..... ok, not so very long ago, but back in early August 2007, I wrote previews of the three lower leagues in England, they are reproduced in full below. In Division 1, I gave one selection Swansea, in Division 2 just MK Dons and in the Conference, discussed again just a single team, Aldershot..... take a quick look at the league tables.
All three have pretty much dominated their respective division's all season long and each, has been promoted as champions.
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Much like in the Championship, I have had a long term fancy for this division and "jumped ship" fairly late in the day. Millwall were my original choice, with Swansea my number two.
The Lions had a fantastic run from Christmas onwards last year and from bottom of the table, almost made the playoffs ! However, I have heard tale of some unrest at The New Den and the occasional bust up, fights often break out in training, but sometimes it goes a bit further and this involved two of the bigger names at the club. Anyway, I would not rule them out completely, Willie Donachie has done wonders in his short time in charge, but I have heard enough, to put me off.
This brings me to Swansea and I am confident that they will go very close. They do not need to progress too much, only missing out on the play offs by one spot and three points last season.
Roberto Martinez took over in February and was a breath of fresh air, playing decent, entertaining football and winning over the fans big time. He sold Lee Trundle in the summer, but this was a transfer that need to happen and £1m plus for a 31yo, tier 3 player, albeit a very good one, yes please !
They have replaced him with Jason Scotland, 26 goals at St Johnstone last season and Darryl Duffy from Hull City, who has already won the fan's hearts. Martinez looks to have got the mix right, making six overseas captures, including players from Spain and Holland, in addition to some promising young talent from Premiership clubs, he already had some experienced hands at his disposal.
Pre season has gone very well, they beat Levante 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium, with two goals disallowed and the crossbar scared more than once. That was a problem last season, Swansea hitting the woodwork on 33 occasions ! A little more accuracy and they could have gone much closer than 7th, they look a better all round team, this time round.
I have quite a lot of information/ views about teams in this, Division 2 and the Conference, but will keep things, solely to my selections. as I have promised to publish this on the blog and need to hold back some opinions for now.
2.5 points Swansea outright 11.0 general quote
5 points Swansea promoted 4.0 Bet365/Tote/ Boyle/ Sky
I like Milton Keynes Dons, the new stadium is ready, a 30,000 all seater and the whole club is geared up to bigger things. The team of Paul ince and Ray Mathias and it is a team, have replaced Martin Allen and promotion has to be gained this season.
They have played and shone against Chelsea, West Ham and Watford in pre season and in, Leon Knight and Kevin Gallen they have two strikers who should fill their boots at this level. The experienced Colin Cameron has joined from Coventry and will help the host of promising youngsters the club has, flourish.
Simply cannot see them not improving on last year's 4th spot and they look cast iron "each way" .
2 points win Milton Keynes Dons 9.0 general
5 points promotion 3.0 Tote/ Stan James/Bet 365.
CONFERENCE / BLUE SQUARE PREMIER
I have just one bet here, it is a very short price, but is something of a banker to my eyes. In their 4 seasons in the Conference, Aldershot have finished 5-4-13-9 and would have been much higher last year, if they had not had such a dire start.
Former QPR manager Gary Waddock is now in charge and recent results have looked promising, a 5-0 win over local rivals Farnborough, was followed by a 0-0 draw with the Charlton first team and a 1-1 tie with a strong Fulham team, after which the new boss said ...
"I am extremely pleased considering the opposition that we were playing. They had players that are worth millions of pounds but we put in a performance that in spells we were the better team.
"However it counts for nothing and I have told my players that we have to start doing that for the next ten months or so. Their keeper paid off two or three really good saves after the break and we will need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal".
This is a team that could go close and can be backed outright at around the 23.0 mark, new league sponsors Blue Square offer a 1.72 quote for them to be in the top 12 of the table, which they will do. At least 3 of the 4 promoted teams look very weak, so the Shots will not have too many to beat.
6 points Aldershot to finish in the top half 1.72 Blue Square.
ALDERSHOT WON THE TITLE BY 15 POINTS AND WERE 34 CLEAR OF THE BOTTOM HALF.... THIS IS THE ONLY TIME IN OVER TWO YEARS THAT THE TERM "BANKER" HAS BEEN USED IN MY POSTS.
The original post can be found here....