Friday, August 19, 2011

Npower League One Season Preview : Play Off Final 2010 2011 Huddersfield Town Peterborough United

29 May 2011
Old Trafford,
Manchester


From an excitement point of view, the best games in the Football League last season were in League One - and it could be the case again. The reason? Teams endeavour to play attractive, attacking football, borne out of a desire to reach the Championship, with the riches and bigger sides that league brings. That's not to say that League One doesn't have a sprinkling of big guns itself. Indeed, it seems par for the course these days that a couple of big teams will fall through the trapdoor into the third tier. Sheffield United and Preston North End are the latest victims and both will be favourites for an immediate return. But sometimes it's not that black and white; while they boast the strongest squads, much will depend on how their mental state is. Sometimes the hangover of relegation season in League One is a disappointment, it can be a long road back. Just ask Leeds United and Nottingham Forest. Players from these clubs also have to realise that there will be no easy rides at this level. They are in League One for a reason and if they don't approach visits to the likes of Stevenage and Exeter in the right frame of mind, they will come unstuck very quickly.

However, if they get it right then it's hard to look beyond those two sides - and Huddersfield - for promotion. Preston, despite going down, improved massively under Phil Brown and ended last season strongly. The Blades, meanwhile, also have a quality set of players at their disposal and I just hope their fans get behind Danny Wilson (right), despite his Wednesday history. As a former team-mate of mine at Forest, he is a lop lad ond a very knowledgeable football man. Both Preston and Sheffield United will also be backed by two sets of vociferous fans. Given their tremendous run in the second half of last season, I'm sure Huddersfield will come back more determined than ever. They had a fantastic campaign, and in Lee Clark and Terry McDermott. they have a superb management structure. Both know how to cajole players: they're not shouters, they're thinkers, ond they've played at the highest level, so despite their disappointment in losing the play-off final they will not be pressing the panic button. In fact, I think they will come back even stronger this year.

The other relegated side - Scunthorpe -do not boast the same level of crowd support or financial backing as the forementioned clubs, but I think it would be foolhardy not to count them as contenders as well. They are know how to get out of it. Yes, they've had a change in manager, but the bulk of their squad has remained intact and Glanford Park will be a tough place to visit. Just as intriguing as the promotion battle will be watching how the promoted sides fare. Bury have been pushing for promotion for the lost few years, so will relish the chance to play in League One at last, while Chesterfield - in their new stadium - will hope to consolidate and build their club both on and off the pitch. The Spireites' first target will be to maintain their League One status. But if they can get off to a flier like they did last year, then there's no reason why they can't push for the play-offs.

Stevenage are another side that will be worth keeping an eye on. Little over a year ago they were playing the likes of Forest Green Rovers and now they'll be visiting Hillsborough ond Bramall Lane. They might be one of the favourites to go down but after what they've achieved with back-to-back promotions, there's no reason why League One should be o step too far for them. Winning consecutive promotions to the second tier with Grimsby can happen. If you've got the right players and the right mentality, then you've got a chance - and Graham Westley has that at Stevenage. It's about getting the dressing room right more than anything at this level. If it's strong, with good characters, and you bring in players with hunger ond desire rather than signing players looking for one last payday, you're on to o winner. Westley has that approach so I wouldn't discount them at all. They could be a dark horse. As an outside bet, Leyton Orient could surprise people again. Last season they just missed out on the play-offs following a good run after Christmas - while also taking Arsenal to a replay in the FA Cup - and I see no reason why they can't maintain that level. In Russell Slade, they have a great guy in charge the best out of his players. Man-management is just as important as being a big-name boss these days. Players have egos now and often need them massaged. You can't go around bullying as you once could; you've got to mellow and adapt to the era. That's why I'm fascinated to see how Martin Allen does at Notts County. In the past he was known for jumping in cold rivers, setting an example for his troops, but It's not sure that approach works anymore. His tenacity and passion will bring something to the club but if he tries to dive into the Trent, forget it. There was only one man who could cross that famous river - Brian Clough - and he used to walk on it!

One club that has brought in a big-name gaffer is Brentford. It will be fascinating to see how Uwe Rosier management rubs off on the club. Like Paolo DiCanio Swindon in League Two, it will be an important to get off to a good start. As far as the relegation bottle is concerned, I think it will be the sides restricted financially who will struggle - the likes of Walsall, Tranmere, Exeter and Yeovil. This isn't because they are less gifted, but because they don't have the resources to compete. Decent players will be sold and injuries will mean youngsters will have to be drafted in. It can be o long winter. Yet last year, only Brighton ran away with things and even o small club like Dagenham & Redbridge only went down on the final day of the season. That will give every so-called 'small team' hope. It wil be another fantastic season..."


Codec H 264, Mkv
Bitrate 1200
Sound 128 Kbps
English Comments
Full Game with extras
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