With 17 of the division’s 24 coaches under 45 years of age, could League Two be the seedbed for managerial stars of the future? At this level, a good boss can take a club an awfully long way…
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The presence of Steve Evans and the addition of a whole team’s worth of League One-level talent has seen Mansfield (11/2 with Betway – bet here) installed as the favourites for League Two. The Stags are the side to beat, but seem a short price considering that between Evans’ appointment in November and the end of last season, they were only the 11th best team in the league.
It feels like Luton’s year for promotion. The impressive Nathan Jones seems destined to manage at a higher level, and can achieve that ambition with the Hatters. James Collins scored 20 goals for a mediocre Crawley side last season, and joins Luton to form what will be the league’s most deadly strike partnership with Danny Hylton, who bagged 21 goals of his own.
At Coventry (12/1 with Bet Victor – bet here), Mark Robins was the perfect manager for a gloomy club and his positivity at the end of the last season, along with a tangible upturn in performance and results, gave the Sky Blues a much-needed boost. An assortment of quality summer signings have followed, including striker Marc McNulty from Sheffield United and former Fulham full-back Jack Grimmer, so we’re predicting a season of success for a club that hasn’t finished in the top six of any division for 47 years.
Without a disastrous start to the 2016/17 season, Exeter would have been promoted automatically. Assuming that was an anomaly, there’s every chance they’ll go well again this year. Despite Ollie Watkins’ departure to Brentford, they are still well-stocked in attack, and should have some funds for one or two major signings.
Crewe are an interesting prospect under David Artell, a man with multiple degrees. They play good football with a talented squad, and George Cooper is one of the classiest players in the division. You can never rule out a challenge from John Coleman’s budget-defying Accrington too, while Lincoln are a fascinating prospect under Danny Cowley, who led the club to promotion and an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal last season. Michael Bostwick, who was tracked by several League One clubs, is a solid addition from Peterborough.
It feels like every year that Morecambe and Newport are told they are relegation certs, so we’ll touch on some other threatened clubs. We’re more than a little sceptical about Crawley (4/1 with Bet 365 – bet here). With James Collins, their main source of goals, leaving for Luton, it could be a difficult first job for new manager Harry Kewell. He may be the only League Two boss with a Champions League winner’s medal, but he had tough time managing in Watford’s youth set-up, with our sources claiming that Watford fans actively wanted him sacked – pretty damning for a development coach.
Yeovil and Wycombe head into the season with worryingly thin squads which, while not unusual for either side, is nerve-wracking nevertheless. Cheltenham were poor last season and may struggle for goals this time round, while Barnet (10/1 with Bet Victor – bet here) could go either way under 32-year-old Rossi Eames, the youngest manager in the EFL.
Outside of usual suspects Collins, Hylton and John Akinde, a run of games at Coventry could be all that Marc McNulty needs to prove his quality, having found it tough to break through at Sheffield United.
At longer odds, the wily Jon Stead (40/1 with Sky Bet – bet here) should spearhead a decent team at Notts County, and Reuben Reid could be in the goals again with a full pre-season behind him at Exeter.
Not The Top 20 Podcast is the largest independent EFL podcast, presented and produced by Ali Maxwell and George Elek. You can subscribe on iTunes, Acast and Podbean or listen on SoundCloud.