League Two 2010/11 preview
The football league returns this weekend with several teams thinking that they could be in with a shout of promotion to the third tier come the end of May.
Two teams share favouritism in League 2, with Gillingham and Bradford both available at 9/1 to win the division.
I would personally side with Bradford out of the two as I think Gillingham will miss the goals of their prolific striker Simeon Jackson.
Adebayo Akinfenwa (11/1 top scorer) has come in to try fill the void left by the Norwich man but I'm not sure he's exactly a like-for-like replacement, for one he's not got the pace and movement that Jackson has, but to give him his credit he did grab plenty of goals in this division for Northampton last season so if he can find that form again, and keep his fitness, then the Gills should be there or thereabouts.
They could also do with picking up an away win every now and then as last season in League 1 they failed to pick up three points on the road, just one victory away from home would've kept them up such was their strength at Priestfield where they lost just three times in 23 league matches.
Peter Taylor's Bantams look the side to beat for me though, they finished the season really strongly once the one-time England manager took over the reins from Stuart McCall and they've brought in some good players for this level.
One of those players, Tommy Doherty, is the man that City will look to dictate things in the middle of the park, Taylor knows all about him after he excelled in his last season in this division with Wycombe and was in the Team of the Year when Wanderers were promoted in 2009.
Forward options are James Hanson (18/1 top scorer), who had a fine debut season for City last year culminating in winning Bradford's Player of the Year Award, Louis Moult (22/1) who's scored on a regular basis in Stoke's reserve team over the last few years and hard working front-man Gareth Evans (33/1).
Taylor would've hoped to have Jake Speight in his team after the striker was signed from Mansfield following a successful season with 17 goals in the Blue Square Premier, however the Sheffield-born star failed to tell his new boss that he was due to spend time at Her Majesty's Pleasure!
Bradford are my bet, but there are several other teams who are sure to be challenging.
Rotherham (11/1) were defeated in last year's play-off final and will be desperate to make up for that this year, they relied heavily on Adam le Fondre's (13/2 top scorer) goals last season so to help ease the workload they've brought in young Tom Elliott (25/1) on loan from Yorkshire neighbours Leeds.
Personally I don't think they'll pose too much of a threat, but the rest of the strength of the division is fairly poor so it's understandable that they're a short price.
Chesterfield and Port Vale (both 12/1) gave it a good go towards the end of last season but just fell short of the play-offs, the Spireites weren't helped with Jack Lester (12/1) missing a fair portion of the season through injury, if he remains fit then they should be able to crack the top seven this time around.
Vale too should be able to challenge from the start this time after having a poor start to the season, Marc Richards (16/1) and Tommy Fraser will once again be key to their chances of success.
Looking towards the bottom of the table there's a couple of clubs that will be hoping to avoid a 'double drop' as Stockport (10/3) and Southend (4/1) are both in desperate financial states following their relegation from League 1 last season and will be up against it this time around.
The Shrimpers were in the Championship as little as three years ago but will find themselves in a battle to avoid playing none-league football thanks to their inexperienced squad.
The two promoted clubs, Oxford and Stevenage (both 16/1 to go down), will both be thankful for other teams' money troubles and will be even looking at the top half of the table, although I'm sure their respective managers will be happy at staying in the division as their main priority.