As we hurtle towards the business end of the season we've asked bloggers from across The Football League who are the best teams and players they've seen this season. And who is going up and going down this year.
Our League One review has been provided by:
It’s not often that you get to see a player dubbed “The English Messi” at Brisbane Road. (Though “The English Messy” could aptly describe the distribution skills of many an Orient midfielder over the years.)
But when MK Dons’ Dele Alli rocked up, there was a reason that Orient’s infamous Theo’s Restaurant was full of Premier League scouts scoffing down the complimentary East End jellied eels before kick off. And true to form one of those Premier League teams came calling in the January transfer window.
The highly-rated midfielder – at a tender 18 years of age – possessed that rare skill of appearing to play the game at the pace he himself dictated. Or, to put it more musically, everyone was playing to Alli’s tune.
That said, even he couldn’t inspire MK Dons to anything more than a 0-0 draw with a woeful Orient that night – which probably says more about MK Dons than it does Alli.
And we’ll find out one way or the other, since Alli will be plying his trade at Spurs in 2015.
Matt's tips for League 1:
The player who has impressed me the most so far this season was Barnsley’s on-loan Man City forward Devante Cole.
Son of the prolific former Manchester United and Newcastle forward Andrew, Devante looked raw for sure but impressed with his power and pace during Barnsley’s October victory over the Bantams.
Cole has fared reasonably well in a limited Barnsley team and, with another 18 months learning his trade through loan stints in The Football League, could be knocking on the door of the Man City first team.
Honourable player mentions also go to Preston’s Chris Humphreys, Oldham’s Danny Philliskirk and Doncaster’s Sam Johnstone.
Another loan player (from Manchester United), Johnstone had the game of his life for Rovers at Valley Parade in November – producing at least seven sensational saves. One for the future, without question.
In terms of the best team, the football played by Oldham during the first half of their October Boundary Park meeting with the Bantams was on another level to us. I am surprised their promotion push has seemingly run out of steam.
Scunthorpe United, whilst struggling at the bottom, are probably the best team to visit Valley Parade so far this season.
Not for the first time, City have developed a welcome habit of earning good results against the division’s top teams. It means that we haven’t seen the best of the likes of Preston, MK Dons and Bristol City.
Jason's tips for League 1
I don’t know whether it’s just me being hard to impress this season, but I’d struggle to name a real standout side.
We’ve gone toe to toe with many of the division’s big guns and more often than not matched them over 90 minutes.
You’d be a fool to envisage anyone other than Bristol City running away with the division, but it was only a contentious last minute penalty that separated us when we played at Meadow Lane.
But we’ve taken on Sheffield United, Peterborough and Preston all away from home and not lost. Sure, we haven’t won, but you know what they say about winning your home games and drawing the aways!
Sheffield United saw a lot of the ball but you’d struggle to say we faced much of a barrage, likewise Peterborough, whilst it took a last minute Preston equaliser to deny us an opening day victory - until that moment they looked mostly clueless and rather indecisive on the ball.
Obviously this all makes for an entertaining division though – we’ve had seasons in League One lately where from the outset you know full well there’s only one play-off spot to battle it out for.
But it seems a fairly level playing field (on the pitch more so than the bank balances) this year which obviously gives us a chance to step up.
Windows of opportunity like this don’t come up often thanks to the financial imbalances of the Premier League and Championship, so there’s a handful of sides who’ll look to emulate the success of Yeovil a couple of seasons back.
Stu's tips for League One
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