - I did not realise the BBC were only allowed to broadcast the football league highlights from Saturday evening until 10am on Sunday morning - seems like a pretty daft rule! Either Sunday lunchtime, Sunday teatime and/or on the BBCi service would have been ideal IMO.

  • Comment number 59.

    i think its great how everyone writes of scunny utd already!! we have a great squad and a terrific support home and away!!! i'd like to think with the squad they have of young, talented and very hungry footballers that they could at least keep their championship status if not reach mid table!! c'mon the IRON!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Just had a £1 accumulator on Liverpool for title, West Brom for Championship, MK Dons for League One and Rotherham for League Two odds of £4387.87

  • Comment number 61.

    'I'd like to see Keane do well as he was building a good thing at sunderland like to see the same at ipswich'
    Sorry Ipswich fans, I quite like your club, but I would like to see Keane fall flat on his face and never return to football.
    I fear Palace will be troubling the wrong end of the table, especially if we are forced to sell Moses and Clyne, and can do no better than Alan Lee up front. But I'll be there to see them prove me wrong - cooooome on you Palaaaace!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    48. At 3:16pm on 06 Aug 2009, the_special_don wrote:

    Once again the MK Dons arnt even mentioned in the league one section!!! We came third in the league last year, ahead of leeds, hudersfield and stockport and yet the we are still disregarded. It is now clear that the BBC has a hate for our club and our fans!
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Not just the BBC... =)

  • Comment number 63.

    With new ownership and management saints can still get to the play offs even with the league giving everyone else a ten point head start...

  • Comment number 64.

    I think Di Matteo will do well. I would back Keane for Back to back promotions.
    As for Newcastle being the story of the season..... Never, get over it. They are dead and buried, they will be playing non league football in 2 years or whatever the minimum it takes to fall that far. Their story was 2 years ago, and what is now is the happy ever after for those who got out. No story, no surprise, they are done and gone.

  • Comment number 65.

    Really looking forward to the 09/10 season. I think you gotta fancy Middlesbrough/West Brom to go back up, but I will reckon Peterborough could be good play-off outsiders. As long as Norwich don't get promoted from League 1, I'll be happy.

  • Comment number 66.

    Don't pass Lincoln City over too lightly, Jacko has built a well balanced team and the loan signing of Rene Howe is the icing on the cake. Have to be looking at top 7 minimum. UP THE IMPS

  • Comment number 67.

    46. At 3:00pm on 06 Aug 2009, 1982Blue wrote:
    I fancy Forest will go down this season...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    are you mad??? im not saying forest are going to win the league, but we have made some cracking signings and can't see us being anyway near the bottom of the league.

    think it's going to be a great season and cant wait for it all to start. good luck to all (well almost all...lol)

  • Comment number 68.

    Di Matteo do well?. What did he do last season?, got MK Dons into the playoffs, then they were beaten by the mighty iron!. Can't understand why they West Brom went for him, nobody mentions Nigel Adkins for top jobs. The bloke has had 2 promotions in 3 seasons and had us at Wembley. He has brought the likes of Gary Hooper, Martyn Woolford and David Mirfin into the squad and turned them into hot property. The bloke is a genius, and i for one thank my lucky stars that Brian Flaws went to Sheffield Wednesday, because if he was still here we would be looking forward to playing small clubs like Macclesfield and Grimsby next season.

  • Comment number 69.

    #33. Surely Steve Gibson is a chairman, although if you were talking about the chairman of QPR, then it might not be a mistake.
    Funnily enough I do work in finance, don't they say you're supposed to bring problems with a solution. I charge very reasonable rates for proof-reading....
    #39. Touche! I believe Kenny is awaiting a hearing - whatever, I'm more concerned about who's playing up front as Evans isn't match fit, Henderson is injured (which is not something I relish!) and Ward is suspended.

  • Comment number 70.

    MajorStom wrote:
    There is only one definate in League football this year...

    Tranmere are going to struggle! Barnes is not a good manager.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    How do you know Barnes isnt a good manager ?...What because he had a bad spell at Celtic 10 years ago ?...

    Every manager has had a bad spell at a club at some point in their career.
    Stop being so naive...Barnes has made some good signings and could surprise a few people..i look forward to you eating your words come may.

  • Comment number 71.

    I can see Newcastle really struggling this season - they are selling some of their best players. I think they may be under estimating the quality in the Championship.

    Prem: 1)Chelsea 2)Man U
    Champ: 1)WBA 2)Sheff U 3)QPR
    1: Leeds, Brentford, Saints
    2: I don't really fancy any of them to be honest.

  • Comment number 72.

    Hilarious - Theodore Biscuit thinks there is a plan at Newcastle.

    No one at Newcastle is under-estimating the Championship - Mike Ashley just doesn't care and is trying to recoup money from anywhere he can.

    And for anyone calling Newcastle fans delusional I've got news for you - Santa Claus isn't real!

  • Comment number 73.

    Newcastle fan here.

    I think this is going to be the most entertaining championship season in years..

    My predictions for the championship are :

    1. WBA
    2.BORO
    PLAYOFF WINNER. SHEFF UTD

    not going to happen for us this year i think, not with this current mess.

    i think we may get up next season if we are bought of course...

    Hope im completly wrong and through some miracle we get up this year but im just a day dreamer.

  • Comment number 74.

    I can see Newcastle really struggling this season - they are selling some of their best players. I think they may be under estimating the quality in the Championship.

    -----

    Its not like we really have a choice in the end.. half of them don't want to stay so what can we do, Ashley wants money and probably couldnt care more a less anymore, he shot himself in the foot buying us so yeah..

    Im still as exited for the start of this season though..

  • Comment number 75.

    Sackisax38 (Comment 69). I'll very much give you that one, though I often deliberately write manager when I mean chairman just to keep people on their toes. The rather boring truth of the matter is that I foolishy pressed the post comment button before when I meant to hit preview. Doh.

    Interesting that MK Dons fans in particular seem very upset that their club has not been mentioned. Very much a case of "calm down, calm down" as I'm looking to do a piece on the club in the next month or so.

    Looking at all the different predictions is always fascinating. I'd love to know why some of you have tipped the clubs that you have. A couple of you, for instance, have gone for Brentford as possible promotion candidates in League One - any particular reason why?

  • Comment number 76.

    #73. It's nice of you to back us to win the Play-Offs but the last time Sheff Utd won a big match was the 1925 FA Cup Final....
    ... and yes I remember us beating Leicester 5-2 in 1989.
    I predict that Newcastle will start badly but come good later in the season and possibly clinch 6th place.
    Good luck to all the Football League teams, but especially the Millers, Tykes, Donny Rovers, Spireites... and even the Owls. I thought Purse was a great signing.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think and hope the newly enriched Southampton come good, even if they resort to spending (relatively) big in January with their new found wealth.

    They were my local Premiership team once upon a time, it will be good to see them back on the BBC [even if it will be a few years before it will be MOTD!].

    And good luck to the Boro, not many managers get proper backing after relegation from the Prem, so I hope they do well.

  • Comment number 78.

    75. You've also now spelt foolishly - foolishy. I'm going to leave it now, I promise.
    Does anyone else think that there have been some strange manager appointments in the Football Leagues?
    Di Matteo at West Brom - who has lots of experience at...
    Paulo Sousa at Swansea - whose knowledge of the English game is...
    John Barnes at Tranmere - great player but what does he know about League 1 football?
    Brendan Rogers at Reading - who? (ok he managed Watford for 5 mins)
    Briatore at QPR - why would Jim Magilton, an experienced an respected professional, want to "manage" them?

  • Comment number 79.

    ... and now I've foolishly missed a "d" from "and".... I'll get me coat.

  • Comment number 80.

    boro will win it and reading second, newcastle wins an emotional play off.

    http://wedontknowfootball.com/

  • Comment number 81.

    brighton and hove albion.....

    iv got a good feeling for us this year.people forget the form we had towards the end of the season.yer,we were fighting,but you've still got to have the quality.we've added to that without doubt!dickinson to fire us to glory!

    looking forward to trips to the ex-prem teams in our league though its gota be said!

  • Comment number 82.

    Looking at all the different predictions is always fascinating. I'd love to know why some of you have tipped the clubs that you have. A couple of you, for instance, have gone for Brentford as possible promotion candidates in League One - any particular reason why?

    MAYBE BECAUSE WE ARE THE BEST!
    and we were champions of league two last season so im asking WHY NOT!?. We've got a brilliant manager in Andy Scott, maybe a takeover on the cards and from what I've seen in pre season some good quality players.

    Im more surprised at why we HAVENT been mentioned.

    Looking forward to the start of the season and seeing what will happen 'cos with football you never know what's going to happen.

  • Comment number 83.

    obviously a rams fan!
    I think if we hold on to nigel clough and he gets 'stability' in the team, we could be one of the great teams again... back to where we should be.
    Need to keep players fit though as we lost a lot at the end of last season, but still beat Forest!
    Not essential to get promoted this season as we need to become stable.. but in a couple of years i think we could do it!
    Up the rams!

  • Comment number 84.

    I believe that this will be the winners and movers of the coca cola leagues

    Championship

    WBA
    Sheffield United
    Ipswich Town

    League One

    Leeds Utd
    Huddersfield Town
    Norwich City

    League Two

    Chesterfield FC
    Rotherham FC
    Notts County
    Crewe Alex

    As long as Chesterfield hang onto a fit Jack Lester we have the best striker in that league and with Ian Breckin returning, we have the best defence. Even the return of Mark Allot makes the midfield one with plenty of steel and we should at least turn Saltergate into a fortress. I would love our neighbours Rotherham FC to join us because its always a welcome fixture and having achieved what they did last season, theres no reason why they cannot join us too.

    Notts County should be thereabouts too with the quality that they have absorbed into their side. Eriksson might be contraversial but he has the experience to make things happen and I feel that they will further strengthen the side. Crewe Alex also appeal to me because they seem to be a curiousity in English football in that they always have a great youth policy and I feel that is their best ticket to moving on up. They are always seen as a small club but they have a big heart too.

  • Comment number 85.

    As a fellow Brighton fan said earlier watch the mighty Seagulls soar. We are on the way back up. Building has started on the team and the ground. Consolidation, play offs possibly this season and back up in the Championship ready for the new ground to be opened. The Premiership here we come.

  • Comment number 86.

    championship
    1st WBA
    2ND IPSWICH T
    PLAY-OFF WINNERS QPR

    LEAGUE ONE
    1ST NORWICH C
    2ND MILLWALL
    PLAYOFF WINNERS HUDDERSFILED

    LEAGUE TWO

    1ST NORTHAMPTON
    2ND CREWE
    3RD ROTHERHAM
    PLAYOFF WINNERS NOTTS.CO

    BLUE SQUIRE
    1ST LUTON
    PLAY OFF WINNERS AFC WIMBLEDON



    GOING DOWN

    CHAMPIONSHIP

    C.PLACE
    BLACKPOOL
    NEWCASTLE
    LEAGUE ONE

    BRENTFORD
    STOCKPORT
    WYCOMBE
    CARLISE

    LEAGUE TWO

    GRIMSBY
    MORECAMBE

  • Comment number 87.

    Magpie fan here, the original lot

    With a creative LW like we had last season *sob* we could tear league 2 to shreds this year. The only thing that kept us from going down last year was the defence, which has since been strengthened, and we have 3 20 goals a season strikers. Add the creativity of Ben Davies, the steel of Ricky Ravenhill and the tenacity of Matt Hamshaw and we're 3/4 of the way to a balanced, problem-causing midfield.

    Don't count out Brentford as an outside shot for the league 1 playoffs, they have strenthened well and were a very good team last year. Myles Weston is one of the best yound talents in the league and i wish him well - even if he should have stayed till the Swedish bandwagon rolled in.

  • Comment number 88.

    As a QPR fan i think any chance of success ultimately hinges on our ability to retain a manager for longer than one season. If Magilton can keep his job this season then i quite fancy us next year... for the time being i'll settle for a finish in the top half.

    I think Newcastle really need to get a few points behind them early in the season if they're to ever be purchased. The asking price is massive compared to what other teams have been bought out for (don't know our amount but i know it was measly) and if they don't show any promise of returning to the premier league then no investor in their right mind will want make such a huge outlay for a guaranteed loss. Could be a massacre on the cards i think.

    Sheffield Utd will finish top with Boro and West Brom fighting it out for the other automatic place. Someone mentioned if Ched Evans can prove himself at championship level then they fancy the blades chances... he did that at norwich the other season... no point to prove as far as i'm concerned.

    Leeds to finally clinch promotion from Div 1 and Crewe to take out Div 2 honours.

  • Comment number 89.

    collie21 “I think Di Matteo will do well. I would back Keane for Back to back promotions.”
    Back to back promotions for Roy Keane? Promoted from the Championship to the Premieryawn, and then promoted again to…………? Unless you think Ips**** are a League one team, if only.

  • Comment number 90.

    Something that puzzles me, why are AFC Wimbledon placed alphabetically first in the BSP? AFC Bournemouth are placed under "B" in League 2?

  • Comment number 91.

    Premier League
    1. Liverpool
    2. Man U
    3. Chelsea
    4. Arsenal
    18.Portsmouth
    19.Burnley
    20.Hull

    Championship
    1.WBA
    2.Newcastle
    3.Sheffield Utd
    22.Plymouth
    23.Crystal.p.
    24.Peterborough

    League 1
    1.Charlton
    2.Norwich
    3.Leeds
    21.Carslisle
    22.Hartlepool
    23.Exeter
    24.Brighton

    League 2
    1.Rotherham
    2.Lincoln
    3.Rochdale
    4.Crewe
    23.Macclesfield
    24.Aldershot

  • Comment number 92.

    Prem
    1.Liverpool
    2.Man u
    3.Chelsea
    4.Arsenal
    18.Portsmouth
    19.Burnley
    20.Hull
    Championship
    1.WBA
    2.Newcastle
    3.Sheffield Utd
    22.Blackpool
    23.Peterborough
    24.Plymouth
    League1
    1.Leeds
    2.Charlton
    3.Norwich
    21.Brighton
    22.Carslisle
    23.Exeter
    24.Hartlepool
    League2
    1.Rotherham
    2.Lincoln
    3.Bury
    4.Rochdale
    23.Macclesfield
    24.Aldershot
    Confrence
    1.Luton
    2.Cambridge

  • Comment number 93.

    Southend haven't signed many people during the summer, Southend will be the "dark horse" of league 1. Tilson always gets the best out of what is usually a small squad and will be once again, nobody mentions Southend, once we're into the season they will be

  • Comment number 94.

    22. At 1:49pm on 06 Aug 2009, Gerrardswhiskers wrote:
    Don't forget the John Barnes factor!

    One thing that isn't really covered in this blog is that a lot of the Coca Cola games are going to be live on tv! This is excellent news for most people and I would much rather watch Newcastle vs WBA on bbc than spend the £800 a year for a satellite package. I actually think the impact of there being so many 'big' clubs in the second tier could lead to viewing audiences for the less fashionable teams in the EPL going down. If this is the carrot that leads the Premier League to show more games on terrestrial telly (as they realise that more people are watching) then I will be delighted, however I really hope that the Championship grows in popularity as people realise that they can stay home with a supermarket carry out and a home delivery and watch some great football.

    Note: I haven't mentioned the streaming sites that allegedly a lot of people use and allegedly they aren't aware that they are illegal (allegedly).
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    pls tell me one or two of this sites........plsssssssssssssssssssss

  • Comment number 95.

    It's nice to see that Donny Rovers are favorites to be relegated again, every time we are we get promotion!

  • Comment number 96.

    Tagshrimpers, so nobody mentions Southend eh? What about FourFourTwo magazine, which predicts a 2nd place finish for your team!

    Although personally, I don't set much store by their predictions... but I would say that, given the pathetic 15th place they have my team in! Even as a Norwich fan now, thanks to recent years, accustomed to abject performances and continued underachievement, I can't see us being that bad, and reckon we will be in the play-offs at the very least. Gunn has completed a grass-roots overhaul of the playing staff and the way club does things.

    OUT: whinging wannabe Prem ''future star'' loanees who aren't worth a penny, and won't fight; OUT go uncommitted want-away players looking for their next pay-cheque rather than to win (Clingan, Croft, Marshall, Pattison, and soon, Russell.

    IN: virtually a whole new first eleven, players with lower league experience who know what it takes to compete at this level (Nelson, Gill, Holt); IN young talent who are ready to step up now or in the next season or so (Rudd, Martin, Spillane, Adeyemi, Smith etc..), IN - players on permanent contracts, who will learn to appreciate the unique challenges and privileges that come with pulling on the yellow and green jersey (the passion of the fans and their expectations, the joys of living in Norfolk), instead of looking to get back to Chelsea reserves asap, and thus looking on the club and the city as a quaint ''footballing backwater.''

    Head says we will be in the play-offs, heart says we will win the division - optimistic yes, but however it turns out for once I am at least looking forward to this season.

  • Comment number 97.

    You heard it here first! Arsenal to finish outside top 4!
    Premiership:
    1. Chelsea
    2. Man Utd
    3. Man City
    4. Liverpool

    18.Birmingham/Portsmouth/Wigan
    19.Wolves
    20.Burnley

    Championship
    1. West Brom
    2. Reading
    3. Middlesborough/PNE/Newcastle

  • Comment number 98.

    The reason MK Dons havent been spoke about is because they are a club with no history who had to steal a club to exist.Fake town and a fake club.I have only been to milton keynes once and i can truly say it was a horrible place full of people who think they are a "cut above" the rest because they are a "new town".I hope they win nothing.

  • Comment number 99.

    #91

    League 1
    1.Charlton
    2.Norwich
    3.Leeds
    21.Carslisle
    22.Hartlepool
    23.Exeter
    24.Brighton

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    us in 24th?thats very doubtful

  • Comment number 100.

    Looking forward for the new season. Good thing about football for me is that teams get promoted through quality of players, how good the manager is and how the team work as a unit. Not because of the name alone which makes football what it is.

    As Preston have been in the Championships for longer than any other team in that division hopefully this is their year to get one of the top two spots and make it to the big time. Here's hoping.

 

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