So we’re warming up for the new football season here in the UK, with teams across the country getting in some pre-season friendlies and generally trying to get fit again.
Millwall have the potential hangover of a playoff final defeat lingering but the signs seem good so far in pre-season.
One problem we will have is with our defence depending on how the next few days/weeks pan out.
With our captain Paul Robinson and right back Danny Senda both injured it doesn’t help that Zak Whitbread wants a transfer (not takers so far though) as it effectively leaves us with 4 or 5 defenders to fill 4 positions… which just isn’t enough. Hopefully we may sign a few more players before the season starts on Saturday.
And it’s a tough game, Southampton away – one of the ‘big three’ (Southampton, Norwich, Charlton) who were relegated from the Championship last year.
Add in Leeds, MK Dons, Tranmere and Oldham (amongst others) and League One is shaping up to be very competetive indeed.
I’m tipping Leeds and MK Dons for automatic and hoping we can make the playoffs again and maybe win it this time.
In the Championship it’s all about Newcastle – either they are tipped for the title or generally being laughed at. I don’t think they will get automatic but they have enough strength in depth to make the playoffs… depending on who they put in charge.
For the other teams that came down I expect West Brom will be up there and for Middlesbrough I think it hinges on the impact of Alves and new signing Leroy Lita. If those two fire there is no reason they can’t push for promotion straight back up.
Reading and Derby will both be dangerous and it’ll be interesting to see what Roy Keane gets out of the players at Ipswich.
In the Premier League the apparent loss of Alonso at Liverpool will really hurt their title chances despite the threat of Gerrard and Torres.
Manchester United will have to work extra hard to retain the title, although the shrewd signing of Michael Owen could tip the balance in their favour if he stays fit. Chelsea‘s new coach has a lot of work to do but has the squad to push even harder for the title in 2010, along with that elusive Champions League trophy.
You can never write off Arsenal but their 4th place is really under threat from the likes of Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and even Spurs.
I suspect Hull have had their time in the Premier League unless Jimmy Bullard returns in top form and I’d tip Burnley (as much as I’d love them to stay up) and Wolves or Wigan to join them in the drop – but there will be plenty of teams dragged into the fight.
Down in League Two it seems to be another competitive, tight league and I suspect you’ll be looking at three from Barnet, Bournemouth, Dagenham & Redbridge, Crewe, Rotherham, and Bradford for the promotion places but I expect Northampton and Port Vale to also be strong.
Grimsby need a change of fortunes to avoid being sucked out of the league along with Shrewsbury who have been treading water in League Two of late.
It’ll be interesting to see if Burton and Torquay can survive, with the latter looking more likely.
It’s looking like a great season ahead in all the leagues and I’ll be keeping an interested eye on everything that’s going on as the season progresses.