Football League Expert & Columnist
Derby, Sheffield United and Portsmouth tipped for promotion
Last Updated: 06/08/15 10:14am
Peter Beagrie looks ahead to the start of the Sky Bet Football League season, tipping Derby, Sheffield United and Portsmouth for glory.
The wait is almost over as the Football League gets underway on Friday night when Brighton take on Nottingham Forest, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
But it is not just the Championship that gets underway this week, and ahead of what promises to be an enthralling 2015/16 campaign, Football League expert Peter Beagrie gives us his picks for promotion.
Winners: Derby (Sky Bet title odds 6/1)
Lively Outsider: Wolves (Sky Bet promotion odds 4/1)
BEAGS SAYS: I’ll go with Derby as my favourites because their recruitment has been sensational. They are full of out-and-out goalscorers. I’m not sure how they managed to get Andreas Weimann because clubs in the Premier League should have been in for him, he’s really talented.
Darren Bent and Tom Ince fitted in really well last year. Where they went wrong last year was with their two centre-halves. Lewis Buxton got injured and they didn’t realise how much they were going to miss him. They have brought in Jason Shackell and competition in many places gives them that edge.
Paul Clement has kept the fabric of the club the same, and not made wholesale changes. The players already have an affinity with the club, they are not starting from scratch.
Championship winner 2015/16
Bournemouth swept the competition aside last term, who is your pick this time around?
If Middlesbrough bring in Jordan Rhodes then they will challenge as well, with the squad they already have. I just feel they are missing a 20-goal man, particularly after the sale of Lee Tomlin, and another forward is desperately needed.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have to be considered as an outsiderto do well and build on last year's fantastic season back int he Championship. Everyone, including me, was raving about Bakary Sako last year, and they have a young kid who is going to fit into the Championship no problem in Jed Wallace, a new signing from Portsmouth. He's two-footed and a bag of tricks with an eye for the spectacular.
He was too good for League Two, and has come into an environment at Wolves where they have changed the blueprint recruiting young, hungry players including Conor Coady, Nouha Dicko and Benik Afobe. They will surprise a few people.
The marquee signings in that division are Andreas Weimann (Derby) and Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough) for me.
Promotion: Sheffield United, Wigan (Sky Bet promotion odds 6/4 and 9/4)
Lively outsider: Bradford (Sky Bet promotion odds 4/1)
BEAGS SAYS: I know Nigel Adkins very well. He already has a promotion from this division on his CV and is obsessed with football. He is one of the most qualified managers in terms of his knowledge of sports science, physio and the game in general. We've had some brilliant conversations over the years when he was a frustrated physio with ideals of being a manager. He should be great for Sheffield United, but will be hoping for no cup runs this season as that has impinged on their league form in the last two campaigns.
Keeping hold of Jamie Murphy is great business as there were lots of suitors and Ryan Flynn can play on the other wing. They have Billy Sharp back there for the third time, as the perfect foil Connor Sammon alongside. They'll score goals. There is a player in Michael Higdon too and young Louis Reed - same name but not same spelling - reminds me of a young Peter Reid. They have recruited well that’s for sure.
As for Wigan, signing Will Grigg is great business. He will be among the top scorers at this level, so I'd be backing that at 9/1. Gary Caldwell and the chairman get on well, so he will get time to get things right. Every striker needs a supply line and Michael Jacobs will be the main provider as a winger who can operate on both flanks.
Bradford are my outside bet. Phil Parkinson has got some quality on board with Championship experience. The pick of the bunch is the jet-heeled wide-man Paul Anderson from Ipswich. He got double figures for assists in the Championship last season, and they have done remarkably well to persuade him to drop down a division.
They have the two best full-backs in James Meredith and Stephen Darby, and I just think James Hanson and Steven Davis will be an absolute handful.
Promotion: Portsmouth (Sky Bet title odds 9/1)
Lively Outsider: Northampton (Sky Bet title odds 16/1)
PETER SAYS: At some point, someone is going to get a team right at Portsmouth to match the fanatical fanbase. They create a great atmosphere and Paul Cook can be that man.
Gary Roberts was a talisman for Chesterfield with Paul Cook when they got promotion and I expect both men to have a feeling of deja vu. Goal machine Matt Tubbs will find Roberts a constant supply line and I'm backing him to finish as top scorer in the division.
Northampton are my outside bet. Chris Wilder knows the division inside out and gets players from non-league who immediately look right for League Two. He uses the loan market well and has good contacts.
He surprised a few people when he left the set up at Oxford, but he kept Northampton up and is now eyeing a promotion push.