Wednesday, 8 August 2018

League 1 Discussion 1: Accrington, AFC Wimbledon, Barnsley, Blackpool

What a brilliant 2018 it has been for Accrington Stanley. Accrington excelled all expectations and secured a place in the third tier of English football for the first time in their history. John Coleman lives and breathes Accrington and he has done a wonderful job at the club and he would love nothing more than to keep Accrington in League 1. Accrington have been a wonderful watch and I’m sure John Coleman will want to continue that style in League 1. They will hope to ruffle a few feathers and survive for a second season in League 1. Instrumental players like Billy Kee, Kayden Jackson, Mark Hughes and Sean McConville will be relishing the challenge League 1 possess and they will be vital to Accrington’s survival charge. John Coleman will be looking for further additions to his squad to give them a fighting chance, but he will believe in the players at his disposal. The Accrington Stanley fans have every right to be excited and why shouldn’t they be, the club will be fighting to the bitter end in the fight for survival and should they succeed, this would certainly be deemed as a magnificent season for the club. The fans will back their club all the way even if the season ends in disappointment but with the belief of John Coleman and determination of the players Accrington could well believe a second season in League 1 is a real possibility.
I think Accrington will fight all the way in the scrap for the survival. However, I think they will just come up short but I’m sure they will be every football fans’ second club this season.

My Predicted Finish: 21st

AFC Wimbledon
AFC Wimbledon have been a consistently solid since their promotion to League 1 in 2016. Neal Ardley has done a brilliant job at the club and improvement has been key to their progress as a football club each season. While they aren’t setting the world alight, Ardley’s men get results and do cause a few surprises along the way. Wimbledon will be determined to keep improving and with a new stadium on the horizon, it is an exciting time to be a Wimbledon fan. However, surviving in League 1 will be vital to the success the club wants in the future. Wimbledon have good, solid footballers at this level including Kwesi Appiah, Andy Barcham, Liam Trotter and Deji Oshilaja. These players have all played important roles in Wimbledon’s recent seasons and again they will continue to be important players for Neal Ardley. However, the loss of Lyle Taylor is a blow for the club and they are going to need to find a consistent goal scorer in the new season. The club will have hopes Kwesi Appiah, Joe Pigott and new signing James Hanson can replace Taylor’s influence on the side going into the new season. Furthermore, Ardley has complete transformed Wimbledon’s defence with the likes of Darius Charles, Barry Fuller and Jonathan Meades leaving the club albeit the latter was forced to retire through injury. Ardley must get Wimbledon’s new look defence to gel quickly to give them any chance of having a successful season. The Wimbledon fans will be confident the club will avoid a relegation battle and mid-table will be their aim this season and anything better represents excellent progress and a brilliant season.
I think Wimbledon will survive relegation, but I do think they will be in the scrap for survival with transitions across their whole team with a new look defence needing to gel quickly and goals will be hard to come by unless someone steps up and fires them to a higher finish.

My Predicted Finish: 20th

It was a very disappointing season for Barnsley following their relegation from the Championship. Paul Heckingbottom’s departure for Leeds hit them hard and the strange appointment of unknown Portuguese Jose Morais almost give a sense of inevitability that Barnsley would be plying their trade in the third tier. Barnsley must respond following a disappointing relegation and new manager Daniel Stendel must hit the ground running immediately to give Barnsley any chance of bouncing back straight away. The unknown German Stendel has only had one previous job and he only won 3 of his 15 games in charge and this will be a cause for concern for the Barnsley fans with the club taking a huge risk regarding their battle for promotion. Barnsley have lost many players following their relegation with majority of Barnsley’s squad being loans from other clubs and the pressure will be on for Stendel to strengthen that depleted Barnsley squad. However, at this level, Barnsley have quality players including Tom Bradshaw, Brad Potts, George Moncur and Alex Mowatt and these players will be important for Barnsley if they are going to bounce back immediately. Bradshaw will be crucial on the goal scoring front with Moncur and Potts providing the creativity in midfield and at this level they will flourish. Stendel has flexed his muscle in the transfer window by signing midfielder Kenneth Dougall who will add steel to Barnsley’s midfield with Stendel determined to play a high pressing style game. The Barnsley fans will expect nothing but promotion and anything other than this will be a failed season for the Tykes. The pressure is on Stendel and he will have to make a good start if the club are going to achieve promotion.
I think Barnsley are a side in transition and I’m sure the club will hope Stendel is the man and only time will tell as to whether he is or isn’t the right man. I think Barnsley will miss out on promotion and indeed the play-offs because I feel there is squad issues that need addressing and I think they will end up in mid-table.

My Predicted Finish: 12th

It seemed like everything was going well at Blackpool for once and then completely out of nowhere Gary Bowyer resigns after re-building an entirely new squad. Blackpool fans will be majorly concerned as to where their club will end up as well as the fact that deeply hated owners the Oysten family remain in charge of the club. Blackpool had an excellent first season back in League 1 last time out finishing in mid-table on a small budget and did show signs they are pushing for more than mid-table. However, with the shock resignation of Gary Bowyer, it is hard to pinpoint the direction of the football club. The fans will need to keep the confidence in players at the club from the previous season including Jimmy Ryan, Jay Spearing and Mark Cullen. However, before the departure of Bowyer, he had built a new look Blackpool side with virtually a new defence and few other acquisitions across all areas of the pitch. Blackpool have signed players with points to prove all for different reasons including Michael Nottingham, Ben Heneghan, Marc Bola, Joe Dodoo and Joe Bunney. There is good talent in that Blackpool squad but with some many changes with the playing staff and now management changes, this could be tough season for the club and the continued rift between fans and owners only adds fuel to the fire. The Blackpool fans will be majorly worried as to what direction their season is going and based on this evidence it isn’t hard to see why.
I thought this would be a long season for Blackpool even before Bowyer’s departure and now with the manager gone, I really do fear for them and their fans deserve so much better and respect for the support they have shown even with the difficulties with the owners.

My Predicted Finish: 23rd

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