FOOTBALL LEAGUE boff Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts on the relegation market ahead of the 2017/18 League Two season.
WLB Season Preview 2017/18 | League Two: Relegation
Picking one of the two teams to take the plunge from the Football League is never an easy feat.
Over the past three campaigns, Cheltenham (10/1), Tranmere (14/1), York (11/1) and Leyton Orient (50/1) have suffered relatively surprise relegations – a timely reminder that shit can get very really for any clubs suffering from complacency.
The likes of Accrington, Newport and Morecambe have kept their Football League status intact despite pricing perennially suggesting non-league football would be more suited to their club size.
Stanley have been given more respect by the layers this time around but the financially-stricken Shrimps remain the shortest-priced option at 9/4 (Betfred). Newport are as skinny as 3/1 to drop following their miracle escape but the side sandwiched between Morecambe and the Exiles looks our best angle of attack.
Crawley (4/1 Bet365)
Crawley have tabled 20th and 19th-placed finishes over the past two seasons and with so much squad and management upheaval – this is the third successive campaign the Red Devils start a season with a new boss – the constant change could easily catch up with the Sussex side.
This time last year, new owners had taken charge, head coach Dermot Drummy had brought in 20 new players and Crawley’s squad looked bloated and hugely unbalanced. Town survived with 51 points but were indebted to striker James Collins’ 20+ goals.
Collins has since moved on to Luton and the club have taken the surprise move to bring in Champions League-winning player Harry Kewell. The Australian has spoken positively about the challenge publicly but he’ll need to up his game after an unsatisfactory spell as manager of the Watford U23 side with his young Hornets claiming just two wins in his final six months.
Former Newport boss Warren Feeney is Kewell’s assistant and, as well as finding a replacement for Collins’ goals, the Crawley duo must rectify a leaky defence that shipped 71 goals. On paper, the Red Devils appear weaker in both boxes.
With League Two’s worst attack suffering demolition in seven of the previous 12 years and the division’s leakiest defence going down on five occasions in the same sample, Kewell and co have plenty to address if they’re to outperform their 4/1 (Bet365) odds on relegation.
I can’t see them doing so.
Yeovil (11/2 Sportingbet)
After back-to-back relegations and a 19th-placed finish in 2015/16, many Somerset natives expected better from Yeovil last time out.
There were positive signs; the Glovers were in play-off contention up until December but injuries to key wingers Ryan Hedges and Otis Khan saw Darren Way’s slide down the standings and eventually finishing 20th following a run of just three wins from 27.
Nobody around Huish Park now believes a quick fix is around the corner – small steps of progression is all that’s being demanded by Yeovil supporters but with the club seemingly still entrenched in a downward spiral, I’m not sure the Glovers are best placed to deliver.
The first-choice midfield from last season has moved on to pastures new; Matty Dolan’s departure will certainly hurt whilst Kevin Dawson’s consistent performances will also be missed. Elsewhere, key centre-back Alex Lacey has left and a lack of invention or penetration in the final-third could cost Way.
Yeovil have produced League Two’s best bottom-half defence over the past two campaigns but patience is wearing thin with Way and the former Glovers star is aware his side must start on the front foot if they’re to win back dissatisfied customers.
Whilst Yeovil’s social media team have been trailblazers this summer, the on-field squad is anything but functional and a return to non-league football for the first time since 2003 looks a distinct possibility.
Yeovil are well worth a dart at 11/2 (Sportingbet) for the drop.
League Two – Crawley to be relegated (4/1 Bet365)
League Two – Yeovil to be relegated (11/2 Sportingbet)
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