Football League Preview 2019

The Football League season is nearly upon us, and we preview the Championship, League 1 and League Two.

We look through the three leagues, with our Football Insider Graeme Bailey delivering his opinion on every side – whilst we also have opinion from former England international Andy Gray and bet365’s Steve Freeth looks at the runners and riders attracting the most interest in the betting market.

Our league table predictions are based on bet365’s odds going into the new season…


Andy Gray’s Championship verdict…

“A tough call as always, but I think Leeds United will do it and win the league under Marcelo Bielsa. I like the appointment of Philip Cocu and can see him taking Derby up, and the third spot I see a bit of a shock but I loved what Luton Town did last year and I see them making an impact and snatching a third spot.

“In terms of relegation and I think Reading will be bottom, whilst I think Wigan and Charlton will go with them.”

Predicted Championship table (based on bet365 odds) with opinion from our Football Insider Graeme Bailey:

1 – Leeds United – 9/2 – Leeds will be in the mix, I am just not sure they are top-two material but very much in the play-off places
2 – Fulham – 7/1 – Winners for me, little doubt about it – keeping Mitrovic, Cairney and adding others, they are by far the best team in this division
3 – Cardiff City – 10/1 – Neil Warnock’s men will be in the mood, they have not lost too many and they should be contenders
4 – West Bromwich Albion – 12/1 – Slaven Bilic doesn’t know the Championship – I can see the play-off but no better
5 – Stoke City – 12/1 – Strange team Stoke, they have to be better than last year and they could very well be top-two contenders here
6 – Brentford – 12/1 -I like what Brentford have done in pre-season but not sure they will have enough for top-six
7 – Derby County – 16/1 – Derby only just made play-offs last season, and I don’t see their squad being as good, so they will miss out
8 – Middlesbrough – 16/1 – Boro look worse, but this is a rebuild year under Jonathan Woodgate in his first season
9 – Bristol City – 16/1 – I am not sure Lee Johnson has it in him to take City him, but the club have backed him and given him every chance to perform this season
10 – Nottingham Forest – 16/1 – Forest will cause problems for teams, but mid-table for me
11 – Huddersfield Town – 20/1 – I don’t think Huddersfield should be under-estimate, they have a good strike-force
12 – Sheffield Wednesday – 20/1 – They have suffered with Steve Bruce going, and that will impact on their promotion push for sure
13 – Swansea City- 33/1 – Another team appointing a new young boss, I don’t see them going down but another rebuild coming here
14 – Preston North End – 33/1 – Alex Neil does wonderful work under limited resources, he will do well to get them into top-half
15 – Blackburn Rovers – 33/1 – Blackburn have made some good moves, very much top-half and edge of play-offs for me
16 – Birmingham City – 50/1 – Could be a long hard season at St Andrews and they could be lucky to stay up
17 – Millwall – 50/1 – Neil Harris struggled last term but I see them being quite steady and will avoid the drop
18 – Wigan Athletic – 50/1 – Wigan have been trying to back Paul Cook in the transfer market but I am not sure they have done enough and they could go down
19 – Queens Park Rangers – 66/1 – Mark Warburton is a good coach, and I can see him keeping the Hoops clear of trouble
20 – Luton Town – 66/1 – Luton will be very strong at home and I can see that form keeping them above the drop-zone
21 – Hull City – 66/1 – Grant McCann will be happy to keep Hull up and I think he will
22 – Reading – 66/1 – They are not a great team, they will lose more players and they will go down
23 – Charlton Athletic – 80/1 – Lee Bowyer is a good boss, but he has lost some good players but they could very well struggle to stay up
24 – Barnsley – 100/1 – I think Barnsley have one of the best young managers in English football and they could be pushing for play-offs rather than relegation – I rate him that highly

Championship market with bet365’s Steve Freeth: “Leeds are best backed of the summer by a long way, they have moved massively 8/1 and now into 9/2 – the signing that caught my eye is Helder Costa and blew it late doors but with Marcelo Bielsa – but I think they can be opposed.

“On paper Fulham look great and they have to be respected – but the big question is Scott Parker and it is that question mark that I wonder, and people have had their fingers burnt.

“For me my ones to watch at a good price are Bristol City and Brentford, I like what they have both done in the summer.”

Two to watch for promotion from the Championship from bet365’s Steve Freeth:
Bristol City

Two to watch for relegation from the Championship from bet365’s Steve Freeth:
Birmingham City
Hull City

League One

Andy Gray’s League One verdict…

“I like the look of the two favourites here and I can’t see beyond Sunderland and Ipswich, I think they are very strong and I also see Lincoln as the team to come through the play-offs.

“At the other end and I think unfortunately my former team Bury, with their issues, are destined to go straight back down, as are Tranmere and I can see Wycombe and Oxford dropping down.” 

Predicted League One table (based on bet365 odds) with opinion from our Football Insider Graeme Bailey:

1 – Sunderland – 7/2 – I don’t see Sunderland as favourites at all, play-off spot coming
– Ipswich Town – 13/2 – They are going to up, the fact they kept Paul Lambert is huge and I believe they take him up
3 – Portsmouth – 7/1 – In my eyes Portsmouth will be going up a champions – they are the team to beat
4 – Peterborough United – 9/1 – I like the business Peterborough have done and they will be in the play-offs
5 – Rotherham United – 11/1 – I think Rotherham will challenge for automatic promotion, they have a great chance
6 – Lincoln City – 20/1 – I am not sure Lincoln will be amongst the contenders, maybe mid-table
7 – Burton Albion – 20/1 – Losing Marcus Harness is a blow to Burton, they will struggle to make play-offs
8 – Oxford United – 25/1 – Oxford will look to push on this year, and they have an outside chance of pushing for promotion
9 – Fleetwood Town – 25/1 – I don’t see Joey Barton being able to push for promotion and question marks over his future will make it hard
10 – Doncaster Rovers – 25/1 – Darren Moore will be looking to take Rovers up and I would not rule them out
11 – Milton Keynes Dons – 25/1 – I don’t think the MK Dons should be under-estimated they have a chance of pushing on
12 – Coventry City – 25/1 – Mark Robins is a top manager and I think that Coventry could be a dark horse here
13 – Blackpool – 25/1 – A new start for Blackpool and they are my dark horses for this season, I think they could challenge for top-two
14 – Bristol Rovers – 33/1 – Don’t see Rovers going down, but likewise the don’t look like a promotion team to me
15 – Gillingham – 33/1 – The Gills will be happy to stay in the division and they will
16 – Shrewsbury Town – 40/1 – Shrewsbury need to kick-on this season, bu
17 – AFC Wimbledon – 40/1 – The Dons have their new stadium to look forward too next year and staying up is essential, and I think they will
18 – Southend United – 50/1 – A tough task to stay up for Kevin Bond and Southend could be in real danger of the drop
19 – Tranmere Rovers – 66/1 – League One is not too big for Tranmere, they should be at this level and they will stay here
20 – Rochdale – 66/1 – They got rid of Keith Hill…when they are relegated this season they will again realise what a great job he did for them
21 – Accrington Stanley – 66/1 – I don’t see Accrington being in trouble – mid-table safety for me, including a few shocks
22 – Wycombe Wanderers – 80/1 – I think that Wycombe are better than some think, they have made some good signings and I don’t see them going down
23 – Bolton Wanderers – 150/1 – Bolton have a mountain to climb to stay up, and I just can’t see them doing it
24 – Bury – 500/1 – They are just in such a state, let’s hope they just start the season and finish it – but they are going down

League One market with bet365’s Steve Freeth: “Sunderland, a bit like Leeds, short enough for me and would be hard to back – they are good, no doubt but at that price they look very short although I love their signing of George Dobson, he could be one of the best of the summer.

“But I really like the look of Pompey – the signing of Marcus Harness is a fantastic one, getting him from Burton could be huge for them.

“The other team I would put up for promotion is Peterborough – Darren Ferguson back again, and they have made a number of good signings. It could go either way but I like the business they have done and they have also kept some good players.”

Two to watch for promotion from League One with bet365’s Steve Freeth:
Peterborough United

Two to watch for relegation from League One with bet365’s Steve Freeth:
Southend United

League Two

Andy Gray’s League Two verdict…

“Always a tough call from League Two, but I think Bradford will be very hard to beat and they will go up, whilst I think Newport will be going up – I really was impressed by them last year and think they will go one better. I can also see Leyton Orient doing well, with Justin Edinburgh’s memory still fresh they could do it for him. 

“I bit of a shock from me when it come to relegation but I don’t rate Salford’s chances at all and I think they could be a shock name for the drop alongside Macclesfield Town – they did well to stay up, but I think they go this season.”

Predicted League Two table (based on bet365 odds) with opinion from our Football Insider Graeme Bailey:

1 – Bradford City – 13/2 – You can’t not be impressed by the business that Bradford have done, they
2 – Salford City – 13/2 – I am not convinced that Salford will push for the automatic places, but they will be up in the chase for sure
3 – Plymouth Argyle – 9/1 – Off field Plymouth look like they are getting towards Championship level and now they need to produce on the pitch and Ryan Lowe should take them up
– Scunthorpe United – 9/1 – A strong side at this level, I like their summer work and they should be one of the promotion contenders
– Mansfield Town – 10/1 – A strong squad no doubt, and they will be pushing for promotion, just not sure about automatic
6 – Forest Green Rovers – 12/1 – Forest Green are building brilliantly under Mark Cooper, he makes good signings and I think he takes them up this year
7 – Northampton Town – 14/1 – Keith Curle has been very busy in the transfer market, bringing in a host of names and I think they will be contention but not sure they are going up
8 – Walsall – 16/1 – Walsall are a stronger than the Bookmakers think in my eyes and they will be contention for the automatic spots for sure
9 – Leyton Orient – 20/1 – If Justin Edinburgh was still in charge you would have to think promotion, and they will do well to continue his good work but they will hope to push for the play-offs
10 – Swindon Town – 20/1 – They should be amongst the favourites, and they could push for a top-seven finish
11 – Colchester United – 22/1 – They are weaker this year around and not sure they have it within them to push for promotion this time around
12 – Newport County – 22/1 – A really well run club now, good boss and good squad – a return to the play-offs should be on the cards
 – Exeter City – 25/1 – Don’t rule the Grecians out of making a promotion push, they could be one of the dark horses
14 – Carlisle United – 25/1 – Not convinced by Carlisle, they could get dragged into trouble this year
15 – Oldham Athletic – 35/1 – Some interesting additions and they will be hoping for top-half
16 – Crewe Alexandra – 35/1 –
17 – Port Vale – 35/1 – We keep waiting for Vale to step-up as one of the big clubs in this division but not sure
18– Cambridge United – 50/1 – Hard to predict, but they don’t look great – could be a long season
 – Stevenage – 60/1 – They have kept their highly rated boss and I think Stevenage should be looking for top-half finish at least
20 – Cheltenham Town – 66/1 – One of the teams who could make top-half but probably as good as they could get
21 – Grimsby Town – 75/1 – Struggled last season but I hear some good things about their coaching staff and I think they could step up
22 -Crawley Town – 90/1 – I tough year coming up for Crawley and I think they will be heading to the National League
– Morecambe – 100/1 – The Shrimpers battle bravely but I think this year is the year they go down
24 – Macclesfield Town – 100/1 – Sol Campbell has great contacts and it is the loans he gets and players during the season that will keep them up

League Two market from bet365’s Steve Freeth: “I think that Salford are priced on reputation and not sure they will live up to being joint favourites to go up, but the other favourites Bradford do look like they have what it takes with some good signings made.

“The other side I liked at a bit of a bigger piece are Forest Green Rovers. Mark Cooper is doing an excellent job and for me I really think their striker Shawn McCoulsky is a great bet to finish as top-scorer.

Two to watch for promotion from League Two with bet365’s Steve Freeth:
Bradford City
Forest Green Rovers

Two to watch for relegation from League Two with bet365’s Steve Freeth:Macclesfield
Cambridge United
Macclesfield Town

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