It’s season time, and in order to get a clear picture of who might finish where we have held off for as long as possible to do our prediction table. However fresh from all the weeks’ movements is the LCM League 2 prediction table for 2008/09. Where will your team finish? Below is a run down from the team at the bottom upwards……
Accrington Stanley – 24th
Accrington always looked like a side who could be staring oblivion in the face, and I don’t mean on a ride at Alton Towers. Calamity goalkeeper Kenny Arthur has left, but with small gates and an even smaller budget attracting quality players has been a real struggle for them. Michael Symes and Darren Kempson are probably their two strongest summer signings, or more aptly a Shrewsbury reserve and a BSP player. At least Kempson should be back playing at his comfortable level next season as Stanley end their brief hiatus in the football league. It was nice while it lasted guys.
Bournemouth – 23rd
Initially we had Bournemouth finishing 22nd rather than 23rd, but due to the activities of another player they’ve actually slipped in our rankings to 23rd. battled bravely against relegation last season, but a transfer embargo has meant they have been unable to bring in any fresh faces. Now sticking with the same side isn’t entirely a bad thing for The Cherries as sometimes a settled side can at least boast some form of team spirit – but can Bournemouth push on and surprise everyone? LCM doesn’t feel so and this could be the season that years of financial toil finally push the club through the trapdoor.
Macclesfield - 22nd
Keith Alexander has a track record of building tough, promotion seeking sides on a shoestring budget and minimal crowds, but even his ability is being tested at Macc. Lets not forget Keith is the manager who took George Boyd and Craig Mackail-Smith to Peterborough, so he has an eye for a bargain when given cash and, as we saw at Lincoln, on a shoestring. However his transfer policy is hit and miss and with limited cash a couple of misses can cost you. His usual policy has been employed with many players coming in including Paul Morgan, Ben Wright and Nat Brown, but he’s lost Gareth Evans to Bradford and Jamie Tolley to Hereford. They’ll stay up, for now.
Dagenham - 21st
Sam Saunders, Glen Southam, Ben Strevens and Danny Foster – all good quality League Two players last season and all have left Dagenham this pre season. It’s akin to having your heart ripped out, and Paul Benson looked like leaving as well. However Benson stayed and that alone has made LCM change our mind and left us predicting Dagenham at 21st. Again a real issue for them next season, but Benson will help spur them on to collect enough points this time round.
Burton Albion – 20th
Under Nigel Clough Burton Albion looked like a side that could quite easily do a ‘Wycombe’ or a ‘Rushden’ and come straight through the league from nowhere. However I’m afraid for Burton Albion they lost Cloughie and have now appointed a manager with little League Two experience. They’ll miss Jake Buxton, but the signing of Jacques Maghowa from Spurs is a strong one. In the end they almost threw away the conference title and only just clung on – and they’ll just cling on in League Two as well.
Hereford surprised everyone when they went up a couple of seasons back, but after just one year with ‘the big boys’ they are back down to what many consider their natural level. Northampton dipped in for Beckwith and Guinan whilst Peterborough snapped up Diagouraga. They’ve employed a ‘cast your net wide enough’ transfer policy and brought in the notoriously lazy Leon Constantine as well as Marc Pugh, Jamie Tolley and Ryan Valentine. All are steady League Two players, but the side will need time to gel. If Constantine scores they’ll finish higher, but a leopard never changes its spots as far as we are concerned so 19th it is.
Darlington – 18th
The bubble may finally have burst for the little club with big ideas. Their luck has finally run out, a second creditor agreement of 1p in every pound owed has left a bitter taste in the mouths of creditors. The alleged take over is almost as fishy looking as Notts County’s and players have left in droves. Abbott, Blundell, Burgemeir, Ravenhill and Valentine have gone and been replaced by plodding journeymen such as Lee Thorpe and Chris Lumsden. James Bennett signs after not getting a game with us last season and the only real bright light is the signing of Dean Windass. The rumours are Michael Bridges may end up there, but this is pure rumour and until anything happens they’ll be in for a long, hard season.
Cheltenham – 17th
Last time Cheltenham got out of this league they did it the ugly way, with Odejay up top nodding balls all over the shop. This time they’ll need to do the same, and with Martin Allen and John Schofield at the helm they’ll be a tough unit. However they were appalling last season, and this season they haven’t really improved. The experienced Julian Alsop comes in to play the Odejay role and Justin Richards comes in to try and pick up the pieces. However this season will be competitive and somehow I can’t see The Robins achieving anything more than mid table mediocrity.
Barnet – 16th
The Imps opponents on Saturday have been tipped for relegation on several other sites, but we feel they’ll have enough to outperform their rivals in the race for the drop. They’ve brought in Micah Hyde who even at his advanced age will help create chances, and with Albert Jarrett and Albert Adomah they have two quality players out wide. If John O’Flynn can get amongst the goals then Barnet may even spring a few further surprises. However they always look laughable away from home which will hold them back.
Northampton – 15th
Northampton Town are a club going through a transition. Relegation last year and the current financial climate have hit them and their budget hard, and this has been reflected in their muted transfer dealings over the summer. Giles Coke, Jason Crowe and Chris Doig have gone, to be replaced by a steady assortment of steady players. I suspect steady may well be a word associated with the Cobblers this season, as they look to consolidate their League Two position before launching an assault on the promotion race in the coming seasons. One plus side is the release of Leon Constantine.
Torquay – 14th
Back where they belong after a brief spell, The Gulls will be looking to replicate the achievements of neighbours Exeter City last season. Sadly they won’t. Scott Rendell will relish a full league season, but Torquay will have to make do with a year of mid table obscurity. The BSP wasn’t as competitive as it has been in previous years, and League Two will be something of a culture shock. However they won’t trouble the bottom six either.
Port Vale – 13th
Everyone at Vale Park knows Port Vale are punching well below their weight. They’ll be looking this year to build on last seasons outing but with minimal output as the credit crunch takes hold. ‘Mad’ Frankie Frasers nephew Tommy has signed from Brighton, but as the only real newsworthy thing to occur at Vale Park it’s unlikely they’ll be troubling the top seven. If Louis Dodds can replicate the form he showed for us maybe they could push a bit higher.
Grimsby – 12th
Last season the Mariners flirted with relegation and unfortunately escaped due to the irregularities of others. This season Mike Newell will be hoping his side can push on and avoid any scares towards the end of the season – bad news for Imps fans is that he’ll be successful. Barry Conlon is a strong striker for this division and should net a few goals for the Mariners. Forbes and Sweeney should help lift them to mid table obscurity, although LCM predicts a good thrashing at Sincil Bank as retribution for the mauling there last season.
Aldershot – 11th
Again a side tipped for relegation across the football spectrum, Aldershot had a steady but unspectacular start back in League football. However a 2-0 win at Sincil Bank showed they have a touch of class, and steady building through the summer means they’ll be a prospect this time around. Ben Herd has come in for the Shots but their ambition hasn’t been matched by their spending and the size of the club will possibly just keep them out of the promotion race.
Rochdale – 10th
Last seasons play off finalists will be looking to try and end their stay in the basement division, and should they be successful it will end the longest stay by any team in the fourth tier. However this season they simply won’t make it. Keith Hill has assembled one of the strongest Rochdale sides seen for many a season, and they are light years ahead of the side beaten here 7-1 a few years ago. However money is tight at Spotland and Lee Thorpe and Simon Ramsden have left without adequate replacements coming in. Chris Dagnall will hit 15 goals this season, but they’ll need a little bit more to make the play offs.
Chesterfield – 9th
A strong showing in the latter half of last season has raised hopes that Chesterfield can escape this division this time around. Jack Lester has opted to stay despite moneybags Notts County showing interest. Three strong signings have been made in Mark Allott, Drew Talbot and Ian Breckin but once again the inconsistencies of last season needs to be addressed. LCM can see them being the ‘nearly men’ for yet another season.
Crewe Alexandra – 8th
Crewe have dropped back into the basement division after escaping years ago, and now they look set for a long stay. Sure they’ll be strong and sure they have the players to challenge, but will internal problems rip them apart? Anthony Elding is back in the fold after being dropped last year, Zuma Abbey will be given a chance and Michael O’Connor has left. These players could have kept The Railwaymen up last season, and yet instead they start down amongst the dregs of league football. However they have lost many other key players such as Tom Pope, Julian Baudet, Mark Carrington and Danny Woodwards. They’ll be strong, but not strong enough.
Lincoln – 7th
We’ve let our heart rule our head a little here, but why not? You’ll find a full round up of our pre season on here later in the week, but we’ve every confidence that the Imps can make a real play off push this season thanks in main to Richard Butcher, Chris Fagan and Jamie Clarke. The addition of Rene Howe has only tipped the balance further in our favour, and with a little bit of money set aside for any January spending required you may see a charge late in the season from the Imps. Don’t go booking your holidays for the end of May.
Bradford – 6th
They should be finishing miles ahead of anyone in our league, especially with a big stadium to draw in the bigger players. Mickey Boulding stays, Peter Thorne stays and Gareth Evans signs meaning once again they have an embarrassingly good forward line. Given the managerial promise of McCall last season to ‘go if we don’t get promoted’, it’s surprising to see him still there. LCM feels perhaps it’s the clubs fondness on McCall and ‘nostalgia’ that’s holding them back. Perhaps a figure such as John ward is required to finally awake this sleeping giant?
Bury – 5th
Missed out in agonising fashion last time around, and once again they will be in the hunt for a play off spot. Andy Bishop will once again bag 20 goals despite missing the first few games of the season. The key is hanging on to Bishop, because at this level a player of his quality is the difference between being there or nearly being there. They’ve notably done very little business over the summer, firmly believing that the players from last year can see them in the top seven again this season. They will.
Rotherham – 4th
Deducted points last season for going into administration, this season they spend £150,000 on Crewe’s Tom Pope. Whether you love them or loathe them Rotherham will again be a force to reckon with. Losing Rueben Reid is a blow of course, but seemingly they have money to burn. Paul Warne, Kevin Ellison and Nicky Law all sign for the Millers as they aim for automatic promotion. However off the field instability still clouds any moves the club make, and the big question shouldn’t be where do they finish, but will they finish? They need a new stadium in Rotherham, and they need it quickly.
Shrewsbury – 3rd
Beaten in the play off’s last season, it seemed the big spending Shrewsbury did was an ‘all or bust’ strategy that didn’t come off. Grant Holt has gone and they’ll have to replace him to stand a chance of pulling off automatic promotion this time around – enter Brentford striker Nathan Elder. Elder, along with Disley and Jake Robinson will help push Shrewsbury onwards and upwards, and perhaps prove that it’s not always big money buys you needs, sometimes a shrewder eye for a signing will help you much more. (Pardon the use of shrewder there. Couldn’t help it).
Morecambe – 2nd
Morecombe have slowly but surely been building a squad capable of pushing for promotion, and this season they will be the surprise package that Exeter were last season. They had Rene Howe last time around and is goals helped secure a mid table finish, this time Phil Jevons goals will help them go even further. Morecombe are everything a league two club should be – small, friendly and capable of bringing in quality players. Darren Moss comes in at the back for them from Shrewsbury and perhaps most importantly Ian Craney comes back into League Two. Morecombe will surprise many people this season, but not LCM.
Notts County – 1st
It pains me to say it but the spending power of the new moneybags Magpies will see them storm to the top of the league – or to put it more succinctly the goals of ex jailbird Lee Hughes will see them rise to the top. At this level Hughes should net 25, and with Karl Hawley added as his partner they could be the most prolific partnership across all four divisions. Ben Davies and Ricky Ravenhill are both qualities at this level and expect two or three more names to be added to that list before the season kicks off. However this prediction is all based on Munto Finances takeover passing the FA fit and proper person test. Another bold prediction is that Ian McPartland will last approx 2 month, the first couple of games they fail to win and the bespectacled ex England manager and lover of all thing feminine will take his place in the dugout. If success doesn’t happen then Notts County will be a laughing stock, and LCM will be at the front of the queue.