FOOTBALL LEAGUE fanatic Matt Vale (@MattDVale) shares his thoughts on the specials markets ahead of the 2017/18 League Two season.
WLB Season Preview 2017/18 | League Two: Specials
It’s all about Mansfield this summer.
Steve Evans has recruited an all-star line-up and the Stags are as short as 9/2 for the title. There’s no denying the calibre of the players they’ve bought in with nine of their 13 summer signings coming from current League One clubs, with the capture of Lee Angol particularly promising.
Evans is just the man to deliver and he’ll be revelling in such a great opportunity to secure a 10th promotion.
Elsewhere, Luton are my pick to push Mansfield all the way and clinch second spot. You can back the Hatters and Mansfield to finish as the top-two teams in League Two at a hunky 20/1 (SkyBet).
It’s a massive season for the highly-lauded Nathan Jones and failure to secure promotion this time around will surely see question marks raised over his ability.
He organised Luton perfectly last season but they lacked goals and they’ve certainly tried to rectify that with the acquisition of James Collins. The Hatters now boast two of the top three in the Top Goalscorer market with Collins at 8/1 joining Danny Hylton at 12s.
At a slim 17/10 for promotion, you can try your luck with Sky Bet’s Top Southern market where they are 3/1 to see off the likes of Swindon, Exeter and Colchester.
The gulf between the National League and League Two is always a welcome discussion over a pint and I’m a massive believer that it’s getting smaller.
Whether that’s because the standard in non-league is improving or that the bottom half of League Two is in decline, I’m not so sure. Probably the latter.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how Danny Cowley fares in the Football League and I fully expect both Lincoln and Forest Green Rovers to hit the ground running in their new division and secure comfortable top-half finishes, with the former maybe sneaking into sixth or seventh.
I expected Cambridge to secure promotion last season but Shaun Derry’s men had an awful start before finally recovering to finish 11th. I’m not totally convinced by Derry but feel the U’s ought to be given another chance.
Summer recruitment hasn’t been plentiful but Derry has managed to keep the majority of the squad and has added Jabo Ibehre and David Amoo, who divided opinion during his time at Carlisle.
They have a powerful League Two spine in Leon Legge, Gary Deegan and Ibehre and Luke Berry will add goals and creativity. If – and it’s a big if – Derry can learn to be slightly less cautious.
I can’t make my mind up about Crewe. They seemed every bit a bottom six side last season but David Artell did get the Railwaymen back on track and they finished the season strongly, winning eight of 17.
The permanent signing of Jordan Bowery is a massive boost and he built up an excellent relationship with Chris Dagnall last season, averaging two goals a game when they both started. Add in Chris Porter and Michael Raynes and their summer business has been more than steady.
It’s not easy to forget some of their performances last season but 6/4 to finish in the top-half is worth a second look with SkyBet. Stevenage are the big outsiders to keep an eye on.
Very few punters would be able to tell you the name of their manager, which shows just how much Darren Sarll is working under the radar.
They seem to very keen on momentum, hitting a run of form last season which saw them win 10 of 13 in February and March. Fixtures-wise, they’ve been handed a comfortable start and if they can start well, their momentum will quickly build.
Stevenage can be backed at 9/4 to finish in the top seven or at evens for a top-half finish with William Hill.
Crawley look destined for a struggle this season. A Harry Kewell side doesn’t exactly scream organisation and power; both vital commodities in League Two and his brief spell as manager of the Watford U23 side does little to reassure me.
They’ve lost James Collins at one end and I fear they’ll be conceding goals left, right and centre at the other.
I was hoping to find a market which linked Crawley to conceding the most goals in League Two but, instead, look to the regular markets and 4/1 to be relegated with Bet365.
League Two – Mansfield and Luton to both finish in the top-two (20/1 SkyBet)
League Two – Luton to be top Southern club (3/1 SkyBet)
League Two – Crewe to finish in the top-half (6/4 SkyBet)
League Two – Stevenage to finish in the top-half (1/1 William Hill)
League Two – Crawley to be relegated (4/1 Bet365)
Hosted by Ali Maxwell (@TheMakeleleRole) and George Elek (@GeorgeElek), the NTT20 podcast is an essential listen for EFL fans so get downloading and listening.