As we approach the winter window it has already been an intriguing first half of the season in League One. From discontent at Charlton to on field protests at Coventry and Tim Sherwood rocking up at Swindon (so far to negative effect).
You may recall I previewed the season ahead in my previous blog ( https://smfyfe.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/skybet-league-1-preview-201617/ ) with the help of fans from each club – well I caught up with them to find out what is required to help their sides in January, who they cannot afford to lose, how their season has gone so far and if their preseason predictions are still realistic:
AFC Wimbledon by Ray Armfield @KentWomble
High points – winning at places like Charlton and Peterborough in the league and that astonishing comeback from 3-0 down at Curzon Ashton with three goals in 162 seconds then a stoppage time winner.
Low point – losing at Milton Keynes where our team just didn’t perform.
We may need goalkeeper and right back cover plus a winger in the window.
I’d hate to lose big Tom Elliott, he’s been unplayable recently. We should avoid the drop now,but it’s still a tight league. I’d take tenth right now!
Unplayable at times – Tom Elliott – taken from club website
Bolton by Neil Fletcher @neilfletcher72
Would hope for at least play offs given the start we’ve had.
Need to keep Zachary Clough.
Need a goal scorer and just general strength in depth.
High point is our current run.
Low point the continuing financial worries.
Must keep – Zach Clough – taken from The Bolton News
Bradford by Ben Jacobs @bennjacobs22
High point is definitely not losing at home and turning over Rochdale. Our defence has had a huge shake up with a new midfield sat in front of it, two new centre backs who have both been amazing and a new keeper – yet we’ve managed to keep the same stability that snook us into the play offs last year. Few blips like Southend and Sheffield United where we conceded to easily but not a lot to complain about.
Low point is now, two goals in the last 6 league games has seen us lose touch with automatics – yet we haven’t played badly at all and probably should have won most of them games yet chances are being wasted game after game. Even at home to Scunthorpe we had control of possession and 11 shots that lead to no goals against a really good side. Before that it was 18 chances at Walsall and only one goal.
We definitely need a striker, I don’t care if they come up from lower divisions or down from the Championship but we need somebody to put the ball in the back of the net. We’ve had 11 draws this year and could easily make a case for winning pretty much all of them – would see us sit at the top of the league; if we had a Billy Sharp in the team we’d probably be in the automatics.
We have to keep hold of Josh Cullen, absolute world beater, best CM in the league and would probably walk into anybodies team. How we managed to get an extra 6 months on his loan till January with the change at the club during summer was great but to keep him till the end of the season seems imperative. At this level he’s pretty much impossible to replace.
I think the last predication (by fellow Bradford fan Ed Goodall) of mid table came after a turbulent summer – manager left suddenly, new owners came in, a month behind in pre season so to be where we are in the league is a credit to those at the club. We should be finishing comfortably in the play offs IF we get a striker or two that can turn a few of the many draws into a win – haven’t really played against anyone and thought “they’re a lot bette than us”. Hopefully we can stay in the play offs, long 2nd half of the season to go but don’t think we’ll catch those in automatics.
Best cm in the league? Josh Cullen – taken from bbc.co.uk
Bristol Rovers by Tommy Warren
Start of the season was great. Keeping are main man Matty Taylor and our manager Darrel Clarke was key.
High point this season was a great away trip to Stamford Bridge where we performed brilliantly narrowly losing 3-2.
In Jan I Believe we need to strengthen at the back as we seem to be conceding sloppy goals of late. So a GK and a CB. Need a solid CM to take control of games, that bit of bite in the middle and striker to partner Taylor (if we keep him).
So Taylor is the man we don’t wanna lose.
All in all I believe if Darrel makes the right additions in Jan then we can really make a push for the play offs and the unthinkable 3rd promotion on the spin!
Happy with how we are fairing in League 1 ATM anyway! Up the gas👍⚽
Can Taylor fire Rovers to another promotion? Taken from bbc.co.uk
Bury by Joe Wood @jwoody616
1. The rise of some players from the youth team to the senior squad. Miller, Burgess and Bedeau have played well since breaking in to the first team, Callum Styles who became the first new millennium born player to play in English football also made a start against Fleetwood recently.
2. James Vaughan and his goals, he’s been great to watch.
3. Although we lost, playing our old rivals Bolton in the league again was a good experience, the atmosphere was electric and both sets of fans put aside the rivalry for a minute to light up Gigg Lane with mobile phone torches in memory of Zak Vali. It was a nice touch.
1. The defence, there’s no way of sugar coating it, they’ve been terrible for the best part of the season, they’re letting the side down.
2. Injuries! Captain Nathan Cameron is injured (again), Tom Pope punctured his lung live on Sky against Peterborough and impressive new signing Zeli Ismail to name a few.
3. Falling crowds/dying atmosphere! Fans voted with their feet to get David Flitcroft sacked but a lot still don’t seem to be coming back.
What areas need improving?
Defence, Defence, DEFENCE.
What player can’t we lose? Vaughan, with the premier league and championship experience he brings and how he’s played in such an out of form team it’s starting to make me wonder if he’s just simply too good for this level. It really wouldn’t surprise me if a Championship move pops up for him in January.
He is what 12? Callum Styles – the first pro footballer born in the new millenium. Taken from BBC
Charlton by Tom Wayment @TomWayment90
Low point: 3-0 defeat to Swindon in November
High point: 5-1 win against Bristol Rovers
Could do with an attacking midfielder to supply our strikers. Lack of invention at the moment
Looks inevitable that Ademola Lookman is leaving. Apart from him Josh Magennis has been brilliant not likely to leave though
I think I said play offs at the start of the season. Still think its a possibility.
Low point – losing to Swindon.
Chesterfield by Aaron Thomas Riggott @aaron_23_cfc
It’s very worrying as a Chesterfield fan this season as a couple of seasons back we had a very good team in the playoffs pushing for the championship, as I’m sure you are aware we have had that team taken apart by bigger and better clubs, unlike clubs like Peterborough we only seem to get small money for our players too which I can’t understand as we’ve sold some real stars in the past.
As for our season so far there isn’t many high points to be honest because of all the money worries and not great performances we are in a little troublem The high point for me was taking the punt on Ched Evans because no one else wanted to take the gamble and we did, he is a quality forward who with a better set of players around him will score for fun!
The low point for me was losing 5-0 to Wycombe, nobody likes to loose but we were taken apart that day and they were by far the better side! No disrespect to Wycombe but we expected to win that day, they are a division lower so you naturally think it will go your way – as they say football is a funny game.
As for who we don’t wanna lose in the transfer window well… obviously it’s Ched because he brings so much to our team! The lift he gives us is unreal and he gets the crowd going too because we as fans can see he is different quality to what we’ve ever had before! Sam Hird is another player we would need to hang onto because he is a rock at the back for us, he was out injured a while and when he came back we beat Bolton 1-0 at home with a fantastic performance and that wasn’t just coincidence.
The main priority for Chesterfield this season is to try our best to stay in this league and will probably be the same objective for the next few seasons. Money talks in football and we haven’t got a lot as I’m sure everyone knows. We need our fans to keep turning up as we have been and getting behind the lads because we have a lot of very loyal supporters who love the club and spend a lot of money going to watch us.
Chesterfield is my home town and I’ll support them till I die COYB
Different class – Ched Evans. Taken from The Mirror
Coventry by Phillip Hopkins
The whole seasons been a low spot, I’m looking for a high spot but I’m struggling – the fans have just about given up and resigned themselves. Personally I think we will stay up by the skin of our teeth.
We need to strengthen in just about every position but our faliure to turn possesion into goals means a good striker has to be our priority also a big experinced centre back to prevent us conceding so often from corners but these players wont come because our owners will not invest a penny in the team.
A player we badly need to keep is Jordan Willis – a young centre back who is our captain but still needs an old head with him.
Before the season started we hid high hopes for the playoffs but our loan players this year have not worked so no playoffs i think we will just stay up but it will go to the wire and also depend on other results.
Star boy – Skipper Jordan Willis – taken from Coventry Telegraph
Fleetwood by Luke Thomas @_lukejthomas_
It’s been an amazing season for us so far. Uwe has really turned it around. We play a lot more attacking and have scored in all league games except one so that shows how attacking we’ve been.
In January we really need some midfield cover in CM we have been hit with a lot of injuries there with Ryan and Dempsey out our main CMs.
Ashley Hunter is the player we need to keep – he always works hard and his speed means defenders struggle to cope with him.
I think that if we carry on playing how we are there’s no reason we can’t finish in the top 10 and even squeeze into the playoffs, but anything above 12th is amazing considering the state of the squad and the manager (Pressley) we had.
Credit to Uwe Rosler he has done an amazing job.
Ashley Hunter – taken from full contact website
Gillingham by Craig Adams @1982craigadams
High points not really any, maybe Southend away 1st game of the season – a decent performance with a convincing away win.
Lows: where to start? Brackley home and away was one of the most embarrasing experiences I’ve had since I started going to Gills and beleive me there’s been quite a few. Scunthorpe away, I know they have been fantastic this season, but to lose 5-0 is never a good experience and it could have easily been 7 or 8.
Area that needs strengthening is the defence. To only keep one clean sheet in the league is appaling, we actually set a new club record of games wihout a clean sheet – think it was 28 or 29 which for a professional club is absolutely appaling.
My pre seasn prediction isnt looking good, 6 points from 6th with an extremely tough xmas coming up (mk home, Peterborough, Millwall away) we coud see ourselves dragged into the relegation mix if Edinburgh stays in charge – I think that could easily happen, im hoping that Paul Scally will pull the trigger and get rid of Edinburgh before we fall to far off the play offs. If he stays we’ll be lower mid table .
In trouble? Gills boss Justin Edinburgh – taken from The Independant
MK Dons by Alex Hendy
The season so far has been far from what we as a fanbase expected and as such it’s hard to point out specific low points as the whole season has been disappointing so far.
Beating AFC and securing the first home win since March would be the high points as of now in a below par start to the 2016/2017 season
Up front is the obvious choice (to improve). We’ve struggled to convert the chances we create and that’s what has cost us the most this season so a striker or two would be no. 1 priority after that a general depth improvement of the squad perhaps a central defender to replace Wooton (lost to injury early on).
Who is the one man you don’t want to lose this window? This is a particularly hard one as we don’t have any stand out players that we could lose unlike previous seasons but with Ben Reeves contract expiring in the summer I’d like to see us try and sort his contract out rather than lose him now for money or worse free in the summer one of the better players of an average midfield.
The greatest thing about this league is just how close its turning out to be so whilst my preseason prediction looks like it could turn out to be wrong if we carry on as we are however with the change of manager and hopefully a change in fortune we could still achieve it although myself along with most of the fans I believe would be happy with staying up now and building next season.
The only highlight so far?
Millwall by Mark Litchfield @iamthelitch of News at Den
Any high/low points of your season so far?
The highest point so far has probably been our form in October/November. Only Bolton stopped us from scoring during a ten-game period and we dragged ourselves away from danger to the brink of the play-off places.
The low point, without a doubt, was the 5-1 defeat at Peterborough in mid-August. Neil Harris’ post-match comments – which I was ‘lucky’ enough to hear first hand – suggested that things weren’t well at the club at that time.
What area of you feel your side needs to strengthen this window?
We don’t need major surgery, we just need a few reinforcements in the right places. Those places especially being centre-half. We are scoring goals, but also leaking far too many silly, stupid ones, too.
I think we could also do with another left-back and a back-up striker.
Who is the one man you don’t want to lose this window?
There’s a couple – Byron Webster and Lee Gregory. Both were heavily linked with moves away in the summer, but both chose to stay at Millwall. They are two key players in Harris’ squad and they would both be hard to replace.
Is your preseason prediction of promotion still realistic?
Yes, but it would have to be via the play-offs again, it seems. Automatic promotion, unless we go on a monumental run, seems out of our reach, but we’re only a good run of form away from a play-off place. We always tend to do better in the second half of the season, too.
Key man Byron Webster – taken from News at Den
Northampton by Liam Barry Harris Shaw
My high point has to be managing to get to 31 games undefeated and beating west brom in the cup.
Low point is losing to Peterborough twice in 31 days.
We definitely need to get a new striker and try to hold on to Adam Smith.
It is very realistic hoping for top 12 now.
Highlight of the season so far
Oldham by Josh Sweatman
There are absolutely no high points at all.
Low points are pretty much every game and never scoring a goal – our strikers cannot even shoot.
We need to keep our keeper Connor Ripley as he is about the only decent player we have – Lee Croft too.
Every area needs improving but mostly the defence.
There is no doubt about it – we will finish bottom. Basically we are attrocious.
On loan Ripley is only quality player – taken from club website.
Oxford by Matt Hutton @huttonmatt
High point was winning at Bolton, great day, great atmosphere (from the away fans) and great result.
Low point was losing at Coventry, we took a great following on a Tuesday night and the performance was woeful, we’d have lost to a pub team.
We need to strengthen up top in the window, Hemmings needs some help and hasn’t quite found his feet yet, and with Wes Thomas out for the season we have no back up.
We really can’t afford to lose Chris Maguire in the transfer window, he oozes class, everything good going forward comes through him and he doesn’t miss penalties which is a huge asset to us after recent years!
My prediction of midtable mediocrity is exactly where we are at the moment, and I’d happily settle for it, I don’t think we’re anywhere near good enough to mount a serious top 6 challenge but from I’ve seen so far if we can improve up top I think we’ll be comfortably safe.
Big loss, Wes Thomas injury could harm Oxfords season – taken from club website.
Peterborough by Fergus Leader
High point for me personally was McCann finally being appointed manager, the win against Dons at the start of the season and of course our big 6 points off the cobblers!
Low points, despite winning the game our match against Chesham was a bit frustrating to watch, and the boxing day game was tough to have 2 points taken off us like that, some would say Jermain Anderson injury is low point but never really rated him if I’m honest.Few other games I feel were a disappointment like Oxford away and Afc Wimbledon at home.
We definitely need to keep Chris Forester and I’m glad we extended the loan on Keeper Luke Mcgee.
Areas to improve, our defence seems solid with Bostwick and Taffazoli so no fault there, again midfield is good mix of players but we need a striker who can finish consistently. Angol is great and so are Nichols and Taylor and Coulthirst but apart from Angol they’re all a bit inconsistent.
The pre season prediction of promotion is always our goal in this league but it’s looking like playoffs if I’m honest. I think we’ll also focus on the upcoming Chelsea game and who knows if we win that then the lads will be extatic and want a cup push too
Early season highlight
Port Vale by Rob Fielding of onevalefan.co.uk @onevalefan
The high point was beating leaders Scunthorpe United. Many would say the low point came when Vale were thrashed 4-0 by Wimbledon. If goalkeeper Jak Alnwick hadn’t pulled off some great saves it could have more.
We could really do with keeping loanee Alex Jones and ideally adding another forward so that we can play two upfront.
Arguably midfielder Anthony Grant. He’s been linked with a move away and we’ve been woeful during his time serving a suspension.
It depends (preseason prediction). Manager Bruno Ribeiro is coming under increasing pressure so it really depends on whether Vale stick with him or bring a new man in. Either way, the fans will be desperate to stay up this season.
Since resigned – now ex boss Ribiero – taken from club website.
Rochdale by Dean Smith @Deanothedalefan
Some serious high points in our home fixtures! 4-0 wins over Swindon and Walsall deserve honourable mentions, as does the 2-0 win over arch rivals Bury. But this weekends 3-2 victory over title contenders Scunthorpe showed just how good we can be on our day.
In terms of low points, there have been some shocking performances on the road, particularly the 4-0 defeat at Bradford.
It feels great to say this – but I don’t know (areas needing improving). Our defence looks strong, our midfield looks strong, and there’s plenty of penetration going forward. If we could get Keith Keane signed permanently, that would be a big plus, but even if we don’t I’d fancy Keith Hill to pull a rabbit out the bag, as always.
Keith Hill is the one man we cannot lose. The man’s status at the club surpasses anyone who has been before him as far as I’m concerned. Our squad is okay but without the manager, it’s a League 2 squad at best, and yet we’re in the League 1 play-off spots. That’s how good he is.
I think it’s more than realistic (avoiding relegation). Although we’re 5th at the minute I’m still not sure the play-offs is a realistic target because in terms of budget and fanbase, we’ve no right to compete in this division, but given how well we’ve played in the first half of the campaign I’ll be disappointed if we don’t finish in the top half at least now.
One of many season highlights
Scunthorpe by Owen @owen_sufc
There’s been a lot of high points for us this season including big wins against Gillingham, Southend, Swindon and Walsall but the biggest I would say was probably being top at Christmas – who would’ve thought it?
Low points would have to be the disappointing losses against Port Vale, Oldham and most recently Rochdale but even they have produced positives as we have bounced back with big wins each time. Bowing out of the FA Cup at Charlton was also a disappointment as the performance was actually very good but we just couldn’t find the goal more than once, which is highly unlike us.
One area I think we need to strengthen is the centre back position as we’re still missing the ever reliable David Mirfin through injury and whilst his replacement Charlie Goode does show potential, he still looks like he has an error within him.
Everyone will no doubt be looking at Josh Morris as the man we can’t afford to lose, and whilst his goals and assists return has been quite spectacular for a winger, the player I feel is most important to the team and would be a big miss is Murray Wallace, a centre back who is now rated as one if the best in the league and definitely deserves to be playing at a higher level.
I think the majority of Scunthorpe fans were predicting a play off finish due to last season where we missed out on goal difference on the final day of the season but obviously after our fantastic first half of the season we’ve been top for a long period of time now so to drop away from the automatic promotion places would be disappointing but we fully understand the challenge that awaits us in this second half of the season with both Sheffield United and Bolton looking strong now. Play offs would still be an achievement for us and I think we’d have been happy with that at the start of the season, however I am going to go for us to finish second with Sheffield United just beating us to top place.
Best defender in the league? Murray Wallace – taken from Eurosport.
Sheffield U by Adam Hudson @AdamHTheBlade27
A lot of highs so far this season.
Another striker maybe defender in Jan but don’t want to lose Fleck. We won’t hopefully because he’ll be in championship next season.
Automatic promotion is happening Bolton will win league I reckon.
Crucial – John Fleck. Taken from The Star.
Shrewsbury by Danny Davies @danfunkindee
Low points must go to Mickey Mellon can’t understand his thinking on tactics from the start of the season. He seemed to recruit decent players but sadly something in his training methods didn’t quite work out and we became negative and conceded way too many goals it was frightening. Inevitable he exited the club taking long term assistant manager Mike Jackson (Nearly 10 years) with him. It took almost 3 weeks to find a suitable replacement who could turn it around and get us up the table. In came Paul Hurst from Grimsby who had done a decent job in non league with several clubs before taking on Grimsby finally getting them back in the football league. So far Hurst has turned the ship around gaining 6 clean sheets out of 9 games where we had only 1 this season before Hurst arrived. Its gonna take time but the players have for the most part engaged with what the manager says so if it continues maybe we can push on escape relegation and end up in a decent upper mid table position. We all know what Barnsley did last season so if we do half as good then we will be mid table.
I’m pretty sure all our players that are any good wont be leaving as nobody shines through as exceptional. Certainly wouldn’t want Jayson Luetwiler, Junior Brown or Louie Dodds to leave.
We certainly need a centre half at the moment we have a pairing of one 5ft 10 and another 5ft 9 which is a little short for centre halves but 6 clean sheets in 9 says something has been put right so far. A centre forward is also a must and a winger maybe.
Looking at where we are I’d be happy mid table comfortably clear from relegation.
New manager, new optimism. Paul Hurst taken from Shropshire Star.
Southend by Joe Steward @JoeSteward90
Our low point could of been any time at the start of the season where we was embroiled in what seemed to be a relegation fight but our worst spell was a run of 3 consecutive away defeats of 4-0, 4-0 and 3-0.
Since the last game of that run we have since gone on a 11 game unbeaten run in the league and we have gone from relegation candidates to play off contenders within weeks our 1-1 draw away to Bradford seems to have been a real turning point in our season.
With the imminent departure of Sokolik and captain Adam Barrett’s mysterious disappearance from the first team picture a new centre half is needed as until Innis is fit Ferdinand and Thompson are our only recognised centre backs we are also in need of 1 more striker if we have ambitions of extending our season, Ranger has been exceptional since coming in but has been prone to slight setbacks in his fitness.
Nile Ranger has been a revelation since we took the gamble and has been a key part of our current run but has just signed a 3 and half year deal so won’t lose him yet the rest of side has been excellent in this current run but if I had to pick out 1 man it’ll be Anthony Wordsworth his found a knack of scoring goals from midfield and is currently our top scorer with 7 his also out of contract at the end of the season.
As we’re currently in the play offs then that’s gotta be the aim i feel with a couple of additions we could make a charge for the autos but I feel play offs is more realistic
Revolutionary – Nile Ranger – Taken from club website.
Swindon by Ross Poole @rkpstfc30
For me there are no high points in our season.
There’s been many low points but the worse has to be the home defeat to Bristol rovers.
Improvements I think we need an experienced defender and midfielder.
One man I don’t want to lose is Jon Obika but not sure there a future for him here.
I don’t think my prediction is Likely to be correct now. I think we will just stay up though.
No future? Star striker Obika – Taken from BBC
Walsall by Zane Alpine @Zane_Alpine
High point so far I’d probably say the away win at Sheffield United, we got battered all game and scraped a 1-0 win, they had two goals disallowed and missed a penalty.
Low point I’d say the 4-0 defeat to Rochdale where we had a total of 2 shots on goal all game, we need to strengthen our defence and get another centre back and another winger or two.
The player i wouldn’t want to lose the most would be Scott Laird (which kind of follows on from the last point as his loan is up soon) although we are close to signing him permanently.
Lastly I wouldn’t say we’re consistent enough to reach the play offs, we’ll probably finish around midtable but probably closer to the bottom half
Star man Scott Laird – taken from club website.