After giving our League Two season predictions yesterday, today it is time to move up a division and look at League One. The first thing to note with this division, is how much it has improved in recent years, this is a very different league to what it was five years ago.
Gone are the days when those relegated from the Championship were immediately fancied to go straight back up. Spoiler alert here, but I don’t fancy any of the three relegated teams to go straight back up at the first time of asking, and would not be surprised to see at least two of them miss the playoffs. The betting is headed by two teams who were in League One last year, again, something we didn’t see too often if you go back five to 10 years.
With that, it is time to look at our 2022/23 League Two season predictions.
Back the Owls to Learn from Last Season and Win Promotion
Sheffield Wednesday are favourites to win League One, so it’s a little obvious of me to put them up. However, given the big price selection I gave up yesterday, and the fancy at double figure odds coming up for the Championship tomorrow, hopefully you’ll forgive me for this one.
They are priced up at 9/2 with bet365, which represents their chances pretty much spot on, they are favourites for a reason.
I think the credentials for Sheffield Wednesday to win promotion are outstanding. They have an excellent core, the best midfield in the league, and as you move down the pyramid, winning the midfield battle becomes even more important. What Wednesday need to do differently from last season is simply learn from their mistakes.
At the start of the season, inconsistency hurt them, and truth be told, I think they took a few games a little too easily, expecting things to happen for them without working for it. In the second half, we saw a completely different team. They went into the playoffs as the form team riding a wave, and played very well in what was a cracking tie, coming up just short against Sunderland.
Barry Bannan remains with the club, and alongside Will Vaulks provides and excellent midfield platform that can give Wednesday a little bit of everything. David Stockdale is a rock solid signing to play in goal, while Michael Smith arrives after bagging 25 goals in all competitions for Rotherham last season in League One, the same production at Hillsborough would be very welcome by the Wednesday faithful.
A better start to the season and a desire to right what went wrong in the playoffs against Wednesday is all they need to do. They have the quality in their squad to take League One by storm, if Darren Moore can guide them in the right direction mentally.
The Loss of Duff Could Sink Cheltenham
Finding a manager that ‘gets it’ is what all football league fans dream of. In terms of Cheltenham Town, no one got them more than Michael Duff, and that was plain to see with the success he delivered on the field. After winning promotion from League Two, Duff guided Cheltenham to a safe finishing position last season, overachieving when you look at the budget he had to work with.
The future looks very different though, because Michael Duff is now in the dugout for recently relegated Barnsley. How will Cheltenham cope without their leader? I fear for them, and it could well lead to the ultimate disappointment, relegation back to League Two.
Wade Elliott is a popular appointment, as the club look to bring continuity after Duff. But in his first full managerial role, can Elliott work the same kind of miracles in the short term that Duff produced. This is a squad that overachieved under Duff, and on paper, look to be one of the lower ranked teams in this division. Without their inspirational leader, I think survival is a step too far, and sadly for The Robins, that means relegation.
Clarke-Harris the Standout in Top Scorer Market
When looking through the top scorer market for League One, there is one name standing out and that is Peterborough striker Jonson Clarke-Harris. The 28-year-old has a little more to shoulder this season, being named club captain, but considering he performed that role towards the end of last season, I’m confident it won’t slow down his scoring rate.
Look back over his last two seasons with Peterborough, and you will see all you need to know about the chances that Clarke-Harris tops the scoring chart. Last season, he scored 12 goals in the Championship, on a team that struggled for goals, were behind in games a lot and were relegated. That’s a solid return. Go back a year further and Clarke-Harris won the League One top goalscorer award with 31 goals in the 2020/21 season. That was five clear of the next best player, and while it’s difficult to compare season scoring rates, 26 won the award last year.
I’m not expecting Peterborough to be involved in the title race this season, but they can finish top half and create a lot more chances than they did in the higher division last year. With that, we will see more chances for Clarke-Harris, and is the last two years are anything to go by, that will result in goals.