He’s a man who has managed, coached and played across all four divisions in England. We caught up with Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Chris Powell in the build-up to the new season.
In the first of a two-part special, the former England left-back takes a look at the teams to watch in the Championship, League One and League Two this term, and his Premier League predictions will follow next week.
The Skybet Championship
He said: “In the Championship I think you have to look at the three sides that went down, Fulham, Norwich [City] and Cardiff [City]. You have to look at those for certain because they will not only have 75 per cent of their squads still together, but have also got the parachute payments and an ability to spend.
“I’d also pick out my former club Derby [County], who impressed everyone last year and then lost to virtually the last kick of the game in the play-off final. They will be there or thereabouts.
“There are so many teams in that league that have all got a fighting chance, and one side I feel will surprise people will be Wolves.
“It’s fair to say the last three seasons at Molineux has been something of a rollercoaster, and I think this season will be interesting too.
“They have got the momentum, they have got the stadium, they have got the support and have the backing too; it’s all there. They could be quite successful this year.”
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SkyBet League One
Powell famously led Charlton Athletic to the League One title in 2011/12 and one of the sides the Addicks went head to head with that season, Sheffield United, are among the clubs he expects to challenge for a return to the Championship.
But whether Leyton Orient, who suffered play-off heartbreak at the hands of Rotherham United in May, can go one step further, remains open to debate.
“It would have been a bit of a Cinderella story if Orient made it last year and even more so if they go again this year,” added Chris.
“What they did with their budget and financial constraints was nothing short of a miracle. I think it will be harder for them this year as you are looking at Sheffield United carrying on with what they'd done under Nigel Clough, and then you have Bristol City and Preston North End.”
Powell was in the West Ham United team that defeated Preston in the Championship play-off final at Cardiff in 2005, one of nine occasions in which the Lancashire club has failed to emerge from the post-season lottery.
“Preston will have to finish first, second or seventh I think, because they just can’t do the play-offs,” he mused. “I think they’ve played in nine but never gone up via them, and I remember playing against them for West Ham when Bobby Zamora scored the winner.
“I think they will be there or thereabouts though, along with Sheffield United and Bristol City, and I’d love Orient to be there as well.
“Peterborough are perennial top-six finishers, so we will see how they do. Those are likely to be the sides that are in contention to finish in the top two.”
League Two is also shaping up to be a fascinating fight in 2014/15, with a club desperate to return to an upward trajectory and one back on the up, tipped to contend.
“There are some decent clubs in League Two,” said Chris. “I know Portsmouth have got the stadium and have definitely got the support, but the one that stands out for me is Luton Town. I feel they will continue what they did last season in getting back into The Football League.
“They have a manager, in John Still, who got Dagenham & Redbridge into League One not so long ago. He knows how to get momentum within a club and he knows how to foster that club spirit on and off the field.
“He’s done it on a smaller scale with Dagenham and now Luton, who traditionally have got good support. I think they will keep on going, I really do.
“As well as Portsmouth I’d say Burton [Albion] and another of my former sides, Southend United. I think the champions of League Two will come out of those four.”
Read Ade Akinbiyi's predictions for the season and celebrate the new season with a #Shirt2Work day