How the Bookies See it
- Winner: Portsmouth 9/2, Doncaster Rovers 9/1, Luton Town 10/1 - Bet365
- Promotion: Portsmouth 11/10, Doncaster Rovers 2/1, Luton Town 9/4 - Bet365
- Play-off Winner: Doncaster Rovers 10/1, Leyton Orient 11/1, Plymouth Argyle 14/1 - Sky Bet
- Relegation: Morecambe 7/2, Newport County 7/2, Crawley Town 3/1 - Paddy Power
- Accrington Stanley narrowly missed out on promotion on the final day of last season, then suffered further heartache in the play-offs. As usual, Stanley are on a tight budget and have lost key players over the summer, but manager John Coleman always seems to succeed when times look bleak.
- Barnet managed to survive their first season back in the football league, finishing 15th. With a push for promotion looking unlikely at this stage, expect the Bees to end this season in a similar position.
- Blackpool remain a team in crisis following back-to-back relegations. The former Premier League club have really let standards slide, no thanks to the owner’s on-going battle with the fans. Former Blackburn Rovers manager Gary Bowyer has been brought in to steady this sinking ship.
- Cambridge United finished 9th last season, but missed out on the play-offs by some distance. Shaun Derry will be hoping to improve this season and could inspire his team towards a place in the top seven.
- Carlisle United endured a miserable start to 2016 as Brunton Park suffered at the hands of raging flood waters. That didn’t stop the Cumbrians from finishing in a respectable 10th place, but a push towards automatic promotion had looked likely before the New Year. If the weather holds, United could make a surge for League One.
- Cheltenham Town put the disappointment of their 2015 relegation behind them by running away with the National League title last season. The Robins will hope that their success can inspire them to back-to-back promotions.
- Colchester United finally fell through the League One trap door last term having struggled for many years. The team relies heavily on its young players, a policy that could see the Us suffer in such a physical division.
- Crawley Town floundered at the wrong end of the League 2 table last season and this term might not prove any more successful for the Sussex side. A small budget after years of big-money spending could see the Red Devils return to non-league football very soon.
- Crewe Alexandra finished bottom of League 1 last season and 16 points adrift of safety. A lack of signings could see the Railwaymen struggle to adapt to life in the bottom tier.
- Doncaster Rovers are a former Championship side who have slipped of late. Darren Ferguson’s men could find themselves in for a bumpy ride at this level, but should have the resources available to make a speedy return to League One.
- Exeter City enter their tenth season under the leadership of Paul Tisdale and will be looking to improve on last year’s lackluster 14th place finish. A lack of transfer activity could hamper their chances of flying high in the division, but the Grecians should have more than enough to beat the drop.
- Grimsby Town made a name for themselves in the National League as the nearly men, having missed out on promotion for five straight years. The Mariners return looking to build on their play-off success in May, but could find themselves bogged down in mid-table for most of the season.
- Hartlepool United have flirted with relegation for a number of years, but finally seemed to get their act together in the latter stages of last season. Now under the tutelage of Craig Hignett, expect the Monkey Hangers to be in the middle of the pack come May.
- Leyton Orient were on the brink of the Championship in 2014, only to lose to the play-off final on penalties to Rotherham United. Now entering their second season in the football league’s bottom tier, Orient will be hoping to better last term’s 8th place finish.
- Luton Town have put their recent troubles behind them and are amongst the favourites to take the League 2 title. The Hatters are strong defensively and are able to grab goals, so expect them to be in the mix for promotion come the close of the season.
- Mansfield Town saw their pursuit of promotion falter last time out following a number of disappointing home results. If the Stags are able to make Field Mill into a fortress this season, a play-off spot could well have their name on it.
- Morecambe completely lost their way towards the end of last season, winning just two of their final 21 games and shipping 48 goals in the process. The Shrimps will need to start the season strongly and hope that their form doesn’t nosedive again to stand any chance of avoiding the drop.
- Newport County ended their last campaign in 22nd place and on their third manager of the season. A number of early season signings will need to find their feet quickly if County are to avoid returning to non-league football after just four years away.
- Notts County will be hoping that the appointment of John Sheridan will transform them from mid-table mopers to promotion contenders. The Magpies will be eager to exit this division as quickly as possible after a poor showing last season.
- Plymouth Argyle were cruelly denied a passage out of the basement division by play-off winners AFC Wimbledon at Wembley. The Pilgrims topped the table before stumbling out of the automatic promotion places at Easter. Derek Adam’s men will be hoping for better luck this time around.
- Portsmouth remain the fallen giants of League Two and enter their fourth season in League Two as firm favourites to gain promotion. The 2008 FA Cup winners missed out in the play-off lottery in May, but will be hoping to go up automatically this term, perhaps as champions.
- Stevenage struggled to find any real form last season and flirted with relegation under the guidance of former England striker Teddy Sheringham. However, the appointment of Darren Sarll steadied the ship and Boro finally finished in a respectable 18th. A mid-table finish looks more than likely this season.
- Wycombe Wanderers pushed hard for a play-off place last season but ultimately fell short, dropping to 13th in May. Manager Gareth Ainsworth will soon be celebrating his fourth year in charge of the Chairboys and will hope to commemorate this milestone with a push for promotion.
- Yeovil Town narrowly avoided the indignity of three successive relegations by finishing 19th last term, but were forced to scrap it out for a number of months. The Glovers will hope to dodge another season down with the division’s relegation fodder, but could face a nervy time of things if they fail to hit the ground running.
There are a number of big teams in League Two this season, with Blackpool and Portsmouth both harbouring recent memories of the Premier League. The likes of Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient will also hope that this is where their fortunes alter before a climb back up the football pyramid. Portsmouth start the season as favourites for a return to League One, and on paper should be far too strong for their rivals, but as all football fans know the game isn’t that simple. Luton Town look strong this season, as do Leyton Orient and Carlisle, but watch out for Plymouth Argyle, who may have something to prove following their play-off heartache in May.
The play-off race in League Two always proves fascinating and this year should prove no exception. Accrington Stanley missed out on automatic promotion on the final day and then fell victim to the cruelty of the play-offs. Expect them to push for a place in the top seven again this season, with any number of the mid-table sides also in with a shout. It may be worth keeping an eye on Cheltenham Town, whose fine form in the National League may carry them up and up this season.
The fight to avoid the drop last season was over uncharacteristically quickly. Newport County, Morecambe, Yeovil Town and Stevenage were all spared relegation thanks to the rapid demise of both York City and Dagenham and Redbridge, and don’t be surprised if the same quartet of teams struggle again this term. Crawley Town and the recently-relegated duo of Colchester United and Crewe Alexandra could find themselves sucked into the mire should they fail to pick up crucial points throughout the season.
- Sports.net’s top tip: - Plymouth Argyle to Win League Two - 16/1 - Sky Bet
*Please note that odds may fluctuate.