Mouth of the Tyne: League Two predictions for 2022-2023 season
- Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO
Comes round quick doesn't it?
It doesn't seem all that long ago that Stevenage were securing their safety in the division after pulling away from trouble late on.
That flirtation with relegation has been a staple of the last few years and it is where everyone normally thinks Boro will be come the end of the season.
But with Steve Evans in charge, there is a feeling that better times may be on the horizon.
Now I'm not the best of pundits. I backed France to win the 2002 World Cup and they promptly got beat off Senegal before managing one point from the next two games to leave the far east with their tails firmly between their legs.
That said, I've never one to back down from a challenge or throw myself head first into ridicule, so with that in mind, here's how I see the League Two season going.
League Two: 2022-2023
- 1 Where you can see the Perseid meteor shower in Hertfordshire
- 2 Parents rally as play café forced to close amid major cost increases
- 3 Funeral of retired Stevenage school teacher hailed 'a legend'
- 4 Two-storey factory catches fire in Letchworth
- 5 Magpas Air Ambulance lands in Letchworth amid 'medical emergency'
- 6 Assault victim left with punctured lung after Hitchin 'scuffle'
- 7 Old Town Live organisers 'overwhelmed by response'
- 8 Hitchin widower's wing walk in wife's memory
- 9 Stevenage fundraising day in memory of much-loved Peter
- 10 Dog owner's grass seed warning after pet paralysed
Prediction - promotion
The problem I have is for most of my time down here I have focused on other papers and other teams, mostly non-league.
It means my knowledge of League Two is not as good as it should be, and certainly not as good as plenty of others.
That said, I have kept one eye on the division and it isn't too much of a leap to see who will thrive this season.
The big question is how Northampton Town will have recovered from the disappointment and shock of that final day.
If they can put that behind them quickly, they will be back up there.
I reckon Stockport County could be a possibility to go straight through as well. The momentum their promotion will have brought is going to be huge and with the backing of a big Edgeley Park crowd, they are going to be a force.
Of the relegated sides, I'm not sure if any have the chops to mount an instant return although Doncaster Rovers would be the better of the four for me.
I'd expect Swindon Town and Tranmere Rovers to be there or thereabouts too.
For me though, I'm going for Mansfield Town as champions. Saw them at the back end of last season and they were impressive, eventually reaching the play-off finals. The loss of Matty Longstaff will be a blow but they still had plenty about them and I would expect an improvement this term as well.
Automatic - Mansfield Town, Northampton Town, Stockport County
Play-offs - Doncaster Rovers, Salford City, Swindon Town, Tranmere Rovers.
Prediction - relegation
Perm any two from the usual suspects is the basic answer here.
Barrow survived late on and will be there again and Grimsby Town's return to the EFL will probably be in threat for a good chunk of the year.
Even though they both pulled away from danger later in the last campaign, Colchester United and Walsall may not find this year any better while Harrogate Town will be down there.
And with my north-east hat on, I feel scared for Hartlepool United. Hopefully they'll have enough and they probably will.
Relegated - Barrow, Colchester United
Prediction - Stevenage
Yes, for those wondering, I haven't managed Boro yet and there's a reason for that - because the prediction is mid-table.
A top-half finish would be great but a truly successful season in my eyes would be one where safety is assured by March and the play-offs only slip out of reach inside the final three weeks or so.
They are more than capable of that too. Pre-season has been excellent and showed that they can be very hard to break down when they put their mind to it.
My concern remains the amount of chances that will be created and of those, how many will be taken.
Cure that and they could turn the excess of draws, 32 over the last two seasons, into a few more three points and climb up the rankings.
As of now though, I'll say 13th.
In: Michael Bostwick (Burton Albion), Aaron Chapman (Gillingham), Max Clark (Rochdale), Carl Piergianni (Oldham Athletic), Jordan Roberts (Motherwell), Danny Rose (Northampton Town), Kane Smith (Boreham Wood), Dan Sweeney (Forest Green Rovers).
Out: Bruno Andrade, Brad Barry, Sacha Bastien, Charlie Carter (Eastleigh), Ben Coker, Scott Cuthbert (Woking), James Daly (Woking), Harry Draper (Biggleswade Town), Sam Dreyer, Luis Fernandez (Hampton & Richmond Borough), Chris Lines (Bath City), Luke O’Neill (Ebbsfleet United), Luke Prosser, Timmy Smith (Biggleswade Town), Ed Upson (Stowmarket Town).
In: Taye Ashby-Hammond (Fulham), Dean Campbell (Aberdeen), Saxon Earley (Norwich City).
Out: Alfie Williams (Hemel Hempstead Town).
Thoughts on the summer signings
I wasn't overly fussed when he signed, one of those I wasn't entirely sure of, but Carl Piergianni looks a fine player and is typical of the tactics seemingly involved in the transfer market.
He just looks a younger model of Scott Cuthbert and that can't be a bad thing.
Go through the incomings and compare it to those leaving what was a very aging squad, and that is a familiar theme.
Dan Sweeney is in a similar mode to Piergianni and will be a threat from set-pieces and with wing-backs important it seems, I'm very excited to see Kane Smith get his chance at his level.
I reckon Dean Campbell could be a star this year too, I've really liked the look of him in pre-season.
One to watch
For all the new signings, I'm expecting one of the remaining players to be the catalyst for good things - if he can stay fit.
Jake Reeves had a torrid time with injuries last year but when he did play, he looked like he could really pull the strings.
Stevenage need someone like that. There are a lot of talented players in that squad but they need someone in the middle of the park who will work hard and yet still be able to link everything seamlessly.