Generally speaking, the lowest tier of the English Football League, League Two, is often the most unpredictable of all the divisions. Last season’s pre-season favourites, Notts County, would go on to be relegated. Bury, meanwhile, were promoted to League One, but now find themselves on the brink of extinction and financial ruin. It’s a dog eat dog league.
It’s also very open. There are at least four teams, Bradford, Salford City, Plymouth Argyle and Mansfield, who would consider themselves in with a shout of winning the title. Whilst Northampton, Leyton Orient, Forest Green and Swindon will all fancy a shot at the Play-Off spots. At the bottom of the table things seem more clear cut – especially due to the financial concerns that surround Macclesfield – but with League Two, you just never know.
BRADFORD – If you’ve been reading our other season previews, you will have noticed a common theme. One of the relegated sides is always heavily fancied to bounce back up to the division from whence they came. For League Two, that side is Bradford. They have an experienced manager in Gary Bowyer, a passionate fanbase that is reengaging with the club and a new captain in former Everton striker James Vaughan.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE – The Pilgrims are the most interesting side in the division. They are the prime beneficiaries of the uncertainty that surrounds last season’s second-placed side, Bury, who are now in League One. They’ve not only plundered five members of the promotion-winning squad, but they’ve also taken manager Ryan Lowe too. Despite the difficulties faced by Bury, Lowe was able to create a free-scoring side that played entertaining football and somehow secured automatic promotion. Plymouth will be hoping Lowe can create the same again.
MACCLESFIELD –Make no mistake, Sol Campbell worked miracles last season, somehow guiding Macclesfield to safety against a backdrop of financial ruin. The former England international took over in November when the club were bottom of the table and seven points from safety. It’s difficult to see him repeating such miracles this season and the club seems destined to drop of the English Football League. Following three court appearances in three months, six unnamed players have added their claim for unpaid wages to a winding-up order against the club. Things do not look good.
MORECAMBE – It’s safe to say that Morecambe seemed to have found their level. With thirteen successive seasons in League Two an unusual achievement. In Jim Bentley, they have the longest-serving manager in the country, with over eight years at the helm. They’ve brought in some attacking reinforcements to help fire them away from the relegation battle and will be pinning their hopes on Shaun Miller, who returns to the club on loan from Crewe. Whatever happens, they’ll no doubt be up for the fight.
Bradford are favourites to win the title at 7/1 (8.00), closely followed by Salford City at 15/2 (8.50) who are aiming for a fifth promotion in six years. Plymouth Argyle and Mansfield are both 9/1 (10.00) to win the title. Northampton are 33/10 (4.3) for promotion, with Leyton Orient and Forest Green at 7/2 (4.50). Macclesfield are in deep trouble and it’s no surprise to find them relegation favourites at 33/10 (4.30). Morecambe are 7/2 (4.50) to drop down a division. James Vaughan of Bradford, Nicky Maynard of Mansfield and Salford City’s Adam Rooney are all placed at 38/5 (8.60) to top the scoring charts.
*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.