Here’s part two of our guide to League One…
Burton, the team who sent us down. In typical Sunderland fashion, they let us think we had it, then chucked it away. At least that was the old Sunderland, hopefully. Anyway, Burton got relegated too so no hard feelings, they finished 22nd. The 6,912 capacity Pirelli Stadium is where they play their home games and we enjoyed a 2-0 win there last season. We will be hoping for more of the same when we play away to Burton in the new season. Manager Nigel Clough has been in charge since 2015 and got them promoted from League One that season. This is his second spell at the club, spending over 10 years there as a player-manager from October 1998 – January 2009. This is when Burton were in the Conference, Derby then appointed Clough as their manager. They may need something special if they are in for an immediate return to the Championship, I can only see them fighting for a play-off position and just missing out.
Charlton are a club which have declined over the years. They were, of course, an established Premier League side not so long ago, but they have failed to return to the top flight since relegation in 2007. The Addicks finished 6th in League One last season but lost in the play-off semi-final to Shrewsbury. They play at The Valley, one of the biggest in the league with a 27,111 capacity. Charlton will be hoping to go one step further next season and get back into the Championship after what will be their third consecutive season in the third tier. Caretaker manager Lee Bowyer took over in March and guided them to a play-off finish, but it is not known if he will be made permanent.
Coventry have the second largest ground in the league, behind us, with the Ricoh Arena holding a capacity of 32,500. Another club that have fallen from the higher leagues, with the club dropping into League Two last season for the first time since 1959. Clearly a club too big for the fourth tier, a 6th place finish meant promotion via the play-offs for the Sky Blues. Manager Mark Robins won his first ever promotion as a manager with Coventry last season and will be looking to ensure stability at the club. The club will be hoping to return to the Championship for the first time since relegation in 2012.
Doncaster are a side who will be used to League One, they know what it takes to get out of it, but at both sides. They were relegated to League Two a couple of seasons ago but came straight back up and finished 15th last season in League One. The Keepmoat Stadium is where the club play, with a capacity of 15,231. The club are currently without a manager, with Darren Ferguson resigning after two and a half years with Rovers. Former Bradford City boss Stuart McCall is favourite to take over, but another season of mid table obscurity is most likely in the offing for Doncaster.
Fleetwood. Everyone has heard of Fleetwood; don’t you know it’s where Leicester signed Jamie Vardy from? Well, they are a club on the rise. After promotion to the Football League in 2012, it only took them till 2014 to make it to League One, they have been there ever since. A 4th place finish in the 2016/17 season is the best they’ve managed but lost in the play-off semi-final. Last season they could only manage to finish 14th. They have only went and appointed Joey Barton as their manager, when I thought football couldn’t get more ridiculous. Anyway, it will make it even sweeter when we beat them. Us fans can look forward to a trip to the 5,327 capacity Highbury Stadium.
When I think of Gillingham, the word average comes to mind. The club have spent that last 5 years in League One, with their highest finish being 9th. They have also flirted with relegation on a couple of occasions, so they are not a team we really need to fear. The club play at the 11,582 capacity Priestfield Stadium, a ground where we will be hoping to pick up three points next season. Manager Steve Lovell led The Gills to a 17th placed finish last season, but I cannot see them improving on that and they will be fighting against relegation in my opinion next season.