THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

What WSC contributors got right and wrong

icon seasonreview14 August ~ Finishing first in League One, 11 points clear of third place, must have come as a shock to Charlton Athletic fan Tom Green. "It depends whether Chris Powell turns out to be a good manager – last season's signs were mixed at best," he said before predicting "top ten". Powell made a lot of changes to the squad that could only manage 13th place the previous season. Charlton turned out to be the strongest team in the division by some margin, losing only five times and finishing on 101 points. It takes them back to the Championship after three years in League One.

Two positions below Charlton in 2010-11, in 15th place, were Sheffield Wednesday. Hopes weren't too high from Owls fan Jon Hockley who was concerned that, while new signings would improve the defence, he couldn't see Wednesday scoring many either.

By the end of the season his side were locked in a battle with their cross-city rivals, Sheffield United, for the second automatic promotion spot. It was hardly the season of consolidation United fan Ian Rands expected. "Mid-table, neither threatening the play-offs nor in fear of the drop."

2012L1PredWednesday controversially sacked manager Gary Megson after their victory over United at Hillsborough and brought in Dave Jones. They went unbeaten for the rest of the season, pipping United to second place by three points and consigning their rivals to the play-offs.

The Blades' opponents in the semi-final were Stevenage – "we'll lose more matches than we'll win," Boro fan Barry Duncan had proclaimed, wrongly – and United scraped through to face Huddersfield Town in the final at Wembley.

Huddersfield were considered the strongest candidates for promotion from League One in the build-up to last season. Defeated in the play-off final in 2011, Lee Clark's men broke the record for consecutive undefeated league games. Despite this run of form, the Terriers struggled to keep up with the relentless pace at the top of the table and Clark was replaced by Simon Grayson.

Town fan Dan Head must have been thinking promotion would never happen, having said "unless we're destined to become the Lincoln of League One and keep failing in the play-offs, we have to get promoted this year". Eventually they did have to go through the play-offs but this time they won, beating the Blades in a penalty shootout that went down to the keepers.

Rochdale's David Emanuel would have settled for mid-table but watched his team get relegated. Dale came bottom of the league, 12 points from safety following just two away wins all season. They return to the fourth tier, where they spent all of their time between 1974 and 2010.

Joining them will be Exeter City. Kirk Kenny said that "key losses have not been replaced due to budget restraints. Lower mid-table and looking over our shoulders." In the end those losses proved key as the Grecians went down to League Two.

Nobody predicted Chesterfield would go straight back down after promotion to League One. "Most fans would be happy with a top-ten finish," Howard Borrell said. "Hopefully that's a realistic aim, although anything over 50 points is a bonus." John Sheridan's Spireites fell well short, managing 42 points and 22nd place.

Paul Lewis's confidence that Wycombe would be able to survive "despite budget constraints and the ongoing saga of a proposed ground move" proved to be misplaced. There was some exciting attacking play from Wycombe but conceding 88 goals – the most in the division – was too much and they filled the final relegation place.

Elsewhere, Preston were widely tipped for a play-offs place by others, and anything less "would be a major disappointment given the levels of optimism at the cub since Phil Brown took over". Brown was eventually replaced by Graham Westley, following a stint by Graham Alexander and David Unsworth as caretakers, as the Lilywhites ended the season in 15th position.

 

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