With magazines, newspapers, sports channels, social media pages and pundits predicting final league standings for 2015-16 before the campaign started, RainhamEndViews decided to be a little different.
We have waited until a couple of games have been played before having our own stab at who will be experiencing the glory of promotion or the devastation of relegation from League One come May 2016, giving more detail to the top six and the bottom four, but not neglecting any side in between.
Whether seeing the opening battles of the campaign helps at all remains to be seen, but it has been good fun trying.
Champions – Sheffield United: Quite simply, they have been stuck in the third tier for too long, and in manager Nigel Adkins they have a gaffer who knows how to get promoted. That coupled with a squad that is strong in all areas – plus a division that does not look as strong as last season – means a return to the Championship should be imminent.
Che Adams could help fire the Blades to league glory.
Runners Up – Barnsley: Looking a completely different side after Lee Johnson took over, they put themselves right into the 2014-15 Play-Off mix before fading late on and finishing 11th. With a full season, and more importantly a pre-season, under the 34 year old’s guidance, they can push on again. If they stay clear of too many injuries they may have enough to go up automatically.
3rd – Wigan Athletic: Relegation from the Championship so soon after FA Cup glory was somewhat of a surprise, and it may take them some time to find their feet back at this level. Chairman David Sharpe is putting a lot of pressure on rookie gaffer Gary Caldwell – stating he wants to ‘smash the league’ and reach 100 points – but once the new signings gel, they will be a threat and will be there or thereabouts come the business end of the season.
4th – Bradford: Due to a clever marketing ploy over the summer, Valley Parade will be bouncing all season with something approaching 20,000 season tickets sold. It will be interesting how the faithful react if things aren’t going their sides way, but boss Phil Parkinson is very adept at this level, and without the distraction of a lengthy cup run (which has happened in recent seasons) they should be right in the mix.
5th – Gillingham: With a more open division than last term, there is perhaps space for a so called smaller team to gatecrash any promotion parties, and the boys from Kent certainly love playing up to their ‘little old Gillingham’ tag. Since Justin Edinburgh arrived in February, the Gills have taken points off teams such as Sheffield United, MK Dons, Swindon, Bristol City and Preston. Three of those sides ended up promoted in 2014-15, and two reached the Play-Offs, so if Edinburgh can coax his young charges through any tricky periods, and keep up a record that has seen only four league defeats in 20 games, this could be a memorable season for Kent’s only league side.
Can Justin Edinburgh and his boys in blue gatecrash the Play-Offs?
6th – Coventry City: In coach Tony Mowbray, the Sky Blues certainly have a boss who is probably operating at a level lower than he is capable of. He successfully did what he was tasked to do in 2014-15, keeping his side in the third tier, so now he will want to kick on and progress. The early signs are promising, and if they can keep Adam Armstrong fit and firing – and also extend his loan beyond January – Mowbray’s know how could see them just sneak into the top six.
7th – Scunthorpe United: Gaffer Mark Robins plus Paddy Madden’s goals could be big factors in the Irons whole campaign.
8th – Doncaster Rovers: Andy Williams should bring goals and a top half finish, but boss Paul Dickov has a tendency to struggle when expectations rise.
9th – Swindon Town: A squad rebuilding following the departures of Ben Gladwin, Massimo Luongo, Andy Williams and Wes Foderingham.
10th – Burton Albion: Already tough to beat, the momentum of promotion will lead to a top ten finish.
Jimmy Flloyd-Hasselbaink’s Burton will build on last term’s promotion.
11th – Walsall: Tom Bradshaw will be key, and if he matches last seasons 20 goals the Saddlers will be fine.
12th – Bury: Strikers Tom Pope and Leon Clarke are two shrewd additions, and their goals should ensure mid table safety.
13th – Port Vale: Robert Page did a decent job last term, and if the Valiants replicate the form of his first 27 games (they gained 43 points) they should remain safe.
14th – Chesterfield: Weaker than last term having lost their manager and key players, a season of consolidation is on the cards.
15th – Peterborough United: Dave Robertson has done alright since taking over, but whether he can sustain it over a full season in charge only time will tell. No real danger, but no real threat.
16th – Fleetwood Town: The Cod Army will always give sides a game, but the question is do they have enough star quality to achieve anything more? Time will ultimately tell.
Graham Alexander will guide Fleetwood to another solid enough season.
17th – Rochdale: Last term’s 8th place finish was definitely a case of over achievement for the Dale, and they may find it tough to replicate such success this time around. Lower mid table beckons.
18th – Millwall: You cannot fault new gaffer Neil Harris for his enthusiasm, but whether he has the resources and the know how to build a successful team is a big question mark. Won’t go down, but it may not be great fun at the New Den.
19th – Southend: After the euphoria of their Wembley triumph in May, it is a big blow losing top scorer Barry Corr to League Two Cambridge United. How any replacements fare in front of goal may have a big bearing on where they end up.
20th – Colchester United: On paper the U’s have some very talented youngsters, but the trouble they have is they always seem to struggle on the pitch. Expect another tough campaign ending in safety, but only just.
21st – Oldham Athletic: In the last six seasons Oldham have finished between 15th and 19th and haven’t achieved a points tally higher than 57. They have struggled since losing Lee Johnson to Barnsley in the winter, and in new gaffer Darren Kelly they are taking a huge risk. Their luck may finally run out.
22nd – Shrewsbury Town: Micky Mellon is a boss who knows the lower leagues inside out, gaining three promotions in six years. However, on the flip side they have struggled at this level, mustering a highest total of just 55 points in their last six attempts. Mellon’s ambition is to be admired, but a one season stay in League One is on the cards.
23rd – Crewe Alexandra: For the last two campaigns ‘Alex have saved themselves on the final day of the season. Last year they relied heavily on their loanees, and with that by no means being a guarantee again this term, law of averages says that this term will see them slip through the trap door into League Two.
Nicky Ajose was one loan ranger who helped keep Crewe up in 2014-15. They wont be so lucky again.
24th – Blackpool: You have to feel sorry for the fans of a club who were top of the Premier League as recently as August 2010. Two words will forever haunts the dreams the Tangerines supporters – Karl Oyston. Sadly, until he leaves the club, it is heading in only one direction. A consecutive relegation beckons.
It will be interesting to hear your thoughts on who will finish where in League One this term, so perhaps send us your top six and bottom four with the hashtag #REVL1Predictions.
As always, we will endeavour to retweet as many as possible.
UP THE GILLS!!