So who has either been to a League One game, or even heard of the division? Anyone? No? Ok then… League One is England’s third division, below the Premier League and Championship, and above League Two. It sends three teams up to the Championship and four teams down to League Two each year. I came to love League One football when I lived in Colchester and began following Colchester United. The teams in this league are your traditional local teams that local people love to support. You will see the players and staff out and about around town. All the teams have professional players and for some players this is an opportunity to show larger clubs (including Premier League sides) what they can do. It is extremely common to see young players from top English clubs on loan to teams in this division in order to gain first-team experience.
In order to introduce you to the league, or at least get you up to date if you are already a League One die-hard like me, I have written a team preview for each team in the division. In the series I will look at what each team has done in this transfer window so far and what to expect for each team. In this article I will preview Barnsley, Bradford City, Bristol City, Chesterfield, Colchester United, Coventry City, Crawley Town, and Crewe Alexandra.
Newcomers to the League
Relegated from Championship: Doncaster Rovers, Barnsley, Yeovil Town
Promoted from League Two: Chesterfield, Scunthorpe United, Rochdale, Fleetwood Town
Barnsley – 2013/2014 Position: 23rd (Championship)
After letting their top scorer Chris O’Grady go to Brighton for an undisclosed fee, the former Championship side is looking for a quick bounce back to the second division. So far most of their transfer business has been letting people go rather than strengthening the team. Manager Danny Wilson will hope that forward Kane Hemmings can replicate the amazing year he had at Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Championship. Additionally, Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos is currently in talks with Barnsley’s keeper Luke Steele. Unless Barnsley can bring in other players to help Hemmings and former Plymouth Argyle midfielder Conor Hourihan, The Tykes might not be able to bounce back to the Championship.
Bradford City – 2013/2014 Position: 11th –
People might remember Bradford City for their magical League Cup run a couple of seasons ago that abruptly ended with a 5-0 loss to Swansea City in the final. After their first season in the third division since the 2006-07 season, The Bantams are not only solidifying their place in League One but making moves that might see them challenge for promotion. The experienced squad, which includes Norwich legend Adam Drury, Gary Liddle, Alan Sheehan, Jonathan Stead and Mark Yeates, will have the experience and to get promoted. Maybe manager Phil Parkinson can use his previous league promotion and cup experience to get his guys to play to their full potential.
Bristol City – 2013/2014 Position: 12th –
It’s not uncommon for teams to get a bump from replacing a manager halfway through the season. For The Robins, experienced manager Steve Cotterill not only saved the club from relegation but also guided them to a very respectable 12th place. The strike duo of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Sam Baldock scored 47 goals ranking them third best duo behind Suarez/Sturridge and Aguero/Negredo. While their strikers were racking up the goals, the defense was giving them up. The team ended the season with only a +3 goal difference, 70 (GF) and 67 (GA). However, things are looking up for the team this season with the signing of defender Luke Ayling and winger Luke Freeman. If Emmanuel-Thomas and Baldock stay this season, Bristol City has to be one of the favorites for automatic promotion.
Chesterfield – 2013/2014 Position: 1st (League Two) –
League One newcomers Chesterfield F.C. have come off a magical season, which saw them win automatic promotion and make it to the Football League Trophy finals. Chesterfield is one of those teams that bounce between promotion to one division and back down the next year. While the team may have had a great run last season, this time around it won’t be as pleasant. With the loss of one of their top scorers, Marc Richards, the team really hasn’t added the players needed to stay up in the division. One bright spot for the team this season is the potential break-out of 18-year old Mason Bennett, on loan from Derby County. Look for The Spireites to be at the bottom half of the table at best this season.
Colchester United – 2013/2014 Position: 16th –
The past couple of seasons have been tough for Colchester United, who seem to have trouble getting out of the bottom half of the table. Typically the team starts off strong in the first quarter of the season before dropping points during the middle of the season, and finally gets going the last few weeks in order to avoid relegation. This season may be a little different for Colchester. Freddie Sears, the top goal scorer for the team the past two seasons is maturing and getting better each season. The team signed experienced keeper Chris Lewington to compete with the last year’s starter and former Chelsea Academy player Sam Walker. Finally, they added right-back Sean Clohessy and Ben Gordon from Scottish Premiership sides Kilmarnock and Ross County respectively. Expect this team to turn their fortunes around by achieving a top half finish by the end of this season.
Coventry City – 2013/2014 Position: 18th –
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After spending decades in the first and second-tier of English football, Coventry City is getting use to life below the Championship. Even though the team was going through a tough financial situation last season they stayed up in League One. If it hadn’t been for the 10 point deduction for going into administration the team would have reached 9th last season. The Sky Blues have made some great signings this summer by adding Leeds defender Danny Pugh, midfielder Danny Swanson, winger James O’Brian, and Benin international Reda Johnson. However, the sale of top scorer Callum Wilson to Bournemouth and the loss of their second best scorer Franck Moussa will make it difficult for the team to reach promotion. As long as the team doesn’t have any more financial problems they will more than likely end the season right outside the play-off positions.
Crawley Town – 2013/2014 Position: 14th –
Crawley Town has been a team on the rise with their back-to-back promotions from Conference National and League Two. However, they seem to have stalled in League One with mid-table finishes for two years straight. Their problem has been a lack of scoring goals. Last season they had one of the lowest number of goals in the league with 48. What kept them at the mid table was their excellent defense. If they had scored more goals they could have seen themselves in a play-off spot last season. This summer they have sold midfielder Andy Drury to Luton Town for $170,000 and defender Kyle McFadzean to MK Dons for an undisclosed fee. They have used the funds well by signing a striker, winger, and defender. Experienced manager John Gregory might have the squad to push itself up to a play-off spot this year.
Crewe Alexandra – 2013/2014 Position: 19th –
After a couple of seasons in League One this will probably be the year they get relegated. Last season they gave up the most goals of any team in the division but their saving grace was midfielder Chuks Aneke, on loan from Arsenal with 14 goals. So far Crewe has not replaced Aneke and to make matters worse, their 19-year old sensation Steve Davis is refusing to re-sign with the club, making a transfer in either the summer or January window more than likely. Expect The Railwaymen to be relegated this season. By the way, a tidbit of trivia for you: French-international Paul Pogba’s older brother Mathias plays for the Crewe.
Look out for the next part in the League One preview in the coming days.
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