The 2016/17 League One season was full of shocks. Fleetwood provided the biggest shock as they glided up the league with a respectable fourth place finish. Southend also turned a few heads as they battled through the league scoring 70 goals which is rather impressive for a team that were languishing in the bottom half of the table the season before. With only 6 weeks left until the start of the season every single side are looking to shape up and sign some key players to push up the table and into the Championship. Blackburn, Wigan and Rotherham are all set to enter the fray but I look at which sides can unexpectedly challenge them.
Bury are looking a real threat and the season hasn’t even started yet! The shakers manager Lee Clark knows League One inside out after leading Huddersfield to an incredible unbeaten run of 43 games back in 2011. Clark will be looking to replicate the run and with the addition of the experienced Jermaine Beckford it surely wouldn’t be impossible. Jay O’Shea has also joined the Shakers, he had a promising finish to last season and after securing the title with Sheffield United he will be looking to replicate it with Bury.
Clark’s men will look to shake things up this year after a disappointing 19th place finish last time out. They still need to add a few more faces but I believe it will be a positive campaign for the Bury faithful.
My prediction: 4th Place
Portsmouth are expected to achieve success after winning the League 2 title last season but the Pompey fans know it won’t be easy. After their turbulent fall from grace which started back in 2010, Fratton Park has been ridden with negativity, but it all looks to be changing. Paul Cook built a solid side who showed tremendous character last time out, at one point in the campaign it looked as if Portsmouth would have to settle for the play offs yet again! That was until the south cost side went on a ridiculous win streak to snatch the title on the last day of the season. Paul Cook has now departed to Wigan which isn’t exactly seen as a step up. Pompey have replaced Cook with the experienced Kenny Jackett.
Jackett like Clark knows the league inside out, he has been promoted with Millwall and took Wolverhampton back into the championship at the first time of asking back in 2014. Since then Jackett has had an unsuccessful spell with Rotherham United, he now wants to settle down and Fratton Park might just be the place to do so.
Pompey have already added Nathan Thompson to the squad, the versatile Englishman can do a job anywhere in the back four. The hardest challenge for Jackett will be keeping hold of their key players but if they want to push for the top six then it will be vital they do so. Kal Naismith and Connor Chaplin will be pivotal in Portsmouth’s push. Jackett understands he will need to keep hold of these key men but he is still on the lookout for fresh talent.
My prediction: 6th Place
Doncaster Rovers have a solid foundation but they will yet again be relying on the likes of James Coppinger and John Marquis to fire them to glory. Darren Ferguson will be more than keen to keep hold of last season’s top scorer. Marquis hit 26 goals last season and had the best year of his career so far. He looks to have settled at the Keepmoat stadium and has even said himself he would like to stay. Ferguson has already secured the services of the talented, Alex Kiwomya the tricky winger was a standout player for Crewe last season he scored 7 goals from midfield and picked up a numerous amount of assists. Rovers have also secured the services of Ben Whiteman for the season, the youngster has switched Sheffield for Doncaster in search of game time and after scoring 7 in 23 for Mansfield last season he certainly deserves a chance to prove himself.
Rovers owe a lot of success to their home form, they only lost 3 home games throughout the last campaign and they will be out to better that as they look to make the Keepmoat a fortress. On paper Doncaster have a few brilliant attacking options, Tommy Rowe, John Marquis and Andy Williams had 50 goals between themselves last season, and with the addition of Kiwomya and Whiteman things could surely only get better.
My Prediction: 5th Place
Who do you think will be the surprise package next season? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Kevin Neagle