FOOTBALL LEAGUE fanatic Matt Vale (@MattDVale) highlights his favourite specials for the 2016/17 League One campaign.
League One | Specials
League One looks delightfully awful this season.
A menagerie of mediocre sides who were very recently plying their trade in League Two, the standard middle-of-the-road League One sides who neither go up or down, a few who have delusions of grandeur and the apparent big-boys who couldn’t quite cut it at a higher level. Some financially, some tactically. Hi Karl.
The success of Burton and my lovely Walsall boys (ONE BLOODY POINT) highlighted the relatively poor standard of League One last season, as did the promotion of a Barnsley side who were in the relegation zone on Boxing Day yet still managed to overtake nearly all the division to finish sixth.
Burton proved that a successful defence, a bit of organisation and maybe even a bit of momentum are all you need to do pretty well. Organisation, you say? Momentum, you say? Step forward Millwall and Scunthorpe.
Millwall are up first and 11/1 outright for a side who were as good as anything I saw last season, had a terrific record in 2016 (losing just four of 23) and the best centre-forward in the division is a pretty good price.
If Lee Gregory stays, he’s a decent little bet for Top Goalscorer too; especially with the creativity the Lions will have in wide areas in the form of David Worrall, and Gregg Wylde, plus a ready-made partnership with Steve Morison.
Millwall lost a playoff final in 2009 but bounced straight back with promotion the following season and I fancy them to do exactly the same again this time around.
I do think Sheffield United might finally do OK, too. In an average division, a side with Billy Sharp and Leon Clark up top plus a defensively sound manager might just be enough. But not at 6/1. Not for me, anyway.
With Nicky Ajose and Lee Novak spearheading their attack, Charlton similarly should score plenty of goals and will be there or thereabouts but there are enough lingering doubts about the size of their squad to ultimately put me off.
When talking about momentum, look no further than Scunthorpe.
The Iron were so unlucky to just miss out on the play-offs last season, winning their last six games to finish seventh. In 2016 they only lost three times and had the second best defensive record in the division, conceding just 17.
They’ve a 20-goal-a-season man in Paddy Madden, a strong defence and a few talented additions (including Josh Morris) which all point to a successful season. The 18/1 (Bet365) with +14 start on the handicap is tempting for Scunny, as is 5/2 for a simple Top Six Finish.
The League One handicap prize usually requires around 100 points, which rules out most of those going off scratch, +3 or +5. Scunthorpe have it in them to get to the mid 80’s, points wise, so are definitely worth a flutter on the handicap.
I don’t think Walsall will have a particularly great season, finishing just above mid-table but that might just be enough to be Top Midlands Club, seeing off Coventry, Chesterfield, Shrewsbury and Port Vale at a tempting 11/4 (Bet365).
The AFC Wimbledon story is a lovely one and I hope they do well, I’m just not sure they should be a similar price as Walsall (20/1 SkyBet) to finish bottom of the pile when such a lot hinges on their ageing defence. Worth a tickle?