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Three League One managers to keep an eye on this season

Former Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson has returned to the EFL
Former Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson has returned to the EFL

League One is splattered full of clubs - and managers - that feel they have every right to be up in the Championship.

Former Premier League clubs such as Sunderland, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Charlton, and Wigan are determined to escape the clutches of the third-tier, while fellow big guns Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton enter the division from different directions. There are also a cluster of clubs operating under-the-radar who will quietly have hopes of making a push for promotion.

As 23 managers - and managerless MK Dons - nail down their final tactical plans and visionary blueprints ahead of kick-off, we’ve selected a trio of League One bosses who are well worth keeping a close eye on this season. 

Nestled within this managerial pyramid is a title favourite, a former Premier League boss, and an intriguing new appointment at a club making its third-tier debut...

The Newbie: Stephen Robinson (Morecambe)

200/1 for the title anyone?

Morecambe conjured up a stunning promotion last season but are unlikely to feature in too many pre-season promotion pieces. For starters, Derek Adams has decided to drop back down to League Two with Bradford, while a number of key personnel have also vacated the premises including top goalscorer Carlos Mendes Gomes.

Instead, the third-tier debutants have been installed as the bookies’ favourites to suffer an instant drop down a division. New boss Stephen Robinson will have other ideas as he attempts to make a mockery of the club’s ‘odds-on for the drop’ status: “We are looking to build on last season's successful promotion campaign and look to firmly establish the club in League One,” he said after signing a three-year deal.

Adams leaves big shoes to fill and while he played an integral role in inspiring promotion, it was a collective effort from everyone at The Shrimps.

In his last post Robinson did a brilliant job at Motherwell whom he led to two cup finals, recorded a top-three finish, and took the club into Europe. The 46-year-old now returns to the Football League, having previously managed Oldham for six months, with more managerial experience under his belt and a point to prove in English football.

15 new signings have been made but unfortunately new boy Jon Obika could be out for five months, which is a real blow. But Adams’ assistant John McMahon has been kept on under Robinson and will play an important role in building on the remarkable achievements of last season and adapting to the new ideas of Robinson.

It’s going to be a tough season but it will be fascinating to see how Robinson tackles his new position at a club entering uncharted waters, he'll hope to pocket the momentum from Adams’ reign to not only fuel the main goal of survival but take the club to the next level. 8/1 (Betfred) to be the top promoted side could be worth a pop.

Best Bet: 8/1 (Betfred) to be the top promoted side.

Title specialist Paul Cook hopes to lead Ipswich to the Championship
Title specialist Paul Cook hopes to lead Ipswich to the Championship

The Favourite: Paul Cook (Ipswich)

New owners, new manager, now it’s time Ipswich stepped up and wrestled control of League One.

Brought in to spearhead Ipswich out of the third-tier, Paul Cook failed to inspire a push into the play-offs after winning just four of his 16 games following his appointment in March. Now with a full pre-season under his belt he’ll be tasked with roaring the Tractor Boys back into the Championship.

Cook is not only a promotion specialist, but a title winning specialist. In the last eight seasons he’s lifted the League Two trophy with both Chesterfield and Portsmouth, then fired Wigan to League One glory.

Cook has overseen a massive re-build; ditching around 20 players while he’s been handed a big transfer kitty to mould together a squad capable of lasting the whole season instead of running out of fuel in the New Year, as has been the case in the last two seasons under Paul Lambert, the latter of which cost the Scot his job.

Three EFL managers set for blockbuster breakout seasons

There’s new striker Joe Pigott who banged in 20 League One last season for an AFC Wimbledon side battling relegation, goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky, Barnsley forward Conor Chaplin, Scott Fraser from MK Dons, Rekeem Harper from West Brom. The list goes on. The starting-11 will virtually be unrecognisable from the end of last season and there are still more signings to come.

There are also some new faces in the coaching squad, including first-team coach Francis Jeffers, plus Ian Craney who worked with Cook at Wigan. 

Ipswich are hovering around the 7/1 mark in the outright title odds - alongside Lee Johnson’s Sunderland - and with Cook at the helm conducting an exciting new squad there’s confidence that this is the season Ipswich end their three-year spell in the third-tier.

League Two title odds: 7/1 with Bet Victor

Nigel Adkins has enjoyed a strong start to life at Charlton
Nigel Adkins has enjoyed a strong start to life at Charlton

The Seasoned Campaigner: Nigel Adkins

After nearly two years in the managerial wilderness - during which he delighted us all with his motivational twitter videos - Nigel Adkins returned to the dugout with Charlton in March following the departure of Lee Bowyer to Birmingham.

Despite a strong finish which saw Adkins lose just one of his 10 games, Charlton agonisingly finishes out on the play-off places on goal difference.

Adkins is a seasoned campaigner who has three League One promotions on his CV. His star has waned somewhat since leaving Southampton but his last spell - in difficult conditions at Hull City - proved that he remains hungry and determined. No one could ever doubt his positivity and enthusiasm. 

Charlton certainly don’t have the strongest squad in the division but Adkins is expected to give young players the chance to shine while there’s still an expectation that the Addicks can not only challenge for a top-six finish but target the automatic places.

So far five signings have been made - more are expected - including the permanent capture of Jayden Stockley who scored eight goals in 22 appearances last term: he's 20/1 to top the goalscoring charts. He will now play a fundamental part in the club’s promotion quest, even more so given that last season’s top scorer Chuks Aneke has followed Bowyer to Birmingham. 

Akin Famewo has also returned from Norwich, and there’s League One experience in the addition of keeper Craig MacGillivray - Portsmouth’s Player of the Year - plus George Dobson and Sean Clare.

Adkins has rejuvenated a former Premier League stalwart before in Southampton, whom he propelled from League One back into the top-flight, and if he can get Charlton clicking then he has every chance of securing a fourth promotion.

Meanwhile, owner Thomas Sandgaard will attempt to pump up the fans at The Valley on Saturday courtesy of a pitchside performance of ‘Addicks to Victory’ - see above!

League One top scorer: Jayden Stockley @ 20/1 with Bet365

League One Outright Odds

Sunderland
WIN PROB: 35%
1
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7/4
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7/4
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6/4
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6/4
Wigan
WIN PROB: 17%
1
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5/1
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9/2
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9/2
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4/1
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4/1
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4/1
Rotherham United
WIN PROB: 15%
1
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5/1
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5/1
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5/1
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5/1
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3/1
Wycombe Wanderers
WIN PROB: 11%
1
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8/1
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8/1
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7/1
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7/1
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7/1
Milton Keynes Dons
WIN PROB: 3%
1
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Sheffield Wednesday
WIN PROB: 4%
1
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Plymouth Argyle
WIN PROB: 5%
1
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Oxford United
WIN PROB: 2%
1
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Ipswich
WIN PROB: 3%
1
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Portsmouth
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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Bolton Wanderers
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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Lincoln City
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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Burton Albion
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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Cheltenham
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Accrington Stanley
WIN PROB: 1%
1
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AFC Wimbledon
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Fleetwood Town
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Charlton Athletic
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Cambridge United
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Morecambe
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Gillingham
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Shrewsbury
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Crewe Alexandra
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Doncaster Rovers
WIN PROB: 0%
1
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Odds correct as of 2021-10-21 03:55 Odds subject to change.
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