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Match Previews

Sky Bet League 1 season preview

31 July 2013


With Wolverhampton Wanderers suffering successive relegations in the last two seasons, they will be tipped as the favourites for the Sky Bet League 1 title this time around.

The Midlands outfit are in the third tier for the first time since 1989 and Kenny Jackett is the man they have chosen to lead, what they hope, will be the start of a revival. That is likely to add pressure but Jackett has the experience of guiding Millwall out of the division.

Many will see Jackett's appointment as a safe one and that's also what one of the 51-year-old's main signings, Sam Ricketts, could be perceived as. Ricketts played under Jackett at Swansea City and the manager has given his new recruit, who he signed from Bolton Wanderers, the captain's armband for this season.

Jackett also has striker Leigh Griffiths at his disposal after he returned to the club following a prolific spell on loan at Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League last term. The 22-year-old is yet to make a League appearance for the Molineux outfit but he is likely to play a leading role this term in Wolves' forward ranks.

Elsewhere, Brentford will try to use the double dose of heartbreak they suffered last season to inspire them this year. The Bees were within touching distance of promotion in the regular season but dramatically missed out and then lost 2-1 in the Play-Off Final against Gary Johnson's Yeovil Town.

Manager Uwe Rosler has lost the services of goalkeeper Simon Moore and forward Harry Forrester but he has brought in Walsall striker Will Grigg, who scored 19 times last term, and Swindon Town captain Alan McCormack. Add those two players to the number of other positive signings Rosler has made, and the quality that remains from last time around, and the Bees look like a team set for another challenge at the summit of Sky Bet League 1.

One thing is for sure, they will be eager to maintain their impressive home record from last season - Rosler's men recorded 14 wins at Griffin Park and lost just three.

Like Brentford, Peterborough United also suffered pain last season as they were relegated from the Championship on a thrilling final day. With that in mind, it's likely that Darren Ferguson's men will have only one objective - promotion.

They'll be without star striker Dwight Gayle, who joined Crystal Palace, but replaced him with hot prospect Britt Assambalonga, who scored 16 goals on loan at Southend United from Watford last season. Off the pitch, meanwhile, Posh received the welcome news that the City Council are backing their plans to develop London Road and that has given the club a boost which could resonate into the dressing room and be the catalyst for a good start on the pitch.


Sheffield United finished fifth last time around but were defeated in the Play-Off semi-finals. You can be sure to see them challenging in the top echelons of the division again, despite it being David Weir's first season in charge of the Blades. The former defender was appointed as the club's new manager in June, replacing Danny Wilson at Bramall Lane, and he is going to be assisted by Lee Carsley.

The Yorkshire outfit have kept hold of promising youngsters George Long and Harry Maguire and have also recruited well, signing the likes of attacking duo Febian Brandy and Lyle Taylor, as well as Stephen McGinn and England Under-20 captain Conor Coady, who has joined on loan from Liverpool.

Weir is a rookie manager and he has a young team but Sheffield United's high expectations will more than likely remain and the fans will be eager for it to be third time lucky in Sky Bet League 1 for the Blades.

Bristol City are another side expected to challenge for promotion this term and the key at Ashton Gate will be head coach Sean O'Driscoll improving the atmosphere at a club that finished bottom of the Championship last season with just 41 points. A good start will be vital but with players like Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Aden Flint among the club's ranks, that can be expected.

Milton Keynes Dons' inclusion in at least the top 10 of League 1 is becoming a formality - the club have finished 10th or above in the division in the last four seasons - and they are set for another push for promotion. Adam Chicksen, Gary MacKenzie and Ryan Lowe have all departed but boss Karl Robinson has made some astute acquisitions in the shape of loan duo Patrick Bamford and Jason Banton, from Chelsea and Crystal Palace respectively, and Lee Hodson from Watford.

Elsewhere, Simon Grayson is a manager well versed with Sky Bet League 1 having won promotion from the division with his three previous clubs, and he will hope his Preston North End side are up to the challenge this term. The signing of front man Kevin Davies from Bolton Wanderers would have sent out a big statement of intent, and you can be assured that North End will improve on last season's 14th-placed finish.

Plenty of other teams will be gearing up for a positive season in Sky Bet League 1 - don't be alarmed if you see the likes of Tranmere Rovers, Notts County, Leyton Orient, Walsall or even Stevenage, who are back under the stewardship of Graham Westley, mixing it with the frontrunners.


With Wolves, Peterborough and Bristol City already covered, this section will focus on Sky Bet League 1's new additions coming up from League 2 - all of whom look set for another productive campaign.

Gillingham were promoted as champions on 83 points and lost just nine games throughout the whole of last season, conceding only 39 goals.

Martin Allen will look to maintain that good form and he has added some impressive signings, including striker Cody McDonald, who bagged 25 goals in a season during his previous spell at Priestfield. The Gills' most recent League 1 campaign - 2009/10 - ended in relegation but you can be sure Allen is looking beyond a season of struggle given the nature of their League 2 triumph last time around.

Rotherham United and Port Vale were the two other clubs to gain automatic promotion from League 2 last season and they will both be looking to maintain their momentum.

The Millers will be buoyed by the fact they were victorious in their final five games of last term and manager Steve Evans will certainly be eager for another successful season, which would further enhance the already high spirits at the New York Stadium.

The 50-year-old boss has added to his squad wisely, with the stand-out acquisition being front man Matt Tubbs on loan from Bournemouth. Tubbs only managed six goals last time around but you can be sure that Evans will bring the best out of him, as he did in West Sussex when he managed him at Crawley Town.

The Valiants, meanwhile, were The Football League's top scorers last season and they have kept hold of star striker Tom Pope, who contributed 31 goals.

Manager Micky Adams has also added further quality to his squad in Chris Lines, Chris Robertson, Gavin Tomlin, Anthony Griffith and Kaid Mohamed, which should set them up well for life in Sky Bet League 1.

Bradford City complete the line-up of new boys in Sky Bet League 1 and they will relish the big ties in the division after they got a taste of coming up against higher-level teams last season during their epic Capital One Cup campaign.

They certainly have momentum with a convincing 3-0 Play-Off Final triumph against Northampton Town wrapping up last season's promotion.

They also have a well-gelled squad, spearheaded by Nahki Wells, a hit man who will cause defences trouble throughout League 1.

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