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Sheffield steel

Beags previews the League One season

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 3rd August 2011 view comments

It will be really strange to see a Sheffield derby in the third tier of English football.

No sides have a divine right to be in the Premier League, but both United and Wednesday are previous winners of the top flight and I never imagined both would be at this level.

There is disillusionment amongst Blades and Owls fans alike, but I'm sure when they play each other there will be full houses at both grounds.

Morgan: his experience could be vital for the Blades

Morgan: his experience could be vital for the Blades

Having played for United, I know how intense the rivalry is in Sheffield and each side will be determined to be the Steel City's top dog.

Wednesday's squad looks pretty thin numerically, but they do have a strong-looking midfield. They'll be looking for Giles Coke and the vastly-experienced David Prutton to make an impression from that area.

Sheffield United will be boosted by the return from injury of big Chris Morgan, who is always full of fight. The 33-year-old centre-back could help the Blades gate-crash the top six.

Peter Beagrie
Quotes of the week

Up front, though, they will have to deal with the massive loss of Neil Mellor, who has returned to Preston following the culmination of his loan spell. They look very light in the striking department and will need to add to it if they are going to be right at the top.

United will be boosted at some point by the return from injury of big Chris Morgan, who is always full of fight. The 33-year-old centre-back - along with tenacious midfielder Nick Montgomery - could help the Blades gate-crash the top six.

Contention

The two sides I've just mentioned are enormous clubs and I also expect another to be in promotion contention: Charlton.

They've made a huge amount of signings, including Oldham midfielder Dale Stephens and Dagenham winger Danny Green, but the one that stands out for me is left-back Rhoys Wiggins, who has arrived from Bournemouth. He was an integral part of the Cherries' fantastic 2010/11 season and should give Charlton some much-needed width.

Addicks boss Chris Powell has had to resort to such a big turnaround of players because he realised some of his side last year weren't good enough. There will be pressure on Powell to deliver but he can't argue that he hasn't been given latitude in the transfer market.

Bournemouth over-achieved massively last season by getting to the play-offs and they have lost a lot of players with Wiggins, Jason Pearce, Danny Hollands and Anton Robinson all heading for pastures new.

However, Lee Bradbury and his assistant Steve Fletcher are steeped in that club and will make them competitive. Unfortunately, they have a small budget and I think they may miss out on the play-offs.

Huddersfield have such a great infrastructure that they will be tipped to do well - though their big stadium and fan following can be a hindrance for players who are not used to that environment. They lost in last year's play-off final to Peterborough so they'll be hoping it's their season to go up - whether that's automatically or via the play-offs.

Preston should be up there because of Mellor's goals, and his partnership with Iain Hume could do some damage. North End's issue may be at the back, where they have lost Calum Davidson and Sean St Ledger. You wonder how solid they will be, even though they have drafted in Clarke Carlisle from Burnley.

Attractive

Exeter did remarkably well last year and I wouldn't rule them out of getting a play-off place. There have been a few comings and goings in the squad, but I think Paul Tisdale is a fantastic manager. He's bright and knows how to identify players and fit them into an attractive style of play.

MK Dons have the skilful Angelo Balanta back on loan from QPR , retained star striker Sam Baldock despite overtures from Peterborough and a talented young manager in Karl Robinson - but they will miss Peter Leven's drive from midfield after the Scot joined Oxford.

Brentford have been outstanding in pre-season and are managed by a former team-mate of mine in Uwe Rosler. The German looks to have done very well in the transfer market; he has signed Clayton Donaldson, who hit the 28-goal mark for Crewe in League Two last season, and midfielder Jonathan Douglas, an experienced campaigner who can fill the playmaker role.

The Bees have also strengthened their rear-guard by acquiring Shaleum Logan and Marcel Eger. Logan has come in from Manchester City and will be looking to settle down after various loan spells, while Eger is a German centre-back who is built like Dolph Lundgren and could make a big difference when he acclimatises to the English game. I certainly feel Rosler's side can be a surprise package.

And finally, I'd like to see my old team Scunthorpe challenge but I'm not sure they will be able to. Their aim will be consolidation having lost the services of goalkeeper Joe Murphy (Coventry), and defenders Rob Jones (Sheffield Wednesday) and David Mirfin (Watford). Murphy is a wonderful stopper and will be very difficult to replace, while the Iron will also miss Mirfin's pace, strength and use of the ball.

Scunthorpe have been yo-yoing between the Championship and League One for a few years, but I'm sure the fans will accept a solid mid-table position this time around. However, if manager Alan Knill doesn't get any more bodies in the building they could slide into trouble.

So you've heard Peter's views, but what do you think will happen in League One next term? Can your team get promoted? Will they be battling at the foot of the table? Who will be your side's stand-out performers? Whoever you support, carry on the debate by filling in the feedback form below...

Comments (5)

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Justin Jarrett (Scunthorpe United fan) says...

I can see Scunny making a promotion push back to the Championship this season. Up the Iron!

Posted 22:55 4th August 2011

John Smith (Preston North End fan) says...

For me, Huddersfield and PNE will be the teams getting automatic promotion. Huddersfield looked very good last season and were very unlucky not to go up - they have one of the best young managers in the country. Preston have got a good mix of young players with ability and experienced players like Mellor, Hume, Nicholson and now Graham Alexander. A player who might push either Mellor or Hume to be leading goalscorer is Jamie Proctor. Watch out for him, he is a very quick, powerful and fearless young striker, who has a great first touch and is also very good in the air - he has scored loads of goals pre season.

Posted 15:43 4th August 2011

Andrew Cockburn (Sunderland) (Sunderland fan) says...

As Peter said, no club has a divine right to be at the top, and even the so-called giants of the game can slide down the "pecking order" as it were - as my own club Sunderland can testify to only too well, having been relegated to the Old Div. 3 for the first time ever back in 1987. And while I expect both The Blades and The Owls to be amongst the front-runners, the fact that they will both be regarded as the "giants" of League 2 will make their task that little bit harder, for every other side in the Division will want to do well against them. Still, who would be against both or at least one of them, returning to The Championship come May?

Posted 14:30 4th August 2011

Khyber Carim (Chelsea) (Chelsea fan) says...

I hope to see the blades rerurn ASAP , premiership is the place,i think the beautiful city of Sheffied deserves the premiership, come on Blades.

Posted 11:29 4th August 2011

Lee Allen (Sheffield Utd) (Sheffield United fan) says...

I'm feeling confident for the blades & city of sheffield this season as for once it looks city of sheffield has two teams challenging for automatic promotion. My team sufc have made some good signing and kept the youth cup team side and defence wont make the same mistakes with Morgan back. I think Huddersfield will win League One with the Blades coming second and Wednesday third/play-offs.

Posted 15:47 3rd August 2011

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