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Quarter Season Predictions 2016/17: League One

12/10/2016 11:12

Every year, hundreds of predictions are made about the football season ahead. Promotion and relegation candidates are pored over, and it's all a bit pointless because you have no idea what a team will perform like until they step onto the pitch.

Being a cautious type, I always refuse to predict future finishing positions until a quarter of the season has gone, because it is only by then that the lay of the footballing land becomes clearer. All this month, I will be running a series of predictive blogs for each of the top four football leagues, continuing with League One.

At the top, Scunthorpe United have surprised a lot of people by being the early pacesetters, but this is a club with a strong recent history in gaining promotion to the second tier, and under the impressive management of Graham Alexander there is plenty to suggest they can do the same again.

A large reason for their rise to the top is their goalscoring prowess - in just 11 games they have racked up 26 goals, six more than the side (Bury) with the second largest number. Their goal difference is plus 15 - Bury, again second best, have plus seven.

Scunny's goalstorm has come largely through the unexpected source of Josh Morris, a man who scored 11 goals in two and a half seasons before this campaign, when he has 12 already, leaving the likes of Lionel Messi trailing in his wake. While no-one expects this flow of goals to carry on, there is no question about the quality of the Iron squad, which ought to keep its top two place until May.

Speaking of latent quality, surely this is finally the season Sheffield United get out of the third tier? They have been down there so long they are no longer the biggest fish in that small pond - nature has shrunk them down to size.

It has been a far from perfect start, but five wins in their last seven have relieved some of the more worried Blades fans convinced another ignominious relegation tussle - or mid-table anonymity, both are viewed in the same way - was on the horizon.

I covered Sheffield United for my student paper between 2011 and 2013, in both seasons they made the play-offs, and it as clear how big the club really can be with the stadium full of fans who believe in the team. It's time they got back to the Championship.

As for the play-off winners, I'm going for Northampton to get back to back promotions - they are still buoyant from their rise from near-oblivion to runaway League To champions to where they are now. If Burton can do it, so can the Cobblers.

At the bottom, the sad case of Coventry City will have another chapter as they fall into League Two and closer to extinction; the fact Shrewsbury boss Mickey Mellon left them this week for non-league Tranmere tells you all about that team; Chesterfield have over stretched and their time at this level is up; and as much as I hate to admit it, Wimbledon are not yet cut out for the third tier. Hopefully soon, though.

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