Sunday, 12 August 2018

League 1 Discussion 3: Coventry, Doncaster, Fleetwood, Gillingham

It seems like a very long time since Coventry City was able to celebrate but after the despair of relegation, there was real elation at Wembley when they secured an immediate return to League 1 and now they will hope to push on this campaign and at least consolidate themselves back in the league. The Coventry fans will be confident of survival this season and they will feel a top-half finish isn’t out of their reach. As well the sky blues boss Mark Robins who has done a wonderful job during his second spell at the club despite difficult times including relegation and the ongoing situation regarding where Coventry will play their homes games in addition, to the strained relations between the fans and the owners. Despite all the difficulties, Robins has made a team for the Coventry fans to be proud of and there is real buzz amongst the fans for the season ahead. There is a really good blend of young players and experience in that Coventry squad. Experienced campaigners in Michael Doyle and Liam Kelly the beating heart of midfield with young talents like Jordan Shipley, Tom Bayliss and Jordan Ponticelli in the team alongside them. All played a big role in their promotion and Robins has plenty of faith in those players but has flexed his transfer muscle in the window bringing in 11 new faces during the transfer window bringing experienced League 1 campaigners like Junior Brown, Jordi Hiwula and Abu Ogogo as well as young talents like Zaine Westbrooke and Amadou Bakayoko and players from non-league like Morgan Williams and Reise Allasani. Mark Robins has signed players from all different backgrounds and he will be confident in the squad at his disposal. Both the fans and Robins will feel consolidation this season will allow them to push for the play-offs next season. A consolidation season allows the club to build on that and push for the dream to return to the Championship.
I think Coventry will be comfortably safe this season and should finish in mid-table and will certainly upset a few sides this season and with a huge fanbase in League 1, the Ricoh Arena will be a difficult place to go for teams this season and home form will be vital for Coventry.

My Predicted Finish: 16th

It has been a strange summer at Doncaster following the surprise resignation of Darren Ferguson. Doncaster had a comfortable season in League 1 and it certainly was a surprise to see Ferguson leave the club. However, both he and the club move forward and Doncaster have a new man at the helm in former Peterborough boss Grant McCann. McCann had a decent spell in charge of Posh and it was a surprise to see him sacked and now he will be determined to prove himself at Doncaster this time around. Doncaster have decent players and they will be hoping to make an outside push for the play-offs but realistically, a top-half finish or mid-table finish would represent a good season for Doncaster and I’m sure the fans would agree. The club will be confident of avoiding the relegation battle because there is enough talent in this squad including the likes of Tommy Rowe, James Coppinger, Matty Blair and John Marquis. The latter has been a brilliant signing for Doncaster having scored 42 goals in 100 games at the club and that is an excellent return. He will be vital to any success the club has this season. Furthermore, the addition of Mallik Wilks on loan from Leeds could also be an excellent addition. The striker has been out on loan at Accrington and Grimsby so far in his short career and he scored a decent amount of goals, so he could certainly be one to watch. Doncaster will want to push on from last season and a top half-finish will be their aim this campaign.
I think Doncaster will be comfortable in terms of survival and their aim will be to push on and mid-table finish is certainly not out of their reach this campaign, but top-half might be a stretch for them.

My Predicted Finish: 18th

It was a solid season in the end for Fleetwood despite struggling for large parts of the campaign and under John Sheridan secured a comfortable finish in mid-table. However, with him deciding to leave and eventually taking the Carlisle job, Fleetwood have turned to a novice in Joey Barton to take his first steps into management. Having played for the likes of Newcastle, Manchester City, Burnley and even Marseille, Barton has learned from different managers and he will be confident of becoming a successful manager and I’m sure the Fleetwood fans are expecting big things this season. Barton is well known for a fiery personality and being vocal for his opinions and he will certainly bring these traits into management. Fleetwood will be hoping Barton is the man to lead them into Championship in the next few seasons and Barton will want to build a team capable of challenging the top 6. Barton already has talent at his disposal with the likes of Ashley Hunter, Bobby Grant, Kyle Dempsey and Conor McAleny and these players will be hoping to play an important role for Barton as he plots at least at top-half finish if not more this season. However, he has brought in new faces to freshen up the squad but has allowed players like Nathan Pond and Chris Neal depart the club so lots of experience has left the club this summer. However, Barton has recruited former teammate Dean Marney to play in his midfield and he could be a real coup at this level for Fleetwood should he stay free from injury. The Fleetwood fans are expecting big things this season and Barton must deliver at least a top-half finish and push on from there and maybe challenge the top 6. Barton will certainly want success in his first season as a football manager.
I think Fleetwood will be pushing for a top-half finish this season, but they could potentially be the dark horses for a play-off spot. However, I feel Fleetwood are a mid-table team.

My Predicted Finish: 13th

It was another solid season for Gillingham despite twice changing managers when Ady Pennock was sacked and then Peter Taylor stepped down from his spell in charge. However, full credit must go to Steve Lovell who stabilised Gillingham and secured their place in League 1 comfortably. However, despite guiding them to safety, Gillingham had prolonged dry spells in terms of winning games and scoring goals and this could come back to haunt them this season. Despite having a consistent goal scorer in Tom Eaves, it felt as though if he didn’t score, then Gillingham wouldn’t score, and he will be important for them once again this season if they are to avoid the relegation battle. Gillingham certainly have a good mix of experience and youth in their side and this balance and this transfer window has seen Gillingham pluck non-league talent in Josh Rees and others who have plied their trade in non-league in Regan Charles-Cook and Brandan Hanlan. All three players have shown glimpses of talent and will be determined to prove they can play at this level. Another mid-table finish will represent a good season for Gillingham and I’m sure consolidation at this level would also represent a solid season for the club.
I think this could be a long season for Gills and I fear that relegation could beckon especially if they start the season poorly, but they must back Steve Lovell to guide them to safety because chopping and changing management usually only ends in one thing.

My Predicted Finish: 22nd

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