Sheffield United have never been far away from the League 1 title race – they’ve finished in the top four in each of the last four seasons – but they’ve not been able to get over the line in each of those and the close that they’ve finished has been third, that being three seasons ago. Wigan reacted to their playoff loss with another relegation from the Championship but they have retained a huge amount of their Championship squad – and some Premier League players too – and have the quality for a bounceback at the first attempt.
There are a host of contenders who could challenge but Bradford, if they retain Phil Parkinson, look well placed in a division that saw the three best teams by a good distance all make the step up last season – Preston being 10 points clear of Swindon in fourth, who have had their side dismantled from top to bottom.
Burton and Shrewsbury, promoted from League 2 last year, have the guidance of astute managers and can stay up this season. Shrewsbury showed in the Capital One Cup that they can mix it with the best and Burton were the only side good enough to beat them in League 2 last year.
In terms of the top goalscorer market, Will Grigg is surely well placed to repeat his 20 from last year and can go well again and Tom Bradshaw, scorer of 17 goals last season but while making only 29 appearances. If having a full season he should do well.
In League 2, clear preference is for summer gambles Luton who have signed excellently from higher divisions in a bid to improve their record against the top clubs last year which was abysmal, and Oxford, who lost 4 of their last 20 matches and have the look of title contenders if kicking on from that this season. Having signed across the field, especially in defence, in a bid to make themselves even more solid defensively, they have the look of serious promotion contenders.
Portsmouth striker Matt Tubbs can make a bold bid to retain their title this season and Plymouth forward Reuben Reid, who was just three behind him last season, looks a standout each/way bet.
Advice – League 1
1 pt each/way Wigan (7/1 SkyBet*, 8/1 general)
1 pt each/way Bradford (16/1 SkyBet*, 20/1 general)
Advice – League 1 Top Scorer
1 pt each/way Will Grigg (10/1 Bet Victor, 9/1 general)
1 pt each/way Tom Bradshaw (25/1 Bet Victor, 20/1 general)
*SkyBet pay 4 each/way
Advice – League 2
2 pts each/way Luton (8/1 SkyBet, 7/1 general)
1.5 pts each/way Oxford (15/2 SkyBet*, 11/1 Paddy Power)
Advice – League 2 Top Goalscorer
2 pts each/way Matt Tubbs (8/1 Bet365, 7/1 general)
1 pt each/way Reuben Reid (14/1 Bet Victor, 12/1 general)
*SkyBet pay 4 each/way places