EFL League One Predictions 20/21 — did i cheat and still feck it up?

I waited until November to predict the EFL tables this season. I thought it would give me a better chance to analyse play and submit a more accurate opinion instead of just basing it on who’s purchased who and who looks like they want it a bit.

So I cheated.

When I didn’t cheat, I posted a score of -86. (Last season, here), so if I do even a little bit better, it will display that I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to the beautiful game. Higher bar this time, mind.

Here’s where I had them finishing in November. And here’s what I said about ‘em.

1. Ipswich Town
2. Peterborough United
3. Charlton Athletic
4. Fleetwood Town
5. Hull City
6. Sunderland
7. Portsmouth
8. Doncaster Rovers
9. Lincoln City
10. Oxford United
11. Plymouth Argyle
12. Gillingham
13. AFC Wimbledon
14. Blackpool
15. Crewe Alexandra
16. MK Dons
17. Accrington Stanley
18. Bristol Rovers
19. Northampton Town
20. Rochdale
21. Wigan Athletic
22. Burton Albion
23. Shrewsbury Town
24. Swindon Town

And here’s where they actually finished.

1. Hull City
2. Peterborough United
3. Blackpool
4. Sunderland
5. Lincoln City
6. Oxford United
7. Charlton Athletic
8. Portsmouth
9. Ipswich Town
10. Gillingham
11. Accrington Stanley
12. Crewe Alexandra
13. MK Dons
14. Doncaster Rovers
15. Fleetwood Town
16. Burton Albion
17. Shrewsbury Town
18. Plymouth Argyle
19. Wimbledon
20. Wigan Athletic
21. Rochdale
22. Northampton Town
23. Swindon Town
24. Bristol Rovers

And now let’s calculate a score.

The aim is to get as close to 0 as possible, starting from 0, with any difference in positions coming off my score.
For example, my beginning score is 0, I had Bristol Rovers finishing 18th, they finished 24th, so that’s minus 6 off my score.

So, do cheaters prosper? Let’s have a gander.

STANLEY

Predicted: 17th / Actual: 11th
Just could nae get on a proper run that would have delivered play-offs. Every time it looked like they were gonna slide in, they’d drop a few points and ship a few goals and have to start a run all over again. Over the 46 games, that didn’t happen, but it showed progression, and the boys from Accrington are certainly trending in the right direction.

Score: -6

WIMBLEDON

Predicted: 13th / Actual: 19th
Bit of a wobbly just kinda… All the time really. They were jelly, and then suddenly, they’d be a much harder food, like a walnut or cinder toffee. And it was of course, those fleeting moments of walnut football that saved them. They’ve got players who can, and they just need some more of those. And as for my prediction of them going 15 wins, 15 losses, and 16 draws, with 52 scored and 52 conceded, they instead ended up with 12 wins, 19 losses, and 15 draws, with 54 scored, and 70 conceded.
So in the scheme of things, just wrong on all counts.

Score: -6

BLACKPOOL

Predicted: 14th / Actual: 3rd
He got the squad playing his way and by jove, it went and worked. It just took a wee bit longer than he reckoned. But it wasn’t too late, and they’re well worth their play-off spot as a dangerous side who can topple anyone in the division even when it’s not their day. Look out for this tight-knit bunch as they head into the post-season on a good run.

Score: -11

BRISTOL ROVERS

Predicted: 18th / Actual: 24th
Nah, I’m pretty sure I talked myself out of putting these lot bottom ‘cos they were playing quite safe stuff, but that never lasts. These lot were like the junior Sudoku in the paper — easy to work out and not interesting enough to be on the back page.
They need a facelift right now, otherwise League Two won’t be their basement. They just haven’t recovered since Darrell Clarke left, and these safe if left-field hires are not cutting the mustard Gas.

Score: -6

BURTON

Predicted: 22nd / Actual: 16th
Jimmy Floyd deserves a nod for manager of the season for what he’s done in his second spell at The Pirelli. I wrote a wee article on it and it was no mean feat to drag a team battered and beaten from the bottom of the table to proper safety with a load of games to go. They were down and out, they had nothing to splash about, but JFH came in and accentuated the few positives, brought in some select crew, and got ’em firing. Credit to the whole lovely club, and if they can have another window of fine-ass recruitment, The Brewers could be brewing up a concoction known as ‘The Promotion Push’ in the not too distant future.

Score: -6

CHARLTON

Predicted: 3rd / Actual: 7th
They played like their way something else on their mind, but then sorted it in February or so. There’s still work to be done at The Valley, but this is what they desperately needed — a regroup on sturdier ground. There was always chatter around Bowyer, but now Adkins is in, he’s gonna keep ya grounded and guide you through it like a big mama bird. Moving forward, immediate recruitment is key for Charlton, replacing or sorting loans and getting The Adkins Diet in full swing.
Still don’t know what an Addick is.

Score: -4

CREWE

Predicted: 15th / Actual: 12th
It was as if we saw first-hand how important Perry Ng was to the Crewe defence. Something switched when he caught the train down to South Wales. They were still stingy enough, but they’d essentially got rid of Scrooge.
They tried to keep it the same, but the squad was gonna struggle to do the distance anyways, and one major departure just didn’t help. There might need to be a bit of addition in the coming window to keep ’em safe and fresh as a Summer eve.

Score: -3

DONCASTER

Predicted: 8th / Actual: 14th
Another side with another big departure, and this one was a tad more sizable in the form of the beautiful Darren Moore. He toddled off to manage Wednesday with Donny on the verge of the play-offs with a few games in hand, leaving player-manager Andy Butler to run affairs, and their form suffered. It’s a shame James Coppinger won’t be seeing out his career with promotion, but there’s a good squad in Doncaster, and with a Summer reset, they’ll be pushing up once again.
And they’ll be seeing Darren Moore next season…

Score: -6

FLEETWOOD

Predicted: 4th / Actual: 15th
Keeping the integral clockwork around don’t matter as much when everyone else has watches. Barton suffered the consequences of being worked out and while Simon Grayson brought something fresh and secure, it wasn’t spectacular, as The Cod Army consolidated their position in the league. I’d trust him going forward n’all, they could be solid as all owt gaan on.
Could be.

Score: -11

GILLINGHAM

Predicted: 12th / Actual: 10th
Fresh signings sparkled in a squad that’s more settled than it has been in a long time. It’s the result of sensible work over a long period of time, something rare in a football club, and Steve Evans has had the right stuff to carry it on, and with another sensible Summer, they could even cross the threshold of the play-offs. They’ll sneak beyond most expectations in the near future, I reckon.

Score: -2

HULL

Predicted: 5th / Actual: 1st
The squad was always good enough for the league and they overcame any backstage turmoil to deliver a title. Grant McCann’s had time with the boys now, and confidence should be high in a group of players certainly capable of delivering in the second division.

Score: -4

IPSWICH

Predicted: 1st / Actual: 9th
The feck was I on? Paul Lambert’s way was never gonna be the way for Ipswich, but now they’ve got Paul Cook at the helm, it’s another path out of the division. The youth coming through needs to be fully utilised, and they might have brought new management in at the right time for just that. Next season might be better, but there seems to be something deeper that needs fixing at Portman Road.

Score: -8

LINCOLN

Predicted: 9th / Actual: 5th
That was a good trip to the loan market, wasn’t it? Perhaps not a long term solution considering who the players are and where they come from, but if they can get ’em again, there’s time to build.
They’re also a wee bit built for one-off games, so though they might be the dark horse of the play-offs, dannae expect an easy game from Michael Appleton’s Imps.

Score: -4

MK DONS

Predicted: 16th / Actual: 13th
Unlike sides that start well and then tail off, MK Dons did the opposite, settling nicely into the season and having play-off aspirations up until the final few games of the season. The departures of Morris and Keogh only seemed to cause them to shore up more, and with a well-integrated youth system, Russell Martin has formed a good side going forward.

Score: -3

NORTHAMPTON

Predicted: 19th / Actual: 22nd
Those key departures did end up damaging them, and new signings didn’t settle, so once Keith Curle was gone, I don’t think there was ever another outcome but relegation. They weren’t hopeless, and they’ve still got the foundations in, but it’ll be a bit of a soft reset back down in League Two.

Score: -3

OXFORD

Predicted: 10th / Actual: 6th
It seems to be what Oxford do. Start slow, get on a run that puts ’em right in the play-off picture, and then keep their fans on the edge of their seat as they attempt to breach the wall. Squad members have started to take, but there is something very ‘League One’ about them. Then again, that always helps in League One, and though they took it to the final day and needed a little help from Stanley, the barged over the line at Pompey’s expense.

Score: -4

PETERBOROUGH

Predicted: 2nd / Actual: 2nd
They needed to replace Ivan Toney, they did, and they kept their run to the top going. Simple as. This is the product of a multi-season plan from all involved. It’s hard to know what to expect from them in the Champo though.

Score: 0

PLYMOUTH

Predicted: 11th / Actual: 18th
They fell off as the season went on and the goals dried up, with odd results here and there assuring easy survival, albeit not spectacularly. There’s certainly a bit of work to do, but for a side fresh up in this climate, I reckon they’ll take it and go from there.
It’s just knowing what to do from here…

Score: -7

PORTSMOUTH

Predicted: 7th / Actual: 8th
I’m not sure what the mental block was this season. I mentioned a voice at the back of their head that was lambasting them, like when you’ve had too many attempts at something that should be easily achievable.
‘LOOK, I SAID I COULD DO IT, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!’
Are they crumbling under the pressure they’ve put on themselves? Is next season too late? The Cowleys might certainly be able to help, but these players could already be poisoned against themselves.

Score: -1

ROCHDALE

Predicted: 20th / Actual: 21st
This was a case of not realising they were in trouble until too late, and then the burst of panic came, but as I say… Too late.
There wasn’t enough given, with it always seeming to be a case of ‘there’s always the next game’, but though they have stumbled, if they can keep key players, they’ll be a cracker addition to League Two.

Score: -1

SHREWSBURY

Predicted: 23rd / Actual: 17th
Steve Cotterill got ’em to where they needed to be, showing his class even after an extended period out of management. And it was a tougher job than it looked as well. Getting a side to score goals who’ve gone a few seasons without seemingly needing to do so is no mean feat, and much like JFH at Burton, the new management side for The Shrews deserves credit for turning a team around from the brink of relegation and saving them well before the final day.
There’s still work to be done though, and next season could be tough without the right recruitment.

Score: -6

SUNDERLAND

Predicted: 6th / Actual: 4th
One hell of a run under Lee Johnson looked like sorting them right out, but like Portsmouth, an extended stay in League One could mean the damage is done for The Black Cats, with another tense set of play-offs set to define whether their season is a success or a failure after a dip in form at a crucial point of the season.
It’s all or nothing for Sunderland now. And it’ll be same again next season.

Score: -2

SWINDON

Predicted: 24th / Actual: 23rd
For some reason I just knew that Swindon weren’t gonna stay up. Not when Richie Wellens left, but when John Sheridan was appointed. Ironic that he left Wigan, who survived, to help relegate Swindon. I’m not privy to what happened there or why he left The Latics so soon after joining, but it feels like justice to me.
Everything just seemed to go wrong for them this season. They didn’t adequately replace departing players, with the presence of Eoin Doyle, Jerry Yates, and Keshi Anderson all being replaced by Brett Pitman, the aforementioned manager merry-go-round, and the process of forming an identity on the pitch.
I don’t expect them to shine in League Two next season which probably means they will.

Score: -1

WIGAN

Predicted: 21st / Actual: 20th
I said it would be the story, and I had them finishing on just the wrong side of history. But lo and behold, they fought back, they crawled out, and they survived to fight another League One day. And power to them. A rag-tag bunch of lads thrown together not even twelve months ago under the supervision of a caretaker for most of the season — yet they know their mission, and they know themselves. They didn’t overrate themselves and they put their noses to the grindstone until the job was done.
Who knows what the future holds for Wigan, but for right now, let’s let ’em enjoy this monumental achievement, and maybe just celebrate it with ‘em.

Another case where I’m more than happy to be wrong.

Score: -1

— —

-86 was pretty good.
As I went through my results this year, I do not think I’ve got close.
This could be bad.

But you know what wasn’t bad? This League One season. Packed to the brim with thrills and chills, drops and flops, goals and goals, and I am so happy that we get to do it all again next season.

We say ‘in a bit’ to Rochdale, Northampton, Swindon, and Bristol Rovers as they jet off for what they’ll hope is a short stop-over in League Two, as well as Hull, Peterborough and one other side, who’ll be moving up to the might second division.
Of course we know most of their replacements, as we welcome back Wycombe, Rotherham, and Bolton after one season. Sheffield Wednesday, Cheltenham, Cambridge… It’s been a bit longer. One of Tranmere, Morecambe, Forest Green, and Newport will tag along as well.

But how did I do this season?

My score was…

-106

Yeah. I expected worse. Still 20 worse than last time out. This one got away from me. A lot of teams really picking themselves up and turning themselves around. Really should have taken New Year’s Resolutions into account…

MY BIGGEST WINNERS — Peterborough United — 0, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Swindon Town, Wigan Athletic — -1
MY BIGGEST LOSERS — Fleetwood Town, Blackpool — -11, Ipswich Town — -8

Maybe next season, eh? I hope so. I’ll see you there.

Keep it streets ahead,

C.L.R.

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