17 August 2012

2012/2013 Football League predictions

It's only a matter of hours before the 112th season of the Football League kicks off.

Today, The Daily Transfer Request predicts what will happen in the Championship, League One and League Two, and explains why it has tipped some teams for promotion and others for relegation.

Championship winners: Bolton Wanderers
PROMOTION CONTENDERS: It could be a good season for teams whose names start with B. Bolton Wanderers, with most of their squad retained, look like the best-placed of the relegated teams to go straight back up. Gus Poyet's Brighton & Hove Albion have made some ambitious signings, and the feelgood factor could see them into the Premier League. Play-off final losers Blackpool will be keen to bounce back, and with the talented winger Matt Phillips in their squad, they can do that.
PLAY-OFF CHASERS: Nottingham Forest suffered badly last season, but with the funding of their new Kuwaiti owners, they can make it through the play-offs. Blackburn Rovers looked like mid-tablers before bringing in players like Danny Murphy and Nuno Gomes. Many people fancy Leicester City to do well, and Middlesbrough were unlucky not to make last season's play-offs.
RELEGATION CANDIDATES: Barnsley always seem to beat the drop against all odds, but their young team might not be able to do it this time. Another team full of youngsters is Crystal Palace, who will also struggle, and Sheffield Wednesday are perhaps the least likely of the promoted sides to survive. Millwall seem to lack ambition as well as goals, so expect a tough season for them.
1. Bolton Wanderers (P)
2. Brighton & Hove Albion (P)

3. Blackpool
4. Nottingham Forest (P)
5. Leicester City
6. Blackburn Rovers

7. Middlesbrough
8. Birmingham City
9. Burnley
10. Ipswich Town
11. Huddersfield Town
12. Wolverhampton Wanderers
13. Cardiff City
14. Hull City
15. Leeds United
16. Charlton Athletic
17. Watford
18. Peterborough United
19. Bristol City
20. Derby County
21. Millwall
22. Crystal Palace (R)
23. Sheffield Wednesday (R)
24. Barnsley (R)

League One winners: Milton Keynes Dons
PROMOTION CONTENDERS: Milton Keynes Dons are going all out to finally win promotion to the Championship, and young boss Karl Robinson might just do it this time. Coventry City's kids will thrive in League One and give them the platform to 'do a Norwich'. Play-off agony coupled with seeing their arch-rivals go up will drive Sheffield United to do better this season.
PLAY-OFF CHASERS: Crawley Town can continue their rapid rise, although it would be a bit much to expect a third promotion in successive seasons. Like Crawley, Stevenage were a non-league side not too long ago, but look set for back-to-back seasons in the play-offs. Despite being co-owned by a nutter and the husband of Russia's answer to Alex Ferguson, AFC Bournemouth look strong, and Uwe Rosler's Brentford are dark horses.
RELEGATION CANDIDATES: Portsmouth are near certainties for League Two - their financial problems are well documented, they hardly have any players, and their expected 10-point deduction is effectively a death sentence. Walsall were fortunate to stay up last season and must do much better. Lack of squad depth could make things difficult for Yeovil Town and Tranmere Rovers, while Graham Westley's tenure at Preston North End is a disaster waiting to happen.
1. Milton Keynes Dons (P)
2. Coventry City (P)

3. Sheffield United (P)
4. Crawley Town
5. Stevenage
6. AFC Bournemouth

7. Brentford
8. Colchester United
9. Notts County
10. Hartlepool United
11. Doncaster Rovers
12. Scunthorpe United
13. Swindon Town
14. Carlisle United
15. Bury
16. Crewe Alexandra
17. Shrewsbury Town
18. Leyton Orient
19. Tranmere Rovers
20. Oldham Athletic
21. Yeovil Town (R)
22. Preston North End (R)
23. Walsall (R)
24. Portsmouth (R)

League Two winners: Rotherham United
PROMOTION CONTENDERS: With a new stadium in New York (well, sort of) and a new, passionate manager, Rotherham United are on a roll and could walk this division if they wanted. Another team going great guns is Bristol Rovers under Mark McGhee. Expect Fleetwood Town and their array of signings to make an instant impact in their first ever Football League season, and another solid season for Torquay United.
PLAY-OFF CHASERS: Torquay's south-western rivals Exeter City and Cheltenham Town can expect to be in or around the play-offs this season. Yo-yo club Wycombe Wanderers will, just like Exeter, want to quickly bounce back from relegation. But the best-placed team to go up via this route is perhaps Southend United, whose performances last season belied their financial troubles.
RELEGATION CANDIDATES: Things could get fairly difficult for York City in their first season back in the League. Following their brief sojourn in League One the season before last, Dagenham & Redbridge have crashed back down to Earth, and are strongly tipped for relegation. Barnet always seem to beat the drop on the final day, so don't bet against another repeat.
1. Rotherham United (P)
2. Bristol Rovers (P)
3. Fleetwood Town (P)

4. Torquay United
5. Exeter City
6. Cheltenham Town
7. Southend United (P)

8. Wycombe Wanderers
9. Gillingham
10. Chesterfield
11. AFC Wimbledon
12. Oxford United
13. Plymouth Argyle
14. Port Vale
15. Burton Albion
16. Rochdale
17. Aldershot Town
18. Morecambe
19. Bradford City
20. Accrington Stanley
21. Northampton Town
22. Barnet
23. Dagenham & Redbridge (R)
24. York City (R)

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