Tuesday, 14 August 2018

League 1 Discussion 5: Portsmouth, Rochdale, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury

It was an excellent first season back in League 1 for Portsmouth. Paul Cook’s departure was a disappointment but a season of consolidation under Kenny Jackett will no doubt have pleased the Portsmouth fans. However, the ambition for this season changes with promotion to the Championship high on the club’s agenda under Jackett and new owner Michael Eisner. The club has a comfortable season last time out, but the fans expect more this time around and Fratton Park will be rocking once again this season as they hope to celebrate promotion at the end of the season. Kenny Jackett built Portsmouth’s solid season on a strong defence with the likes of Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess forming an excellent partnership at the back and these two will once again be important for Portsmouth’s promotion push this season. However, an issue for Portsmouth was goalscoring despite the brilliant efforts of Brett Pitman but other strikers like Oliver Hawkins, Conor Chaplin and Jamal Lowe all struggled to consistently score goals and they will all have to up their game in the new season to give Pompey a chance at promotion. Kenny Jackett has brought in new signings to further strengthen Portsmouth’s charge and these include Ronan Curtis and David Wheeler. These two players will add pace and creativity to the team and this will only boost Portsmouth’s whole squad. Also, Jackett has brought back loanee Anton Walkes but on a permanent deal. He was excellent for Portsmouth across various positions during the second half of last season and Jackett will be delighted to have him permanently and again he will no doubt play an important role in the new season. Portsmouth will want to improve on last season with a top-half finish the minimum expectation I’m sure however, the whole football club will believe they can finish in the play-offs and get promoted which would represent a magnificent season for the club.
I really do fancy Portsmouth to finish in the play-offs this season. Kenny Jackett consolidated them last season, but he will want to push on this season and challenge for Portsmouth and if everyone ticks throughout the whole season whose to say they won’t be celebrating promotion in May.

My Predicted Finish: 5th

Its fair to say that anyone associated with Rochdale will say the club underperformed last season but the shear elation on the final day of the season where they escaped relegation will no doubt ignite the determination to do better in the new season. The elation on the final day was summed up by Joe Thompson who scored the vital goal to keep them up. Thompson is adored by Rochdale following two battles with cancer but its wonderful to see he is in remission once again and he is no doubt a Rochdale legend. He will want the whole club to improve in the new season as will charismatic manager Keith Hill who loves Rochdale as much the fans do. Keith Hill will be under no illusion that Rochdale must improve across all areas of the pitch and players including Callum Camps, Ian Henderson, Josh Lillis and Calvin Andrew will all attempt they wasn’t at their best and improvement all round would represent a good season for Dale. Keith Hill has added players during this transfer window including experienced players like David Perkins and Aaron Wilbraham. Both join the club with bags full of experience at this level and Keith Hill will be relying on them to play important roles this season. Hill has also brought back creative midfielder Brad Inman following a successful loan spell last season and he will want to further showcase his skills at a club that appreciates him. The overall expectation for the club this season will certainly be improvement and a mid-table finish would represent a good season for Rochdale.
I think Rochdale will comfortably finish mid-table and there will definitely be improvements from last season because the fans and Keith Hill will demand improvement, but Rochdale always go under the radar and could mount a play-off charge because they are always unfancied but do cause a surprise so don’t rule Rochdale out.

My Predicted Finish: 15th

It has been back to back disappointment in the play-offs for Scunthorpe and I doubt the fans can take much more of the pain the play-offs bring. Nick Daws will be desperate to deliver promotion following his appointment on a permanent deal and he will be expected to continue Scunthorpe’s push for promotion. However, the club has lost a few key players from last season including Conor Townsend, Murray Wallace, Hakeeb Adelakun and Duane Holmes. All 4 were excellent during the season and all have moved on to the Championship without the Iron. Nick Daws will have to do a small re-build but still has excellent players at his disposal including Josh Morris, Lee Novak, Jordan Clarke and Matt Gilks. All are proven players at this level and Daws will be looking for more of the same from them throughout the season. Nick Daws has flexed his muscles during the transfer window and has brought in 10 new faces as 11 depart and his new signings including the pacey, creative pair of Ryan Colclough and George Thomas. Colclough has been excellent at this level for various teams like Wigan and the MK Dons but now with a permanent home, he will be confident of being the creative force Scunthorpe need. Also, Thomas on loan from Leicester will also be confident of making an impression. He excelled at first club Coventry but has struggled for game time at Leicester and he cannot wait to get going I’m sure for his new team. However, Daws has also signed players with points to prove including non-league star Andy Dales and young loan signings Sam Humphrys and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The hunger and desire from these players will no doubt bring confidence to the team and the fans. The fans will be desperate for automatic promotion following play-off heartache and Daws will certainly have to deliver a top 6 finish as a bare minimum expectation for the season, but promotion is the aim, and can they make it third time lucky.
I think Scunthorpe will be competing for a place in the top 6 however, I feel they will just miss out on this, but they will battle all the way because I expect the battle for a play-off place to be extremely tight.

My Predicted Finish: 8th

It is fair to say Shrewsbury has an absolutely sensational season last time out and were within touching distance of the Championship after that defeat in the play-off final. Many expected them to be starting possibly in League 2 this time last season, but they are firmly a League 1 side. However, they are very much in transition following a summer of complete change. Paul Hurst has departed for Ipswich while many of last seasons stars including Toto Nsiala, Jon Nolan, Stefan Payne, Abu Ogogo, Dean Henderson, Alex Rodman and Junior Brown have all departed the club for new challenges. The club begins the new season with a new manager in John Askey and new team which will be hoping to live up to their predecessors. Askey comes to the club with an excellent record and a promotion on his CV following his success at Macclesfield and Askey will want to prove himself at this level. Askey has brought in a total of 15 players so far with many of the players hoping to prove themselves in League 1 and these include Fejiri Okenabirhie, Kieran Kennedy, Luke Waterfall, Josh Laurent, Charlie Colkett, Oliver Norburn and Lee Angol.  All these players will be determined to show why they deserve to be playing in League 1. However, Askey has also brought in experienced heads including Anthony Grant, Steve Arnold and Doug Loft. Askey has completely brought in a squad that is completely his and he will be determined to bring success to the club. However, with all these changes it will certainly take time for the team to gel and Askey will be desperate for the club to make a good start to the season. The club will try to match last season but a mid-table finish and a push for the top-half would represent another excellent season for Shrewsbury.
I think Shrewsbury will be finishing in mid-table and they will be competitive, and Askey will be determined to try and match last seasons’ success but they will be a stretch too far but mid table is a good season for the club.

My Predicted Finish: 17th

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