Here’s part three of our guide to League One…
Luton were relegated from the Championship in 2007, League One in 2008 and League Two in 2009. They spent five seasons in the National League before re-entering the Football League in 2014. Last season, they finished 2nd in League Two and are back in England’s third tier for the first time since 2007. Manager Nathan Jones has been in charge since 2016, in what is his first managerial position after a stint as Brighton’s caretaker boss in 2014. Travelling Sunderland supporters will have a trip to Kenilworth Road to look forward to, which has a capacity of 10,356. Teams promoted to League One sometimes take that momentum and push for another consecutive promotion, something that Luton will be hoping to achieve.
Oxford United, the favoured club of our new owner and executive director. They will be gearing up for their third consecutive season in League One. They finished 16th in the league last season but will be hoping to improve on that. Oxford play at the Kassam Stadium which has a capacity of 12,500. Karl Robinson is a well-known manager at this level and will be looking forward to his first full season in charge of the club after taking over in March 2018. There is some potential there, as our new owners will know full well, and maybe we’ll see Oxford and Sunderland battling it out for the title next season.
Here is another team that has become accustomed to League One. This will be their sixth consecutive season in League One. In the past five seasons, they haven’t finished higher than 6th and last season finished 9th. The ABAX Stadium is where they play their home games, with a capacity of 15,314 and manager Steve Evans will be heading into his first full season in charge. Evans is mostly remembered for taking then non-league Crawley Town to the FA Cup fifth round. The club of Sunderland targets Marcus Maddison and Jack Marriott will have to hold on to their star players if they are to reach the play-offs next season, although they are both likely to leave.
A prime example of a club doing well in the league after being promoted from League 2, Plymouth finished 7th last season, just three points adrift of the play-offs. Manager Derek Adams has been at Home Park (17,800 capacity) since 2015, guiding them to promotion to League One in 2017. Just missing out on the play-offs will have been disappointing for the club, but they must take the positives and look to improve even more. I would like to see Plymouth do well next season, but I think more of the same will come and they will just miss out on the play-offs. Travelling Mackems will have to clock up 406 miles to watch their side play at Plymouth next season.
Pompey. What ever happened to Portsmouth. They were relegated from the Premier League in 2010, just eight years ago, the same year they reached the FA Cup Final. Administration saw them fall down the football ladder and they spent four seasons in League Two before finishing 8th in League One last season. Fratton Park is will be a familiar sight to travelling Sunderland fans and has a capacity of 21,100. Manager Kenny Jackett will want to better his first season in charge and get Portsmouth back where they used to be. It would be refreshing to watch Portsmouth climb back up the football ladder, behind Sunderland of course.
One team that will almost certainly be in a relegation battle next season is Rochdale. It is hard to know what to expect from this club. They finished 20th last season, just one point above the relegation zone. They play at the Spotland Stadium which has a capacity of 10,249. Manager Keith Hill has been in charge since 2013 and saw Rochdale get promoted to League One in 2014. They haven’t fared badly in the league, but last season was a close call and more of the same could be in store for the Greater Manchester club. I can’t see Rochdale finishing in the top half next season and the lads should be winning comfortably in this fixture next season.