Football League Expert & Columnist
Peter Beagrie offers his thoughts on the League One promotion picture and Hartlepool's survival hopes.
Last Updated: 28/02/13 2:45pm
Peter Beagrie is here every week on skysports.com answering YOUR Football League questions.
The former winger, who played over 770 games, representing clubs in all four tiers of the English footballing pyramid, including Manchester City, Everton, Bradford, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, and Grimsby, forms part of the Sky Sports punditry team for all the big matches in the Championship, League One and League Two.
So if you have a poser for Peter, whether it's about your team, a player, match or incident that has caught your eye, or a wider point on the Football League, make sure you send it in.
Read below for this week's column where Beags gives his take on the League One promotion picture, out-of-sorts Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest's Adlene Guedioura...
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Hi Peter, Simple question: Who is going up from League One? Thanks, Sid Elliott (Swindon fan)
BEAGS SAYS: If you think that is a simple question, Sid, you must be a mastermind as with four points separating the top seven teams, I would say it was anything but simple! What a difference a couple of weeks makes, eh? Swindon were flying but then reveal financial problems; sell their best player, Matt Ritchie; lose their manager, Paolo Di Canio; and then get beaten by relegation candidates Bury. Bournemouth, meanwhile, go top with the highest-paid squad and manager in League One history, but after an unbelievable run lose three on the spin and drop to seventh. Tranmere, after losing five of six, stem the tide and take four points out of six, while Sheffield United get their act together and go on an unbeaten run of five games, including four wins, to move one point behind leaders and away-day wonders Doncaster, who score a last-minute winner at Shrewsbury to register their 11th win on the road this season. Are you getting the picture, Sid? Bournemouth, Sheffield United and Brentford have the best squads on paper but football is played on grass and at this stage of the campaign it is as much about being mentally tough as technically gifted. I do, though, feel the Di Canio factor will have a destabilising effect on Swindon and do not think it is beneficial to have caretaker managers - Tommy Miller and Darren Ward - not focussing solely on their playing duties.
GO FOR THE JUGULAR
Hi Peter, What do Bradford need to do to ensure that the Capital One Cup run is not just a flash in the pan and they get out of League Two, either this year or next? Thanks, Sam Bryant (Bradford fan)
BEAGS SAYS: It's simple, Sam. Bradford need to build on the principles and level of performance that took them to the final, use the Wembley experience as a carrot to get their again via the play-offs and utilise the extra money this cup run has produced to bolster an already talented squad with emergency loan additions. The Capital One Cup journey has taken its toll on the Bantams' league form, as it has done to other teams in the past - Birmingham and Norwich found that out in 1985, while Cardiff's run to the League Cup final last year damaged the Bluebirds' promotion push - but focus can now turn to the final third of the season; the return of Andrew Davies and the impending one of James Meredith are real plusses and Bradford must now go for it and attack teams by playing creative influences Kyel Reid, Blair Turgott and Zavon Hines on the bigger and better surfaces to give lofty James Hanson the service he deserves. If Phil Parkinson does not price himself out of a new contract, even if the Bantams do not go up this term, they will be in better position financially to get promoted at the seventh attempt in 2014.
STILL IN CONTENTION
Hi Peter, Middlesbrough are on a shocking run at the moment. Why do you think that is and what difference will new signing Sammy Ameobi make? Thanks Andrew Bell (Middlesbrough fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I can honestly say, Andrew, that my gast is well and truly flabbered at the recent run of results Boro have endured; it has been like Emergency Room Seven in the Teessiders' treatment facilities and that has been of huge concern for Mogga, but a lack of confidence was there for all to see in Saturday's Sky Live defeat to Millwall, with players passing the buck and not taking responsibility in the final third. Boro have amassed just four points from a possible 27 but they still remain in play-off contention and with Ishmael Miller, Scott McDonald and few other first-teamers to return, coupled with the addition of Sammy Ameobi, Mowbray's men will be hopeful of a grandstand finish. The pacey Ameobi will make a difference because he won't be affected by the poor run and will play with no inhibitions, offer a threat on the break, especially away from home, and will bring a new dimension if he settles in well.
JUST TWO GOOD
Hi Peter, Who do you think has been the standout player in League Two this season? Cheers, Pete Turner (York City fan)
BEAGS SAYS: Thanks for your question, Pete. This is very subjective and everybody will have their favourites but I will give you a handful of players who have impressed me this term. Gillingham 'keeper Stuart Nelson has kept 14 clean sheets and been part of a miserly defence that has conceded just nine times on the road, while Fleetwood's Youl Mawene has looked what he is: too good for League Two. Injuries have taken their toll on the centre-back and are the only reason he is playing in the fourth tier, but the 33-year-old former Lens, Derby, Preston and Aberdeen stopper has put in some class performances and is hoping he can stay fit for Town's promotion push. Bradford full-back Stephen Darby, meanwhile, has been brilliant, both in League Two and the Capital One Cup; he has fantastic distribution, is getting better defensively and I'm sure plenty of clubs are looking at a player with a big-game mentality. I'll finish off by stating the obvious and naming hotshot strikers Tom Pope and Nahki Wells; the former has plundered 27 goals for Port Vale, while the latter, a player with a great touch who glides over the surface and has the ability to play at a higher level, has netted 18 for Bradford. I have just scratched the surface with League Two's best but feel the overall quality of the division is getting better with more managers playing a progressive passing game.
Hello Beags, Can Hartlepool do the unthinkable and get out of the League One relegation zone? Thanks, Chris Hayden (Hartlepool fan)
Hi Peter, I am a Charlton fan and while we were terrible against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, I was very impressed by Forest's Adlene Guedioura. What do you make of him and can you understand why on earth Wolves let him go? Thanks,Michael Swanson (Charlton fan)
BEAGS SAYS: I could not believe it, Michael, when Wolves let Guedioura go out on loan to Forest in January 2012 and then allowed him to make a permanent move to the City Ground in the summer for a reported fee of £1million. I have always admired Adlene's industry and work-rate but he has so much more to his game; he links the play really well, has great close control and an excellent rang of passing, while a big plus with the Algerian is his penchant for spectacular long-range strikes. Guedioura is a massive hit with the Forest faithful because he can dictate games form the middle of the park, something Billy Davies' side are going to rely on heavily at this nervy part of the term.