Monday, 20 August 2018

League 2 Discussion 2: Colchester, Crawley, Crewe, Exeter

Colchester will finally hope this is their year to break into the play-off places. The club have flirted with the top 7 in the last couple of seasons and John McGreal will be hoping he can deliver a top 7 finish. McGreal has an excellent squad at his disposal but like many sides, they have lacked consistency and McGreal will hope they can pick off from their strong finish last season which saw them narrowly miss out on the top 7. Colchester have been active in the transfer window so far bringing in 8 new faces while letting 10 leave the club. Colchester have talent in their squad with the likes of Sammie Szmodics, Brennan Dickensen, Sean Murray, Frankie Kent and Mikael Mandron. These players will be vital for Colchester this season with a promotion push being their prime target. Szmodics was magnificent at times last season and he will be integral to any success the club has this season. Mandron has help the goal scoring department this season with the club adding new fire power in Aaron Collins, Frank Nouble and Luke Norris. All 3 of Colchester’s new strikers have proven goal scoring records in League 2. Nouble was wonderful at Newport last season while Norris had an excellent return of goals at Swindon. With this sort of firepower, Colchester will be difficult to contain in attacking areas this season and should the all have excellent scoring seasons, Colchester will believe the top 7 is firmly in their reach. The Colchester fans will want a top 7 finish this season after constant seasons of narrowly missing out. John McGreal will be determined to deliver in his second season in charge.
I think Colchester will sneak into the play-off places this season after missing out in recent seasons. I think they have recruited well and play a nice style of football which will get results, but should they sneak into the play-offs, they must find consistency in results to make this possible with club having baron runs of form which did cost them in previous seasons.

My Predicted Finish: 7th  

It was a solid first season in charge of Crawley for Harry Kewell. He guided Crawley to a comfortable mid-table finish after a strong second half of the season. However, Kewell will want improvement this season and his target will be to push Crawley towards the promotion picture. Also, the club has lacked stability since Steve Evans departure with constant change in the dugout, but Kewell is gearing up for his second season full of belief that his side can achieve something this season. Kewell has good players at this level in his side including Lewis Young, Dean Cox, Jimmy Smith and Mark Connolly. Kewell has plenty of experience to call on in his side. However, Crawley have lost key members of their squad including Enzio Boldewijn and Josh Yorwerth. Boldewijn’s loss will be blow after his goal and assists record last season which attracted the attention of Notts County. Boldewijn has been a consistent performer for the last two seasons in League 2 and Crawley will no doubt feel his loss. However, the money brought in by those sales has seen Kewell active in the transfer window bringing in 11 new faces so far. A blend of potential, experience and desire have walked into the club so far this summer. Experienced heads like Romain Vincelot, Filipe Morias, George Francomb and Rob Milsom have all joined in the summer with the first three dropping a division. All excellent signings for Crawley but Kewell has blended new talent and young players in his transfer business and these include Ashley Nathaniel-George, Brian Galach, Dominic Poleon and Reece Grego-Cox. All have a hunger and desire to succeed and improve and Kewell will have complete faith in them. The Crawley fans will believe the club could push for a play-off place, but a top half finish would represent an excellent season for the club. Kewell will want improvement this season and will be confident can push for a play-off spot.
I think Crawley will secure a top half finish but will just miss out on a play-off spot. Kewell has assembled a decent team and he will be confident of progress this season.

My Predicted Finish: 11th  

Consolidation has been a constant at Crewe over the last few seasons. The playing staff pretty much remains the same with the odd one of two signings but mainly new players coming through their wonderful academy. David Artell is also gearing up for his second full season in charge of the club. Crewe finished last season strongly and secured a comfortable finish in the mid-table areas. However, it is hard to see what Crewe’s ambition is following a mid-table finish because they aren’t going to challenge the play-off places and they are not going to be in the relegation battle, so it is hard to find what Crewe’s expectations are and I’m sure the fans feel the same way. A top half finish would probably represent an excellent season for the club. Crewe have been very quiet in the transfer window so far signing just 2 new players while making Paul Green and Shaun Miller loan moves from last season permanent. The experienced duo of Alex Nicholls and Nicky Hunt are two new signings and Artell clearly feels his side lack experienced heads because they are a young side so certainly Artell has done good transfer business. Nicholls will hope to score goals along with the likes of Miller, Jordan Bowery and Charlie Kirk. Crewe will be pushing for at least a mid-table finish this season with a top-half finish being their main target this season and this would represent an excellent season for the Railwaymen.
I think Crewe will finish in the bottom half and should comfortably survive relegation. They will hope to push for a top 12 finish, but I feel there are better teams around and will just miss out on that.

My Predicted Finish: 18th

Will this finally be Exeter’s year? The club has suffered back to back play-off final defeats to Blackpool and Coventry and psychologically that must affect the players. Exeter have been the nearly men in the last few seasons but can they finally go one step better and secure promotion. It is also a new era for the club following the departure of long-serving manager Paul Tisdale who leaves after 12 years with the Grecians. Despite leading them to consecutive play-off finals, Tisdale and the Exeter owners saw their relationship break down towards the end and no doubt both sides will have their disappointment as to how Tisdale left. However, both Tisdale and Exeter move on with former defender Matt Taylor picked as Tisdale’s successor and his job remit will once again say promotion to League 1 is the objective. The club will be desperate for automatic promotion after consecutive play-off final defeats and Taylor will be confident he can deliver automatic promotion. Taylor has been active in the transfer window and he has seen 11 players exit the club this summer but has managed to keep the large majority of last seasons’ side including Troy Brown, Pierce Sweeney, Hiram Boateng, Jake Taylor and more importantly top scorer Jayden Stockley. These players were brilliant for Grecians and no doubt Taylor will be relying on them once again to continue Exeter’s push for promotion. But Taylor has also added his own new signings 7 to be exact including the likes of Jonathan Forte, Nicky Law, Lee Martin and Aaron Martin. Further experienced players at this level to further enhance Exeter’s squad. Taylor has also brought in hungry, young players on loan including Tristian Abrahams and Dara O’Shea. Taylor will be confident he has a squad good enough to be finishing in the automatic promotion places but he must have a good start as boss because its his first managerial position and he will immediately have to install belief in the players and fans that he can lead Exeter’s charge for promotion.
I think Exeter will push hard for automatic promotion but will just come up short and finish in the play-off places however, I believe it will be third time lucky for them as I do fancy them to win the play-offs this season because they will be determined to avoid a third consecutive season of heartache.

My Predicted Finish: 5th (But promoted as play-off winners)

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